In an article published in STM Magazine in January 2015, Kevin McNally, Co-owner and Manager Director of Torquay International School reviews the evolution of the relation between independent schools and agents since the internet came into use in the 1990s.
There was then a sense that the internet would enable schools to “cut out the middle man”, than direct bookings would increase.
But twenty years later, “the role of the agent is as strong as ever and there has not been a huge increase in the number of direct bookings received by most schools”, says McNally. Agent continue to play a key role in the industry. Booking a language course, unlike booking a flight or a hotel requires “counselling, advice and even emotional support.” And with so much choice available on the internet, students require reliable, impartial, local guidance.
While some in the industry speculate that the future is not so bright for independent language schools who have to compete with large chains and groups, McNally thinks that independents actually have “a secure and solid hold” in the industry, with a growing client base who prefers the more personal service they offer. “We independents can provide personalised, flexible, focused service with a commitment and passion the large groups cannot match,” he adds.
Kevin McNally, Co-owner and Managing Director of TIS