“We combine social elements (like Facebook), ratings and reviews (like TripAdvisor), recommendations and e-commerce functionality (like Amazon) – to provide a unique community marketplace for the language travel industry,” the Canada-based company announced.
The site allows potential English language students to see how other students have rated destinations and schools; browse and search for schools based on their preferences/interests; pay for their courses and accommodation online; and possibly organise an internship. The site also promises 24/7 online support from multilingual mentors – and is hoping that “traditional” agencies can play a role in the site by becoming mentors themselves.
Peter Lukomskyj, COO at ESL Explorer, told The PIE News that ESL Explorer acts as an agency like any other; receiving commission from schools for bookings made via the site. It will share this commission with ‘mentors’ (and agencies can sign up to be a mentor), should they be actively involved in a booking process that happens within the site.
It will share this commission with ‘mentors’ (and agencies can sign up to be a mentor)
The company is hoping to attract agencies who get involved with the pre- and post-sales services offered. “We are a technology company at core,” explained Lukomskyj.
ESL Explorer also caters for educators, Lukomskyj explained, by providing a marketing-savvy window onto their brand. “Schools will have their own profile and their own dashboard; they can see what students are saying about their school.”
The goal of the site is to become the “Facebook” of the industry with educators and agencies conducting business via its portal. A tuition discount available to students (again, taken out of normal commission margin) will be available for those who refer friends; which builds on the core social networking aspect of the site.
At present, around 250 schools are listed and Lukomskyj said all schools are welcome to register and create their own profile. The company has employed “School Success Managers” to encourage educators to leverage maximum advantage from the site.
“When students choose schools based on transparent reviews, the schools will focus on quality of education”
Nick Miller, founder and CEO, came up with the idea after spending time in Korea, where the site is launching immediately, before rolling out in the Middle East and then Brazil. Miller believes the site will help students circumnavigate agencies more interested in high commissions, to find courses that are right for them.
“We’re building technology that will do good in the world,” he said. “When students choose schools based on transparent reviews, the schools will focus on quality of education.
The site has partner schools in 72 cities across nine countries, among them top names such as St Giles and EC. It is free for students and accepts “industry standard” referral rates from schools.