Industry issues - advisors speak out
Q. When meeting schools at a b2b conference, what are the most important things you, as an agent, want to know about?
Betty Woodyatt, Experimento, Brazil
“The top benefit of conference attendance is networking value. They are an opportunity to do business with a large number of organisations in a short period of time. We participate at a few conferences per year: Alphe, ICEF and Federation EIL. We select the appropriate trade show depending on our plans and market needs. I am selective in the schools I wish to meet; studying the school profile containing information on which type of programmes they offer, I also check out websites in order to find out if they fit our company’s needs. It becomes discouraging when the school profile lacks information. Sometimes the absence of data would prevent me from making an appointment with them. I have an agenda and a list of topics to be covered during the course of a meeting. I believe that direct communication, being face-to-face with trade partners, is an essential element of a company’s business strategy. Meetings are work, so, just as in any other work activity, the better prepared you are for them, the better the results you can expect.”
Dhiana Alfonzo, Dhiana Alfonzo Educational Travel, Canada
“I have attended Alphe HSHE in Miami and the experience was worthwhile. Before I went, I researched the educational institutes by location. I was looking for institutions located in cities and countries where potential clients had shown an interest. I read the school profile and chose the ones that matched my needs. During the show I tried to learn as much as I could about the services they offered. I discussed not only the regular services but the additional ones. One very important subject to discuss is accommodation. After the meetings, I select the ones that impressed me and arrange an on-site visit. I always want to confirm what we have discussed before signing any agreement.”
Evgenia Kalashnikova, JT Agentuur, Estonia
“Personal meetings are very important for business development. We attend ICEF on a regular basis. A short summary from schools is quite helpful. I read this information about courses and services before making an appointment with them. If both schedules are full, I contact the school directly. If schools leave information [in the online appointment making schedule] blank, it’s not a big deal. Maybe they prefer to give information during a personal meeting. In a face-to-face meeting I ask: how big and old the school is, what the student/teacher ratio is, what the nationality mix is, the length and number of lessons offered, things about activities, safety, distance from the airport and the course price. We try to consider every meeting from a positive side, because the market is always changing and every year we get new and interesting enquires from our clients.”
Marina Filgueira Figueira, Twist Gestion de Ocio Educativo, Spain
“I try to attend at least three agent conferences a year. We usually try to join a fam trip (or arrange private visits to schools) each time. From my view, meeting other agents is also very useful. I work hard before, during and after each conference and the information provided by schools in their profile is essential for me to support my research and avoids me wasting hours in front of the computer googling the schools. Depending on the kind of conference or school, I usually need to know in advance what kind of courses they offer, location, number of Spanish speakers, kind of accommodation, and very important: if they are really interested in working with us. I hate to be accepted, or even worse, to be requested a meeting and later find out the school is not interested in working with my agency.”
Derlene Calpacci, DIDACTA Turismo e Cursos no Exterior, Brazil
“B2B conferences are very valuable for my business. To know about the school as much as I can in the scheduled 20 or 30 minutes, I have developed a formula, and take it with me to every meeting. It allows me to have an idea about location in the city, courses, time of classes, size of the school, facilities and services, origin and number of students, including information regarding extra fees, commission and which special points the schools want me to know. So, with one brochure, my formula completed and a price list, I am ready to offer this school on the basis of the right school for the right student.”
On the move
Carl Duisberg Centren has bid a fond farewell to long-standing Director of International Sales, Hans-Georg Albers (top), who has retired following 19 years of service. Mr Albers was responsible for building up a constantly expanding worldwide network of agencies promoting the school’s language courses abroad. His successful marketing role will be taken over by Sabine Kaufmann (bottom), former Business Development Director of Carl Duisberg Centren. Looking back on more than 25 years of professional experience in Carl Duisberg Consulting Services, Professional Training and Higher Education Programmes, Ms Kaufmann plans to put an additional focus in her new position on language consulting and teacher training.
After six and half years at Student Agency, Peter Janicina has joined brand new agency, Kvaltini Skola in the Czech Republic, as Business Development Manager. The agency, owned by Bedrich Snasel, is registered with Lingua Plus/Kvalitni Skola Group. In his new role, Mr Janicina will be responsible for selecting partner schools, building a product portfolio and leading a sales team. “With an existing portfolio of clients with big potential, we plan to penetrate the executive market where we see a big gap in the Czech outbound student market,” he said.
Christina Margraf has been appointed Chief Operating Officer for the IH Net Pacific Group. Based in Vancouver, Canada, she will oversee the operations of IH Vancouver, Whistler and San Diego. In her former roles as Marketing Manager at Dilit IH Rome and Business Development Manager at the IH World Organisation in London, she brings her extensive experience in the language travel industry to her new position. “These three centres are excellent providers and I am very much looking forward to the new challenge. I am determined to maintain and to improve the high standards of language services provided by the schools and I hope to build on to their success.”
David Matthews has joined EC as the Director of Operations with responsibility for EC’s school operations in the North American West Coast Region. Leaving his accounting career behind 20 years ago, Mr Matthews has travelled the world teaching English in Turkey, Japan, Poland, the UK, and Malaysia. He has also worked as the General Manager of ACE in Australia and as Director for the English Language Centre at Curtin University in Perth. Having recently stepped down as Chair of English Australia, Mr Matthews will be taking up residence in Vancouver, Canada.
Q&A Advisor association
This month, Christopher Thebing, President of German agency association FDSV, answers our questions about accreditation, training schemes and how it plans to strengthen its relationship with other international organisations.
Full name: Fachverband Deutscher Sprachreise-Veranstalter (FDSV)
Year established: 1977
Number of members: 25
Type of members: agencies
Association’s main role: Quality control
Code of practice: Yes. We have our quality guidelines which are similar to the Felca Code of Conduct. Partner schools from all members are regularly inspected by our quality advisory board
Contact details: Kastanienallee 82
Tel: +49 3078953640
Fax: +49 3078954313
E: firstname.lastname@example.org, W: www.fdsv.de
What has been the main focus of FDSV in the last 12 months?
We have welcomed two new members Experience Sprachreisen and ESL Germany. The new FDSV board (comprising myself, Constanze Baarlage and Alberto Sarno) took up its work last winter and is supported by Managing Director, Julia Richter, (former Product Director at Studiosus). We always hold our AGM twice a year, one in April and one in October.
Where do you stand on accreditation policy and quality standards?
I think accrediting associations is immensely valuable to students all over the world, because they guarantee transparent and universal quality standards, and show their members’ commitment to good practice. Our members must comply with strict guidelines, and we also regularly inspect the schools that they work with. Therefore, students can rest assured that they will be receiving a high quality programme if they book with any of our member agencies. The Felca Code of Conduct is similar to our FDSV guidelines, which are highly important in order to achieve the transparency that we as an association strive for, and to make sure that every agency within our association is held to the same high standards.
What are your feelings concerning agent training schemes?
Training schemes can be very useful if carried out by renowned institutions. Providing agents with proper training helps to ensure quality counselling for language learners all over the world.
You have mentioned that you are hoping to strengthen the association’s relationship with international bodies such as Felca and Alto how do you plan to achieve this?
All three board members of FDSV are Alto members. One of our board members was at the Felca meeting last year. Like this we can make sure that we are always up-to-date about industry trends and regularly exchange ideas with other industry members. So far there is no formal cooperation between FDSV and Felca but this might change in the future.
What challenges do you think member agencies could face in the next 12 months and what are the association’s plans for the future?
Competition is not lessening and clients are getting more and more demanding. As the market is so transparent now, our members not only have to compete with other German agencies, but as well with agencies in other German speaking countries or agencies who have an English website. And of course more and more schools are having multilingual websites now and are trying to increase their direct bookings. We have started an initiative to gain new members for our association. We will also participate in one of the bigger local study abroad fairs and are planning to hold presentations at different language travel related events in Germany. We are also working to get Bildungsurlaub recognition in Nordrhein-Westfalen for our FDSV members.
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 agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month Clubclass English Language Centre in Malta nominates Global Connection in Colombia. Alex Fenech from the school explains this decision.
“Having so many partners from all over the world has made it very difficult for us to select just one agency but we have decided to select Global Connection in Colombia for their outstanding performance over the past few months. Until a year or two ago very few Colombian students used to visit Malta to learn English. Clubclass and other Maltese schools, obviously with the assistance of Colombian agents such as Global Connection, have managed to put Malta on the map in Colombia. The relationship between our sales team in Malta and the Global Connection team is a very close relationship and together we discuss ways of attracting as many Colombian students to Malta and Clubclass as possible. During a recent sales trip to Bogota, Clubclass’ Sales Manager, Peter Gauci Maistre, spent a number of days with the Global Connection team, briefing them about our school in Malta and our new school in London and giving presentations to prospective students. The Global Connection team tick all the boxes which an excellent partner should they are friendly and efficient and seem to enjoy recommending our school.”
“We are very honoured to be nominated. We highly value our partner institutions as well as our students, and our passion is to create opportunities for everyone. We believe success and happiness doesn’t come from the material, it is the consequence of our knowledge, our decisions and our freedom, this is how education and culture fit perfectly. We are a company with our heart in Colombia and our dreams all over the world.”
Alexandra Galindo, Global Connection, Colombia