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Brazilian travel giant CVC moves into study travel

CVC, one of Latin America’s biggest travel agencies, has hired former STB CEO Santuza Bicalho to head up a new division for study travel, which the company hopes will account for 4.5% of turnover in sales for the business.

"CVC will invest in a market that is not explored by most of the companies trading in Brazil: the lower middle class”

CVC will join the fray alongside many other study travel businesses advising on international study opportunities, but it is confident it can compete by targeting an under-exposed demographic.

“CVC will invest in a market that is not explored by most of the companies trading in Brazil: the lower middle class,” Bicalho told The PIE News. “This will be done by establishing agreements with schools that offer a competitive price together with excellency in customer service.”

She added that CVC will bundle short-term courses and accommodation with travel products and offer instalment plans for the consumer.

The first year investments are targeting a result of 30,000 student weeks and a growth of 30-45% year-on-year as the project develops.

“CVC will invest in a market that is not explored by most of the companies trading in Brazil: the lower middle class”

“The long-term view for CVC is to grow the language travel market from BRL 1.2 billion (US$454 million) to BRL 2.4 billion (US$905 million) in five years time,” related Bicalho.

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Santuza Bicalho, ex-Study Group and STB, has been appointed as CVC’s Head of Student Travel.

She said that CVC wants to sell to students and young professionals aged 18 to 25 looking for short courses of an average of two to four weeks during their holiday time.

Starting on Monday 19 January, Bicalho will be tasked with recruiting a team, selecting schools, training the sales force and structuring operations.

“I will be looking for English language schools in all English speaking countries, especially the UK, Canada and US,” she said.

“We will consider every school that is able to provide quality courses and a competitive price and we will also consider the school’s back-office efficiency – the simpler, the better.”

As Head of Student Travel, Bicalho will be in charge of a team of 12 and will report to CVC’s CEO, Luiz Eduardo Falco.

CVC is headquartered in Santo André, has 900 sales offices and serves two million passengers per year. The company’s core business is currently made up of 60% domestic travel planning and the rest is international travel.

Bicalho joins CVC from Study Group, where she has been Senior Vice President, Global Sales. Prior to this she was CEO of STB, one of several sizable study abroad agencies, also including IE Intercambio and CI.

According to Euromonitor, CVC was the largest tour operator in Latin America in 2012 based on the value of bookings and in 2013 its sales added up to nearly BRL 4.5 billion (US$1.7 billion).

Its Notice to the Market about the new venture is here.

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