||ICEF Berlin larger than ever
The biggest workshop on the circuit, ICEF Berlin, grew for an eighth consecutive year in 2009, with around 1,700 delegates descending on Berlin for the three-day event. “It certainly reinforced itself as the industry event for education travel and international student recruitment professionals,” said Korinne Algie, Marketing Communications Manager at ICEF.
The number of agents hit an all-time high, with 860 representatives in attendance 35 more than in 2008. Nationality spread was diverse with a total of 92 countries represented a purported 16 per cent increase on 2008’s figures.
Ken Krall from the Boston Academy of English in the USA said he was particularly impressed with the calibre of agents this year. “[It was an] excellent event with serious agents I had a 100 per cent show rate for my meetings,” he noted.
An estimated 451 institutions and 32 work & travel providers clocked up 22,744 pre-scheduled business meetings over the two-day event, 8.7 per cent more business meets than in 2008. “I was very happy to be able to meet such a wide variety of providers from New Zealand to Cuba and from language schools to internship organisations. I appreciated the opportunity to broaden our scope,” said Heleen Pelle from Dutch agency, Bureau Buitenland. However, Brian Brownlee from Anglo European School of English in the UK sounded a word of warning, stating the event was nearing full capacity. “I think they have more or less reached the limit of how many people, schools, agents and exhibitors they can shoehorn into the Berlin Intercontinental!“ But he commended the organisers for their efficiency and methodology. “I do think that Berlin is a must-attend event from our point of view as a school,” he said.
This year, seminars were offered as usual and organisers established a designated work & travel zone effectively replacing the Work & Travel Forum that traditionally preceded the main Berlin event. Providers specialising in au pair, work experience, internship and volunteering programmes were said to welcome the additional exposure the new venue gave them. “I was pleased to meet well prepared agents eager to discuss business opportunities,” vouched Anca Radoi-Bodnarescu from IntoEdVentures in the USA.
i-graduate ICEF Agent Barometer is positive for 2010
The International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate) has revealed the results of its annual Agent Barometer report. Working in collaboration with ICEF, the survey garnered the opinion of 1,033 agent respondents from 110 countries, and revealed a very positive outlook.
The barometer which aims to track current and future trends in the industry found that the UK topped the list in terms of number of agents placing students in that country in all but one sector (language; graduate/postgraduate; undergraduate; MBA; foundation; vocational; and high school). Meanwhile, the USA was the most popular destination for work & travel placements, with 70 per cent of agents placing clients in this country.
Overall, language courses accounted for the bulk of all bookings by agents in 2009. This was followed by foundation programmes, work & travel and graduate/postgraduate courses.
When asked about business forecasts for the next 12 months, 78 per cent respondents (of 392) predicted an increase in bookings, while 17 per cent estimated little change and just five per cent envisaged a decline.
Ninety-four per cent of agencies said location was a driver of study choice while 91 per cent said the same of cost of study; only 60 per cent claimed that easy access to visas was a significant driver of choice, which may come as welcome news to UK-based institutions (see page 6).
Australia fared well as a destination for vocational education, with 27 per cent saying it was the best destination, just behind the UK with a 30 per cent vote.
No one nationality represented more than nine per cent of agents polled, but India, Brazil and Russia were the three largest nationalities in the survey.
Quality English’s European road trip
Marketing consortium Quality English (QE) took in four European cities last year on a whistlestop workshop tour. Twenty-two school members visited their choice of city destinations from Paris, Madrid, Zurich and Rome.
“Agents reported how valuable it was to meet these independent schools under one roof, and to learn how the schools are selected and how quality is checked,” said QE’s Carolyn Blackmore. Members from the UK, Ireland, Australia and the USA made the QE trip.
Madrid was the busiest event, with 38 agencies attending, while Zurich was the quietest with 11 agencies present.
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month, Seafield School of English in Christchurch, New Zealand, nominates Cosmolingua from Switzerland. William Neale at the school explains this decision.
“I am happy to nominate Cosmolingua as one of our preferred agencies in Switzerland. Although we have several agencies that we could nominate I take this opportunity to nominate Cosmolingua because of their commitment to our school over the past 18 years. In spite of the peaks and troughs in the market, as student preferences change and exchange rates fluctuate, Cosmolingua has remained constant in its commitment to the promotion of our school.
Mamiko has regularly come up with fresh marketing ideas and strategies to not only increase sales to partner schools but also to improve and widen the services available to students. Although our school is a long way from Switzerland, new Cosmolingua staff have visited Seafield to familiarise themselves with our school, its services and location. In addition, prompt and efficient communication between our school and the agency has led to a harmonious business relationship.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. What has been the most unusual course request you have received?
Paula Johnson, Cypress Intercâmbio & Cypress Homestays, Canada
“The most unusual course request I have received was if there were any schools offering a course for gay men only. The students were interested in taking regular English courses with a focus on the gay/homosexual vocabulary to communicate with other people in the same situation overseas. In my opinion, it is important to accommodate clients’ needs as long as they don’t conflict with the religion or culture of the visiting country. I also see a great effort from schools in trying to accommodate these reasonable requests. A good example is the fact that in the past, studying abroad was always something labelled for teens and young professionals only but some schools managed to adapt and offer special classes to seniors, for example English plus golf, English plus gardening etc. I’d say that as long as it is a non-religious or a super-subjective issue and the school has the resources to accommodate the clients, why not do it?”
James Herbertson, Answer English, UK
“Answer English received a number of requests for English classes but with no grammar, only conversation and not even in the classroom! We designed a course that took place on a bus in and around Bath. But this died a death! And we channelled our enquiries to Language in London’s excellent Cultural Experience course instead which is far better and won an award from the British Council. The strangest I’ve heard about was English plus Powerboating by Annalivia in Dublin. Wherever possible it’s great to accommodate students’ needs; never say never; but you have to be careful of doing a tremendous amount of work and then they never end up booking!”
Cesar Hanke, Australia Brasil, Australia
“The most unusual course request our agency received was from a Brazilian who was at the time living in the USA and wanted to come to Australia to attend a course for operating super heavy Mining Dump Trucks. Those giant trucks that you can barely see a person next to it! But we also had all types of enquiries such as car designer courses, acting courses, lifesaver courses all those that never convert into reality. But we are always happy to help students to pursue their dreams! No matter how different the course request is, we are always able to find a way to help our clients and advise them on the best course of action.”
On the move
Tereza Hadravova has been appointed Marketing Director in Europe for Vancouver English Centre in Canada. As well as all of Europe, her territory will also include Kazakhstan and she will operate out of Prague in the Czech Republic.
Francisco Bustos has been appointed to drive the international marketing and recruitment activities for Abbey DLD College Manchester, UK. Bringing 14 years of experience to the role, Mr Bustos hopes to put the college on the map. He said, “With a 20 per cent intake of international students and 80 per cent British intake in the dynamic and vibrant city of Manchester, the college is ready to work in partnership with current and new agents”.
Anglo-Continental in the UK is pleased to announce that it is expanding its marketing team. Wiesia Stronias has recently joined as a Marketing Assistant where she will be assisting senior members of the Marketing Department in promoting courses to achieve an increase in the level of student enrolments from the Eastern and Western European markets.
Education Travel Group, UK, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dawn Harrison as International Business Development Manager. Ms Harrison has worked predominantly in the travel industry. She then went on to work for School Travel Service (STS)/Skiplan in field sales before it merged in 2008 with Kingswood. Ms Harrison then spent six years working for Kingswood UK Sales before joining International Sales.
Paul McMahon has recently joined Skola UK as the International Sales & Marketing Manager. Mr McMahon joins Skola from the Sheffield Centre, Spain, where he was Director and was responsible for launching the incoming division. Mr McMahon will focus on international promotion and sales development at Skola’s satellite office in Madrid.
Anita Locke has recently moved to the role of Marketing Executive for Dorset College Dublin following a move from Atlantic Language Galway, both in Ireland. “This experience allied to my Bachelor of Business Studies gives me the confidence to go forward to create, build and maintain strong relationships with international partner agencies and ultimately make sure students have the best stay possible,” she said.
Cambridge Esol links with providers
Cambridge Esol the English language examination for non-native speakers is expanding availability this year and linking up with established industry players to widen its reach.
With an estimated three million candidates sitting the language exam each and every year, the organisation is now planning to increase the number of available seats by up to 50 per cent in 2010 to help cater for demand. The exam board has also announced that it has teamed up with major education providers Kaplan International Colleges (KIC) and Navitas in Australia.
KIC will begin rolling out computerised versions of the English proficiency tests at Kaplan schools throughout the UK and Ireland, while Navitas is introducing computer-based Cambridge Esol exams at its centres in Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth.
“The introduction of the computer-based exam will be of direct benefit to our students who will now have the choice between paper and computer exams,” said Eileen Morley at Navitas English.
Erez Tocker, Managing Director at KIC Europe, commented, “Partnering with Cambridge Esol to support the expansion of their computer-based tests at our centres is an exciting step. We are thrilled to be working with the gold standard of qualifications for students and teachers of English.”
Cambridge Esol qualifications are accepted by a broad spectrum of organisations including governmental bodies and corporations such as Sony and Coca Cola. Seven of the eight “Ivy League” colleges and over 800 US institutions are also reported to accept the award as a valid means of language certification, bringing total outreach to 10,000 global institutions.
“We have developed a flexible range of valid English language tests as we recognise that for language assessment one size does not fit all,” said Sean Hayde, Head of Sales.
The language qualification, which covers general English, business English, academic English and English for young learners, ultimately aims to equip international students with the necessary skills required to enter tertiary education in an English-speaking country. It also aims to enhance future career prospects and is a certified means of language proficiency testing. Cambridge Esol is a co-owner of the Ielts exam.
InterGlobal gets security-conscious
InterGlobal the international private medical insurer has developed a new “buy online” facility for its website. The new transactional capability enables clients to buy insurance products such as the Ultracare plan and the International Schools plan online in a safe and secure environment.
Matt Wilkinson, Group Marketing and E-Commerce Manager at the UK-based company, emphasised the importance of safeguarding sensitive information such as bank details and personal data. “We have therefore focused on delivering a system with an easy to use layout... data entered requires no re-keying, increasing accuracy and the speed of processing for our members,” he said.
ESL through the virtual world
Students looking to embrace the virtual world can sign up and enrol at Languagelab.com an English language school set in Second Life, the 3D virtual world.
Founded in 2005, the practice-learning environment currently boasts students from more than 50 countries, and offers an alternative platform from which to learn English. Students can choose to study specific topics and can interact with fellow language learners, teachers and native English speakers in real-life scenarios from their own home.
Languagelab.com is now looking to widen its scope by offering established language providers the chance to develop virtual campuses. “Languagelab is now in serious discussion with a number of leading UK schools interested in this route, and even creating virtual versions of themselves,” said Byron Russell, a consultant at Languagelab.
Mike Solly, a senior lecturer at the Open University, UK, told The Guardian newspaper, “Character-driven learning does seem to offer an appropriate learning framework for the Second Life environment. Certainly, groups such as my class of 10 feel that the virtual world has given them a unique opportunity to interact and learn.”
Hotel search engine gets the Twitter treatment
Inoqo a new hotel booking search engine is using the live commentary site Twitter to offer last-minute deals on accommodation.
Hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and motels can advertise exclusive high-value packages unavailable elsewhere to those seeking last-minute bargains. Followers of Inoqo, which has a global reach, can tap into city-specific live feeds to keep track of offers.
The new service is free of charge with Inoqo generating revenue from charging accommodation providers commission on any bookings made. “Inoqo has identified a gap in the market and has coupled this with Twitter, the fastest growing social network to promote last-moment hotel room booking opportunities,” explained Martine van den Heever at the Calders Hotel & Conference Centre in South Africa. “We have every confidence that the Inoqo team will increase our occupancy with their last-minute innovative product offering.”
A company spokesperson said that the economic downturn had led to a higher proportion of leisure and business travellers leaving accommodation bookings to the last minute in a bid to secure the cheapest deals available. See www.inoqo.com for details.
International language school grouping, Quality English, have had a busy year. Carolyn Blackmore, Chief Executive, identifies the recent challenges member schools encountered in 2009.
Full name: Quality English
Year established: 2003
Number of members: 41
Type of members: Small to medium sized independent English language schools
Association/groupings main role: To provide marketing services to the schools which are accepted as brand licensees. The objective of the services is to promote the schools by emphasising their quality credentials.
Government recognition: Every school is accredited by the relevant national accreditation body
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/outbound missions: yes
Contact details: Carolyn Blackmore,
Quality English Ltd.
TBAC Business Centre,
1-5 London Place,
Oxford, OX4 1BD
What has your group been up to recently?
New members during 2009 have been Living Learning English in the UK, Worldwide School of English in New Zealand, Stewart College of Languages in Canada, Ability Education in Australia and most recently Atlantic Language Galway (the LTM Star Award winner English Language School Europe 2009). Also this year we have welcomed two new QE Associate schools Archibald School of English in Poland and Oxford Klass in the Ukraine. As far as missions are concerned we travelled to Taipei and Bangkok in February, Sao Paulo in March, and then after ICEF Berlin we went on a European tour to Paris, Madrid, Zurich and Rome.
What challenges do member schools face?
There are QE schools in all English-speaking countries and they report a range of challenges. I think that readers are well aware of the problems UK schools have encountered with the new Tier 4 PBS visa system. Many schools are marketing harder in Europe as a consequence. In Canada, the biggest challenge has been the new requirement for Mexican students to obtain a visa before entering Canada which came into effect last spring. They also bemoan the lack of an efficient, government-supported marketing programme reaching their important markets. New Zealand suffers in comparison with Australia with regards to part-time work rights; they suffer from inconsistent student visa decisions and from over-regulation, including compulsory levy to Education NZ, and is the only country that pays GST (VAT) on tuition fees. The biggest challenge facing Irish schools is the strong euro. Schools also feel that the recognition by the Irish government of the value of the industry to the economy has yet to be achieved. There is a need to open up new markets through visa acceptance, and by controlling schools that undercut prices. In South Africa, the main challenge continues to be the exaggerated perception of crime. It is quite safe to go and study there and a lot of students express surprise when they arrive and see they can quite safely walk about during the day and go out into the city at night.
What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
As QE expands as well as consolidates we are constantly looking for new ways to promote the schools, even though nothing replaces the outbound mission for successful face-to-face meetings in-country. A brand new state-of-the-art website will be live in the late spring and it is intended to bring increased traffic to schools in the shape of enquiries and other associated benefits.
Are you planning any future QE missions?
Next year there will be a further series of outbound missions, to Chile, Argentina, Turkey and Kazakhstan as well as another European roadshow in November.
• The Sabre Travel Network recently conducted a survey of 800 corporate and leisure travellers, which revealed an increasing amount of travellers using mobile phones for flight notification, checking in and selecting seats. The travellers from Asia-Pacific, North America, Latin America and Europe also welcomed advertising with free travel applications. Sixty-nine per cent of those surveyed owned a smart phone and 78 per cent used them to obtain flight notifications, 68 per cent used them to check weather forecasts, 66 per cent to locate hotels, 65 per cent for flight performance and 64 per cent for city guides. Sabre’s Chief Marketing Officer, Greg Webb, commented, “Smart phones are becoming a traveller’s preferred tool for managing post-booking activities”.
• By late 2010, British Airways and Spain’s Iberia will unite to become the world’s third-largest airline in terms of revenue. Together they will have 419 aircraft flying to 205 destinations and dominate 44 per cent of all winter flights at London Heathrow. BA Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, said, “The merger will create a strong European airline well able to compete in the twenty-first century. Both airlines will retain their brands and heritage while achieving significant synergies as a combined force.” It is predicted that united, annual revenue will reach in excess of E400 million (US$604). BA will own 55 per cent of the new firm and their passengers will have a choice of up to 59 new destinations; Iberia will hold 45 per cent and gain 98 new destinations.
• Virgin Atlantic has launched a unique product that aims to cheapen holiday travel, cut down on congestion, ease carbon emissions and heighten the social aspect of travelling. The new service entitled Taxi2 links travellers flying at similar times, destined for the same or nearby cities via a designated website. Passengers meet after arrival and share a taxi to their place of accommodation. The new programme will extend its service to people using airlines other than Virgin Atlantic and will allow customers to determine gender preference, for example pairing female travellers with one another.
• London Luton Airport has welcomed Danubewings, a new airline scheduled for flights to and from Poprad, Slovakia. The service opened in December 2009 and will operate three times weekly; it will offer passengers lower fare prices and a wider destination choice. Poprad airport is located in North Slovakia, a region brimming with tourist attractions including the High Tatras Mountains. Airline Manager, Simon Harley, commented, “We are delighted to announce the arrival of Danubewings. Low fares flying continues to make business and leisure travel increasingly accessible to millions of Europeans.”
• At the 27th OAG Airline Industry Awards Ceremony 2009, the Airline of the Year Award was presented to Singapore Airlines. The airline proved to be a consistent winner, picking up the award for Best Trans-Pacific Airline and Best International First Class. Frequent passengers, who completed a ranking questionnaire, voted for the winners. Other 2009 OAG Airline Industry winners included Virgin Atlantic, awarded Best Transatlantic Airline; Continental Airlines which won Best Business Class and Southwest Airlines which clinched the award for Best Low-Cost Airline.
• Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates the international carrier of the UAE has announced it will target emerging economies such as China, India, South America and Africa when devising new routes. Confident about the airline’s recovery from the economic downturn, Clark said the Emirates’ “crowd puller” Airbus A380s had exceeded fuel efficiency expectations. “As we started to connect these points, people started to flow in ways that we had not seen before,” he said. According to Emirates, developing new routes is essential for survival and this is evident in their revenue. In the first six months of the last financial year, Emirates gained DHS752 million (US$205 million) profit, a 165 per cent improvement on 2008.
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