September spells the end of the summer season for many of our readers, and I hope it was a busy and productive period for all concerned. No doubt many of you are looking forward to taking your foot off the pedal a little bit and looking ahead to contemplate marketing strategies and new ideas for next year.
I know that no season is particularly quiet in this industry, but as the autumn workshops kick off and the year moves into its final quarter, now could be a good time to be bold and assertive in terms of putting new products in the portfolio or, for educators, thinking about new ways to attract clients.
One of the big noises in the last few years has been work & travel and according to the industry’s work experience association, Gwea, there was a 22 per cent growth in business recorded from 2004 to 2005 among its members. That’s not to say that language teaching and mainstream education overseas are not growing markets of course Thai agencies expect continuing growth in these sectors, for example (pages 14-15) but work & travel programmes represent a new business opportunity for many.
Agencies could add the whole gamut of programmes available (pages 28-34) to their product range and those educators not already active in this market can consider, depending on their location, blending language learning with internships or volunteering possibilities. As we report, there is a clear overlap of interest between these sectors and among the clients undertaking such programmes.
Another new opportunity for many agents is in marketing Asia as an education destination. Many agencies reported little interest among their clientele for education programmes or English language learning courses in Asia, but it is nevertheless a booming market, according to providers there (pages 20-22). With agencies remaining important in more traditional study destinations colleges in New Zealand acknowledge the importance of agencies (page 56) it could be that agencies and Asian providers are just not aware of the role that the other could play in expanding their business.
Building business in a competitive industry is what everyone wants to achieve and there could be new avenues out there waiting to be explored. Another newish product that I like the sound of is parent-and-child programmes, profiled in this issue at UK schools (page 25).