Interview with Marina Mogilko, Founder, LinguaTrip
Is the traditional student travel agent fading away in favour of peer-to-peer platforms or ‘barter economy’ arrangements for travel services?
Short two week language school courses are commoditised and rarely require a travel or booking agent. They are chosen on price, location and pictures/reviews. Which are all available online.
Even ’standard’ 26 week courses are now being sold online. However, anything more complicated or requiring more dialogue (for example: visa required) is more likely to involve an agent.
What advantages are there in being an OTA for language travel? and what are the challenges?
Being online means there are less geographical restrictions. When we started LinguaTrip we presumed we would sell ‘locally’ in fact most of our first sales were off shore. Immediately we could sell anywhere.
Some buyer markets are not ready for an OTA transaction and so we miss that sale by not having an office. Plus clients need to be able to scan and upload documents, on occasion people contact us that can’t, so we lose them.
How do you ensure quality and safety for consumers?
Providers must all be accredited (and show that accreditation) before they will be added to our platform. We carry out a vigilant screening process for all courses and all client reviews are uploaded to our site. Plus they can star rate there experience.
Can someone really be immersed in a language and culture with a smartphone in their hand all the time?
Smart phones are a double-edged sword, in many respects they make our lives easier and/or more fulfilling. In other respects they can create some challenges. What we do find the bigger the screen the better the interaction, but we also know your clients regularly find us first, on a smartphone and return later using a desktop or tablet.