StudyWorld London 2015 – were you there?

Brilliant, well-organised, useful, smoothly run, enjoyable: all these words and more have been said by agents, educators and industry providers about StudyWorld this year.

The event is now in its ninth year at the Hilton London Metropole, the only hotel in the city big enough for everyone to meet, eat, and socialise together, with accommodation for all the agents and the educators and service providers who want it. As I write this in one of the cosy socialising areas between the spacious appointment halls, within a few steps of some excellent coffee, there are people around me having extra meetings, catching up with existing partners or just taking a few minutes out from what’s a full-on few days. It’s the most relaxed and friendly hive of activity you can imagine, thanks to the way it’s organised.

This year, it’s just been too busy to write a daily blog so here’s a few of the highlights of the different ways that StudyWorld creates a unique workshop experience for everyone – and we’ll follow up with more about this year’s event over the next few weeks – so do keep coming back.

Seminars
Part of the unique StudyWorld philosophy is that the professionals who attend want and need much more than just meetings. Many of you come a long way, and appreciate the complete experience we provide.

So we run an introductory seminar programme while the halls are being prepared on the first day, catering to the different needs of different delegates. First up was sales guru Dylis Guyan, talking about common business mistakes, who began by reminding us that if you want something different to happen, you have to do something different.

Businesses tended to make three mistakes, she said. The first was to give up too soon, perhaps after sending out a letter or doing something on social media. “The problem is if you move on every time you don’t get a response you eventually become a victim of burnout and dread the next day. You think, where am I going to find the next client. It’s easy to think people aren’t interested but they aren’t saying no, they’re saying not right now.”

Quoting research which said half of people didn’t follow up with prospective clients at all, and that only two per cent of sales were made on the first contact, she pointed out that 80 per cent of sales were made between the 5th and 12th contact. “If you are only contacting once or twice you are effectively leaving 98 per cent of business on the table for competitors to pick up. How many prospective students are you losing because you give up too soon?” The answer? A written contacts strategy.

By contrast, the next seminar was about how important for business it is to stay well and energetic: dietitian Celynn Erasmus began by pointing out that while knowing the right things to do were common knowledge, they aren’t necessarily common practice. “You need to call yourself your own CEO – that’s Chief Energy Officer… when we’re time poor and stress rich, good habits go out of the window.”

The seminars were popular, as always, with our delegates. Nick Barnard of Manor Courses in Brighton, at StudyWorld to boost new agent contacts for his small family business, said: “I was at the seminars on health and selling: they were useful and interesting.”

Networking
We had four fantastic events in three days this year – normal for StudyWorld, but it always makes our delegates very happy as they continue conversations in a more relaxed atmosphere, or catch up with existing partners over a quick drink. Unusually, all the social events are included in the ticket price – which means everyone takes part and everyone benefits.

We started at 7pm on Monday evening with a reception just for our newcomers – who had a fabulous time in a packed room with StudyWorld staff to help make introductions.

Alicia Affonso of Learn Work Explore in Spain was at StudyWorld for particular reasons: “I wanted to meet with a lot of educational providers because I wanted to offer English courses which were affordable for the Spanish market, to meet people in FE and also work experience for young Spanish people so they can find work back home. I want to improve their level of English and make them more employable in Spain.”

She added: “I chose StudyWorld for two reasons. I would love to be an English UK partner agency and I want to expand the market I am working in.” At our Welcome Reception, the hotel breakfast room was transformed into a stunning garden, with hanging tea lights and the StudyWorld logo picked out in grass – and the room was busy with huge numbers of delegates either catching up with existing partners or making new contacts.

Eddie Byers, Chief Executive of English UK, StudyWorld’s organiser, welcomed delegates, saying: “This is one of the oldest education events in the world – old but gold. It’s a special event and an important time in the industry when we come together – yes to do business, this is why we’re here but also to form relationships with each other.” John O’Connor of platinum sponsor FPP EDU Media told us how he met his wife when he was backpacking and she was studying in London, adding: “It’s important for students to study abroad – they have different backgrounds and all want some great opportunity… this industry changes lives for the better, and we’re all part of this.”

Other social events included our Tuesday evening reception outside the appointment halls where we caught up with Garry Shearan from Castel in Ireland, wearing a smart red bow tie. “This is my first time here and I’m really enjoying it. StudyWorld is perfectly run and organised.

“Why am I wearing a bow tie? I wanted people to say, the guy with the bow tie is really interesting  and we need to send students to him in Ireland.”

Later, we bussed our delegates out to Covent Garden’s Sway bar for an International Quiz which was won by a team including English UK’s deputy chief executive Huan Japes and our vice-chair Steve Phillips. It really wasn’t fixed. Cathy Hannan of Belfast Metropolitan College, who was also on the winning team, was grinning. “We have had a great evening here with colleagues, and really enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot about what we can do here, it’s a really well-organised event. And it’s definitely useful to get everybody together socially.”

Appointments
As usual, the halls were buzzing, but without being too noisy and busy. Here’s what some of our delegates thought.

Chris Moonie from Mackenzie School in Edinburgh said: “I’m happy with the organisation and space – there’s a lot of space here so it isn’t cramped. What’s interesting me is that I think the market is changing and agents are looking for something new. We’re really trying to develop that side of things and I think it’s working.”

Vivek Gupta of Global Student was at StudyWorld for the first time, and said; “It’s a good place to network and find out what’s happening in the industry as well and exchange ideas. I have met so many agents.”

Angela Palmer from ECX hadn’t been to any agent workshop before. “It’s going really well – I’m really pleasantly surprised by the reaction I am getting and how friendly everyone is. There is a really nice atmosphere here and I am surprised by how much I am enjoying myself. I am really impressed. I went to the party and that was good as well. I think coming was well worth it.”

And finally, we caught up with service provider David Girecourt of Guard.Me as he was packing his stand away at the end. How was it? “It was fantastic, I never thought I could fit so many extra meetings in with everybody. Something about industry now knowing what they do and support from English UK. It was brilliant.”

Want to know more? We talked to many, many more of our lovely delegates and will blog more about StudyWorld 2015 here over the next few weeks – and we’ll also have a picture gallery available soon.

Do keep coming back!

Siobhan Baccas

Siobhán runs StudyWorld London, our world-famous annual student recruitment event.