The 2016 IALC Workshop in Leeds and York this past weekend was the first IALC workshop in the UK since 1989. Delegates experienced two contrasting cities in the North of England: the modern university city of Leeds and the historical charms of York. This year’s workshop was co-hosted by Centre of English Studies (CES) Leeds and Melton College, York.
The #IALC2016 Workshop, an annual meeting point for IALC-accredited educators and study abroad agencies, brought together 140+ delegates from schools in 20 countries, 130+ student recruitment agents from 35+ countries and 32 exhibitors and sponsors representing 21 service providers in language travel.
Jos van Kerkhof is director of Dutch agency StudyTravel, a partner agent of IALC for many years. He explains: “We return to the workshop (the industry’s best) each year to meet with dear friends, build new relationships and to remain part of this big, special family. Schools and agents alike all work together to provide this incredible study travel product of ours to our lucky clients. The IALC Workshop is where important business meets incredible fun, and it would not make sense to miss out on this.”
For over 30 years, this international language travel workshop has been a key event in the calendar for agents to find high-quality language study programmes for students of all ages and backgrounds. “The workshop has grown nicely over the years, yet still remains small enough to make you feel like part of a special, exclusive group of schools and agents,” Van Kerkhof adds.
IALC has acredited language centres in 109 destinations around the world offering over 1,000 language programmes in nine languages. IALC’s position as a leading network of independent and mainly owner-operated language centres ensures that the Workshop attracts predominantly owners and senior decision-makers from student recruitment agencies as well.
First-time participant Bruno Contrera from Brazilian agency STB explained: “This was my first time attending and I was very impressed. One of the best things about the IALC Workshop is that here, you can make decisions together right away because you are meeting with the owners and directors. You can get straight to the point and create a solid relationship with your school partners. You get a good feeling of their school and their offering, and can then translate that back to your counsellors at home.”
Over 3,500 pre-scheduled educator and agent appointments took place over the three days, with countless more informal meetings during coffee breaks and evening receptions.
CES Leeds showcased its city-centre school on the first evening and then took everyone to the famous Victoria Quarter in Leeds’ shopping district for a classy kick-off to the three-day Workshop. The next evening, Melton College hosted attendees as they experienced fine food and drink from Yorkshire throughout Melton’s gardens and school building. On Saturday night, insurance provider Guard.me sponsored a 1920s themed gala dinner in the Queen's Hotel Ballroom to close off the event in style. And after the workshop, 51 agents headed off on seven organised fam-trips to visit IALC schools across the UK and Ireland.
Attracting leading language schools and agencies, the IALC Workshop offers a unique opportunity to develop business relationships with professional colleagues from around the world and keep up-to-date with industry issues and trends.
This year’s seminar programme focused on smoother cooperation between schools and agents, particularly as it relates to technology and digital marketing. “The big debate on standardisation in language travel was one highlight that revealed some of the key frustrations agents have in selling language travel and some of the ways to ease that pain and facilitate the school-agent relationship,” said panel moderator Jacqueline Kassteen, managing director of Transformative Marketing Solutions. She continued: “As standardisation spreads, it can be even more difficult for a school to stand out, so we also discussed various ways to differentiate including branding, social proof, marketing and promotions, customer profiles and gold star service to agents.”
Stephen Shortt, managing director of Alpha College of English, moderated another panel on how technology is challenging – or facilitating – the relationship between schools and agents. This discussion revealed that one of the biggest shifts we are seeing now is a convergence of agency and school CRM systems to facilitate faster, more accurate communication between partners.
Richard Bradford, managing director of Disquiet Dog, led a popular session on best practices in digital marketing while other attendees learned more about studying English in the UK through presentations from Roz Rozidor of English UK, Helen Obaje and Tom Poole of the British Council.
Attendees also got an exclusive preview of the results of the 2016 IALC industry research on the demand for nine foreign languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The new report unveils the reasons for studying languages other than English and how foreign languages rank in their importance for study and career-related purposes.
The research was sponsored by Guard.me, StudyPay, DPMC, ICEF and L’Etudiant. It was also supported by IALC schools; Galway Cultural Institute, Global Village English Centres and founding member Estudio Sampere. It is now available to download free from the IALC website.
As an organisation dedicated to quality-focused independent language schools and agencies, IALC is committed to providing cutting edge industry research. The 2016 report follows up on key findings from last year’s research on the perception of independent and boutique chain schools in language travel.
Over the years, IALC has evolved from an association for private family-run language schools and now includes a range of organisation types: single-centre and small chain, profit and non-profit, family businesses and partnerships. This year, IALC members also participated in an interactive session before the Workshop to consider the organisation’s current brand positioning and establish a clear brand direction for the future, maximising IALC’s existing strengths and aligning the brand to the future of the language school market.
Executive Director Jan Capper explains: “IALC is more than a trade association. We are here to provide a platform for the industry, to deliver quality in every area - from our school members to cutting edge research to networking opportunities that help build relationships which will drive business forward. We are looking forward to rolling out a stronger brand over the next year that will firmly positon IALC as the expert in language travel.”
The 2017 IALC Workshop will move to Boston, Massachusetts, where ELC Boston will play host an anticipated 350 attendees from 23-26 March 2017, followed by several fam trips across the USA & Canada. Save the date!
DPMC International sponsored the Member's Dinner at Crafthouse. StudyPay sponsored the Registration and information desk throughout the workshop and provided a charging station for all delegates. Guard.me sponsored the workshop delegate bags with British Council, and sponsored the IALC Roaring Twenties Gala Dinner. Eflex International sponsored the notepad.