Ten years ago, ALTO members made the decision to re-invent the association and, taking a huge leap of faith, separated from WYSETC to form an independent professional association serving the needs of top-level industry professionals in the language travel industry.

The first ALTO Board (David Anthonisz – Chair, David Brown – Treasurer, Santuza Bicalho and Andrew Mangion) drew up the impactful vision of a lean organisation providing those services to its members that were missing from our industry – professional development and a peer-to-peer platform for owners and decision-makers worldwide.

I was invited by the newly formed ALTO Board to run the association looking after all aspects of operation and have seen the association grow in numbers and importance.

Over the last ten years we’ve had some fantastic industry legends helping the work of the Board and I would like to thank them for adding their individual character and energy into shaping ALTO.

The numbers

We’ve organised 25 full day professional development events helping our members become better leaders of more professional and more profitable businesses.

We have organised 7 hugely successful conferences, several in New York before moving to San Francisco, Madrid and Lisbon and look forward to our annual conference from 7th-9th May 2021 in Rome.

Our members come from 26 different countries!

Six years ago, we introduced our online professional development sessions and have since ran 13 webinars providing training opportunities to the membership all year round.

2020 – The year of the pandemic 

ALTO conducted a large-scale survey to predict the recovery curve after the pandemic highlighting areas of agreement and disagreement between the different sides in our industry and identifying top priorities for future students.

We organised five regional panel sessions representing agencies from key source markets and leading course providers.

These panel sessions attracted 760 registrations from business professionals around the world and aimed to discuss ways for agents and schools to cooperate more effectively to improve the sustainability and professionalism of the industry.

We created an interactive report The Future of Adult Language Travel: 2020 and Beyond which was downloaded 400+ times from the webpage and is a great example of how ALTO represents everyone in our industry and has the capacity to pull the best people together.

L-R: Reka Lenart Association Manager, Maria Castro, Jonathan Quinn, Leanne Linacre – Chair, David Brown, Selim Dervish and Juan M Elizalde – Treasurer

The current Board represents businesses of all sizes from the international education travel and has grown in number to reflect the increasing volume of projects we’re working on. On top of running their own companies, all Board members work on volunteer basis and their dedication and tireless efforts to bring the best possible services to members should be celebrated. I’m especially thankful for the opportunity to work alongside this A-team!

With Leanne Linacre at the helm navigating through 2020, the toughest year in the history of our industry and ALTO, the Board has championed the idea of keeping the industry united and encouraged all stakeholders to aim for professionalism, ethical integrity and compassion in their business conduct throughout these challenging times.

2021 – The year of hope and action

The ALTO Board has scheduled a full day meeting for January 2021 where we plan to examine every aim and objective set out 10 years ago and evaluate their relevance and how they resonate with today’s membership in this new chapter of the international education industry after the pandemic.

ALTO members gave the green light to the Board at the recent annual general meeting to create a comprehensive proposal for them to vote on or to invite them for further consultation regarding the following projects:

  • Industry Best Practices / Code of Conduct
  • Mediation Panel
  • Industry Trends Barometer

Follow us on social media #ALTOcpd #ALTOgather and sign up to receive our newsletter to find out how you can benefit from our projects. There has never been a greater need for agents and schools to feel that they belong to an association that brings the whole industry together. We became an independent organisation because we wanted to make all language travel organisations’ voices heard and this message is even more relevant today than 10 years ago.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting more involved and applying for membership, get in touch with me directly for more information about how to join ALTO, I’m happy to help!

Once again, join me in celebrating 10 years of this independent and unique association and a very special shout out to David ALTO-Brown who has been one of the key driving forces and the anchor of the organisation since 1998 and especially in the last decade – thank you!

I feel honoured and privileged to work for a fantastic organisation in this fascinating industry supported by professionals who are not only experienced and highly knowledgeable, but are passionate about their businesses and the international education industry which often feels like an extended family to us all through the good times and the bad.

With best wishes and a sincere hope to see you all in person very soon,