It was thirteen years ago when a motivated, idealistic study abroad student returning to Boston from a semester in Australia came up with the idea that his experience should not be just etched in his mind, it should be shared with the world.
With some help from some entrepreneurial friends, they started a business with the goal to be the “Trip Advisor for Study Abroad.” Soon there was a website, some technology, staff and the business known as Abroad101 got started. You can still see “Review One”
Recently we published Review 44554 and are on a pace to publish 6,000 reviews this year. The business had its ups and downs, having succeeded by keeping its focus on providing students a forum to tell their story and helping universities and providers manage that process in a responsible way.
Meet Phil, our new General Manager
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Philippos Kollitsis as the new General Manager for Abroad101.
“Phil” is an experienced, professional businessperson who will be working from the Ledra Capital offices in Nicosia (Cyprus) and New York. Ledra is the majority shareholder in Abroad101 and remains committed to the future of Abroad101. Phil has served as CEO and as a Board Member of several companies over the last twenty years and has been an advisor to Ledra. He too was an international student, earning two degrees from Lancaster University in the UK. We are excited to welcome Phil on board to our team.
Phil will be at NAFSA and will be stopping by booths. You can also arrange to meet him at the University of Nicosia’s booth #1131. We invite you to stop by early in the week to pick up an invitation to UNIC’s 10th Annual Med Party (Wednesday, May 29 – 6:30pm – 9:00pm) and to attend the A101 Happy Hour immediately prior, at 5:30PM, both at City Tap House Penn Quarter on 901 9th Street NW. Register to attend by clicking here.
Do Reviews Matter?
Please take a moment to remember the last time you booked a hotel, chose a movie or show in a theater, picked a restaurant, or bought a product online. Did a review guide your decision? If these small decisions were influenced by reviews, then we’re sure you’ll understand how something as complex as an education abroad experience needs reviews.
Also consider how reviews actually better serve the parents of students. From our traffic analytics, we see that 20-25% of our web traffic comes from visitors who are 40-50 years old (parents). We know parents are key in the decision-making process and the feedback we get from parents shows a hunger for candor and interest in using reviews to endorse or approve their student’s program choice. While you may have testimonials on your website, independent, third-party reviews can be powerful additions to your marketing.
Candor is Key
People come to review sites looking for balance to the always-positive websites, brochures and in-person presentations. They know things aren’t perfect and want to understand what may be imperfect about a given location, program or host. Quite often the visitors to Abroad101 are coming to validate their earlier discoveries and because of this, we see a significant portion of our traffic from parents and other adults who support students. Students may be drawn to the ratings and comments about food and social aspects of a program, while parents see value in ratings and comments about safety and cost. The 38 questions in the Abroad101 review give everyone something to discuss with plenty of examples to engage in a meaningful dialog and hopefully break some stereotypes about other people and other parts of the world.
The vast majority of students who study abroad have an overwhelmingly positive experience, which is reflected in the reviews. Those that struggle and report negative things will actually help future students prepare and set their expectations. We hope you’ll bring these reviews to the attention of future students so that they can put things in perspective. Costs in London are high, academics at Oxford are hard, petty crime is rampant in Paris and the food in Ghana is, well, … different. Knowing these things before a student goes away may make a big difference in how they prepare.
For Parents, knowing what the risks are is actually reassuring as they can then help their child prepare. When parents inquire to you about programs and ask for referrals, direct them to Abroad101.
Advisors discuss issues over and over, but with reviews the students are learning from their peers and for the schools that require reviews of their students, the indirect peer advising seems to really help.
Please encourage your students to read the reviews as part of their pre-departure preparation and push them to be candid in their reviews when they return. Students can start their review at http://www.StudyAbroad101.com/reviews/new
Reminder About the Display Algorithm:
Most visitors to Abroad101 will end up in a directory of programs. We list programs by city, country, academic program as well as by provider and host university. For those university partners who select the “approved programs” option, we create a directory as well. Anytime there is a list, it is ordered based on our proprietary display algorithm which is designed to recognize recent review volume and quality of reviews.
The algorithm has an impact factor that lessens the impact of older reviews and formulas that reward reviews that contain photos, complete descriptions and a range of review scores. We do this because Abroad101 is first and foremost a review website. People come looking for reviews and we want to highlight recent and well written reviews.
Recently we have seen a rise of bots sending Spam email through our inquiry form. We apologize for this inconvenience and are working to solve this problem; we hope to have it fixed soon.
It’s Free for Schools
We offer Abroad101 to American colleges and universities as free study abroad program evaluation software. It is fully functional SaaS that manages inviting students to submit reviews, an approval process, approved program lists, graphs and benchmarking reports and the ability to export reviews for further analysis. Using our unique serial number, schools can also link reviews to their student information systems or TerraDotta. University partners can also add unique questions to the 38-question base review and also choose not to publish some of them.
Our business model gives program providers and foreign host universities the option to pay to promote their programs through advertising. A large portion of that revenue goes to support software services allowing colleges and universities to use Abroad101 without subscription fees. We ask that our partner schools look favorably upon the organizations who appear in the “Featured Program” positions as a thank you for the free software.
Added Benefits of Advertising:
If goodwill is not compelling enough for you to support Abroad101, we have designed the site so that advertising on Abroad101 will bring you more inquiries, improve your conversions and raise the brand and visibility of your programs. Featured Listings start at $500/year and we offer generous volume discounts for multiple programs and display advertising.
We also give extra emphasis to reviews from advertised programs in Abroad101 ‘s Social Media channels. We post excerpts of reviews in our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels and are open to extra boosts for program news and highlights as part of an advertising package.
Meet Phil at NAFSA or Schedule a Call
If you’d like to arrange a meeting with our new general manager, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a good time/place to meet.
We look forward to re-connecting soon!