“With languages, you can move from one social situation to another. With languages, you are at home anywhere.”
Learning new languages truly is an art. It is a gift that not many people possess and being multi-linguistic can surely take you places both personally and professionally. However, the process of learning a language is not as glamorous. Conventionally, it is a classroom process that we so often dread.
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Well the good news is that there is a new app in town called Langua Travel. It is here to redefine language learning. This app offers its users an amazing opportunity to book language learning vacations that allow them to gain invaluable knowledge by immersing in another culture.
Langua Travel is the brainchild of co-founders Christopher Hoyt and Kevin Merritt.
“Kevin and I met while in college at the University of Washington. He is a developer and I am a business and marketing guy predominately, but our schedules overlapped in a class called Space and Space Travel, and we struck up a friendship. Five years later, I hired Kevin to clean up a mess that our lead developer had created (before we fired him) at another company I was involved with. That idea fizzled, but Kevin impressed me so much, that he was the first person I called when founding Langua Travel”, says Christopher.
A Little More About Langua Travel!
This app is building a marketplace for comparing and booking language learning vacations abroad. These are trips for people of all ages that include language classes, awesome activities, cultural experiences and accommodation.
Langua Travel is here to offer folks a meaningful alternative to traditional holiday travel. Rather than them spending time being cooped up on a cruise ship, or hiding by the pool at a resort, they are busy experiencing adventures, gaining marketable language skills, and making lifelong friendships with locals and fellow travelers from around the world.
What Problem is it Solving?
This app is here to connect language schools from around the world to travelers who wish to have a fulfilling travelling and language learning experience.
For most language schools, the web presence is far inferior to the amazing things they provide on the ground. Furthermore, they are in the business of teaching and organizing brilliant trips and excursions in their local markets. However, when it comes to marketing themselves they lack the expertise and resources. The US market to them is vast and confusing and many of them chose to ignore it, for fear of wasting their limited budgets. This is where Langua Travel steps in to bridge the gap. This app offers them a beautiful interface to present their programs and schools on a level playing field with their competitors. This helps them enroll more students and gives them the opportunity to focus their time and energy on what they do well – running their schools.
On the other hand, for the end users, they save hours of time by comparing schools, course and lodging options on the site, rather than having to individually browse dozens of school website. The app curates all of the programs offered on Langua Travel and has personal relationships with each of their partner schools. This helps them offer a degree of trust and confidence that is hard to achieve otherwise.
The Inspiration Behind Langua Travel
“I enrolled in my first language immersion program in the summer of 2008, after graduating from college. I was learning Spanish in Costa Rica a week into the trip. This is when I realized that it was the first time I’d really “traveled”. I had been abroad before, but the language school experience gave me a community of friends and access to experiences that are impossible to find as a tourist.
After a few more weeks in the program, I became friends with the owners of the school. They asked me to build a website for their school to help reach travelers in the US. I entered into a few agreements like this with other language schools, and then realized that there was a major opportunity”, says Christopher.
On Challenges Faced & Competitors
Like most start-ups the biggest ongoing challenge is effectively setting priorities and managing time. There are so many things that need to get done daily that it is easy to get overwhelmed, or become inefficient if you don’t continuously set plans and revisit priorities.
“One important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of setting realistic to-do lists. There is nothing wrong with writing down every idea you have, as they come in, but it’s important not to fall into the trap of overbooking your day. Invariably, you’ll end up with things left undone, or partially done, and go to bed with a feeling of failure and anxiety”, adds Christopher.
In terms of competitions, the traditional “language travel agents” pose as the potential direct competitors of Langua Travel. These are still widely used in Europe. A student will call the agent, ask for advice, and then be placed into a program according to their needs.
This model never really caught on in the US, partly because they were earlier adopters of internet commerce, and Americans are naturally wary of any agent type relationship. Before Langua Travel though, this required hours of research, because information on language schools was disparate and typically biased.
Other potential competitors would be other travel opportunities and even language learning software like Rosetta Stone.
On Plans of Expansion
The team plans on continuing to grow their Spanish market offerings. They also wish to expand into German, French and Italian in 2015 and 2016. The plan is to eventually become the go-to solution for booking language learning vacations in any destination throughout the world.
That is not all; they are also experimenting with applying their marketplace technology to other alternative travel opportunities like adventure travel. Right now three surf schools in Costa Rica signed on with them and are actively taking bookings. The team feels that adventure travel can be a profitable niche with a significant amount of crossover appeal to their language learning customers.
Finally, the team thinks that some of the features that they are developing in the back-end admin interface will be very appealing as SaaS to those traditional language agents in Europe as mentioned earlier. Once this is perfected, the team will start offering a “Powered by Langua Travel” solution that will revolutionize the way these language agents deal with schools and leads. By doing so, the team wishes to turn such agents from their direct competitors to strategic partners.
On Target Audience & Plans of Monetizing
Langua Travel is looking to target four main customer segments. These include adult travelers, professionals, families and seniors residing in US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Germany and Australia.
When it comes down to monetizing the app, this is what the team has to say, “We negotiate a percentage commission with each partner language school on courses, lodging and activities. So for every traveler that signs up through our site, we get a percentage of the basket purchase, paid by the school. That means we don’t have to markup our course inventory. The end user gets all the convenience of using our marketplace and travel tools, and doesn’t pay a cent more than they would by booking through a school or traditional agent directly”.
Wait! We have some exciting news for all our readers. Mentions this interview and Langua Travel will give you 5% off for your first two weeks of immersion courses booked in Costa Rica or Mexico.