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Recruiting Intelligence

How to Spend Your International Student Recruiting Budget Effectively

International travel tours and college fair attendance are two of the biggest expense items in most international admissions departments that utilize this recruiting channel for their international student enrollment.  We have developed a list of criteria for you on how to select vendors for these trips.

We strongly believe in direct personal interaction with university admissions officers. This interaction can be an important element of a student's and parent's decision making process.   Yet, we are aware that there is limited transparency on which trips are the most productive and which do not lead directly to recruiting success.  We know that there are multiple dimensions to the successful evaluation of recruiting tours. First, you need to decide which geographic areas you consider important and worthwhile recruiting territory. 

  • Are you focusing on big markets to increase your student count? 
  • Are you in the process of exploring new markets and are you looking at an entry evaluation trip?
  • Do you seek diversification for your international student population? 
  • Are you planning a long-term country specific brand development? 

All these questions are important to ask and answer before you start selecting a tour provider.  Once you have carefully determined the purpose of your travel, you are ready to select a provider.  

Many of our clients travel extensively with tours, organize independent travel and/or, if they use agents, they use travel to connect and support the agent recruiting activities.  We collected information about what matters to them and added our own criteria that we experience as critical to increase the productivity of your trips. Our evaluation list is not exhaustive and includes subjective and objective criteria.  Send us additional criteria that you consider important and we will add them. 

We think that word-of-mouth marketing among admissions officers is important to find a trusted provider who will take you to new markets, and be responsible, in part, for your safety and comfort.  Also only a trusted source can give you a sense whether you will meet genuinely interested and prepared students or whether you meet students that have been invited to show "bodies" at a fair.  You will know once you get there but why spend the money and time to make a mistake in person.

There is a a great deal more to consider than just reputation. Here are a few examples and please download our evaluation sheet for the complete list.  

  • The travel route, timing and cost are basic criteria.
  • What is the fair set up including registration procedures and WIFI access?
  • What are the rules for access to alumni and agents?
  • Your ability to follow up is an important criteria to optimize your yield from a trip.  
  • Will you get access to all student data or only the students you meet in person?

Let us know if you use other criteria that are important for your selection of tour vendors and also how you evaluate a successful trip at the end of the recruiting season. 

As with many marketing expenses, it takes effort and focus to track the effectiveness of spending.  Travel and international student fairs are a great expense and warrant careful selection and post-trip evaluation.  And we know from experience, not each trip or stop may be equally successful. Sometimes it may take a repeat visit with additional pre-and post planning.  Furthermore, your travel will support your digital lead generation as your brand improves, the same way your digital marketing can and will support your in-person recruiting trips. A successful enrollment strategy and implementation is a combination of activities that all support the ultimate goal of recruiting and enrolling the appropriate students at your college.  Listen to the podcast with Charlie Schwartz from the University of Cincinnati to get an additional perspective from an experienced colleague on travel to India. 

We know that some schools don't travel regularly which makes it difficult to improve every semester of every year. They may even shift providers since the last one did not work out.   We hope that under any circumstances our list of evaluation criteria will help you to ask more questions of your potential travel providers to make an educated selection.  We wish for you happy and productive travels.  

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