AuPairWorld's success: a case in point
AuPairWorld's 2012 figures diverge sharply from those coming out of the traditional au pair placement sector, which in Germany reported another gloomy year. A recent business survey of the sector in Germany conducted by the Dr. Walter GmbH, for example, found that the number of traditional au pair agencies in operation declined by 15% from July 2011 to April 2012.
By contrast, three important developments appear to be driving AuPairWorld’s positive figures:
- The au pair model of child care and cultural exchange is enjoying growing popularity. In an increasingly globalised world, young people and families are finding a wide overlap of shared benefits in the au pair model. The removal of visa restrictions and other bureaucratic obstacles in many parts of the European Union is also making this segment of the market the site of particularly strong growth.
- As Internet affinity grows across a wide range of demographic groups, the use of web-based functionality to initiate different typers of real-world contacts is becoming at once more accepted and more effective.
- This, in turn, is resulting in a basic, market-altering expansion from traditional agencies to include Internet-based au pair placement services. A carefully constructed system of web-based tools provided by AuPairWorld now makes it possible for young persons and families to find each other on their own and independently manage the key steps of making initial contact, developing trust and finalising arrangements for an au pair placement. This form of self-managed contact is increasingly supplementing the old intermediary model offered by traditional agencies.
Within the Internet-based au pair placement sector in Europe, AuPairWorld's offerings are being very well received with preliminary figures indicating a market share in this segment of more than 50%.
A possibile risk factor
In this basically positive environment, there is one discernible risk factor that could impact the services being provided to au pairs and host families in some of the national markets that AuPairWorld serves. Some countries (e.g. Switzerland, the USA) require that au pair placements be conducted via a traditional agency based in the country of the host family. Depending on how such requirements are implemented, this can result in restrictions on the ability of au pairs and host families in these countries to make au pair arrangements based on the contact they have made through AuPairWorld.
A new regulation of this sort has come into force in the Netherlands as of 1 June 2013, for example. Although the full impact of the new requirements in the Netherlands is not yet clear, it will in all probability be more difficult for Dutch host families to arrange au pair placements in the independent manner facilitated by the AuPairWorld platform. AuPairWorld will endeavour to work together with regulatory officials and representatives of traditional agencies to ensure that the benefits of broad independent searching made available by the AuPairWorld are incorporated into the au pair spectrum in all countries.
Positive outlook for 2013
Following a strong year of growth in 2012, the outlook for 2013 also seems positive for a number of reasons.
Registration growth benefits users
The continued growth in au pair and host family registrations gives both these groups of users the very significant advantage of having more profiles to choose from as the respective search pools continue to expand. In addition, robust growth is supporting the ongoing expansion and refinement of AuPairWorld's exceptional array of information resources and decision-making support.
This growing volume of business also facilitates a high standard of IT tools and rigorous IT security and quality standards to ensure careful protection of personal data and secure operation of the website. Growing revenues are also being channelled into the ongoing expansion of general au pair information and support as well as the enhancement of the AuPairWorld Messaging System that lets au pairs and host families exchange information in a secure environment in preparation for au pair placements.
IT expertise plus personal support
Very significantly AuPairWorld is not just a collection of servers somewhere in cyberspace. The company employs a highly experienced, multilingual staff currently numbering 24 persons that backs up its carefully designed web tools with individual checks of listed profiles for host families and au pairs and provides friendly and efficient telephone and email support to handle individual users’ question or problems.
This hands-on personal support for users is supplemented by AuPairWorld’s deep experience of the au pair situation in countries around the world. With native in-house experts keeping tabs on au pair developments in its major markets, the company is able to update and refine its information offerings in an increasingly comprehensive fashion. This, in turn, lets users have easy access to the latest au pair developments and information, presented in a friendly and easy to understand manner – in six different languages – for au pairing around the globe.
A philosophy for the future
Finally, as a group of individuals and as a company, AuPairWorld is truly committed to the au pair experience and philosophy. This was true at the time of its founding and isn't changing as the company grows. Indeed, it is one of the most important keys to the company’s success. That means keeping costs low for users, sharing information widely and opening one door after another for cultural exchange and creative support in child care – a business model that promises good results for 2013 as well.