Understand your market, communicate more effectively.

 

Understand your market, communicate more effectively.

Report from South East Asia (March 2015)

The Education New Zealand Fairs in Indonesia in early March afforded an opportunity to include a quick visit to Thailand and the Philippines.

Thailand: As mentioned in an earlier report, some agents have 100 or more New Zealand schools listed on their websites. This visit again reinforced my view that agents support those schools that support them.  Agents need to have activities going on in the market to stimulate interest, and there is increasing use of agent organised Fairs, or smaller scale seminars. Our assurance to agents that we will be active in the market, and support their Fairs and activities, was received very positively. They were also very happy to hear my report that we have made some progress on appointing an in-market staff member, which we hope to finalise within a couple of weeks.

As well as meeting agents, I had a very productive meeting with the Education New Zealand manager in Bangkok, Ms Chortip Pramoolpol. She is keen to help institutions develop links and pathways with relevant institutions in Thailand, and is helping one of our members make some very useful connections.

Philippines: Immigration New Zealand reported a steady increase in Student Visa applications, and the continued support from agents was heartening. It is still very much a price sensitive market for Level 7 “Pathway to Residence” qualifications, although the higher price for L8 courses is acceptable because of the additional immigration/visa  benefits. (Students are able to bring their partner with an open Work Visa, and their children can attend school as domestic students.) I had not considered the Philippines to be a market for school aged children, so I was a little surprised but pleased to learn that one of my most long-standing agents had enquired about sending a secondary school student to one of our member schools.

Indonesia: Education New Zealand was successful in attracting good numbers of pre-registrations for their Fairs in Jakarta and Surabaya – around 1600. Unfortunately, the numbers attending were somewhat less than that, generating some debate on the reasons. One reason is a question of timing, as the “recruitment cycle” for school leavers begins in August, at the start of students’ final year at school, and finishes in March, when intensive exam preparation begins. Fairs in early March then, may not be ideally timed for that market. On the other hand, March is probably a good time for June/July graduates to be considering where they will do post-graduate studies. Certainly, almost all of the students I spoke to (in Jakarta) were looking for masters or PhD courses “with a scholarship.” However, in Surabaya, while most students had that same interest, I did get a small number of very genuine enquiries for secondary school study.

At other Education New Zealand Fairs, all participating schools were given the entire database of registrations to follow up on, and that has proven very effective for us after the Viet Nam Fairs last year. However, we were told that we would only get the database of students who enquired specifically about us, a very unsatisfactory situation. I have reminded Education New Zealand that the whole purpose of a Fair is for students to find out the options – they (and participating schools) should not be constricted by students having to make a choice of course before they attend. Many have very unreasonable expectations, but are appreciative of having reality explained to them. I am hopeful that Education New Zealand will supply the entire database of registrations to all schools.

In addition to meeting agents I already knew well, I met some new agents who were helping other institutions at the Fairs. (I was somewhat surprised – I had been told clearly that agents were not invited to help at the Fair.) Following up with them, I have found one agent with an enquiry for a primary school, and another with an enquiry for “a small high school in a quiet city.” I am sure we can help! All very encouraging.

Overall, I was quite pleased, but will be much happier if we are given the student registration database.

I am planning a return trip later in the year to conduct a series of seminars and mini-fairs in 2nd and 3rd tier cities.

 

Bruce Cleland

Chairman

© Choose New Zealand 2015

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