|A healthy 2010 for Swiss agencies was reported, with a clientele requesting diverse study destinations.
|• The total number of student weeks placed by eight of the 11 agencies in our survey was 41,966
• Average business growth was 11.8 per cent
• The average length of stay for Swiss students was 4.9 weeks
• Fifty-four per cent of advisories charged clients a handling fee
• The UK remained the most popular destination for Swiss students
• In the last 12 months, agencies had worked with an average of 110 language schools
• Language school placements accounted for an average of 82 per cent of business, and work & travel; nine per cent
• Exam preparation programmes became the most popular among the Swiss advisory clientele
||Most popular courses
|1. UK 31%
2. Australia 15%
3. USA 14%
4. France 10%
4. Germany 10%
6. Canada 8%
6. Malta 8%
8. Ireland 4%
||1. Academic/exam prep. 29%
1. Intensive 20%
3. Junior 16%
4. General 12%
5. Business 10%
6. Language plus work experience 5%
|Reasons for language travel
||Average percentage agency business
|1. Future work 41%
2. Current work 30%
3. Studies at home 19%
4. Pleasure 7%
||1. Language programmes 82%
2. Work & travel 9%
3. Internships 5%
4. Volunteering 4%
|How do agencies recruit students?
||How do agencies find new business partners?
|1. Word-of-mouth 42%
2. Website 26%
3. Mail shots 9%
4. E/online marketing 5%
5. Advertising in press 3%
6. Seminars to students 2%
6. TV/radio 2%
||1. Agent workshops 41%
2. Internet 24%
3. Student fairs and exhibitions 20%
4. LTM/ETM 2%
4. Other press 2%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 81%
Languages Canada 54%
Groupement FLE 45%
Italian in Italy 9%
English NZ 36%
English UK 100%
British Council 100%
Quality English 100%
The perenially important Swiss market showed slow but steady growth in 2010, with seven of the 11 study travel advisories in this survey indicating that business had increased year- on-year; two companies said that business remained consistent while another two posted negative growth. Overall, average growth was recorded as 11.8 per cent notwithstanding one company’s particularly high figure of an 80 per cent increase, average growth was still five per cent. Some agencies declined to give a figure for the number of students sent last year, but a figure of 8,588 across eight agencies still illustrates that some agencies send good volumes of students overseas.
Language and destination trends
One notable change since we last surveyed the Swiss market (see LTM, May 2009, pages 24-25) is that the USA has risen in popularity as a destination now accounting for 14 per cent of bookings, up from 6.5 per cent. The UK remained the most popular destination at 31 per cent (down from 32 per cent) while Australia remained in second position, but losing some market share (15 per cent from 22 per cent). Canada featured in our survey this year in joint-sixth position with Malta, when it was not mentioned in the previous survey.
Student and course trends
Whereas summer vacation courses were the second-most popular type of course in our previous survey, this year they did not figure at all. In fact, exam preparation programmes were the most popular type of course this year (29 per cent), followed by intensive programmes (20 per cent) and then junior programmes (16 per cent). Advisors said that future work was the main motivator behind taking a language course, while current work obligations also led to 30 per cent of clients booking their study trip. Despite a documented trend towards residential accommodation, Swiss advisories said that 72 per cent of their clientele opted for host family accommodation actually up on the 65 per cent figure in our last survey. As this survey is weighted to reflect student volume, it could be that one or two agencies with a large turnover of students favour a particular option or partners that do not offer residential accommodation as standard.
In terms of business profile, most study travel advisors did focus for the main part on language study overseas (82 per cent of business), with work & travel placements being the next most typical type of placement (nine per cent). Advisors indicated that 42 per cent of their clients came through word-of-mouth recommendation while 26 per cent were recruited through the company website. And in terms of how the companies polled found new business partners, workshops were the most usual way, followed by the Internet and then student fairs and expos.
The Swiss are stoic about the year ahead, with most businesses forecasting growth for 2011. One respondent said that students were investing in their education because of the economic situation, while another said they thought the market would pick up now that the crisis was receding.
• In 2009, GDP declined by 2.5 per cent and unemployment rates passed the four per cent mark. However, after an expected upturn in GDP for 2010, the KOF Swiss Economic Institute has predicted sustained GDP growth for Switzerland, along with falling unemployment and a pick-up in exports because of a slight weakening of the Swiss franc.
• The UBS consumption index showed that Swiss sentiment improved in October 2010 on the previous month, as retail activity and new car registrations picked up. The index is based on five indicators: new car sales; retail sector business; consumer confidence; over night hotel stays by Swiss nationals in-country and credit card transactions.
Sources: Reuters, Swissinfo.ch
Swiss advisories named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Access Language Centre, Sydney, NSW; Langports, Brisbane, QLD; SEA Manly, Sydney, NSW; Sydney English Language Centre, Sydney, NSW. In Canada: ILAC, various; Global Village, Vancouver, BC. In France: alpha.b, Nice; LSF, Montpellier; Lyon Bleu, Lyon. In Germany: did Deutsch-Institut, various; Humboldt Institut, Argenbuehl. In New Zealand: ABC College of English, Queenstown; Seafield School of English, Christchurch. In Spain: Estudio Sampere, Madrid. In the UK: Cambridge Academy of English, Cambridge; Capital School, Bournemouth; Christian English Language Centre, Bournemouth; Hampstead School of English, London; Kaplan International College, Torquay; Olivet School of English, Brighton; OISE, Cambridge; Regent, various. In the USA: St Giles, San Francisco, CA. Worldwide: EC; Embassy CES; High Schools International; Quality English schools; IHWO.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: BIKU Languages; Surprise Reisen; Lingua Solutions; globo-study Sprachreisen; Interlangues; Lingua Solutions Ruth Aeschbacher, Cosmolingua; CCT Formazione Linguistica e Culturale; AD Voyages Langues et Cultures; Pro Linguis; Aventure Linguistique; Akzent Sprachbildung.