Q&A Agent association
This month, Carlos Robles, President of Belta in Brazil, answers our questions.
Full name of association:
Brazilian Educational and Language Travel Association
Year established: 1992
Number of members: 67
Contact details: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
What has Belta accomplished in the last 12 months?
Belta has been focussed on the seal of quality for the Brazilian market: outlining the differences between acquiring an international educational programme from a Belta member and a non-Belta member. We are not implying that all non-Belta members do not have quality or are not ethical, but within Belta, there is more certainty that they are investing in training, developing new programmes, participating in fam trips and choosing partners abroad also with a seal of quality.
Please tell us about your survey of the Brazilian agent market.
We did a comparison between the results from 2010 and 2012. This comparison was presented by myself at Alphe Brazil. One major finding was that new destinations such as Malta, South Africa and China are attracting Brazilian students. Also, the average amount of time that Brazilians spend abroad has grown to six months, meaning they are investing more in international education and bring back not only a better linguistic knowledge, but also practical experience allied with a new culture to be able to access better jobs.
what challenges could member agencies face in the future?
We believe the international educational market will be in constant growth. The inclination of the growing curve, however, will depend on several factors, such as: number of new agencies opened in the market (thus reducing the individual participation share); foreign exchange policy and stability of the Brazilian currency compared to others and policy of governments on rulings about visas and possibility of temporary employment with an exchange programme. It’s a complex system that will vary according to the dynamics of the international market and global policies. Members will have to face the competition, invest in training and develop new products to attract Brazilian clients.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Has agency business been affected by the difficult economy in your country?
Diego Barceló, INEX Cursos, Spain
“Since 2008, Spain has suffered a protracted economic downturn, with unemployment rate now at 26 per cent. The government had to cut grants and, at the same time, credit to both families and companies is scarce. Study abroad programmes have behaved almost as luxury goods sold to non-rich people: demand plummeted. Our long-term relationship with our partner schools has been very helpful, since we were able to find ways to counter, in part, the lower demand by concentrating on up to four-week courses, launching special promotions, etc. We focus more heavily on Internet marketing and try to attract clients with cross-selling actions (travel insurance, pre-travel classes, etc.), as well as offering alternative, cheaper, accommodation options. Of course, we revised every single item of our expenditure and cut everything we could. 2013 will be tough, but after the summer the economy should slowly start to recover.”
Valeria Bucci, Beehive Vacanze Studio, Italy
“The current state of the economy in Italy is the most difficult in the last 20 years. Income taxes, VAT as well as property and real estate taxation have increased dramatically, causing a harsh reduction in the average household saving capacity. High interest rates and domestic credit crunch added to the lack of public and private investments pushing the unemployment rate up to 38 per cent among the under 25s. In this bleak scenario, the need for young Italian people to learn a foreign language (English in particular) has never been so strong and sought after. They need it for their future careers. Italian agencies, in general, had to cut on administration and staff costs and on some traditional marketing activities like catalogue printing and mail distribution in favour of web marketing and/or marketing campaigns through Google and Facebook.”
Pepa Ferrer, Pepa Ferrer Climent-Pallarés, Spain
“I set up as an agency in 2012. I could be seen as a “kamikaze” or as an enterprising woman willing to undertake my own professional project despite the circumstances in my country. I don’t know how fast my business would’ve developed when Spain was on the path of economic growth, but I can state that nowadays it is hard work to set up a new business, get new clients and keep the loyalty of those who are already happy with your services. The purchasing power of Spanish families has decreased, but education is still a priority. Nevertheless, clients demand more for less money. Commission is not a decisive factor in the selection of programmes I promote. I prefer to cut down on expenses, such as marketing trips overseas.”
Marta Ruiz, MRC abroad, Spain
“The economic situation is in part positive for the language travel business, but it has definitely changed the interests and goals of students willing to study abroad, since the economy does not allow most parents or young graduates/professionals to study abroad with the same conditions as before. Study and work programmes are the most demanded but also the most difficult to find, due to the huge demand and high level of education/experience [required]. We have reduced our marketing to social networks and face-to-face contact. We also have opened our customer network to other countries, focussing on attracting more students to Spain and sending students to China as well as organising everything ourselves from private tutoring, paid/unpaid work to accommodation.”
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study Travel Magazine, we ask a different teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or advisor partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month Churchill House School of English Language in the UK nominates EDUGROUP in Colombia. Greg Patton, Director, Sales and Marketing at the school, explains this decision.
“EDUGROUP is a young agency with big plans, and have already proved that surpassing customers’ expectations leads to fast growth. Owners Jose and Ana both studied in the UK and, as such, are aware of the highs and lows of studying abroad. This means that students are made fully aware of what to expect and are prepared to enjoy their experience from the first day. It means that their students are guaranteed the best possible experience before, during and after study. We work well together because we share the same business philosophy. Excellent strategic and tactical marketing, taking time to understand their student’s needs, offering something different and exceeding expectations all
combine to make them an agency to watch.”
“We are very pleased and honoured by this nomination. I would like to express special thanks to Greg Patton and his professional team for their dedication and outstanding service. For us Churchill House symbolise top-quality education, giving the student an unforgettable experience.” Jose Ovalle, EDUGROUP, Colombia