July 2010 issue

Agency News
Agency Survey
Market Report
Special Report
Course Guide
City Focus

Contact Point:
Request information from our advertisers

Digital version
To view this page in the digital issue click on this graphic.

Back issues

Status Survey

Link to our site

Get a Free Copy

What are agents?

Calendar of events
Useful links
Language Travel Magazine
11-15 Emerald Street
London, England
T: +44 (0)20 7440 4020
F: +44 (0)20 7440 4033
Pacific Office
T/F: +61 (0)8 9341 1820

Other products

Expand your marketing reach

The Internet is dominating the marketing landscape, and with technology changing all the time, it’s a matter of keeping up with the latest developments. However, language travel agents must devise an integrated marketing campaign that embraces the new, while retaining what is good of the old. Gillian Evans reports.

Marketing is a crucial factor in the success of any business. If you want your business to grow, you need to have an effective and integrated marketing campaign. This should include a selection of both offline and online marketing tools that all support each other in getting your message out there. The more traditional offline methods – which include attending exhibitions, organising educational seminars in schools or colleges, discounts, sponsorship, press advertisements and mailshots – still have a role to play although, for many agencies, online marketing tools are at the forefront of their campaigns today. Websites, emailing, advertising on the web and social networking are all now becoming increasingly important.

Websites rule
“Most Koreans use the Internet,” comments Si Keun Kim at Uhak House in Korea, “and [our] first contact with customers is made [via] the Internet.” Maida Insler, Education Adviser at Evenor International Language and Education Centre in Estonia, says that the Internet and the agency’s website are now its most important marketing tools. “[A] big part of our clients are youngsters and they spend lots of time [on the] Internet. The Internet is the [biggest] information source in Estonia, so people often find us just by simple research.” According to Warwick White from Worlds Best Language Schools in New Zealand, the Internet is their “feeder” for channelling interested clients to them for advise.

For some agencies, websites have even replaced the traditional print brochure. Sergey Kuzmintsev, Deputy Director of Students International in Russia, observes, “Nearly all clients apply to us from our website or call us after visiting our website. Even if we’ve met the students at a fair they will visit the website to [find out] more about us as a company and about the educational institution.”

In India, Arun Jacob, Managing Director of ArrayGlobe has embraced the technology of the Internet to ensure he offers students a cutting-edge service. “Our website has become [our] most important tool,” he explains. “We built this after a huge investment of time, money and effort realising the target customer, that is, the student, is highly net savvy and we need to engage him there as against more conventional methods like newspaper ads, etc.” Jacob decided to develop his website to be fully transactional, with a customer relationship management (CRM) system, a searchable database of all the courses that are on offer through ArrayGlobe represented institutions and an online admission process including visa and payments electronically.

ArrayGlobe’s comprehensive use of technology received official recognition last year when it was voted a finalist in the Dell Small Business Excellence Award, which honours businesses that apply technology in innovative ways to improve customer experience and business growth. He was interviewed by a panel of judges, which was telecast on Bloomberg-UTV. “The success [of our website] has been great and we are unrolling some new features soon aimed at giving better and more cost-effective means of marketing to the institutions we represent,” says Jacob.

While not all agency websites are as sophisticated as ArrayGlobe’s, many have gone beyond being a mere replica of a printed brochure. While the facility for online bookings is increasingly being offered by agencies – among those agencies contacted for this article, they either already offered such a facility or intended to in the future – some students still prefer face-to-face contact. For example, Evenor’s website does have an online booking facility where clients can enrol but this has had limited appeal. “Bookings still mainly come from clients calling directly to the office. Usually in this case they find us on the web, visit the page and then call to get more detailed information,” relates Insler. “Although through booking online people can enrol without paying any registration fee, it has not been as popular as we expected.”

The attractiveness and user-friendliness of a website is key to its success. Frédéric Magnin, Marketing Manager at ESL in Switzerland, comments that as the Internet grows in importance as more people use it, online advertisements and the quality of website content will play an increasingly important role.

Cesar Hanke, Director of Australia Brasil, Nova Zelandia Brasil & Canada Travel, based in Brazil, believes that the most important points for effective Internet marketing are the navigability of the website, its contents – relevant information and language style – and its appearance, that is, the colours and website layout. He adds that another ingredient to success is the “great people behind the scenes to make students comfortable and safe dealing with an agency”.

But maintaining a website is no easy task. Kuzmintsev reports that the Internet is now their most important marketing tool and that it requires “more and more money” to maintain. This includes the important investment in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), for which they use specialist web companies, as well as advertisements on the Internet.

Suad Alhalwachi, Director of Education Zone in Dubai, which is a virtual agency, says that ensuring the visibility of their website is hard work, but she adds, “We have to do it”. The company was launched as an online concern so, as Alhalwachi observes, the Internet is “part and parcel of our existence”.

Online marketing
Other online marketing methods are also increasing being utilised by language travel agencies around the world. Podcasts, viral emails, digital newsletters and videos are all beginning to be embraced by language travel recruiters, but the real buzz is around social networking. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace all give language travel agents the ability to easily stay in touch with existing and past clients, while reaching an almost endless pot of potential new ones (see box left). As these websites are popular with young adults – the target audience of most language travel agencies’ marketing campaigns – this is an opportunity not to be missed. “If you don’t use [social networking in your marketing strategy] you are not talking to your potential students in the way or language they want you to,” warns Hanke.

Alhalwachi says they use social networking sites to “connect to a wide range of young people”, and that their role will increase in importance as more and more people use them. However, Insler, while agreeing with Alhalwachi that social networking will take on a greater role in their marketing in the future, emphasises that this type of action is only successful as a supportive technique to a whole range of other marketing techniques. Nevertheless, marketers are watching closely to see if indeed word-of-mouse [or social networking] will overtake word-of-mouth as the most important and prolific form of marketing.

Offline marketing
With the Internet taking centre stage in the language travel agency marketing armoury, offline marketing media have, to some extent, been left languishing in the background. Insler reports that the Internet has really impacted their marketing in the last two or three years. “We used to advertise a lot in the local newspapers, but as people have changed their ways to get information, we don’t use it that often any longer,” she says. Direct consumer press advertising seems to be the one to have been dropped by many agencies. Hanke says advertising in student guides tends to be least effective for them. “They cost a lot of money and generate very few leads, [and it] is also really hard to track them,” he says. White agrees that the returns for the investment in print advertising are the lowest, while Jacob asserts that as well as being high cost, press advertising is also too “broadcast”. “You need to ‘narrowcast’ which is possible with Internet technologies,” he asserts.

Other agencies have different stories as to which is their least effective marketing tool. Both António Valadas, Director of Multiway in Portugal and Alhalwachi do not rate education fairs. “Some,” says Valadas, “are not worth the time and money spent.” Alhalwachi claims that most students who took their information at fairs enrolled directly via the school.

However, despite the rise of the Internet, Hanke emphasises the importance of continuing to conduct offline marketing initiatives to support the agency’s online efforts. “We are doing a lot more offline marketing than we used to do,” he says. “For example, we run over 30 free seminars per year around Brazil to bring information to potential students.”

Seminars remain an effective and highly targeted marketing option for agencies. Insler recounts, “Some years ago we did a very successful session of presentations at local schools. Studying possibilities at British universities used to be less known at that time and we collected a notable number of enrollments with that action.”

Spreading the word
Of course, at the heart of any good agency’s success is word-of-mouth recommendation. “Every student tells at least three other people,” says Alhalwachi. “Also their parents are advocates for us too.” But no money can buy this particular marketing tool, and Magnin laments it can be one of the most difficult to control. “It is the result of all the other techniques used in marketing as well as the service offered by all the other departments.”

Although the marketing landscape has shifted significantly over recent years to embrace the ever-changing high tech world in which we live, the old-fashioned values remain core to the industry and to its clientele. “You’ll never rule out personal contact, personal experience and empathy,” asserts Hanke. “Even if it is done via email, skype or phone, you will always need good people around you to make things work.”  

How do agencies attract clients?

1. Website 41%
2. Word-of-mouth 24%
3. Email/online marketing 12%
4. Advert in press 7%
5. Mailshots 5%
6. Seminars to students 1%
Other 10%

1. Word-of-mouth 44%
2. Website 28.5%
3. Email/online marketing 7%
4. Advert in press 3.5%
5. Mailshots 3.5%
6. Seminars to students 3%
Other 10.5%

1. Word-of-mouth 53%
2. Website 31%
3. Email/online marketing 7%
4. Seminars to students 5%
5. Mailshots 3%
6. Advert in press 1%

1. Website 43%
2. Word-of-mouth 28%
3. Email/online marketing 12%
4. Seminars to students 6%
5. Advert in press 2%
6. Mailshots 1%
Other 8%

1. Word-of-mouth 40%
2. Website 27%
3. Seminars to students 9%
4. Advert in press 6%
5. Email/online marketing 2%
6. Mailshots 1%
7. Advertising on TV/radio 1%
Other 14%

1. Word-of-mouth 50.5%
2. Website 18.5%
3. Email/online marketing 10.5%
4. Seminars to students 7%
5. Advert in press 5%
6. Mailshots 2.5%
7. Advertising on TV/radio 2%
Other 4%

1. Word-of-mouth 46%
2. Website 31%
3. Email/online marketing 7%
4. Advert in press 4%
5. Seminars to students 3%
6. Mailshots 2%
7. Advertising on TV/radio 1%
Other 6%

1. Website 37%
2. Word-of-mouth 32%
3. Seminars 17%
4. Email/online marketing 5%
Other 9%

1. Website 51%
2. Word-of-mouth 13%
3. Mailshots 13%
4. Seminars 9%
5. Email/online marketing 7%
6. Advert in press 3%
Other 4%

1. Word-of-mouth 47%
2. Website 14%
3. Seminars to students 13%
4. Advert in press 12%
5. Mailshots 5%
Other 9%

Source: Language Travel Magazine, Agency Survey

Asian recruitment trends

Many countries in Asia are keen to maximise their international recruitment of students, but how are most of the involved institutions going about putting themselves on the map? The answer is predominantly via agencies, together with direct marketing efforts.

“We recruit mainly through participation in education fairs and partnerships with local recruitment agents and education consultants,” reports Dylan Ong, Marketing Officer for the International Marketing & Recruitment Team at Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus) in Malaysia. The university offers a range of foundation, diploma, degree, Masters and PhD programmes as well as supplementary and intensive English courses.

Ong explains, “Following initial correspondence by email, we will follow up with a visit to the operating premises [of agencies]. Generally, we work well with agents in every country we visit, but our most established partnerships are in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.”

Ong’s experience is similar to many providers throughout Asia. Vernon Sim at SSTC School for Further Education in Singapore relates, “We engage recruitment agents who meet our criteria and will abide by our code of conduct. Through these agents, we participate in exhibitions, roadshows and conduct seminars.” Meanwhile, Stuart McCutcheon Barrett at Q Language in Hong Kong details, “We have agencies in several countries and use virtual agent referral sites. Plus, we have direct applications via our website. Also ‘word of mouth’ [is important], as some of the applicants already have friends or family studying/working in Hong Kong so they take the opportunity to join them.“

In Singapore, however, there is one difficulty that agencies working with institutions in the country are now facing. Graham Sage, Director of Inlingua Singapore, explains, “New regulations in Singapore are making it more difficult for educational agents overseas to recruit for private educational institutions here, as the government no longer allows the agent to collect course fees from the potential student to pay to the institution. The student must now pay the course fees directly to the school.”

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

English Australia  
MEI Ireland  

Alphe Conferences  

Pearson Education  

Dr. Walter GmbH  

LTM Digital  

Malta Tourism

Bond University  
Carrick Institute
      of Education  
English Australia  
La Trobe University  
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway
      International College  
      College (Shafston
      House College)
Universal English
College (Global
      Village Sydney)  
University of
University of
      Western Australia  
University of
      Western Sydney

Global Village 
      (Australia, Canada,
Saint Mary's

Ordex Cultural
      Exchange/ Quito -
Vida Verde - Green
      Life Spanish Center

Bell International  
      (Malta, UK)
      Education Group  
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      UK, USA)
LAL Language
      (Australia, Canada,
      Costa Rica, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Malta, Mexico,
      Russia, South Africa,
      Spain, Switzerland,
London Metropolitan
Malvern House
      College London  
Prime Education
      (king's Colleges)  
Spinnaker College  
St Clare's Oxford  
St Giles Colleges 
      (Canada, UK, USA) 
Study Group 
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Queen Ethelburga's
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, UK)
University of Essex-
Wickham Court

Home Language
      (Australia, Brazil,
      Canada, China,
      Czech Republic,
      Denmark, England,
      Egypt, Finland,
      France, Greece,
      Hungary, Ireland,
      Italy, Japan,
      Scotland, South
      Africa, Spain, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Norway, Poland,
      Portugal, Switzerland,
      United Arab Emirates,
      USA, Wales)

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Academia de
      Español PROBIGUA 

Delfin English
Language College
MEI Ireland  

      Language School  

      Residential Language
NSTS English
      Language Institute  

Habla Ya
      Language Center  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
Ecuador, England,
      France, Germany,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, Switzerland,
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New Zealand,
      Russia, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)

ELS Language
International House
      San Diego  
University of
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)