Swiss Hospitality Management School (EHL) Increases International Applicants 59% Using HubSpot

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is a pioneer in hospitality management education that attracts thousands of students worldwide to its programs. Despite strong brand awareness, they weren’t converting enough leads into applicants, particularly for their EMBA program. The marketing team turned to HubSpot and it’s all-in-one marketing platform to help improve their lead nurturing strategy and boost admissions.


increase in applicants for EMBA program


increase in international student leads
(within first 12 mos.)


increase in international applicants

About EHL

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is the world’s premier reference in hospitality management. EHL offers university-level studies to talented and ambitious students who are aiming for top careers in the international hospitality industry. They offer Bachelor and Master's programs in International Hospitality Management.

Challenges Prior to HubSpot

Since 1893, EHL has been a pioneer in hospitality management education with a strong brand that attracts thousands of students worldwide. Their admission team travels the world to host recruiting events and informational sessions. Although the recruiters would generate a lot of leads, they had no system in place to follow-up and nurture prospective students into applicants. This contributed to a high student acquisition cost and was not sustainable for the school’s long-term growth goals.

The marketing and sales teams used different platforms to engage with prospective students, including Salesforce, Exact Target and Hootsuite, none of which integrated with each other. This lack of integration led to incomplete information, which made it hard for the marketing team and sales teams to align on which markets and accounts they should pursue. Using disparate tools, they also lacked the ability to measure all of their activities or see the progress of a particular student through their decision-making process. They knew it was important to capture this critical information because prospective students’ decision process is long and complex; often taking over two years from the initial touch point to their decision to enroll. 

After evaluating a few solutions, they decided to purchase HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing platform to solve these issues and support organizational growth.

"A key aspect of HubSpot is the enormous and continuous improvement in functionalities. We feel that HubSpot grows with our needs, is usually a few steps ahead of our capabilities, challenging us to continually improve."

Véronique Malan

Marketing Director

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

Using Buyer Personas to Attract International Leads

Since EHL targets students from around the world, it’s important for them to be visible in Google for dozens of terms, in multiple languages, that relate to the business and hospitality management programs they offer.  A primary goal is to attract leads from America and Asia and improve their school’s brand awareness with non-European students. 

The marketing team works to develop an SEO strategy that supports their paid search efforts to improve their online visibility and drive more traffic to their website.  They created specific buyer personas that encompass general characteristics of their various student groups. 


They began developing personas by having visitors complete a statement on a landing page form that describes him or herself.  For example, one of their international personas called “EMBA: Kimberly,” represents a student from suburban USA, who already works in the hospitality industry and wants to further her education in order to move up in her career. 


Next, they analyze their existing keywords using HubSpot’s SEO app to determine which terms are driving the most traffic to their website.  The SEO app shows the popularity and average cost per click (CPC) of each keyword.  The marketing team uses this intel to allocate certain keywords and topics into different buckets corresponding to their main personas. For example, “international jobs in hospitality” is put into the bucket for EMBA: Kimberly.

The team creates Google AdWords campaigns for each of these persona buckets based on the terms they’ve identified. By identifying specific keywords that are being searched for by students abroad, their SEO efforts now support their overall inbound marketing strategy. By adopting this inbound marketing apporach, EHL has increased international student leads by 32% within their first 12 months using HubSpot’s software.

"The responsiveness, the professional knowledge and the friendliness of the HubSpot team is very reassuring. This helps us experiment with new activities or features, with peace of mind and speed to execute."

Véronique Malan

Marketing Director

Lead Nurturing Boosts Program Applicants

One of the main priorities for Véronique Malan, Marketing Director, was to create an inbound marketing strategy to better manage their lead follow-up process.  Their website was getting plenty of traffic but not capturing as many leads as they’d like, mainly because they did not have clear calls-to-actions or conversion paths for students to take who were interested in their programs.  Her team created specific pages using HubSpot’s Landing Page app where students can download a brochure or request more information on their most popular degrees, such as the Executive MBA program.  Since EHL markets to students around the world, they also created different versions of these landing pages in multiple languages.

Veronique and her team then set up a strategy to nurture prospective students.  Once a lead fills out the form on either landing page, they are automatically added to a Smart List that triggers a series of actions and emails from HubSpot’s Workflows app.  The first step in this workflow sends a welcome email to the prospective student, thanking them for their interest. Within the email editor, the team uses the integrated Call-to-Action app to include a “Schedule a meeting” button for the student to book a meeting with their regional admissions officer.


A week later, the next workflow action occurs and email #2 is sent.  This email outlines the “Top 5 Reasons” a student should enroll in their program.  Over the course of the next 3 weeks, the workflow automatically sends emails that feature prominent alumni, student testimonials, and faculty profiles to educate potential new students.

This workflow has been successful in nurturing prospective students and EHL attributes a 55% increase in applicants for this program from 2013 to 2014.  

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