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Meet WYSTC 2014 speaker Samuel Vetrak from StudentMarketing

12 September 2014
12 Sep 2014 -
Samuel Vetrak

Ahead of his Why educational travel will be the top choice for next generation travellers seminar at WYSTC 2014, Samuel Vetrak, CEO and Founder of StudentMarketing, took some time out to tell us a little more about himself and his session: 

Q1: Why did you set up StudentMarketing?

I have always been fascinated by the potential of data and how effective data-driven marketing can be. It saves money and delivers so much better than doing without it! So we deliver it to the international youth and student travel industry.

Q2: Who are your clients and what do you do for them?

Our clients are governments, destinations, associations, schools, operators, and investors: Organisations that want to increase their understanding of international student travellers. We deliver market intelligence to identify opportunities for our clients, and marketing solutions to tap into those opportunities.

Q3: In your view, is reporting and data capture improving across the sector or are there still areas of weakness? 

We see progress – more research is being done and there is an improvement in quality. Importantly, there is a noticeable momentum with efforts to document the sector thoroughly and according to standards. The appetite and first steps are there, long way to go though, and easy to go off track.

Q4: Have the favoured/preferred destinations for educational travel changed? Where are the new ‘hot spots’ for educational travel?

When it comes to individual students, the USA and the UK are still ahead, even though the first is losing it’s market share to destinations that try harder in their offer and marketing – Canada, Australia, China. When it comes to student group travel, the USA is rapidly gaining popularity.

Q5:  We have read a lot about Canada’s rise as an important destination for educational travel. In your view, what factors have contributed to Canada’s success?

Canada has always had a great offer for international youth and student travellers, the international markets however didn’t know about it. Coordinated marketing effort – be it on a national, provincial or sector association level – considerably contributed to the popularity of Canada as a destination for internationals.

Q6: In your experience, are the subjects and interests that young people are choosing to study changing?

Yes. Not only do different generations have different preferences, but market demand changes as well, so the demand for particular subjects at a particular time changes. Now, Business and Finance are studied more than ever before, whereas social disciplines are not so popular.

Q7: Are agents still an important part of educational travel and are education providers still using them – or has their role been squeezed out? 

This sector is unique and the use of agents varies, depending on the product.

International educational travel is a matter of significant investment, often a once-in-a-lifetime purchase of an intangible, complex product: Lots of information and experience sharing is needed to arrive at decisions, all this contributes to an understandable need and rising demand for STOs and agencies.

Some segments of educational travel are more standardized and commoditised (eg short-term adult ELT courses) than others (undergraduate studies), therefore, direct booking is more likely. Also, the increasing role of customer review portals, making it easier for student customers to book direct, is decreasing the use of agents.

Q8: If you were to give one data-driven piece of advice to a new, educational travel business, what would that be?

You are entering a reasonably mature, competitive market. To be effective, do your research and then commit. Having too broad a focus will dilute your efforts and your chances of being successful.

Q9: We are looking forward to seeing you at WYSTC in Dublin.  Who and what are you looking forward to seeing at WYSTC Dublin?

Listening to the expert speakers, meeting industry stakeholders.

Q10: What do you never travel without?

Excitement.

Don’t miss Samuel’s seminar on Thursday, 25 September from 11:20 to 12:40 in Liffey Meeting Room 2, 1st floor at the CCD.