Blog by Carolyn Blackmore
Chief Executive 2003 – 2016
The early Missions and why we started doing them: a high profile and popular activity from the outset.
Quality English is proud to be celebrating their first 15 years and, later this year, our 100th Mission.
Back in 2003 the question was always this: how to launch a new name (Quality English) and present an original concept (‘the best of independent English language schools’) to the crowded, competitive, global world of education.
This is what we did. Starting in Madrid in March 2004, we launched our Missions programme,. The schools and I, penguins and banners in hand, set off to introduce ourselves to the excellent agent partners we already knew and to others that we would like to know. A cohort of Aseproce agents enjoyed a reception, presentations and then meetings with QE’s original 12 schools. We then moved on to Rome where we were the guests of Pina Foti at her school, International Language School and other IALCA agents.
Here you can see Trevor Williams of the international School Exeter, myself with Pina and Paolo Barilari of I Centri prior to the meetings getting underway.
The concept of one day of meetings between QE schools and invited agents, in a carefully chosen and accessible hotel, was launched. It really was a ‘win-win’. The schools developed their relationships with the agents and the Quality English name was ‘out there’ – the Brand was launched. Foundations were laid.
As we approach our hundredth mission this year I can honestly say that it is a concept that has gone from strength to strength. Nothing has changed and we have visited all the main markets once, twice and in some cases five or six times.
The whole experience for an agent has improved. The Quality that underpins our offer is stronger than ever. They now meet many more schools, offering more variety than ever before - especially so since we launched Quality Education.
The whole experience for the QE school has improved. They meet many more new agents as our network of Quality Agents has expanded and invited agents increased vastly in number.
Fleet of foot and ever adaptable, we have made this model of marketing both effective and truly personal. It is a people industry and how better to engage both schools and agents than in this way.
Was it fun? It certainly was! Adventures in Moscow (just getting around – who had travelled furthest on the metro?); Train journeys round Germany, round Europe; payment issues in Almaty involving dramatic taxi rides looking for cash.
Was it interesting? Who would miss the opportunities we had to get to know the wonderful places students come from? Craft markets in Santiago and Buenos Aires (Judy Loren from Excel English always our guide); visiting the The Pyramid of the Sun at dawn, the largest building in Teotihuacan, just outside Mexico City; and many, many memorable meals where we have shared and talked and loved being part of QE.
Back in 2002, the founders of Quality English firmly believed that ‘collaboration is stronger than competition’. And so we still do today.