How to Improve Recruitment Strategies & Attract Participants in 2020

Why focus on how to improve recruitment strategies?

You’re a ship in an ocean of providers for programs abroad, so how do you get people on board for YOUR program? Luckily there are plenty of fish in the sea—you just need to know how to catch them. We’re here to help you improve your recruitment strategies and get more potential clients to take the bait! Take these simple steps to learn how to improve recruitment and make YOU stand out in the busy bay of programs abroad.

Small boat cruising through the center of a canal
Get your vessel front and center in the sea of program providers.

How to Improve Recruitment for Your International Programs

1. Enlist your alumni

Word-of-mouth is king in this biz, so your recruitment strategies MUST include recommendations from people who have already participated in your program. You don’t need to wait until they go home, either. Try these proactive recruitment techniques:

  • A personal, face-to-face request from a beloved staff member or program leader will often get clients quick to leave you a program recommendation.
  • Have a staff member film fun moments throughout the program to use for future marketing purposes, or ask your alumni if you can utilize their own creations!

Once your program participants have returned home, send a thank you email and let them know that you hope they had the times of their lives! Then link to a relevant site or two and ask them to kindly rate and review your program.

Woman photographing mosque on her phone
Selfies: The ultimate free advertisements.

2. Know your audience

You need to know who is most likely to bite so that you can adjust your branding voice accordingly, and speak to the people who want to hear from you. You can look to your previous program participants, or do research on your target demographics. Who participates in your programs? Your recruitment strategies should include buyer personas that you invent based on real data.

Volunteer Vicky might be interested in learning about sustainable community development, whereas High School Henry wants to know how you can help him “live his best life.” Successful recruitment techniques always include knowing who your buyers are before they know who you are!

3. Swim with the current

Keep up on what destinations and activities are trending, so that you can highlight the specific programs you offer that will get you the most attention. You can do this by following Google Trends, or using websites like Quora, Lonely Planet, and, of course,

Your program candidates want to know that what you do is up to date. Keep updating your FAQs, adding new testimonials to your site, and—this might seem obvious, but—ensure that the year listed in the copyright section of your page is the current one.

Woman swimming beside tropical palm forest
Who isn’t tempted by a quick tropical dip after a study sesh abroad?

4. Make yourself available

In order for your recruitment strategies to work, you’ve gotta make sure that people know you’re there for them. If a potential program participant is contemplating their options, they’ll likely become more invested in the provider that messages them back first—so BE that provider. Don’t take more than 24 hours to respond to an email from a potential program participant. Post on social media regularly, keep an eye on engagement, and respond to any comments or messages with the quickness.

5. Create a community

If you want to know how to improve recruitment strategies, social listening is key. Create a Facebook group where former and prospective candidates can discuss your programs, interact, and ask each other questions. Pay attention to what people are most excited about, and focus on promoting those aspects of your program as part of your recruitment strategy on other platforms. By keeping your alumni in touch, you may even inspire them to participate in another program. Plus, you’ll get inquiring minds excited about making meaningful friendships abroad!

If you hear the same questions or concerns repeated frequently, seize the opportunity to address them clearly on your website to keep candidates interested, worry-free, and on board! Another recruitment strategy is to create a separate community or FAQ section for the parents of prospective candidates to address the concerns that are specific to them, and put them at ease about their kids’ time abroad.

Woman jumping for joy on boardwalk
A winning travel program abroad is a win for the world!

6. Help us help you

Our mission has always been to change lives through meaningful travel, but ultimately, the experience that YOU provide is what’s memorable—not the search for it. We want to help optimize your recruitment strategies by sharing YOUR photos, telling YOUR stories, and connecting wanderlusters to YOU. Tag us in your social media posts so we know what programs you want us to promote and repost or re-tweet on our own accounts. Give us a heads up on registration deadlines so that we can keep up the sense of urgency to sign up for your programs.

Keep captions personal and current. Our followers love engaging with photos that they can picture themselves in. Knowing a peer has managed to do the thing they dream of doing can be enough to take the next step, but potential participants want to know that the hype is real. We’ll take it from there!

GoAbroad articles are one of the fastest-growing directories, and we’re now offering in-article advertising! Getting prospective participants excited about YOUR program in the research stage is an important recruitment strategy. Becoming a part of a wanderluster’s daydream while they’re still formulating it is an excellent option when considering how to improve recruitment.

7. Keep your eyes on the prize

Remember that an award or two is always an eye-catcher, so make sure you’re keeping up and nominating yourself for whatever relevant travel provider awards you can! Getting a shiny badge on your website is one of the best recruitment strategies, since it will let prospective participants know that YOU’RE among the best of the best.

Stay informed on when the GoAbroad Innovation Awards open applications, and take note of the deadline. We hold these awards every year, so keep your eye on the prize!

Four friends laughing at the peak of a mountain range
Everyone wants their own squad abroad!

Now You Know How to Improve Recruitment to YOUR Programs Abroad!

We know you want participants in your programs to have the time of their lives abroad—you just need to get them there. By using these tried-and-true recruitment techniques, you can get wanderlusters excited to choose YOUR programs abroad above all the rest! Stay as excited about your programs as your alumni and prospective participants are, and following the recruitment strategies outlined above will be easy peasy.

Keep Reading to Learn How to Market to Low-Income Participants!

Updated: January 24, 2020

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