On the move
Johnny Peters has returned to Embassy English as Director of International Business Development. With a career spanning over 20 years, including seven years at Study Group, Mr Peters will be based in New York and will oversee Embassy’s worldwide sales team and global agent relationship. He said, “I’m delighted to be back at Embassy and will be helping re-establish our brand as the forefront leader in service and experience for both students and agents. The marketing resources, recent investment in product, staff and systems are second to none, and I’m excited to be part of this new stage of Embassy’s growth.”
Unicentres, the pathway provider for Eurocentres, has taken on Catherine Jefferies as Head of Marketing and Student Recruitment, Asia, and based in London. Prior to this, Ms Jefferies worked for Navitas and brings her wealth of knowledge from the pathway and HE sector to the new role. She has also lived, studied and worked in Shanghai before returning to the UK and working for Plymouth University.
Isabel joins Communicate School of English in Manchester, UK, as the Business Development Manager and will be taking on the exciting project of introducing this independent family-run school to international markets. Ms Kaczmarek previously worked as an Agent Sales Team Manager and has over two years of experience in sales and marketing in the ELT sector. Isabel has also got an MA in Egyptology and a CELTA. “A perfect mix of the romantic and the academic spirit”, she said.
Aimee Broad has recently been appointed to the position of Marketing Director within the Lexis Group (Australia and Asia). Joining the company in 2002, Ms Broad has over 11 years’ experience in the industry and gained extensive knowledge in various roles throughout this time. She said, “With the addition of Lexis Korea in Seoul and our brand new campus Lexis Japan in Kobe, this expansion in my role at Lexis comes at a very exciting time.”
Maud Brunet has taken up the role of Regional Sales Manager at Alpadia Language Schools. Ms Brunet is a well-experienced sales professional within the industry with previous positions at Donegal Centre and Red Leaf in Spain. “I am really excited to be part of the Alpadia team and I am looking forward to working with our dedicated agents,” she said.
Q&A Educator association
This month, Reka Lenart, Association Manager of Alto, talks about the association’s recent activities and forthcoming plans.
Full name: Association of Language Travel Organisations
Year established: 1998
Number of members: 133
Types of members: language schools, agencies, national associations, & more
Association’s main role: professional development and information exchange
What has Alto been up to over the past 12 months?
The Alto Board is making good progress tackling various projects set out in the aims and objectives of the association. Our professional development seminars in London (Sept) and Berlin (Nov) are hugely popular and are considered the leading CPD events in the language travel industry. Similarly the networking value of these events is very much appreciated by members who can make great new contacts in a completely different environment from the usual workshop interaction. In 2014, we launched our industry-wide benchmarking exercise, the Alto Deloitte Language Travel Industry Survey. An executive summary of the report is available to everyone through our webpage and a detailed country analysis was sent to all Alto members and organisations who participated in the data collection.
The recent ALTO Deloitte Language Travel Industry Survey found that agents were responsible for 85 per cent of bookings in language schools. Is this figure what you’d expect or higher/lower?
If you had asked me before the survey, I would have estimated this figure closer to 75 per cent. I think that participating schools were well-established, leading institutions from the industry and thus their business model is very much relying on agency partners.
Do you have any predications for the year ahead based on your findings in the survey?
The survey is very inquisitive about numbers, results including financial performance and data that every organisation should be examining at least annually. When you have the opportunity to then compare those figures with national and international averages, your data gets a much deeper meaning and might change your business plan for the future. The Board is passionate about this project because benchmarking proves to be very useful in several other industries and our industry needs these reports as a lobbying tool and to generally improve the profile of the language travel industry within the global economy (for results and more details of the first survey please see STM March 2015, page 7).
How are preparations for the conference going?
This is the third annual conference we’re organising in New York and the difference this year is that we’ve given the theme ‘Directions and Trends: A look to the Future of our Industry’ to this two-day event and have invited speakers with previous experience with the education industry. We expect to learn some very interesting foresights and hope to spark some fruitful discussions between agents, schools and other representatives.
What does the association have planned for the next 12 months?
This year will see another new project taking off with the mid-managers’ professional development event on September 7, 2015 in London. This is part of the ‘Developing the leaders of tomorrow’ project where we encourage our members, the decision makers of their organisations, to invest in their staff and bring up a generation of better qualified leaders.
Q&A Agency association
This month, we interview Tomy Lukman, Chair of IKPII in Indonesia.
Full name of association: Indonesian International Education Consultants Association (IKPII)
Year established: 2004
Number of members: 14
Type of members: agencies
What has been the main focus of IKPII in the last 12 months? What trends are affecting agency business?
Since last year, each member can hold their own exhibitions. Usually, as an association, we hold two exhibitions per year, but we haven’t done this since 2013. We are afraid to hold one as the numbers of students for member agencies has dropped. Recently, an Australian university has opened a campus in Jakarta. We find that students study for one year and then transfer to Australia or the USA because parents pay for in-country first, not overseas. Many universities also offer twinning programmes working together with overseas institutions. This affects our business.
Have you been working with government bodies to promote study abroad opportunities?
Yes, we work with the embassies and other organisations such as the British Council and ask for visa regulation updates.
How do you ensure standards are maintained among member agencies?
Our member agencies have to have a proper office and not work at home. They also have to not offer discounts to students. We make sure all our member agents are trained. Five years ago, we used to have our own trainer, but now we use an education centre to give the training.
In our agency survey of Indonesia in 2014, Malaysia was the most popular country for study abroad for Indonesian students, followed by Singapore and Australia. is this still the case or has there been a shift in the market?
This is still the same. The most popular countries our members focus on are: Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand and the UK.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. What impact have global events had on your agency business?
Yukari Nakatsuji, Gio Club Study Abroad, Japan
“Over the course of our company’s history, the tragedies and calamities which have influenced our bookings began with the Gulf War in 1991, followed by the September 11 attacks in New York In 2001, the bird flu epidemic and the March 11 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. In particular, the earthquake influenced our business as leisure activities, such as trips abroad, were discouraged to appropriately mourn the victims. This year, we are seeing an impact from the incidents involving ISIS. While travel for leisure tends to be impacted by terrorist activity and natural disasters, travel for purposes of study tends to avoid significant impact. Cancellations directly related to such events are typically from short-term study abroad trips in spring and summer holidays which span less than a month. It is likely related to the fact that these short-term study trips can resemble leisure trips at their core. Numerically speaking, two per cent of the students scheduled to depart between February and April 2015 cancelled within the first two weeks of February due to the recent ISIS tragedies. The typical cancellation rate for this period is nearly zero per cent. Among these, 95 per cent were short-term study trips. Additionally, 80 per cent were for European destinations. However, it is difficult to state that terrorist activities have had no impact on clients planning longer study trips. Unlike previous incidents, the recent tragedies involving ISIS have resulted in changes to the general mind-set of the Japanese population. Depending on how the situation with ISIS unfolds, and indeed the state of the Middle East as a whole, study abroad travel could see more significant impacts. Our clients should not let these events preclude them from going abroad. Rather, to prevent this, we will continue to provide appropriate services and to relay proper messages to our customers.”
Ceren Tezcan, Karya International, Turkey
“The impact of the global events has brought negative effects that produced great tension. Global events like current attacks in some countries or natural disasters affect our bookings since there are some changes in the world and people are confused. The most important problem is economic; all global events cause these changes in the economy. The value of the Turkish currency is lower than other countries’ monetary value. Therefore, when Turkish people consider all these monetary changes, they can suspend or cancel their booking. Another effect is that people can lose enthusiasm to study abroad and families worry about children’s safety. Thus, our company will be affected by terrorism or natural disasters negatively and our bookings will be affected.”
Carlos Junior, Portal Group, Brazil
“During Hurricane Katrina we had some students that were in Los Angeles, USA, where some schools were evacuated. Of course, the parents panicked about this. We had lots of calls, but we could support them and assure them that the students were safe. I think this is a good example of role that an agent can play. If the students had booked directly to the schools, the parents wouldn’t have had this local support.”
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, Mandarin House in China nominates ESL Language Studies Abroad in Switzerland. Jasmine Bian at the school explains this decision.
“I would like to nominate ESL Language Studies Abroad as the Agency of the Month. Our relationship with ESL started over 10 years ago and it has developed in to a wonderful partnership. ESL was one of our very first agent partners and they have always had faith in the importance of learning Mandarin, especially with so much business being done between Europe and China. ESL continually sent representatives to visit our schools and they keep constant updates on our new locations and renovations, despite the great distance between us. We value ESL’s hands-on management, excellent lines of communication and their strong responsibility over the student experience. We are looking forward to our next ten years partnership with them.”
“We’ve been working together since the early days of the school, back in 2004, when Mandarin House came up with a comprehensive offer for a cultural immersion in China. Sending students to such a different country relies on a high level of trust and communication as well as an outstanding level of service. More than 10 years and hundreds of happy students later, Mandarin House has become a mainstay of our portfolio.”
Krister Weidenhielm, ESL Language Studies Abroad, Switzerland
Contact any advertiser in the this issue now
The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.