SZ: We organise over 40 of the leading international student recruitment fairs annually in Latin America, specialised agent workshops in various parts of the world, and a number of other services for international institutions recruiting students such as our agents’ database. We organise a series of eight international student recruitment fairs in Brazil in March called Salao do Estudante and another series of seven in September. Outside of Brazil, our fairs span Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. Next year we’ll have one in Mexico as well.
The PIE: That is enough to keep you busy.
SZ: Yes but we also have agent workshops in Brazil, Canada, Turkey (the Global Education Agents Workshop that we’ve started in partnership with a2) and new ones in the USA & China as well.
The PIE: Tell me about the one in Turkey?
SZ: Whenever we plan events we do them a good couple of years in advance and we were discussing doing an agent workshop in Europe jointly with [local event organiser] a2. The discussion was around Barcelona and picking somewhere where there wasn’t already a workshop but eventually we settled on Istanbul. It’s easy for people to fly in and out of, it’s a wonderful city, and the weather is still very pleasant in October.
“Istanbul is a wonderful city, and the weather is still very pleasant in October”
The PIE: Going back to student fairs – how hard is it to get lots and lots of students to attend?
SZ: We have been operating in Brazil since 1995 so our events are very well known in the country. Every major agency also participates in the Salao do Estudante fairs. Despite our strong pre-registration vetting, we had queues of over 300 metres to get in this year and fire marshals operated a one in one out system to get into the fair.
The PIE: Is social media an important part of your marketing campaigns?
SZ: Yes, we have a massive social media campaign. We have over 34,000 followers on our Facebook page for Brazil and over 33,000 for the rest of Latin America.
However, one of the most important things especially for Brazil or Latin America in general is you can attract as many students as you want but you have to get the parents too, because at the end of the day the parents are the ones who pay. So we do a lot of high profile promotion in travel, family and business magazines – something no other event organiser in Latin America does.
“In the next five years, Brazil is going to have the two biggest events on the planet”
The PIE: If I ask you to look in the crystal ball and say where the industry is going in terms of demand, what do you see?
SZ: I think numbers are going to continue to grow. I don’t have any doubt about that because students will always want to learn more. People are always wanting to travel and have an international experience. And certainly in Latin America having a second language or having an international qualification is a big plus on your CV. [more>>]