Mauricio Pucci, CEO of Sydney-based agency Information Planet, founded Education HiFy last year and has invested AUS$3 million to “help move the industry forward”.
This new platform enables agencies to view and select courses from the entire database of options listed, or a customised selection of school partners, and then book seamlessly, with the schools using EducationHiFy able to accept the booking directly into their booking system.
Similar to Global Distribution Systems (GDS) used by the travel agency industry, Pucci wants to bring a Salesforce-based custom-built booking system in to shake up the process side of the sector.
His platform already contains data on 5,000 courses in 308 schools across 15 destinations – all partners of the global agency Information Planet which has 29 offices in 4 continents.
Pucci aims to have 500 agencies on board by the end of 2015 using the system.
“Agents are the first priority as they can immediately benefit from using the HiFy platform”
“Agents are the first priority as they can immediately benefit from using the HiFy platform,” Pucci told The PIE News.
“They can start searching, comparing and quoting prices using our simple and easy tools,” he said, adding that the platform is also a CRM management tool, allowing agents to control leads, tasks and manage student enquiries.
Quotations and comparisons can be accessed in multiple languages and currencies while information is updated daily, explained Pucci.
Schools are allowed a free one-month trial of the software before being quoted an annual fee.
The platform was first screened by industry players at the International Association of Language Centres annual conference in Brisbane last year and was met with mixed responses. Some schools felt further commoditising the industry could threaten smaller independent providers.
But Jean-Marc Alberola, President of Bridge in the US described the platform as “an incredible piece of software”.
Meanwhile Robynne Walsh, Principal of Phoenix Language Academy in Perth argued the system goes against the personal qualities of independent schools.
Responding to the concerns this month, Pucci said boutique and small schools in particular are actually set to benefit from the software.
“They will showcase the qualities of their school to a larger and more diverse international audience,” he said.
The system allows quotations and comparisons to be made in multiple languages and currencies across 5,000 different courses around the world.
“Instead of just competing in prices and promotions with the big schools, they will differentiate themselves with their quality of delivery, standard of client care and customer service.”
He claimed that the platform is set to take the industry into a new era of agent relations. “The biggest challenge is to simplify the exchange of information using new technology and many young people in our industry are ready to adopt these changes,” he said.
In addition to Pucci’s own AUS$3m investment, Education HiFy received backing through the Australian government’s Research & Development grants and was the first educational platform to receive an Export Marketing Development Grant.
After gaining “very positive feedback” from schools in the pilot phase, promotion of the platform will begin in Latin America and Western Europe with plans to expand globally.
From May, additional schools will be invited to be listed.