Contents - September 2002


Special Report
Creative marketing
For an agency to fulfil its potential as a successful operation, creative marketing is essential to ensure that customers recognise and use its services over its competitors. Word-of-mouth recommendation alone will not guarantee maximum business opportunities. Agencies need to use a combination of marketing techniques to maintain their profile, such as advertising, meeting potential clients in schools and an up-to-date Internet presence, as Amy Baker reports.


Destination
Germany's treasures
Germany is a country rich with historical and cultural charm, and language schools in the country make considerable efforts to introduce students to local landmarks and traditions. There are many festivals for students to enjoy as well, and they may be surprised to find out that Germans like to party as much as the next nation. Bethan Norris reports on a destination for students who enjoy high-standards of education in a friendly, interesting setting.



Direction
Refund reality
If a student is unsatisfied with an aspect of their language travel course, the issue of refunds can become an uncomfortable situation if the school and agent fail to agree on where the problem lies. Agents recommend that a school follows their own refund policy when dealing with their clients, while schools stress the importance of a student telling them about any problems they may have as soon as possible. Gillian Evans reports on refund policy protocol.



Opinion

With US schools reporting that the market is still depressed after the September 11 events last year (page 29) and concerns about the profitability of US carriers (page 6), the difficult times for the industry are far from over. Agencies should take heed of the fact that marketing activities can make a difference. Targeted promotion boosts sales and increases interest in an agency's product range. In Russia, for example, where agents report a healthy market performance in 2001, two of our respondents mentioned that advertising had contributed to their business growth (pages 10-11).

And in Canada, where English language students shared their views on their study abroad experience, it was noted that 40 per cent of the students who had booked their course through an agency - they represented one third of total respondents - found out about their agency's programmes via its website.

Innovative marketing, including using the Internet to its full potential, is essential if agencies are to retain a competitive position in the market. Students frequently use the Internet to find agencies' websites and even to book online, and the world wide web should be utilised by agencies as the essential marketing tool that it has now become (pages 22-26).

The ease of booking directly via a school's website did not cause the mass client stampede that many industry sources forecast, although the Internet has affected booking patterns. In our Status Australia survey this year, the results show that overall, 11 per cent of clients at the 19 language teaching institutions that took part in our survey booked via the Internet (page 44). This is an increase on the 4.6 per cent of clients who booked via the Internet at 19 institutions in the previous year's survey (see Language Travel Magazine, October 2001, page 52). Nevertheless, agencies still remain the most important booking channel for Australian schools - a majority of 56 per cent of clients booked with an agency in 2001, although this was down from 73.5 per cent in 2000.

But some agencies feel that the threat of direct bookings needs to be addressed. One agent reports that they may well cease to work with schools in the future if they cannot offer a satisfactory way of dealing with direct bookings (pages 22-26). After all, students who book directly via a school may have first used an agency's website or publicity materials to find out about it.

Another issue that needs to be discussed between agencies and schools is refunds. Just who is responsible if a language travel programme fails to meet the expectations of the client? Agencies need to have clear refund policy agreements in place with the schools they work with, otherwise they could find themselves liable for court action (page 19).

Although clarity of information is paramount, when advising clients and when marketing to potential clients, creativity is also important when building a brand image. The Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto) recently decided to organise management seminars to help members and non-members develop their business potential. The first in the series focuses on successful communication and corporate identity (page 9). Alto's parent association, the Federation of International Youth Travel Organisations (Fiyto), is also encouraging young people to make the most of opportunities to travel and see the world in its new marketing campaign (page 9). Opportunities of a different kind are also out there for agents, who must be prepared to grasp them to make the most of their potential.


Opinion
With US schools reporting that the market is still depressed after the September 11 events last year (page 29) and concerns about the profitability of US carriers (page 6), the difficult times for the industry are far from over.

News
World Cup fever impacts on sales
Sevis is hot topic at Nafsa
Eurocentres head office moving to London
Canadian Act
becomes law
Chinese consider surgery for perfect accent
USA and UK loses favour among Muslim students
SGV expands its network into Australia
Activity in Cape Town

Travel News
Financial woes continue
Chinese market buoyant
US approval for Skyteam's closer ties

Agency News
Australia increases visa charges
Alto offers marketing advice
Anex in Colombia
to hold first fair
Fiyto and ITSC run campaign to boost sales

Agency Survey
Russia's vitality
Russian agents reported another healthy year in 2001 and are confident that the market will continue on its growth curve in the foreseeable future.

Feedback
Canada Feedback
Word-of-mouth recommendation plays an important role in the recruitment of overseas students to Canada, as the results of this issue's Student Feedback survey reveal.

Market Report
US concerns
Following the September 11 attacks on the USA last year, which severely affected international student enrolment, the US English language teaching industry is still trying to find its feet. Gillian Evans reports.

Course Guide
UK academic prep courses
Academic preparation courses prepare students for life at a university by ensuring their language skills reach a satisfactory level and that they are culturally prepared for their new study environment.

Q&A
UCIEP's united front
Mary Brooks, President of the Consortium of University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP), which represents state-sector English language provision in the USA, answers our questions about UCIEP's new promotional strategy and the consortium's position on Sevis.

Status
Status: Australia 2001
The Status survey is a new 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. For the first time, it is possible to compare world market statistics.