Meet our newest member: April Eighth
Interview with Mei Li, Founder
Tell us your story – especially about your name! How did April Eighth get started?
Years ago, when I was a young lady having graduated from a regular Chinese university, I dreamed of a better future, but like many couldn’t afford to pay to go to the USA to receive world class education and life changing opportunities. However, I was given the opportunity to go there by an Au Pair programme. With my tears and sweats, I’m a new person now compared to many years ago. I’m cannot be grateful enough that I made the choice to be an Au Pair. My biggest goal when starting April Eighth was to help young people change their lives, especially when many are not even aware of the opportunities that are available to them. Therefore, firstly I am to make them aware of the opportunities, and secondly to provide channel and resources to let it happen as a professional service. I can also act as a role model for them to look up to, learn from and realize what becoming an Au Pair can offer. Regarding the name, April Eighth is my birthday. I used this name for two reasons: firstly, April represents the first season of the year, spring when everything wakes up, when tree leaves turn green, flowers blossom. Figuratively, ‘spring’ refers to people who are young in their lives, like our target client group. Secondly, I was born on April 8th. It reminds me constantly to use my own life story to inspire, and to encourage young people from China.
What makes April Eighth different?
I was an Aupair who has been through the entire process of screening, training, visa preparation, communicating and living with local US families, the previous personal experience and my strong feelings and emotions towards the programme allows me to become the perfect programme ambassador in China. On the other hand, we have offices and staff both in China and US.
What is your favourite success story from your Brand?
There was a young lady (W) from China who wanted to become an Au Pair in the US. She talked to a few agents who were partners of some accredited US Au Pair agents, but due to the high service charge those agents need from W, she hesitated and felt helpless. Then fate brought her to us, we spoke, and after gathering her preliminary information, we submitted her profile to 3 Au Pair partners. Within a few weeks, we successfully paired her up with a wonderful family through one of the partners. We helped her with training, preparation sessions prior to the trip, and the visa application. Things went very smoothly as we followed the standards and steps provided by our Au Pair Partner company. In the end, we supported her successfully as we understood her situation and honoured our mission. This for me, is my favourite success story.
What are your future plans?
We have one major strategic goal surrounded by many small plans:
We aim at becoming one of the most professional Au Pair Service providers for young girls from China. To achieve that, our to do lists are: a. Build up strong partnerships with professional organizations and associations in the US in Au Pairing and youth travel fields; b. Keep improving service efficiency, productivity level and satisfaction rate; c. Attract passionate and talented people to join the team;
For the marketing, our plan is to start exploring opportunities to work with tour operators, schools and other professional institutes and organizations while enlarging our retail presence as well.
And the next step, is to diversify our services to serve young people with comprehensive goals.
Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
It’s growing at an unprecedently rapid speed. With experts saying that now youth educational and active travel makes up 20% of the entire travel industry, in 2020 it will have doubled. In light of these trends, I see more sectors and types of youth travel expanding that are now still very limited. More and more tour operators are involved together with institutional and private investments. While the market size gets larger and more saturated, while more giants enter the market trying get their share of the cake, it is clear organizations and companies which already have presence and operations in this particular field should start working harder on establishing their own community, standards and intellectual properties to maintain its freshness, consistenty and competitivity. For small firms, they need to work with professional organizations and try to benefit from the partnership and established standards of operation.
Which challenges do you see in educational and active youth travel?
As explained in the last question, I see that the industry needs more standards, and high level professional service/experience providers. Also, I see that the industry needs more actively engaged professionals, trainers and mentors who could help build and improve the ecosystem from all aspects.
What support/safety is provided for young people going to your properties?
Safety is crucial in our business, and we see two ways by which we can support that. Firstly, series of safety standardization courses and trainings are required prior to the trip to inform, educate young people on life and property safety issues; secondly, external support including property, life and medical insurance.
What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
My motivation to join WYSE is divided into two categories, 1. Benefit from the established standard WYSE has created, its knowledge base, tools and experience from founders, management teams and members. From learning, adapting and practicing the standards we will build our own operation more efficiently and effectively. 2. With WYSE membership, we would dramatically increase our trustworthiness for our clients, either distributors or retail customers.
Like many young kids in China, I couldn’t afford spending hundreds of thousands of dollars travelling to the USA for University. However, in 2010, an Au Pair programme gave me the opportunity to au pair in the USA for a year, spend time with a great local family, experience a new cultural, learn English as a second language, and develop lifelong friendships with members of the family. It prompted me to develop my own cultural exchange company, with a goal to introduce this fantastic opportunity to many more young people in China and help them to benefit from such a programme.
April Eighth now provides au pairing opportunities in the USA, Germany, and China, as well as having established links with high school exchange programs in the USA. At the moment we are connected to 75 high schools in the USA.
For more information, visit their website: www.april8th.net
Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Associate Member
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