The season of workshops will soon be winding down as many agencies around the world spend the latter quarter of the year concentrating on organising their brochure for the coming year and profiling the products and programmes that their clientele will be interested in.
One particular option that many agents say is increasingly popular among their clients is independent accommodation, such as private apartments or flat shares. While many clients request this, acccording to agents in some countries, not all language schools seem to be in a position to be able to offer it yet (pages 18-19).
Any efforts between agencies and schools to improve business relations and deliver good service is important as the market continually evolves. For this reason, the efforts of educators' associations to embrace the agency industry should be applauded. Many national and international associations claim to be working to improve industry relations as well as lobbying national governments for the good of international education (pages 24-29). Inbound fam trips for agencies, as well as trips to visit agents in their home countries, are both initiatives that some educators' associations have been participating in. The International Association of Language Centres (Ialc) reports that it has conducted a mini-workshop in the Baltic States and Finland because agents have 'busy schedules', and 'it's also very important for schools to understand the markets they serve' (page 28).
In New Zealand, the export promotion body, Education New Zealand, has organised inbound fam trips for agencies for a range of countries this year (page 9). Meanwhile, in the UK, Baselt - which unveiled its new logo and brand image during workshops in the UK - has planned a programme of inbound fam trips for agents rolling into 2004 (page 8).
The workshop season is certainly a busy time for agencies, following the summer which sees many clients undertaking their language courses. While agencies have undoubtedly been working hard, they will be pleased to hear of other efforts in the UK to help language travel students enjoy their stay there.
One police force that is part of the student safety scheme, Operation Columbus, has come up with an ingenius plan to issue all foreign students in its area with ID cards, to help them gain access to pubs and clubs if they are over 18 years old, and to encourage them to tell police if they become a victim of crime. Other police forces around the country have been working, and succeeding, in reducing crime against foreign students through a range of different initiatives (page 4).
There have been other developments that are likely to help the language travel market. Particularly in Germany, where the arrival of a number of low-cost airlines in the aviation market means cheaper air fares for all Germans considering travelling in Europe (page 6). And new work regulations for foreign students in Germany, scheduled to be introduced in January 2003, could boost interest in Germany as a study destination (page 4).
Next year does hold promise, and many schools and agencies hope that there are continuing signs of a revival in the market. Schools in the UK believe 2002 will already be better than 2001 (page 21). To make maximum gains from any potential upsurge in student travel, agencies and schools need to remember the importance of open dialogue and cooperation.