StudyTravel Magazine: AI, digital marketing and student markets discussed at EUK conference

Conversational marketing, artificial intelligence, how to use social media and digital marketing tactics and empowering sales teams and agents were among the topics discussed at English UK's Marketing Conference this year.

Oct 4, 2023 Study Travel Magazine

The 2023 Marketing Conference was held in London on Friday 29th September and was consciously planned to cater for those just starting out in a marketing role in ELT and others that have been multi-tasking while teams are being re-built post Covid, said the organisers.

Research company BONARD kicked off the event examining the UK’s position in the global ELT context and explored some early indicators for marketing and recruitment in 2024.

Ivana Bartosik, International Education Director at BONARD, noted that global ELT destination recovery levels in 2022 varied, with Ireland showing the greatest rate of recovery, up to 88 per cent of 2019 levels in student numbers and 97 per cent in student weeks, and New Zealand showing the slowest rate of recovery, up just 10 per cent in student numbers and nine per cent in student weeks. The UK, meanwhile, showed more promise, recovering to 53 per cent in student weeks and 47 per cent in student numbers in 2022.

BONARD also identified the global ranking of top source markets to help identify future opportunities for UK providers. Ivana confirmed that the top market globally for ELT in 2022 was Brazil, representing 674,716 student weeks, followed by Colombia (587,427) and Japan (564,338). China, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Italy, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico completed the top 10.

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The UK’s market share of the top three source countries, however, was relatively small when compared with other ELT destinations, with the UK only accounting for seven per cent of the total share of Brazilian student weeks, Colombia just two per cent and Japan just eight per cent..

Several ELT source markets achieved recovery levels above and beyond 100 per cent of 2019 figures in 2022, noted Ivana, including four Latin American markets (Colombia 110 per cent), Chile (127 per cent), Argentina (135 per cent) and Peru (134 per cent), and early indications are these markets have already outperformed 2022 figures, she said, further highlighting the opportunities there are for UK ELT providers to explore the Latin American market.

The conference programme featured several talks on AI and digital technology including a session on how to convert the students of tomorrow with TikTok ads by Herbert Gerzer of Lurn Media. Another session by Philippe Taza of HEM looked at how to track multiple touchpoints in the student booking process to help capture and nurture bookings effectively, while a session by George Chilton of Hubbub Labs looked at whether artificial intelligence tools could help or hurt school marketing in 2024.

Other topics at the one-day conference included how to build a culture of ‘self-service’ where admin staff, trainers, and agents can be empowered and engaged by Faeza Afzal  from The London School of English ; how to turn parents into ambassadors through digital marketing tactics by Gina Rodriguez of GR School Marketing and how to maintain a cohesive brand identity by Ann Hawkings.

Market Panel: China

There were also panel discussions on China and Saudi Arabia. The former, featuring Igor Skibickij from BONARD, Mark Henebury from the UK Department for Business and Trade, May Huang from Chinese agency Edulosophy International Limited and Rebecca Stead from Bell English, gave student recruitment predictions for 2024 and the changing needs of this student market post pandemic.

While the Market panel: Saudi Arabia, featuring Patrik Pavlacic from BONARD, Robin Garforth from EC English , Saeed Adam from Malvern House International PLC and Shoko Doherty from Celtic English Academy , looked at the landscape for Saudi students considering the UK as their study destination and how it has evolved beyond the Saudi scholarship schemes.

The closing keynote was given by motivational speaker, Nigel Risner, who encouraged delegates to be 'in the room' when in the workplace environment. He also ecplored how to communicate with people better and be committed to making changes to get the things you want.

Jodie Gray , Chief Executive of English UK, said: "It was great to see so many new people alongside more established industry faces and there was a real buzz about the day. It was a very different crowd too – much more marketing-focused and on top of digital marketing techniques and issues."

English UK is hosting several more events in the coming months including StudyWorld China Roadshow 2023 at the end of November and StudyWorld London in January 2024.

Check out our Grapevine gallery here to see photos from the event.

English UK represents more than 300 accredited language centres in both the public and private sectors.

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