The PIE: What sort of destinations or programmes are most likely to be chosen by your clients?
GA: Well, in most English speaking countries let’s say the USA, UK and there is a increase in Ireland actually because of similarities in cultures and I don’t know why but it’s just the way it is and people like Ireland.
“The Prime Minister gave you his business card?!”
The PIE: Since when did you see Ireland becoming more popular?
GA: Actually the Irish prime minister [met] us in Ireland recently in October and we had a meeting and …
The PIE: Really? When was this?
GA: In October, last year. It was the MEI [Marketing English in Ireland] workshop… [see The PIE coverage of his attendance here].
It was really nice and we had a chance to talk with the Prime Minister and I found the opportunity to talk about the problems that I had during the visa process because, you know, whatever happens to me happens to my students as well.
So I said if you want to increase your economy then you need to help. He gave me his business card, that was also flattering because…
The PIE: The Prime Minister gave you his business card?!
GA: Yes exactly… [laughs]. I never had experienced this my own prime minister! I’ll keep it as a memory. We have pictures together, he’s hugging me!
The PIE: Did the MEI workshop and meeting him, did that have a serious impact on the way you counsel about Ireland?
GA: Yes, definitely, definitely. If the Prime Minister acts like this then this means that his people are like that as well.
The PIE: So how do you see your business developing in the future?
“They need to have a list of not the names of the colleges but the changes that colleges make”
GA: People who really want to stand strong in the sector, they need to understand what the students want and they need to know and understand the business as well, so it’s not a matter of simply making contact with the student and the college and bringing them together. That’s a one-time client, but if you want to make a strong relationship, the next time clients want something else they should know that you’re the first person to go. So that’s one thing what I’m trying to do.
The PIE: You mentioned there are a lot of agencies in the Turkish market, how many agencies are there in Istanbul you think?
GA: Oh there are tonnes actually and plus travel agents also do what we do, so it’s a mixture of everything. I think between 50 to 80? You would find a lot, actually there would be individuals that don’t have companies who do this too, like I used to do it once.
Those who succeed will be the ones who take the risk of doing business and who will join the fam trips, try to explore the world and not simply send operational [staff] there. The business owner should [attend] each year and assess the colleges themselves, as to what kind of challenges do they have? They need to have a list of not the names of the colleges but the changes that colleges make.