ALTO focuses on industry data and customer experience

29 September, 2015

The Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO) focussed on themes such as managing the customer experience and scaling up business at its gathering in London, UK, as well as promoting its second language travel industry survey to schools and agencies.

Customer experience expert Shaun Smith engages with delegates at the recent ALTO Professional Development and Networking event

Held at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza Hotel after the recent StudyTravel Alphe UK conference, the ALTO Professional Development and Networking event featured concurrent programmes for leaders/decision makers and middle management.

In a session on managing the customer experience, guest speaker Shaun Smith advised participating school and agency directors and owners to focus on particular touchpoints of the customer experience in order to differentiate themselves and increase satisfaction.

Smith examined the practices of several successful brands across a range of industries and told delegates that in order to win business, companies need to stand up, stand out and stand firm.

He advised the former involves establishing a company’s main specialisation and demonstrating zealous leadership; standing out requires engagement in “infectious communication”, dramatization of the customer experience and innovation; and standing firm involves the establishment of rituals, creating a cult-like culture and measuring what matters.

In the afternoon, business consultant Paul O’Kelly, gave a presentation on ‘thriving through change’ covering areas such as “productive paranoia” in expecting the unexpected in business planning. One aspect of strategy O’Kelly commented on was currency exchange rates, and he said planning for rates negatively impacting on business should be an essential strategy component for any internationally operating business.

Earlier in the day, O’Kelly also presented ALTO’s first mid-manager-focused session, entitled Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow.

Meanwhile, ALTO was also promoting participation in the 2nd edition of the ALTO Deloitte Language Travel Industry Survey.

The survey will gather information from school and agencies in an attempt to provide benchmarking data for stakeholders in the study travel industry. The results of the first survey were released at the beginning of the year.

Presenting to both language school associations and agency organisations at the annual Felca/Gaela gathering, held prior to the StudyTravel Alphe UK conference, David Bonett from Deloitte’s office in Malta, which also works with Malta’s language school association Feltom to produce industry data, said after establishing the initial survey last year, it was important to at least double the participation rate to produce meaningful data and a useful base for benchmarking in future years.

The ALTO Deloitte Language Travel Industry Survey is open for schools and agents until October 15.

Matthew Knott
News Editor


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