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Turkey: Atlas, EdCon agencies bullish for 2016

One of Turkey’s largest education agencies, Atlas, held its annual employee professional development seminar in Istanbul this month, where employees learned new sales tactics and gained market insight from key partner providers and The PIE News.

The event included third-party insight from Sara Custer, The PIE News, Simon Baker, Stafford House, Faisal Hakim, Embassy English, Uktu Ibik, OIEG and Hauke Tallon and Scott Bushell, The London School of English.

"We are expecting to increase our numbers for another at least 10%"

The event comes on the back of double digit growth for the company last year and marks a trend in the agency sector of many larger companies aiming to further professionalise business practices.

Seminars delivered at the weekend event covering visa updates, trends in the language travel sector, insight into idiosyncracies of the Turkish market and comments on global higher education mobility.

Sara Custer, deputy editor at The PIE News, gave delegates an update from major study travel markets, underlining the growth in demand for destinations like Ireland and Malta as the UK loses market share.

Atlas reported growth of 14% for 2015 alongside a 17% increase in sales from EdCon, the agency it acquired in 2012.

The company’s director, Mesud Yilmaz, confirmed the agency’s projected growth for 2016 reflects overall trends mentioned by Custer, with Canada winning market share.

“We are expecting to increase our numbers for another at least 10%,” he said. “There is an obvious shift from bookings going to the States, to Canada. We had a big increase in Canadian numbers by 50% last year.”

“There is also a big shift of UK EFL numbers going to Ireland,” Yilmaz continued. “Still the UK is our main destination but Ireland is picking up, so we think this will continue.”

Turkey’s growing interest in Canada as a study destination was marked by Baris Satar, trade commissioner for the government of Canada at the event.

“The UK is our main destination but Ireland is picking up”

Representatives from partner providers including Study Group, Embassy English, Stafford HouseThe London School of English and Oxford International Education Group also gave perspectives from the school side.

Simon Baker, regional sales director at Stafford House, compared Turkish agents to partners in other countries. “Turkey is not an early booking market but we have Swiss agents who already want to book for 2017,” he said, adding,  “Building relationships is key in Turkey.”

Faisal Hakim, regional sales director for Central Asia, Russia & Baltics, Turkey & Africa for Embassy English, agreed that communication flow is central to the school-agent relationship in Turkey.

Commenting on top agencies that stand out as global benchmarks, Hakim highlighted STB in Brazil, ESL in Switzerland and iae Global in Korea.

Hauke Tallon, managing director of The London School of English, meanwhile, argued that online education, while growing in use, ultimately presents little threat to student mobility and will be beneficial to create blended classrooms.

The event was attended by agents from Atlas’s six locations across Turkey and from its offices in Kharkiv, Ukraine and London.

Atlas joins other agencies worldwide, including STB and IE Intercambio in Brazil, ESL in Europe and Star Travel in Russia, that organise major annual events bringing together agent employees and partner providers.

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