Loading

Contents - June 2003


Special Report
Keeping business going
With business as competitive as ever, schools and agents need to try and tap into business at all times of the year, as well as maximising business potential during the typical ''peak'' periods. As Gillian Evans discovers, there are a number of strategies that can be used to achieve this aim, such as targeting new business sectors or offering discounts at certain times of the year. While seasonality still remains, there are real possibilities to keep business going during the year.


Direction
Study tours
Study tours have been a perennial feature in the language travel industry, as students and parents alike have favoured the safe combination of accompanied tours and group language learning. Some providers report demand for individual courses overtaking the gradual increase in uptake of study tours, yet they remain an important facet of business for many agencies. Amy Baker talks to agencies about their experiences working in this sector.



City Focus
Cork's surprises
Recently declared the European Capital of Culture for 2005, the city of Cork in Ireland offers language students numerous opportunities to visit historic sites, sample the local traditions of Irish dancing and music, and eat out at one of the city's many cafés and restaurants. Language schools and agents report that students particularly appreciate the friendliness of the local people and the small-town feel of the city.



Opinion

Building potential
Quality and value for money have always been the buzzwords of the industry, and in the current operating climate, a third factor is also important - innovation.

Business is out there, but once again the industry is up against challenging times. The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), predominantly in Asia, and the effect of the war in Iraq has resulted in some students being temporarily more reluctant to travel overseas at present. In a seasonal industry such as language travel, agencies that miss out on business one year may have to wait until the following year to recoup on lost sales, unless, that is, they are innovative and look at ways to attract more year-round business.

Agents agree that the market will always have highs and lows, but there are definite strategies that agents can employ, in their own marketing efforts and by working with their partner schools, to encourage more steady bookings year-round. As the industry develops and leans further towards long-term learning, the opportunities for continual cash flow increase.

Study tours represent one area of the market that remains linked to the summer months, with the majority of study tour clients being children and young adults on their first language learning experience overseas. Providers indicate that as more students gain experience of travelling overseas at an earlier age, demand for a tour-led trip will drop slightly. Nevertheless, study tours continue to occupy an important position in many agencies' portfolios, and the sector reflects the trends in the wider market for quality and value for money.

Language schools in New Zealand report that the value for money offered by its low exchange rate has been a real benefit over the last few years, and student numbers have increased by 50 per cent each year since 1999. Another key reason for this increase is the easing of visa regulations for the Chinese.

Although the price tag is certainly important to students, our Feedback survey of the UK proves that it is not cost alone that sways a student's decision about where to study. Of 330 students studying in the UK, 28 per cent were Chinese, and good satisfaction rates were recorded, despite 92 per cent of Chinese students finding the UK an expensive destination.

There are many factors, including reputation and employment opportunity, that can convince a student about where to study, but governments must play their part in attracting students too. The CEC Network in Canada has recommended policy changes to its government to encourage more international students to study in the country, while in the USA, there are concerns that the current immigration process is off-putting to students.

It is the job of an agent to highlight the many different possibilities and options to potential students. A Japanese agent reports this month that a fam trip organised by a state sector English language teaching association in the UK has already changed her approach when counselling clients.

In Brazil, even though the market suffered last year, agents continued to develop their product range and find new providers to work with. But once again, cost remains a central theme. One Brazilian agent called on schools to offer better prices during the current economic slowdown. This could be one way of schools working with agencies to maximise business potential.


Opinion
Quality and value for money have always been the buzzwords of the industry, and in the current operating climate, a third factor is also important - innovation.

News
Canada sees student growth
BC's spotlight on the UK
Visa delays into USA
More efforts to improve ability in Japan
Malta first to say yes to EU
US citizens urged to be cautious overseas

Travel News
Doom and gloom in air industry
WTO is upbeat about the future of world tourism
SAS launches Snowflake

Agency News
Baselt continues its missions for agents
AAEAC is born in Argentina
Aseproce aims for
industry regulation

Agency Survey
Brazil's market sinks
Problems at home, a high US dollar rate and a tense global environment post-September 11, 2001, all had a dampening effect on the market in 2002, according to agents in Brazil.

Feedback
UK feedback
A growing number of Chinese students are choosing to learn English in the UK before continuing on to university or college there, despite the fact that the strength of the pound makes the UK one of the more expensive English-speaking destinations.

Market Report
NZ to slow
A number of factors, both positive and negative, have been affecting the incoming international student market in New Zealand in recent years. A new code of practice and an easing of visa regulations for Chinese students have proved beneficial to the industry while a new levy on language schools and less favourable exchange rates look set to provide fresh challenges in the future. Gillian Evans talks to industry insiders to find out more.

Course Guide
Under-16s in the USA

Many language schools in the USA offer English courses specifically for under-16s and most incorporate a range of activities as an integral part of the course. Some also provide opportunities for students to mix with local native English speakers of the same age.

Profile
Japan

Japan consists of a number of islands, the largest being Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushi and Shikoku, where the majority of the population live.

Status
Status: France 2002
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, in collaboration with the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto), which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world.