Alto holds first stand-alone conference

May 24, 2013

New York, USA, was the location for the first stand-alone conference held by the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto), bringing together over 60 business leaders for an event " designed to be a breeding ground for ideas and collaboration between senior stakeholders in the language school and education agency industries ".

photo: A seminar at the Alto conference; credit — David Niland

The focal point of the conference was an industry discussion panel featuring major players from the agency world: Krister Weidenhielm of Switzerland-based ESL; Victor Hugo Baseggio of CI, Brazil; and OJ Kim from iAE Global.

Topics for the panel included " lazy discounting ", whether agencies should work with a net price or within the boundaries of an agreed gross price tag, and direct bookings, with Weidenhielm arguing that every direct booking has a processing cost and warning that educators developing a direct platform without consideration of agency partners would risk alienation.

Technology issues, such as whether a standardised system could be developed that would evade the need for duplications of efforts in the booking process between schools and agencies, were also discussed.

Seminars at the two-day event included: Adam Bryant, author of the Corner Office, providing insights into how CEOs operate: business expert Nick Niemann giving advice on business longevity through " fourth quarter " planning to ensure long-term stability in the face of an acquisition; and a motivational talk from Nathan Farrugia, who ran 27 marathons in 27 days in 27 European countries.

A speed-dating session was another element of the conference, giving delegates five-minute slots to talk to potential partners within the sector. Networking opportunities included an opening night dinner at revolving restaurant The View and a yacht cruise.

Video recordings of the seminars will be made available online for Alto members.

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