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News & Press: Events 2014

ALTO Conference New York 2014

03 June 2014   (0 Comments)
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Please watch the conference summary video here

Jean-Marc Alberola and Leanne LinacreCatrin Diamantino and Inaqui Alvarez-Valdes Speed datingJohn McDonough and Eimear Harrison

Key issues facing the industry such as technological developments and the changing role of teachers and agents were discussed at the latest ALTO Conference in New York.

Presentations by Marijo Bos, President of Bos Advisors and PWN Global network, Daniel Sieberg, Author and Head of Media Outreach at Google, and Heidi Grant Halvorson, Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School gave participants tools to improve their business and personal lives. From reconstructing goals to simply putting down the smartphone, ALTO members came away with practical tweaks to daily business life.

The presentations complemented two networking evenings and a “Speed Dating” where leaders could spend a few minutes each with other leaders, brought decision makers in the industry together to share ideas and create connections. Everyone gathered the first evening at Times Square restaurant Buca di Beppo for a welcome dinner. The following night, participants enjoyed a night of dinner and dancing with views of the Manhattan skyline on a cruise around the city. 

During the conference, Sieberg examined how screens are becoming a barrier to the rest of the world and offered some challenges and practical tips about how to take the time to connect more on a human level. Grant Halvorson’s engaging presentation taught participants how to re-frame and follow through on goals while changing their mind-set to optimise chances to create success.

One activity on the emergent future of the language travel business in Bos’s presentation asked participants to identify which factors are diminishing, remaining constant, and emerging in language and educational travel and sparked spirited but friendly debate.

Leaders considered whether the demand for face-to-face learning will remain and discussed the impact the growing middle class will have on the numbers and level of language learners.

The role of agents also factored into the conversation, with many agreeing that agents would continue to play a big role in the industry, though in different ways in the coming years.
The Industry Panel discussion continued and expanded this dialogue. Sean Hale, former President of Embassy CES, moderated a big-name panel that included José Carlos Hauer Santos, CEO of STB Brazil; Nick Tellwright, Director of Online Development at INTO; David Anthonisz, Sales and Marketing Director of Pathways at ISIS Education Group; and Rahmi Mesud Yilmaz, Co-Owner and Managing Director of Atlas Private Educational Services.

The possibilities and problems of interconnecting schools’ online booking systems with those of agents’ led off the discussion.

Panellists and ALTO members considered determining standardized terms and fields a possible starting point. As this is something ALTO could take on, the organisation has started exploring standardization and hopes to come up with a mandate soon.

Industry Panel members Rahmi Mesud Yilmaz, Sean Hale, Jose Carlos Hauer Santos, Nick Tellwright and David Anthonisz 

The panel also discussed how digital interactions are affecting the industry and how changing technology will change the role of the teacher. As students who are more and more reliant on technology arrive, they will look to technology as a resource for learning, though the teacher will remain an important resource as well. With new technology, possibilities are becoming more sophisticated for students to start learning before they are on site and continue after they return home.

The place of homestays in language travel programmes inspired some further debate, while the possibilities for the sector in the next five years led to speculation about dynamic pricing.

Panellists engaged with conference participants to discuss how, while dynamic pricing could be great for the industry, it could also lead to problems such as different students paying different prices. As moderator Sean Hale pointed out, despite differences in opinion on dynamic pricing and however commoditised the industry is, everyone is still selling education.

Held for the second year, the New York conference aimed to further ALTO’s goal of creating a global platform for the language travel industry’s leaders to develop the industry. 

If you are an ALTO member, please log in to the members' area and watch the keynote speakers' recorded sessions at New York Conference 2014 video files under Document Store menu item. 


Kevin McNally, Sean Hale and Brent Hobson Anastassia Romanenko, Nico Dowling and Mauricio Pucci analysing the VIA (values in action) chart with Marijo Bos.   Branca Petrovic, Kurt Krummenacher, Mauricio Pucci, Leanne Linacre and Anastassia Romanenko at the Dinner and Party Cruise