Course providers and their agent partners share a common goal – to provide their clients with a memorable and successful study travel experience. The three pillars upon which such a successful study holiday hinge are an effective English language learning course, a dynamic age-appropriate social programme and the provision of accommodation which satisfies all your client’s needs and meets his or her expectations.
Through rigorous and ongoing inspections, schools must meet all standards of the IALC Quality Scheme before being granted membership. The IALC Accommodation Code, for example, clearly details what host family or home stay accommodation, residential and other types of accommodation should offer so your clients are already guaranteed minimum standards as stipulated by this code.
Since IALC accredited language schools are independent, you should expect a certain level of care and attention to detail when it comes to the provision of accommodation. It is in a school’s best interest to demand quality from all third party accommodation providers to ensure that quality standards are continuously being met. Some of the larger well-established independent schools own and run their own accommodation. European School of English in Malta, for example, owns and runs a number of accommodation facilities including an in-house residence, The George Urban Boutique Hotel just across the road from the school and the 4-Star Superior Coastline Hotel, which it recently added to its portfolio. The hotel, which is currently being refurbished, is set to open its doors in May 2015. It will offer its clients various room types including self-catering studio apartments, family rooms, deluxe rooms and suites. It will boast 3 swimming pools, 2 tennis courts, agym, a main restaurant and bar as well as on site classrooms.
The level of personalization you bring to your consultation with a prospecting client, will determine how well you key into the type of accommodation which is best-suited to him or her. Is your client looking for long-term budget accommodation or a hotel room for a shorter duration? What is his or her age? Does he require supervision and does the school provide this? Would he prefer to reside with a host family or to share a self-catering apartment with other like-minded students? Understanding his or her learning objectives, time available, budget, age and accommodation preferences is the way forward to giving your client the best guidance when it comes to choosing the right accommodation.
To be able to offer such a wide range of options, you need to be well-acquainted with what your partner schools offer, and what they don’t. Working with IALC accredited well-established language schools is central to your success in being able to have such a wealth of accommodation options to offer your clients. Larger, well-established institutions like European School of English in Malta, will offer a wide-ranging selection of accommodation options which will allow you to match your client to best-suited accommodation type – the more flexibility you have, the easier you will close your sale.
A client may direct his complaint to you, as his or her agent, or to the school directly. Either way, it is important that the complaint is taken seriously and acted upon immediately, no matter how trivial it may seem. A leaking tap? A broken toaster? Dirty linen? They need to be seen to. Your client will judge the standard of your service before and after he has booked a study travel trip with you, so it is important to keep your standards throughout. If your client feels that he had been treated properly and has enjoyed his or her study travel holiday booked through your agency, he or she will be back again. And we all know that repeat clients are the best indicator that the study travel packages you are offering your clients are a success.
Rachel Falzon is Academic and Business Development Manager at ESE, European School of English in Malta (www.ese-edu.com) and Business Development Manager for Claret Group of Companies.