Name: Ryan Cronin
Job Title: Operations Manager
Company: YoYo School Exchange
Member Since: 2018
During COVID we were pleasantly surprised to see how often businesses were able to issue full refunds or work to find a positive compromise for both parties. These gestures of goodwill across the industry was a wonderful thing to see, which made me feel glad to be part of it
Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?
I joined Yo-Yo School Exchange in 2017, when it went by its old name of Dynasty Youth Exchange. I’ve enjoyed working with the team as the company has evolved into its current form.
My role of Operations Manager has had me in all sorts of places, from the office-based scheduling and managing of our visiting groups and students, to more hands-on things like running activity sessions with kids, or overseeing our pen pal programme with students all over the country.
What has been your career highlight to date?
2019 was a particularly strong year for us as a business. We are a small operation and since the company’s creation in 2013, we have outsourced much of our operations and hosted international groups with the assistance of other tour operators.
2019 began our first year of handling everything ourselves. We put together our own course content and recruited our own English teachers and activity leaders. We also strengthened our links with our partner schools up and down the country using our pen pal scheme.
We hosted several groups throughout the year and catered for a wide range of visitors ranging from our junior groups who spent days in primary schools, to paying visits to boutique shopping areas and The Ritz for afternoon tea with our VIP experience group.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Each failure is one step closer to success!
If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?
Who knows! The idea of being a high school teacher has always appealed to me so perhaps that.
What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?
After what was, without doubt, a difficult year for everyone in the industry, we hope to pick up where we left off at the end of 2019. Getting back to 2019 numbers is our main goal, so anything beyond that would be a massive bonus.
This December, we held a study camp for any international students who were not able to make the trip back to their home countries over the Christmas school holidays.
We’ll also be expanding our school network in 2021 and will also look to partner up with new colleges and universities to organise joint programmes for international students in the future.
Our VIP experience was a popular programme, so we would like to bring that back on a more regular basis.
Hopefully 2021 will be the year Yo-Yo School Exchange offers its most diverse range of programmes to date.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?
As we negotiated the early phase of Covid-19 back at the start of the year where cancellations and unfulfilled bookings were at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we were pleasantly surprised to see how often businesses were able to issue full refunds or work to find a positive compromise for both parties. These gestures of goodwill across the industry was a wonderful thing to see, which made me feel glad to be part of it.
How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?
After living through what was definitely a huge global event that will never be forgotten, I think going forward, people will be more inclined to expect the unexpected and only book once they are satisfied that they will be well-looked after in the event of an emergency, be it foreseeable or unforeseeable. Gaining customer confidence will be a challenge at first, but is something I’m sure the industry will be able to achieve.
Name three positives to come out of lockdown
- People have enjoyed a more relaxed pace of life
- We’ve seen many former technophobes enjoying zoom calls
- Dogs have never been so well-walked
Find out more about BETA member YoYo School Exchange here