Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Is demand for homestay accommodation decreasing among your clients?
Valquiria Mac-Dowell, Improvement, Brazil
“Homestay accommodation is still the top choice among my adult students. Some have concerns about independence, cleanliness, food style but many still choose homestays as they are the cheapest option and include meals. However, among younger students, parents are worried about leaving their children to live with strangers. It is hard to persuade them that the school works closely to find out the best and most reliable people.”
Patrick Mueller, Managing Director, StudyGlobal, Spain
“The demand for homestay accommodation is definitely decreasing in the Spanish and German market. Students are looking for alternative accommodation that gives them more independence and comfort. Student residences with a single room and private bathroom are the most popular option with our Spanish students. Language schools have realised this trend and started to offer more alternatives. Some schools have started to offer roomstay only, which is a single room without any meals which gives maximum independence to the student.”
Martijn Goedegebure, Linguaschools, Netherlands
“While most students visiting Spain prefer to share an apartment with their peers, homestay is not decreasing among our clients. To the contrary, we saw a slight increase in this type of accommodation in Spain for 2007. Homestay is a popular choice for those who want to immerse themselves in an environment of native speakers and local culture. Polling of our clients has shown that strong cultural differences between our students and the host country increase the likelihood that a student will book a homestay-type lodging.”
Karel Melzmuf, English Language Consultancy, Czech Republic
“Among my clients, about 90 per cent of adult students and only 50 per cent per cent of juniors and teenagers prefer homestay accommodation, which is the most frequent alternative language schools offer. The parents of juniors and teenagers think there is higher security and a better environment for young people in residences. Residences are very rarely offered all the year round.”
Larry Morello, Living Languages, Spain
“Here in Spain there is little demand for the homestay option among our clients and it has been decreasing every year. Our students tend to prefer residential or shared apartment accommodation because they feel that they will have more independence with these options. Another deterring factor would have to be the food. In a student residence or shared apartment, students usually have access to a shared kitchen which is important to our students.”
Karen Mitelman, Communication Manager, Audele-Soluciones Profesionales, Uruguay
“In general, we believe that the demand for homestay accommodation is not decreasing among our students. It depends on the country and the perception the students have about it. In countries like New Zealand or Australia, where the families are very well selected and of a good standard, homestay accommodation is very popular and students over 20 years old prefer it. In other countries, like the USA or the UK, students prefer to stay in a residence or rent an apartment.”
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language 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, CIAL Centro de Linguas in Portugal nominates Language Courses Abroad in the UK. Alexandra Borges de Sousa, Director of Studies, explains why.
“CIAL Centro de Linguas has been cooperating with LCA for some years now, to our great satisfaction. Mike Cummins [the director] and his team are very committed to their work, very thorough with details and fast in replying to any of our questions. It is also visible that they maintain the same type of work standard with their customers, passing on to us any doubts, questions or hesitations that their future students may have. LCA has a very good student feedback system, which allows them to always have updated information on their factsheets on each location. I have recently signed up as a reader of their blog and that too is an extremely effective way to motivate students.
English speaking people aren’t perceived as language study lovers, but this is changing rapidly. Our schools in Lisbon and in Faro have seen a steady increase in student enrolments from the UK and the USA, and we are convinced that much of [this growth] comes from LCA’s strong and targeted presence on the Internet.”
On the move
Chris Broadhurst was recently appointed to the position of Market Development Manager at Cambridge Education Group (CEG), based at the organisation’s head office in Cambridge, UK. Mr Broadhurst was previously fulfilling the same role at Bell Education Trust Ltd where he had developed the Central Asian and European markets. His position at CEG is incredibly exciting; with a new focus on campus-based university foundation programmes alongside market responsibility in Central Asia.
May Arthur has been elected the new President-elect of AAIEP in the USA. Ms Arthur co-founded the Olin Center in Boston over 14 years ago and after a recent acquisition by EC, she accepted new responsibilities as the Director of Business Development in North America for the company. Ms Arthur’s commitment to advancing international education in the USA can be seen through her recent service on the AAIEP Executive Board as the Vice President of Outreach (2002-2004), and the Vice President of Standards (2004-2006).
EC’s Head Office in Malta has recently appointed Ivan Hudoletnjak as Regional Sales Manager for Eastern Europe and China (top). Mr Hudoletnjak has been with EC for the past two years, working as a Sales Executive. EC has also appointed Michelle Falzon as the Centre Director of EC San Diego. Formally EC Group HR Manager, Ms Falzon spent last year as Assistant Center Director in EC’s biggest school in Malta.
International House London, UK, has appointed Duncan Jackman as Director for Business Development & Marketing. Mr Jackman was previously Head of International Development at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and previously worked at Kingston University.
Rob McKay, Chairperson of English New Zealand, answers our questions about the association’s goals and outlook.
Full name: English New Zealand
Year established: 1986
Number of members: 27 members and 13 associates
Type of members: Public and private English language providers.
Association’s main roles: Peak body representing the English language industry in New Zealand; setting and monitoring quality standards; ensuring a positive operating environment; collaborative marketing.
Membership criteria: Three years in operation, fully registered and accredited by NZQA; able to meet extra standards that are exclusive to EngNZ.
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Ms Kim Renner, Operations Manager E: firstname.lastname@example.org
You are working closely with Education New Zealand now. How does that impact on your goals and achievements?
Education New Zealand is responsible for allocation of most of the industry’s levy funds and receives significant government funding. It’s my hope that English New Zealand will be able to help ensure that this funding is used in areas of real need.
How is English NZ working to maximise business opportunities for its members?
We are now the sole voice for both public and private sector language schools. Our drive is to further build our reputation and brand through proven and transparent high standards of product and service. This fits well with industry accreditation on the horizon. Our partner agents are well aware that choosing a member school affords them a very high level of assurance as far as quality is concerned.
Please tell us more about your survey into student attitudes.
English New Zealand is working with a UK based group, i-graduate, to lead the way in a global survey of student satisfaction. The online survey will be used as a basis for international benchmarking once other countries come on board. The data will be analysed based on nationality, visa type, English ability and other variables to measure level of satisfaction with their experience, where New Zealand fitted into their original consideration of country choice, and willingness to recommend the experience to other parties.
What do you believe the short- to mid-term future holds for the English language teaching sector in New Zealand?
In the short-term, trading conditions look to remain tight with modest growth. Some of our cornerstone markets such as Japan continue to weaken. Other areas such as the Middle East and South America are providing an offset to that. The medium-term looks more positive because I’m confident we will begin to achieve competitive immigration settings within 12 months.
New hostel in Dublin from Irish Ed Partners
Irish Education Partners, a leading inbound tour operator, has opened a new budget hostel in the centre of Dublin, Ireland, in response to growing demand for cut price accommodation in the city.
Pearson revises London Test of English
Debbie Flynn from the organisation said that the hostel building used to be run as a three-star hotel and was opened under the name Abigail’s Hostel in April this year. “There has been a lot of building of four- and five-star hotels in Dublin recently so we decided to move into budget accommodation,” she said. “We have two other hostels in the centre of Dublin and they are very very popular,” she added.
The hostel is marketed though Hostelworld, which is an online reservation system and is currently at full capacity every night. There are 150 beds in total in the building and rooms are divided from 10-bed dorms to private rooms.
Flynn said that they already had plans to expand the capacity of the hostel by taking over the ground floor of the building, which has been empty for the last five years.
The London Test of English (LTE), administered by Pearson Language Tests, will be offered in a revised format from November 2009 that will see it being more closely aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
The revised test will focus more closely on international English and will include content from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and the UK. The test will consist of shorter tasks across a wider variety of integrated themes. The four language skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening are all tested through the use of real-life scenarios.
Dr John de Jong, Vice President of Test Development for Pearson Language Tests, said, “As part of our commitment to excellence, we have modified our existing approach to theme-based tasks to better meet the needs of test-takers and ensure that tasks more accurately assess their language ability, not world knowledge. This is clearly a better approach and as a result we are currently pilot testing the new LTE in five of our main markets.”
HTH Worldwide launches US-China cover
HTH Worldwide, a global insurance and health services company, has launched a new medical insurance aimed at US travellers going to China.
The product, called TravelGap China, will provide up to US$1 million in medical benefits as well as access to emergency numbers, translation databases for medical conditions, brand name drugs and key medical phrases. The new product is expected to particularly appeal to visitors at Beijing’s Olympic Games this year.
HTH Worldwide’s Medical Director, Frank Gillingham, said, “Half a world from home and with chronic health conditions, a traveller to the Olympic Games in Beijing will wonder if good medical care is available. In fact any visitor to China may seek care in case of an accident, contraction of an infectious disease or a reaction to local food and water.”
The company has contracted medical providers to provide pre-arranged access to primary care services during the Games and those insured under the product will be able to access medical care from English speaking physicians 24 hours a day.
In Canada, Nova Scotian marketing group, EduNova, held its annual event for members and launched a new marketing video. President, Ava Czapalay (above left) addresses the crowd. Carolyn Blackmore of Quality English (below left) meets member, East Coast School of Languages.
At the centre of the world: the UK and US managers of Kaplan Aspect’s Opus work programme travelled to Ecuador to meet local employers and a representative of local agency, Ovlex.
Also in Canada, Vanwest College based in Vancouver celebrated its 20th anniversary recently with a party attended by staff, students and agents. Above left: agents from HIS Japan (Vancouver office) with Norma Axford-Counch, Managing Director (centre).
Escuela de Idiomas Nerja in Malaga, Spain, has renovated its school premises and the school held a party on the terrace to celebrate the refurbishments. The celebrations coincided with the news that the school is shortlisted for an LTM Star Award this year. Top left: Renate Urban and Luis Carrion, Directors of the school.
• Transaero Airlines, the Russian carrier based in Moscow, has announced its intention to add Sydney to its list of chartered services. The new Moscow to Sydney route will fly via Hong Kong on a bi-weekly basis. Elina Enikeeva, Head of Branding at Transaero, said increased frequency would depend on passenger demand. The airline already offers a twice-weekly service from St Petersburg to Tokyo and connections between Moscow and St Petersburg to Bangkok in Thailand. “We’re happy to provide our passengers with exclusive scheduled flights to popular destinations,” said Boris Gul’nitskiy, Transaero Airlines Deputy Director General. “We think they’ll all be a success.”
• Virgin Chief Executive, Richard Branson, is said to be in talks with Brazilian investors over plans to launch a new Brazilian airline. According to the Brazilian news agency, Agencia Estado, Branson is interested in starting a domestic flight service that may later expand to include international destinations. “Brazil is a very dynamic market and we haven’t paid enough attention to it in the past,” said Branson. “We know there is a lot of room to grow given the country’s size and the need to develop the air transportation system for Brazil’s own growth.” Ninety per cent of Brazil’s domestic aviation market is currently controlled by TAM Linhas Aereas and Gol Linhas Aereas but with JetBlue Airways’ founder, David Neeleman, also looking to launch a rival airline in 2009, competition is hotting up.
• Air One, the privately owned Italian airline, recently inaugurated its first intercontinental flight from Milan to Chicago in the USA. The flight will operate on a daily basis, excluding Wednesdays, and has prompted the airline to consider services to New York, Washington and Miami. This comes despite the recent postponement of a new Milan to Boston route that was due to launch at the beginning of June. A three-week delay in the delivery of new business class seats was to blame for the launch hiccup.
• A jean-wearing, plane cleaning, youth-oriented cabin crew will soon greet passengers looking for cheap flights in and from Korea. Jin Air, Korean Air’s new budget airline, will soon start offering low-cost internal flights between Seoul and Jeju and additional services to China and Japan. Other southeast Asian destinations have also been mooted. The informal attire aims to appeal to the youth market and with flight crew expected to maintain the cabins, the airline also predicts it will be able to keep costs to a minimum. Korean Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Kim Jae Kun, said, “Our focus will be on mid-to-short-haul demand from tourists keen on good fares.”
• According to a global study conducted by Expedia, the internet-based travel agency, Japanese tourists are among the most admired in the world. The survey, which questioned more than 4,000 hoteliers across the globe, took into consideration factors like behaviour, manners, willingness to learn try local cuisine, generosity, tidiness, noise levels, fashion sense and partiality to complain. The Germans and the British came joint-second overall, followed by the Canadians and the Swiss. Interestingly, French, Chinese and Japanese tourists were voted the least likely to tackle the local language and Americans were considered to be the most generous. However, when it came making noise, the Americans didn’t fare so well, voted most noisy overall, followed by the Italians and the British.
• Despite spiralling fuel costs, higher taxes and volatile weather conditions across the continent, Europe has exceeded expectations in terms of incoming tourism numbers for 2007. The European Travel Commission’s (ETC) European Tourism Insights report concluded that international arrivals and overnight volume grew by four and five per cent in 2007. Montenegro, Serbia, Iceland and Turkey all experienced a 20 per cent boost in visitor numbers, while Greece, Lithuania and Malta also enjoyed double digit growth in arrivals. And ETC Executive Director, Rob Franklin, related that, “Governments of many emerging economies have earmarked tourism as a means of [business] diversification”.