May 2002 issue

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

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Baselt holds Turkish fam trip

On the move

Language Studies Canada (LSC) opened a new school in Calgary, Canada, last month. Heading up LSC's newest centre is Angela Sammon (top), who started as Registrar of LSC Toronto in 2000. LSC Calgary's Director of Studies is Dennis Innes. Mr Innes has been teaching at LSC Vancouver since 1990, and also taught for two years in Japan.

Jose Mendez has recently joined the Quorum Language School in Nerja, near Malaga in Spain. As one of the school directors, his duties will be to increase international contacts with agencies and partners abroad who are interested in sending students to learn Spanish on the Costa del Sol. Prior to working at Quorum, Mr Mendez was employed at Zoni Language Centers and Rennert Bilingual in New York, USA.

American Tim Eckenfels has made Sydney, Australia, his new home by accepting the Director of Marketing position for International House Sydney, owned by Wels group in the UK. Mr Eckenfels brings 10 years of experience in the English language teaching industry to International House, having worked for Aeon in Tokyo, and Aspect and ALA in the USA. 

Joyce Nash, formerly of Anglolang Scarborough and SLS/English in York, UK, is now a freelance marketing consultant representing a small number of high quality schools in the UK. Nash is keen to work with agents who would like to have help
and ongoing support to find 
and work with partner schools.

Vincent Powell, previously a counsellor for Latin America at ILSC in Canada, is now Marketing Director at the school. He brings a wealth of marketing experience and a keen understanding of Latin American culture to ILSC. He studied marketing at university and has worked in marketing and promotions. Mr Powell holds a Masters degree in Latin American cultural studies and is fluent in Spanish.

Six Turkish language travel agents, accompanied by a representative from the British Council in Turkey, were invited by the British Association of State English Language Teaching (Baselt) to participate in a fam trip of Baselt member institutions in February.

The agents, all from Istanbul, enjoyed an extensive visit to five Baselt-member institutions, all of which also hosted promotional workshops enabling the agents to meet other representatives from universities and colleges within their respective region. The agents visited institutions in London, Chichester, Cheltenham, Coventry and Liverpool.

Attendee Eren Göker, of Yakin Bati Educational Counselling, said the fam trip had changed his impression of Baselt member schools. While having worked with some Baselt schools for several years, he commented, 'To be honest, I was not expecting [to see] that many well-organised, big institutions, and there were more courses than we were expecting for international students. Our agency has decided to pay special attention to promoting Baselt schools.'

Marketing and Communication Manager at Baselt, Julie Hutchinson, explained that the inward mission had been organised because Baselt wanted to capitalise on a growing interest in English language programmes that can lead straight on to further academic study. All of Baselt members offer English language teaching within the higher education environment. 'Turkey was chosen because it is a country where there is a lot of interest in Baselt members' products,' Hutchinson added.

'[The fam trip] was a very rewarding and informative experience,' said Cem Ucak, Chairperson of the Turkish Association of Education Counsellors, who also attended the fam trip. '[It offered] the chance to see at first-hand the benefits on offer for our students.'

Alan Rees, representing the University of Gloucestershire, added that he found the visiting Turkish agents to be well informed and enthusiastic, and 'at least three could be of direct service in recruiting students for our degree programmes'.

According to Hutchinson, future inward missions are to be organised for agents in Mexico, Japan and Brazil in the hope of opening up new recruitment avenues. 'This type of activity is part of a marketing [strategy] for Baselt members to discuss with agents, on a one-to-one basis, the tremendous facilities and quality of service available to international students,' she said.

Halta promotes itself to public

During a recent education expo, Travel 2002, in Hungary, the Hungarian Association of Language Travel Agents (Halta) presented a united front to local visitors and received a warm response for their efforts to unify and improve the industry.

'The first reactions of the public were very positive,' reported Robert Goldmann, Spokesperson for the association, which now has 10 members. 'People came with our leaflet and told us how good it was for them to help find their way amongst the very many companies and [products]. Some told us that it was good to know that competitors could get together, meaning our businesses were serious.'

Since Halta was conceived last year (see Language Travel Magazine, January 2002, page 14), the association has underlined its clear quality goals. 'Our plans are very ambitious,' said Goldmann, 'probably like all new associations, and are mainly [to] protect the interests of our members.' Halta's aims include the synchronisation of tax conditions for members, the establishment of a quality label, such as 'recognised by Halta', and a greater understanding for the work of specialist language travel agents from the government.

'We have approached the Ministry of Economics and asked for its assistance to [ensure] that every agent involved in language travel acts according to the law,' said Goldmann. He explained that agencies without a licence were not discouraged from operating at the moment, and were even able to participate at fairs such as Travel 2002.

In the autumn, Halta members will participate jointly at a stand during the Language Parade exhibition – which attracted 5,000 visitors last year – to further raise their profile in Hungary.

Agent questionnaire

Name of agent:
Ignacio Mas de Xaxas
Position: Director
Age: 33
Name of company: British Summer
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Other branches: none
No. of full-time staff: seven
Average no. of students per year: 1,300

1. When and how did you become a language travel agent?
British Summer was founded in 1985 by a group of people that had family connections in England. I started to collaborate with them at the beginning of my university studies. It did not take long for me to realise that it was a suitable sector to develop my professional activities.

2. Please tell us about your client profile.
We deal with all sorts of customers. Although English is the main language [requested], we also have programmes in French, German and Italian. The programmes start with children aged six in summer camps in Spain and follow with programmes for children and young people all over the world. We also deal with adults and professionals and offer them all sorts of options: practical language courses, specialised programmes, a linguistic year abroad and home tuition. This year, we have also included a new catalogue with programmes that combine learning a language with leisure and cultural interests such as yoga, sailing, religion and cookery.

3. Is the nature of the agency market in Spain competitive, or do you work together with other agencies to achieve greater goals?
We have always believed that it is beneficial to share synergies with other enterprises that share a similar philosophy, and we keep in touch with many [similar] companies in a regular, friendly fashion. In general, our sector has always been a closed one, and in fact, it has not been until the last few years, thanks to a drive by [Spanish agency association] Aseproce, that common interests have started being defended.

4. How has client demand evolved in the past few years?
The level of knowledge of the English language in Spain has risen significantly in the last eight years. Not only has this brought about a higher level of requirement, but it has also accounted for more specialised programmes. In addition to this, Spanish [clients now expect] a reduced number of Spanish speakers [accompanying them] in language learning programmes.

5. What do you believe will be the main growth areas in the future?
We have always committed ourselves to [offering courses] that are not only a way of learning a language but [supportive of] personal development at all levels. This is the reason why contact with the people who live in a country becomes essential. The courses in general English will continue [to have] importance, but they will be complemented with alternative [subjects] such as surfing, web page building and music.

6. Do you have a website, and how do you incorporate the web into your business?
Six years ago we started our adventure on the Internet with a presentation page. Two years later, we took a huge step forward by making a reference item for all our programmes and allowing online registration. This season, our challenge is making our website a really interesting site by offering a large number of [options], both for customers and for those who want information about language courses.

Face to face

Each month, we profile the people from language schools who deal directly with agents, in order to give you the chance to get to know some of the people you work with.

Who are you?
Dirk van Nieuwenborgh, Director, Lines, based in the UK and France.

Why and how did you start in the language travel industry?
I started in the language business in 1980 as a teacher of foreign languages.

Why should agents choose to represent your school?
Lines offers a unique concept to agents looking for the ultimate language courses for teenagers: full immersion courses with 32 to 40 lessons per week. Our commercial approach is based exclusively on our agents and we guarantee we only work through them; requests are forwarded to them and website and brochures are conceived for and with the agents.

What do you believe are the challenges facing your school in the future?
Answering all the needs of our students while ensuring the best academic course in our niche and remaining up-to-date with new communication tools.

How does your school promote itself to agents?
We have three main promotion tools. As Lines Languages is British Council accredited, we attend the Arels fair, which has been successful. Word-of-mouth among agents as our agents recommend us to others [is another factor] while the high satisfaction of our students, their parents and the agents seems to be our best promotion tool.

How do you believe your institution will develop in the future?
Lines will keep the same philosophy to offer the best possible intensive junior programmes. We do not believe in huge expansion, but [to] keep concentrating on quality first. Lines intends to increase its activities with agents, especially in Asia (Japan, China, South East) and in the Americas and to continue developing and finding the right agents for this [sector].