In December, Trevor Witcombe, Southeast Asia Sales Rep for Shane Global Language Centres attended the 2012 Alphe Conference in Seoul, South Korea. During the conference, Trevor was able to meet with many agents, schools, and study abroad industry leaders. Here’s what Trevor had to say about the experience.

“It was with considerable excitement and expectation that I ventured off to Seoul, Korea, for my first Alphe conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel, and then 3 days of in-office meetings with agents. From the minute I arrived at the huge, ultra-modern Incheon International Airport, this city was ALL class- everyone was smiling, even at 9pm on a Sunday night!

It was quite a trip to the city (over an hour ). As we drive along a super smooth freeway, with a very polite, English speaking taxi driver, all I could see were brightly lit buildings. I checked in to a comfortable hotel near the Hyatt. A few hours was needed to make sure I had all ready for the conference: brochures, name cards, clothes etc.

After an early start next morning, I was off to the Grand Hyatt with a few “butterflies” in my stomach. A very warm greeting from the Alphe crew and a sumptuous breakfast of tea/coffee and about 10 different choices of croissant eased the nerves! The room was filling fast with lot’s of people and then it was on. After sitting at my table from 9am to 6:30pm, with a new agent every 30 minutes, and with precious little free time, I was ready to expire.

When I feel this way very few things in this world will inspire me…………but I must admit, a free buffet dinner at the Grand Hyatt is one that will lift me to greater heights, mentally, physically, psychologically, and even spiritually ! How much roast lamb with mint sauce, roast beef with brown onion gravy, and mashed potato can one man eat?

After a relaxing sleep it was back to the Hyatt the next morning to catch up with another 10-12 agents before a lunch time finish. By now there were many exhausted reps. in the room. Apparently the red wine tasted good the night before! The concept of the conference was very efficient and useful. It reminded me of speed dating in the way it could bring together so many people with a common cause so easily.

Following the conference, the days were full with visits to agents in their offices.

Once I managed to actually get out in the city I was really amazed at how modern, clean, and “liveable” this city was. The buildings all looked less than 5 years old, and even the cars were new! People dressed in style, and were constantly smiling. (Did my shaved head look that amusing? )

Another facet of interest was how polite the taxi drivers were, and how they drove so safely and carefully, giving way to pedestrians who started crossing 20 meters away. The atmosphere seemed to be from a Christmas card, thanks to the 0- -7C degree temperatures, snowflakes falling around shops and businesses decorated for Christmas. From my observations, all I could see was prosperity, with typically hard work ethic, and a general positive feeling of a secure economy and future. 

Korean people are certainly very “switched on” and I can certainly see an emerging market for our study abroad program in the UK. In general, I must admit I want to go back sometime when it is warmer and explore the south where there are some excellent beaches.”