At the moment the venture is exclusive to France, but plans are on the table for Berlitz offerings in Germany, Austria, England, Italy and Spain. If the pilot goes well Berlitz says it will “seriously invest” in the project.
Berlitz-owned language school ELS has been using AILS for many years as its European agent. The company recognised the growing demand for study abroad among teenagers and twenty-somethings, especially to learn English, and wanted to move into the market.
“We are yet to have a company that attracts students from this market – to inform the parents and deal with all the personal issues that they may have when they go abroad – so we decided to partner with AILS and we decided to integrate in our offering most of the ELS schools around the world,” said Marc Verger, Berlitz France’s regional director.
The AILS Paris office has served as the website’s headquarters after going live in December. “AILS does the operations as professional experts and they send us the leads,” confirmed Laurent Potier, AILS operations manager. “For AILS this partnership is an opportunity to grow our distribution network, as Berlitz has more than 25 schools in France.”
If the pilot goes well, Berlitz says it will “seriously invest” in the project
The site’s main objective is to promote Berlitz and ELS schools (55 in the US, two in Canada and one in Australia). But AILS has contributed some outside partner schools from its portfolio such as Madrid-based Estudio Sampere. However, Verger said: “By the end of August and September we’ll have to make the decision to still use outside partners or not. I expect we’ll be using less and less.”
Despite Berlitz’s global presence (550 schools worldwide) the centres are not all equipped to receive international students. But Verger confirmed that they are looking at teaming up with local universities to offer students accommodation options over the summer.
If successful, the project could see Berlitz grow into an agent/language provider service reminiscent of recent ventures from Kaplan.
“This is a local initiative at the moment but we are considering it on a bigger scale. Maybe not next year but I think within two years time we should know whether or not we want to invest seriously or keep it local,” said Verger.