The ‘Association of Belgian Education and Language Immersion Operators’ is made up of some the country’s most renowned study and travel organisations.
Set to be launched in early 2018, ABELIO president and Information Planet Belgium director Jérémy Henry told The PIE News the association was created to lobby the Belgian government as one body and establish a platform where best practice can be shared.
“It took two years of discussion, but now we are beginning to develop our website and create the marketing material for ABELIO,” said Henry.
“As agencies, we all have to face the same challenges so it is good that some of the country’s biggest organisations in the sector are working together and sharing how we deal with the same issues,” he continued.
“The Dutch and French markets may be larger, but it’s good for the schools to have a diverse market and we want to put Belgium on the map”
“Our main aim is to lobby the Belgian government as one body because I think we are not really considered a specific market in Belgium; we are segmented into study travel or and tourism & travel agencies.”
Henry said another goal of ABELIO is to highlight all of the opportunities and programs available to the Belgium public.
“What we would like to eventually create is a quality level for the Belgian members and operators of ABELIO, which would work as a quality reference for the public and the clients.”
Asked if it was difficult for all eight member companies to come to an agreement on the best direction for ABELIO, Henry said that despite their differences, each member organisation wants the best outcome for the industry in Belgium.
He said an administration body made up of five members was created to make initial discussions easier before any final decisions are agreed upon.
In order to lower companies’ financial investment at this early stage of the project, the members are drawing on resources available to them in each of their respective companies.
“The initial membership fee is small, and all the members have resources we can use – for example, the skills for creating a website. So we are trying to use these resources where we can to lower our initial investment.”
Henry said the biggest challenge to date has been the lack of data analysis on the Belgian market and its competition, which could be used by ABELIO to highlight the value of the industry to the government.
“I think Belgium is a small market, but when we talk to schools, universities and our partners, they are interested in having more and more students from Belgium,” added Henry.
“The Dutch and French markets may be larger, but it’s good for the schools to have a diverse market and we want to put Belgium on the map.”
The founding agencies of ABELIO are WEP, Information Planet Belgium, Langues Vivantes, ESL Education, Language Studies Brussels, EF Education, Kasteel van Velm and Languages & Travel.