The official newsletter for the European Relocation Association
PARADISE IN PALMA
Most successful Congress ever?
TAKE YOUR PARTNERS DSPs and RMCs â€“ another step forward
FOCUS ON GERMANY Relocation activities showing good growth
MANAGING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS Initiatives that work
Electronic residence permit All EU member states are required to introduce an electronic residence permit, which is being rolled out across Europe. The goal is to standardise the residence permits of the European Union, strengthen the bond between the document and the document´s holder and prevent misuse through the use of biometric data. All residents of non-member states (including infants and children) will be issued their own electronic residence permits. The previous residence permit in passports and passport replacement documents will remain valid until April 2021. All information and transmissions are protected by internationally recognised and established encoding methods. A certificate of authorisation establishes who is allowed to access individualrelated data. The holders can be confident that only authorised offices shall be granted access.
Santa Fe buys Interdean SANTA FE, the international relocation management group, has entered into an agreement to acquire Interdean, the London-headquartered moving and relocation services company with 48 offices and 1,200 employees in 35 countries across Western and Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. The addition of Interdean to the Santa Fe Group means that the organisation will offer professional moving, relocation, and records management services through 120 offices in 50 countries. Its 3,150 dedicated professionals currently service approximately 100,000 relocations each year. Combining Interdean’s extensive network with the existing Santa Fe and Wridgways networks throughout Asia-Pacific and the Middle East provides a single source solution to customers and partners across three continents, says Lars Lykke Iverson, CEO (left).
“Santa Fe and Interdean have been close partners for a number of years and already exchange a considerable amount of reciprocal business. The merger is therefore a natural fit and will add value through increased efficiency and additional services with a pure focus on serving our clients,” he says. “Further expansion will take place in the Middle East and parts of Asia-Pacific where the group is currently not present. The Santa Fe Group will not be making any acquisitions in North America. “We are pleased that Interdean’s senior management team is enthusiastic about the merger and remains committed to the company.” The EuRApean is published by impact!, Media House, 55 Old Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 2RB UK. T: +44 (0)1525 370013 © European Relocation Association 2011 Website: www.eura-relocation.com Editor: Dominic Tidey email@example.com Advertising enquiries: Matt Milton firstname.lastname@example.org The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of EuRA or its agents, who shall not be responsible for any loss or damage suffered as a result of any statement in or omission from these articles or advertisements.
Strengthening links Crown wins major contract CROWN Relocations has been awarded a three year, global contract with Unilever to provide the company with a tailored global mobility and household goods moving service. The extensive corporate relocation package devised by Crown will include pre-relocation services such as organising preview trips for assignees to get a taste of their new life. Crown’s Global Mobility Services team will also coordinate a full range of destination services, providing Unilever employees with home-finding and school search assistance and settling-in support such as arranging child care, transportation and furniture rental. Crown Relocations will also provide on-going assistance during each assignment including expense management and implementing Crown’s Global Passport – an intercultural training programme that helps transferees adapt to cultural and emotional challenges, identify and handle conflicts and adapt their communication skills to quickly become productive in their new roles. The Unilever account team will organise the shipment of household goods and coordinate storage for each assignee. Shân Norman, director of Global Mobility Services EMEA, commented: “This is a fantastic win for the Crown Worldwide Group.”
New faces at NOVA NOVA Relocations has announced six new appointments to strengthen the company’s European team. Corinne Johansson is the new Country Manager for NOVA Relocation in France. Corinne has many years of experience in the relocation business previously worked for NOVA Relocation in Paris. Magali Bessard is promoted to the role of Operations Manager for the French operation. Koen Reekmans is now the Operations Director for NOVA Relocation in Belgium and manages an expanding team with four new staff in 2011. Véronique Fauconnier, as Business Development Director, has new responsibities to steer group sales and marketing efforts. Peter Vansteenis and Renata Hendrickx manage the Dutch operation of NOVA Relocation, with a renewed focus on the growing client base.
WELCOME to the summer 2011 edition of the EuRApean. It’s a great pleasure to be introducing this edition as the new President of EuRA! My fellow Council members and the management team met recently for our inaugural session as a newly convened council. I am delighted to welcome the new Council members, Klaus Kremers and Anita Meyer. But it is with sadness that we bid farewell to our outgoing President, Helmut Berg and outgoing Vice President, Kathryn Andrews. Their contributions to the work of EuRA over the years as members of the Council have been tremendous and their expertise will be sorely missed.
We have a lot of work to do over the coming years and this is an exciting time for the Association. We are looking to strengthen our links to the HR community as well as continue to work closer and closer with RMC’s. We will continue to focus on the EuRA Quality Seal as the differentiator for EuRA Members and will be looking at new training options. One of the goals for EuRA over the next two years is to build links with the European Union, with the eventual aim of achieving some kind of professional designation for the relocation industry. I am delighted to be President of EuRA during this exciting time of change and evolution. Åse Löfgren Gunsten
International schools extended
ACS International Schools is extending its family of educational establishments with the opening this September of a school in Qatar’s capital city, Doha. The opening – the fourth ACS international school – follows extensive research to assess the international education requirements of expatriate and local families living in the region and to locate a suitable campus to continue delivering the exceptional educational standards of ACS’s three international schools in England. The new ACS Doha International School, in the Al Gharrafa district of Doha, will open initially with Early Childhood, Lower and Middle School programmes for children aged 3 – 14. The educational programmes offered at ACS Doha are based on globally recognised American and international standards, with an aim to deliver the same range of academic programmes successfully offered at our three UK campuses. As the campus develops a High School we will also seek authorisation to offer prestigious US College Board Advanced
Placement (AP) courses. ACS Doha will also offer an American High School Honours Diploma. The school will shortly be a member of the Council of International Schools. ACS Doha has already recruited a team of experienced international staff and teachers including Tom Lehman as Head of School and Diane Hern as Deputy Head – both joining from the same positions at ACS Cobham, England, leading the continuity of ACS International Schools’ ethos in Doha. The new campus is purpose-built and equipped to high standards. Facilities include modern, airy classrooms with interactive whiteboards, Wi-Fi throughout and bespoke ICT labs, art studios, music rooms, language suites and libraries; plus an external multipurpose recreational area, modern large sports hall, basketball court and indoor swimming pool. ACS Doha has already attracted a great deal of interest from local families and expatriate communities, and is expected to open with around 250 students. This number is expected to more than triple over the next few years.
Tad is Mister Personality!
ARP celebrates 25 years in style THE prestigious surroundings of the Caledonian Club in Belgravia, London was the setting for a celebration of a quarter of a century of the Association of Relocation Professionals (ARP). Scores of members and their guests enjoyed a sumptious dinner, celebration speeches and a disco dance in June. VIP guests included the new President of EuRA, Ase Lofgren Gunsten and friends from past and present. International communicator, broadcaster and public speaker, Frances Edmonds gave an amusing and thought-provoking speech about the important work of the ARP and the growing relocation services industry.
EURA CEO, Tad Zurlinden is well known globally for his relocation services expertise and this is especially true in the UK, where he is also CEO of the Association of Relocation Professionals. In May, this was formally recognised when Tad was voted Relocation Personality of the Year award by Re:Locate magazine. At the glittering awards ceremony held at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, London, Tad was described as a leading light in the relocation world for many years, with incredible dedication and a hugely charismatic approach. His award is a recognition for significantly raising the profile of the industry since he helped found the Association of Relocation Professionals 25 years ago and EuRA 14 years ago. All in all, this was, said the judges, “a very clear, specific and well-presented entry statement outlining the entrant’s considerable contribution to the ARP and EuRA”. One judge said of him: “Tad is a huge character and excels in every aspect of what he does. He never stops breaking new ground.” The award is presented to an individual from any sector who has shown outstanding ability, provided excellent customer service,
PROUD MOMENT: Tad Zurlinden receives his award from celebrity host, Floella Benjamin. raised the profile of relocation, contributed to the industry/profession significantly over a period of time, or shown great ingenuity or creativity in delivering relocation support. “Personality of the year means people. Relocation beyond technical and legal aspects is very much handling not only expectations but also emotions, so it’s a great challenge,” said Francis Docherty, of award sponsor SIRVA Relocation. “It’s a great privilege to honour the person who has contributed to this industry in such a significant way.” The other shortlisted entrants were Jonathan Haward of County Homesearch, Margaret Moes of Clearview Relocation and Susan Schneider of Plus Relocation Services.
Award winner is overjoyed
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FOLLOWING its recent merger with irema Relocation Services, ICUnet.AG has picked up an International Relocation Provider of the Year award. “Just the fact that we reached the shortlist was a great surprise”, said Carolin Fleischer, Head of Relocation at the ICUnet.AG in Passau, immediately after the ceremony. “To actually hold the award in our hands now is even more of an honour!” Together with her colleague Daniel Auwermann, Head of Corporate Communications at ICUnet.AG, she accepted the prestigious award in London. It is the first time that the international award, sponsored by Re:Locate magazine, has gone to Germany. Through the merger with its largest competitor, irema,ICUnet.AG has been able to successfully expand and strengthen its market position in the German speaking region.
Celebrating 20 years THIS year is a special one for Belgium’s Art of Living as the company celebrates 20 years in business. Art of Living S.A. Relocation Services was founded in 1991 and has gone from strength to strength over the years. The company offers a wide range of relocation services to people moving into and relocating from Belgium, including departure services, homesearch, schoolsearch, orientation, settling in, global mobility management, group moves, furniture rental, pet transportation and language training. Based in La Hulpe, the company also provides partner support programmes, household goods movement, serviced apartments, tenancy management, property management, visa and immigration, cost of living assessments, temporary accommodation, cultural training and other related services.
Expanding Our Reach Extending Yours
...with new branches in France, the Benelux and China Paragon Relocation has expanded its global footprint significantly with multiple locations spread across Europe and Asia. Having recently received recognition for being one of the top global providers of service in the industry, Paragon is committed to building upon our rich 24 year history and experience in delivering superior relocation solutions and supporting our global client base locally. t t t t t t t t
Global Mobility Consulting Services Domestic Relocation Services International Relocation Services Global Assignment Services Worldwide Destination Services Group Move Management Mortgage Services Visa and Immigration Services
Services Worldwide EMEA APAC The Americas t: +353.1.811.6630 t: +852.2907.5880 t: +1.972.819.5100 w: paragonrelocation.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org Simply hold your Smartphone over the Microsoft Tag Get the Free Mobile App at http://gettag.mobi
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Changes in freedom of movement and tax card application Ascott opens CITIZENS of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Hungary no longer need to apply for a permit to work in Germany, following the waiver of transitional rules and limitations on freedom of movement to the German labour market for for all EU members who joined in 2004. The limits still apply for countries that joined the EU after 2004, affecting citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, from where a work permit is still necessary. From now on, German labour market approval procedures will be in the responsibility of the Central Placement and Placement Services (ZAV), a special agency of the Federal Employment Agency, headquartered in Bonn. Germany has also changed the procedure regarding the tax card, which has been abolished. Employees who start working in Germany for the first time this year will be issued an interim form for the tax deduction, a so-called “Bescheinigung für den Lohnsteuerabzug 2011”. This form replaces the former tax card and has to be applied for at the local tax authority. Those employees who received a tax card in 2010 can keep it for the year 2011. They do not have to apply for the new form. From 2012 the tax deduction will be carried out electronically.
THE Ascott Limited has opened two offices in the French capital following its €65 million acquisition of 100 per cent shareholding from SNC Costes K. The two properties are the prestigious Hotel Costes K and an adjacent vacant residential property which have been combined and transformed into a premium serviced residence,called Ascott Arc de Triomphe Paris. The Ascott Ltd is CapitaLand’s wholly-owned serviced residence business unit and the new property is the first serviced residence to open in France under the Ascott brand. The 106-unit serviced residence increases Ascott’s Europe portfolio to over 5,400 apartment units in 49 properties across 22 cities. Besides having a prime location in the heart of Paris, the landmark property combines the contemporary design of architect Ricardo Bofill and the distinctive architecture of 19th century Paris. Situated on Avenue Kléber, Ascott Arc de Triomphe Paris is close to the world famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées and the Trocadéro. To cater for the different lifestyle needs of business and leisure travellers, Ascott Arc de Triomphe Paris will offer a range of spacious apartments from studios to two-bedroom units. Residents will enjoy amenities including a swimming pool, fitness centre, sauna, spa and restaurant. Lim Ming Yan, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We will continue to identify opportunities to deepen our presence especially in key markets like Paris, London and major cities in Germany. “In 2011, we have already secured about 1,800 units through new investments and
management contracts. This extends Ascott’s leadership position as the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator with more than 27,000 apartment units and we are on track to achieve our global target of 40,000 apartment units by 2015.” Ascott has more than 3,600 apartment units in 35 properties across 14 cities in France, including Cannes, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
…and plans for Frankfurt Ascott also announced an investment of EUR28 million to open a fourth property in Germany in 2014. Citadines Messe Frankfurt will be located in the gateway city of Frankfurt, and increases Ascott’s German portfolio to 550 apartment units by joining Citadines St Michaelis Hamburg (opens 2013), Citadines Kurfurstendamm Berlin and Citadines Arnulfpark Munich. Citadines Messe Frankfurt will be strategically situated in the city centre, near to Frankfurt’s Messe Trade Fair Area and a short walk from the Central Railway Station, an international rail hub linking cities throughout Germany and Europe. Citadines Messe Frankfurt is set to offer 165 units comprising studio-, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Facilities will include meeting rooms, a fitness centre, business centre, breakfast lounge and grocery corner to cater for the differing lifestyle requirements of business and leisure travellers.
BRIDGING the Gap Peggy Love
The informal nature of the session allowed everyone to participate in a conversation rather than just listen to a formal presentation.
HE relationship between schools, education consultants and relocation providers was discussed in some depth by a group of professionals during an open session held as part of the programme for the EuRA Congress. Hosted by Peggy Love, President of Education Services, Dwellworks LLC, the session, ‘Bridging the Gap’, was attended by about 30 EuRA members from 11 countries. “The session was an informal discussion about the challenges and best practices of schools, education consultants and relocation professionals as expat families strive to find schools that are the best fit for their children,” explains Peggy. “The goal of the session was to share information, knowledge and best practices that result in establishing strong partnerships and ensure smooth educational transitions for relocating families.” Peggy was joined by special guests, subject matter experts, Julia Love, Dean of Admissions, ACS Egham, UK and Rudianne Stoltis, Dean of Admissions, ACS Hillingdon, UK, who provided valuable input. Each attendee described their role in their respective companies and shared information about education issues in their cities and countries. The informal nature of the session allowed everyone to participate in a conversation rather than just listen to a formal presentation. “In that regard, everyone learned from
everyone,” says Peggy. “Just as each expat family has unique needs and requirements, each school that serves expat families has unique processes and requirements. What we learned during the discussion allowed us to compare and contrast the unique features of schools in different countries. As the differences unfolded during the two-hour discussion, attendees were able to identify ways to build effective partnerships with schools, including the following tips for DSPs: • Know your school contact by name and frequently stay in touch • Gather all pertinent information before contacting a school (date of birth, academic and extracurricular activity lists, etc.) • For children with specific learning needs, gather all necessary information (including testing, IEP, speech and language reports, etc.) • Keep current with schools – know
what is new or has changed • Be knowledgeable of the academic programmes of the school • Always calibrate expectations – provide realistic information to parents • Remember that the relationship is between the school and the family • Educational Consultant (EC) and Destination Service Provider (DSP) must communicate and be aligned at every stage of the process • EC and DSP are a team – play to your strengths • Respect confidentiality laws (do not discuss test results, etc.) • Be patient with the schools • Let the school manage the family’s expectations • DSP/EC and family should each send a thank you note after school visits • Apprise the client company of final choice of school “At the conclusion of the meeting we agreed that education consultants maintain credibility by finding the right school for the child, while relocation consultants maintain credibility by managing the process and keeping the client company happy,” Peggy adds. “Schools maintain credibility by providing the best academic and cultural environment possible for the child. And all three work together to make sure nothing falls through the cracks so the end result is a smooth, seamless process for schools and families.”
When did a school make you feel this good? Families just know when a relocation works. Whether you are a mom or dad, toddler or teenager, HR or relocation professional, from Texas or Tokyo, when all the pieces come together, it can deliver one of life’s most rewarding experiences. ACS understands the complex needs of globally mobile families. We have partnered the relocation industry since 1967 to meet the many challenges that face international families moving to London. Our campus-specific Admissions, Housing and Transport experts work closely with parent-assisted Welcome Teams, International Groups, Parent/Teacher Organisations and Buddy programmes to create a smooth, seamless and happy transition. That is why each year literally hundreds of families from more than 50 countries make ACS ‘the’ London solution to their educational and lifestyle needs.
To find out how we can help meet your relocation requirements, please visit www.acs-schools.com Or call ACS Cobham +44 (0)1932 869744, ACS Egham +44 (0)1784 430611 or ACS Hillingdon +44 (0)1895 818402 ACS Schools are non-sectarian and co-educational (day and boarding) for students 2 to 18 years of age.
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The relationship between relocation management companies (RMCs) and destination service providers (DSPs) has not always run as smoothly as it should. But there is much to gain on both sides from greater communication, transparency and respect.
‘ve been going to European relocation conferences for as long as I can remember and the topic of RMCs and DSPs has always been a hot one, often shrouded in some negativity,” says Patrick Oman, a member of the EuRA Council. “As RMCs grew out of the United States and took on more business from the major corporations throughout Europe, they were considered by many to come between the longer established DSPs and what they saw as their own client base. “I have always rejected this idea. We are all in the same business together and the RMCs have simply been responding to what the client wants – a global service provider and a single point of contact, speaking to them in their own language (very often on the same side of the Atlantic) and dealing with the legal requirements, tax and accounting challenges that are sometimes beyond the capabilities of European DSPs.” In the coming decade, Patrick believes that RMCs will need DSPs more than ever
because the latter have the expertise of the language, knowledge of the destination and the culture, understand the housing markets, schools and everything else that comes with specialist local knowledge. “DSPs are just as indispensable in our part of the world as RMCs are in their part of the world,” he states. To avoid any mistrust and uncertainty that may have existed in the past between these two types of business, EuRA recognises that better communication is the key – an absolutely vital element in the long-term relationship between the two parties. EuRA tackles this communication challenge in two significant ways. The first is through the development of a series
of regular meetings with RMCs, with the Association represented by the president and the secretariat. The fourth such meeting in London has just been held and each successive one has become more positive for both parties. “One of our recent big success stories has been to iron out member concerns that DSPs were being asked to provide ever more complex and detailed paper trails in support of their accounts,” Patrick explains. “Another interesting aspect of these discussions is that when DSPs were asked about payment for work, it was clear that this was not a major concern to the vast majority of respondees, who agreed that they were paid fairly and in a timely fashion by RMC clients.”
INTEGRATORS: Patrick Oman and Sabine Baerlocher hosted a lively debate on the relationships between DSPs and RMCs in the global environment.
The session was attended by more than 20 DSPs and proved so successful that it is set to become a feature at next year’s EuRA Congress in Stockholm.
There is no doubt that RMC’s will do a better job for their own clients if the DSPs they utilise provide good and frequent levels of information, better reporting and more timely advice. In so doing, end customers – the major corporations – will get the highest levels of service, while providing a compelling reason for RMCs to want to use DSPs more frequently. The second EuRA initiative to improve communication between DSPs and RMCs occurred at the Association’s Congress in Palma this Spring, an open session entitled ‘DSPs and RMCs; Working Better, Together’. This was hosted by Patrick Oman and fellow EuRA Council member Sabine Baerlocher. The session was attended by more than 20 DSPs and proved so successful that it is set to become a feature at next year’s EuRA Congress in Stockholm. Among the topics discussed were the current relationship between DSPs and RMCs; the culture of RMCs; over-reliance on emails for communication; RMCs who set up as DSPs and vice versa; and the need for more dialogue between the two parties. A straw poll among attendees showed that as little as 20 per cent and as much as 80 per cent of DSP business came through RMCs, with the remainder mostly direct to local companies. So while it could not be clearly established how important a close relationship with an RMC is to a DSP, it was universally agreed that improved communication, transparency and respect could only be a good thing. “We are increasingly finding that RMCs are taking a much greater interest in what our members have to say and are listening to them when they come to our conferences,” Patrick says. “EuRA events are now recognised as a valuable resource for RMC networking and improvement of their channels. They are particularly interested in The EuRA Quality Seal and
other ways in which we are benchmarking our industry.” EuRA now wants to encourage DSPs to work more closely with each other in sourcing more business from RMCs. “For many years, many DSPs have sat back and waited for business to come via RMCs and international organisations,
but this is no longer enough in today’s fast moving industry,” Patricks explains. “A reciprocal arrangement whereby DSPs feed leads and make referrals to RMCs and vice versa would be an excellent step forward. “Generally speaking, RMC’s have more and bigger contacts and have wider service requirements than DSPs can provide. By passing on referrals and leads through the connections they have at destination, DSPs can expect their own business through RMCs to increase. It’s a win-win situation.” Admittedly, there are a small number of examples where RMCs have taken over or bought into DSP provision to ‘do it themselves’. However, EuRA strongly believes these have not been as successful as would have been achieved by networking with independent specialist DSPs. “Every RMC has much to gain from the flexibility, efficiency and good value provided by DSPs”, Patrick adds. “The RMC thinks globally; the DSP acts locally, where the tyres hit the road. RMCs have got the customers; DSPs have got the local skills required to achieve the very best outcomes. It’s a partnership that is destined to get better and better.”
A special four page feature on the relocation industry in Germany and the issues it faces.
GERMAN STRENGTH: Andrea Köster, Lucy Jacobs, Elke Müller & Helmut Berg are all upbeat about growth of relocation activities in their home country.
strong that there is a shortage of talented and high skilled labour. Some companies are trying hard to recruit from outside the country, which is where the relocation industry can be of great help. “Relocation companies can be used as a strategic tool to make it attractive to come to Germany,” he explains. “We are seeing an increase in inbound business but also in outbound and intra-German businesses,” he says. “We know from our own EuRA research and the EuRA Index that the European relocation industry has witnessed an average increase of 20 per cent or more in business in the last year and I believe that in Germany this might be higher.” It’s not all good news, though. Germany’s clothing industry has been hit hard, together with other sectors where low wages in emerging countries make it more attractive to transfer production to these areas.
There is no doubt Germany’s engineering, automotive and chemical industries are still very strong – indeed so strong that there is a shortage of talented and highly skilled labour.
f the major economies in Europe, only one, Germany, can be said to be back on the road to sustained growth. Recent news of relocation services activity bears this out. In May, ICUnet .AG won the Re:Locate international relocation service provider of the year award, having merged with its biggest rival, irema Relocation Services only three months before. Crown Relocation’s new contract with Unilever and The Ascott Ltd’s acquisition of a fourth German office (all these stories appear on news pages). “The German relocation industry has significantly recovered from recession,” says Helmut Berg, CEO of RSB Deutschland, Germany’s largest relocation provider, based in Frankfurt. “Things have changed a lot since 2009, when GDP fell by 4.7 per cent. This drop was more severe than the average in Europe and almost double that suffered by the USA. “But in 2010 Germany had an increase of 3.6 per cent which was way ahead of most other countries. For 2011 there is a prediction that Germany will grow further by 2.8 per cent and in 2012 by 2.2 per cent.” Helmut says the fact that Germany recently decided to divest from its nuclear technology created expectations that there will be lots of opportunities in the so called alternative energy sector. And there is no doubt Germany’s engineering, automotive and chemical industries are still very strong – indeed so
And there are other threats. There is a theory that the economy is collapsing again because of growing bubbles in some IT industries (Google, Facebook etc) and of uncontrolled activities in the banking sector. The uncertainty of the further development of the Euro is also a concern. Another threat is firmly within the relocation industry – the discrepancy between the expected level of service and the fees that are paid. Relocation services required by customers are ever more complex and need to be delivered in an ever more dynamic environment. Lead times and delivery times are getting shorter. “Our industry is required to deliver services and consultancy on very high level,” says Helmut. “At the same time we are seen only as a provider of transactional activities. Yet we need to employ people of high calibre and that means paying them a fair salary. That in turn means we need to charge sufficient fees.” This June and July, Germany hosted one of the year’s biggest international sporting events – the Women’s World Cup, with 16 teams competing. This will undoubtedly lead to an even further recognition of Germany’s significant position on the world’s international stage. But is this economic recovery regional? Germany, like the USA, is a federal state made up of some 14 autonomous regions, which have the added complication of being part of two separate countries dominated by opposing ideologies until just 20 years ago. So is this recovery uniform,
GERMANY FOR 2011 THERE IS A PREDICTION THAT GERMANY WILL GROW FURTHER BY 2.8%
AND IN 2012 BY
with particular regard to the east? Lucy Jacobs, Managing Director of Palladium Mobility Group, states that in the western part of the country, language barriers are not so prevalent as in the eastern parts, where the people are still not all proficient in English. So overcoming language barriers in some parts of Germany can be disconcerting at times. “Multi-lingual advisors have the network to find homes within a saturated market and the ability to peak clients’ interest about their new surroundings,” she says. “We have been experiencing a steady increase in business as more and more clients need to be initiated into the German way of life. As the number of vacancies in German cities decreases, the demand for outstanding service in this field is rapidly rising, requiring an in-depth knowledge of the local housing market, customs and traditions. “Although Germany has many cultural and outdoor highlights to offer, it may perhaps still lack in terms of customer service, which could create additional challenges to those relocating here,” adds Lucy. Stuttgart-based Compass International is currently riding high, having recently
launched an online tool for intercultural communication, ‘contact2culture’. This qualified as one of the best e-learning innovations in 2011 as judged by the prestigious Mittelstand awards, an event that attracted 2,000 entries this year. “Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an ‘intergalactic book on etiquette’,” says Elke Müller of Compass. “We are human beings and as such unique every one of us! Luckily enough, there are subjects that are known to have a high risk of causing cultural clashes. We have selected the most important of those and connected them to self-reflection questions. This will allow you to broaden
your intercultural horizon and point you to potential risk areas in an international environment. “contact2culture consists of 27 thematically fitting sets of cards for intercultural sensitization and contains more than 80 reflective questions on 27 topics that can be worked on in the internet as well as in the complementary work book.” Currently there is a lively discussion in Germany about women´s quota in major enterprises. At the moment, women are still under-represented in German companies – especially in leadership positions, where only 13 percent of the boards of directors of the 30 leading firms in Germany are female. Many politicians believe that there must be a regulation to ensure an appropriate proportion of women in big companies, such as was introduced in Norway in 2003 and Spain in 2007. France most recently took the initiative in January 2011, obliging large firms to ensure that women account for at least 40 percent of boardroom positions within six years. However, Angela Merkel, Germany’s female Chancellor, recently declared that there will not be a women´s quota in Germany since it would not be enforceable. She argued that the German
While French and British pupils in primary school receive an average of 880 hours per year, Germany´s half-day system only offers 630 hours.
economy should once again try to give themselves quotas without any state regulation. “Many people argue that a quota weakens women´s positions in the workplace rather than strengthening them,” says Andrea Koster, Business Development manager at Professional Organizing Relocation Consult. “Women´s successes will be attributed solely to the quota, not to their achievements. “However if Germany´s proposal for a women´s quota becomes reality, all publicly traded companies have to find new staff for one third of all top management positions within the coming years.” Another issue currently causing much debate in the country is that of the ‘Ganztagesschule’ , the German word for all-day schooling. While parents in many countries of the world are used to dropping children off at school in the morning and not seeing them again until late aftertnoon, all-day schooling is just starting to spread all over Germany, where half-day schools have been the norm for 85 per cent of Germany´s pupils. “But all day schools have rapidly been growing all over Germany thanks to the initiatives of former family minister Ursula von der Leyen and present family minister Kristina Schröder, both of whom support greater childcare options,” says Andrea Koster. “Keeping children in school longer to help parents balance work and family (one of the reasons why the education ministry has pushed for all-day schools) also become an issue when a ‘greying’ population in Germany demands women to play a broader role in the workforce and the birthrate of 1.3 children per German woman is one of the lowest in Europe,” she says. While French and British pupils in primary school receive an average of 880 hours per year, Germany´s half-day system only offers 630 hours. Traditionally, German students focus on academics in the morning and have leisure time in the afternoon for extracurricular activities and homework. “The toughest challenge facing all-day schooling in Germany is a resistance to changes in school hours,” declares Andrea. “Mothers are under tremendous social pressure to stay at home. A woman who chooses to enrol her child in an all-day school is still seen as a bad mother! “ This view is, however, slowly changing following a reduction in length of study for the high school diploma (Abitur) from 13 to 12 years, including four years in
primary school. As a result the high school curriculum was restructured and afternoon classes had to be introduced. “The other significant educational reform involved substitute teaching which guarantees that classes will never be cancelled or students sent home. With students spending longer days at school, many schools are now also offering hot lunches,” adds Andrea. Whichever way you look at it, the German economy – while still vulnerable in some ways – is leading Europe out of recession. Meanwhile, compared to many European countries, the level of innovation, enthusiasm and commitment to customer service being shown by the country’s relocation industry puts it in an enviable position.
GERMANY – A Current Perspective A quick guide to all things German by the Immediate Past President of EuRA, Helmut Berg, with questions posed by Editor, Dominic Tidey
COLOURFUL: Historic buildings in the centre of Cologne (above), one of Germany’s many cities where tradition, innovation, culture and economic success form an intriguing mix. Left: The recently opened Reichstag in the nations capital.
Apart from language, what are the three most common things that people find difficult when settling in Germany for the first time? Most assignees have difficulties with the fact that empty apartments really mean empty apartments. An increasing number of apartments have built-in kitchens but otherwise there is little in the way of appliances such as light fixtures, shelves, wardrobes, curtains etc. Another issue is the opening times of shops, bank and local authorities, which are rather limited. We have seen improvement in recent years, but there is still room for further improvement. German people, on average, are not as outgoing as many other nationalities. However, that does not means that they are impolite. If you win them as friends, you win them for life. Is Germany an easy country to settle into in terms of widespread use of English? Most people in Germany speak English in a way that basic conversation is possible. For example, we are often asked whether expats should be picked up at airports. Most taxi drivers understand English well enough to bring the expats to the hotel or any other required address. Some people are even obsessed to speak English! When Daimler Chrysler still existed and they had board meetings in Germany, the meeting language was English – even if no USA board member participated.
image changed a bit in summer 2006 when we celebrated a fantastic soccer world championship. The Germans seemed to be so lighthearted, relaxed and outgoing and I believe the world was really surprised. I think we were actually surprised about ourselves and have kept some elements of lightness, humour and openness. Is the working environment formal or informal? Generally speaking it is rather formal, especially when you meet someone new. In the course of time working together, relationships can become more informal. How easy or difficult is German bureaucracy? Germans love bureaucracy. Actually, this is irony! One example: 75 per cent of literature worldwide on the subject of taxes is in German, about German taxes. As a nation, we strive to make everything perfect and sometimes overdo it. Nowhere else in Europe does it take so long to get permission to build a house. We are held back by our desire to ‘always be on the safe side’. This is borne out by the fact that we have more insurance contracts per capita. What three locations would you recommend to someone visiting Germany for the first time? If I were to recommend a city, coast and rural location I would say Berlin, Baltic Sea and Black Forest. However, in Germany there are countless cities, more coastal areas and rural areas that are very attractive and worth visiting.
People from outside Germany often perceive the German people as very serious. How do Germans enjoy themselves? Germans had a reputation for being very direct, a bit grim, rude, and pedantic. This
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he UK border Agency The 2012 Olympic Games are set to estimates the numbers of Olympic athletes, cause extra problems for anyone Paralympics athletes, coaches, officials, press and media planning to relocate to London over attending the games to be over 40,000 the next 18 months. Caroline Suard during the 60-day festival of sport. In addition they are expecting a 3 per of Pricoa Real Estate and Relocation cent rise in overseas visitors due to the ‘Olympic Effect’. Services offers some advice to The Border Agency and customs departments will increase security relocation providers and companies checks, so expect delays of three to four months before the opening of the that use them. Games. Specifically, delays are expected in the visa processing stage and in household goods clearance and delivery • Fixing the cost as shipments will be held longer in ports. and an increase in demand, temporary of household goods In addition, partial closure of London accommodation and long term let, for the year will streets and access restrictions will prices are expected to rise. According to minimise the impact of force moving companies to deliver an residential agencies, long term lets could any sudden increases increasing amount of shipments in a rise by 10-15 per cent within the next 18 during that period. restricted number of hours per day; we months. For more information therefore expect to see delays in delivery In addition, companies not using a please refer to the due to man power shortage. fixed cost approach to household goods white paper ‘Quote According to the figures provided by could see a massive increase in their the UK Border Agency and the ‘Olympic relocation budget, as the more expensive vs Fixed model’ recently published effect’ that has previously been seen shuttle method will be encouraged on http://www. on Olympic cities such as Beijing, a by moving companies due to access pricoarelocation.com/ shortage of temporary accommodation restrictions and the cost of freight (air, resource_library.htm has to be expected, primarily in areas sea and road) is expected to go up due • Assignees will need to such as the City, East London and to decrease in capacity. be more flexible than usual Canary Wharf. However, areas such as • To avoid an increase of your regarding household goods Kensington, South Kensington, Notting relocation budget, we would advise you delivery, home search time Hill, Mayfair and Marylebone will also be to relocate your expatriates before May and the location of the serviced affected as several events will be hosted 2012 or after September 2012. apartments. in Hyde Park. • It might be wise to arrange a • Start considering how the ‘Olympic In addition, over the next 18 months ‘home search’ trip before relocating Effect’ will affect you and your assignees landlords renting long term properties the assignee to avoid the need for a and try to plan ahead with your supplier. may be reluctant to accept second year serviced apartment. However, if you do Also discuss with your supplier what renewals to try to take advantage of this, consider including rental furniture in steps they are putting in place to help higher rates for short term lets. your budget until household goods are Due to limited supply of property released. 1 12/15/10 4:02 PM Page 1 you face these challenges. 3_Pricoa Take Path 201mmWx90mmHGuardian.qxp:Layout
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RELATIONSHIPS There are many ways to view the subject of Communication, but in essence it is a human need. In business, we have evolved the topic into an art form, worthy of its very own MBA but despite all the methodology and mythology surrounding effective communication, is it really that complex, or is it common sense, asks Dominic Tidey.
hen we meet with a potential supplier, we are driven by two prime needs; to know that we will work well together and to know that the price and quality are right. Where we are purchasing a commodity, the need to know that we will work well with the supplier becomes less important as what will really drive the transaction is cost and quality. In relocation, knowing the supplier and the client will work well together is key and good communication between them plays a huge part in the success of the management of the assignment. Across the board, good communication and collaboration is the
number one priority in constantly getting it right. Elaine Crowe is the Relocation Manager for the Rank Group, a European gaming and leisure group with brands such as Grosvenor Casinos and Top Rank EspaĂąa. Elaine is also the Chair of the UK Relocation Users Group, a body set up with the aim of creating a forum for Relocation HR Managers to communicate and benchmark. Elaine trains relocation suppliers across Europe in how to best deliver those core components that maintain the relationship between HR and the relocation provider. â€œHonest communication is a vital ingredient
NEWS Elaine Crowe
Lleana Clapham Jacqueline Biersma
in creating a long lasting professional relationship,” says Elaine. “It should allow each partner to meet expectations and together obtain a united framework for every move, regardless of the different relocation requirements. There are often lots of buzz words to describe basics, but as always they remain the same; conscientious, caring, co-operation, clear and concise communication.” Communication is central to the maintenance of a great relationship between HR and provider, but also in supply chain management. In many geographical locations and industry sectors, the supply chain is more complex, as a Global Relocation Management Company (GRMC) will be the primary account holder for the corporate client’s relocation needs. TEAM relocations act as a GRMC for many global multi-nationals and Jacqueline Biersma is a Board Director and one of four Relocation Directors. For Jacqueline, open and clear communication with the relocation providers who make up her global supply network is more than just a friendly phone call. It is also about maintaining absolute compliance to industry rules and needs. “Communication and relationship management with our global clients is not just central to our work, it is absolutely key,” Jacqueline explains. “Every industry sector has different needs. At TEAM we are very involved with oil and gas and adherence by us and our vendor chain to the strict rules on for instance, data-protection and health and safety is vital. “We bring together our relocation partners from all over the world, at regular intervals throughout the year, to ensure that they are in compliance with our rules and those of our global clients. Events such as the EuRA International Relocation Congress and the WERC Global Mobility Symposium are how we are able to achieve the essential face to face communication, training and relationship management that we need to maintain with our relocation partners.” Jacqueline says that culture also plays a big role. Suppliers in Europe and the USA are already following local compliance rules on corruption and safety, “but in other territories, where rules are not so strict, we need to be sure that we are training and communicating with our suppliers even more frequently,” she adds. Peggy Love, President of Education
Services at Dwellworks, the largest destination services provider in the USA, says: “We work within the GRMC supply chain and with our own corporate clients and in either case, it is vital for me to work as a partner with my client. In building a relationship with a client that will truly endure, having a mutual understanding of each of our needs founded on clear communication and a spirit of collaboration, is the bedrock upon which a great working synergy can be established.” The partnership process itself however, changes in nature according to the type of supply chain and the partners involved and this alters the nature of the relationship and type of communication flowing between supply partners. Ileana Clapham of Clapham GmbH in Frankfurt also works with both direct corporate clients and GRMC’s. “When we established Clapham Relocation, we quickly realised that our success was boosted by great, clear partnership and communication and working together as partners with our clients with one common goal of supporting the expats,” says Ileana.
“This is one of the key differences when working as part of complex supply chain, where we are not invited to work in partnership, we are very clearly regarded as a supplier. This means that much of our expertise is untapped. When clear communication exists within a partnership, that is when we can really give what we are best at.” There are distinct corporate cultures in relocation which affect the service delivery models. The Nordic region is unusual in European relocation, in that the majority of services are delivered as a result of a direct link between HR and the DSP. The GRMC supply chain addition isn’t so common. “Here in Sweden we still find that a majority of our clients want to work directly with the local relocation company instead of approaching a GRMC,” says Åse Löfgren Gunsten. of Nordic Relocation Group. “Their reasoning has been that the order process and line of communication is short and quick when working directly with us. If a situation arises during a visit, getting a quick answer/ decision is just one person, one call away.”
Michell Bar Pereg
“Today we partner with language and intercultural training centers, moving companies and critically, other relocation companies. The group shares knowledge, marketing strategies and costs, and therefore we are able to offer a wider range of services to our clients. The partnership also creates more business for all in the group. It is also beneficial to partner with companies who have a quality certification, such as the EuRA Quality Seal.” Communication is not just key in ongoing relationship management. It is central to the process of getting the account in the first place. Michele Bar Pereg is now an independent Relocation Consultant, but throughout the last decade built one of Europe’s largest and most successful DSP’s with offices in four countries. Michele believes the key to her success was communication. “For me communication is about networking. Not necessarily in terms of selling, but being a great networker is key to being a great communicator. Who are you talking to? Who are you listening to? Keeping that connection open is vital. Create networking opportunities to begin and maintain communication at industry conferences like EuRA.“ For Michele, this didn’t just extend to sales and marketing. Communication within her own company was complex with managers spread across Europe and in different cultures. “In my company, internal communication took place across borders and this made it especially important to be clear when important information was given out across the group,” adds Michele. “Keeping all of the managers and staff up to date with what a client was doing was vital and we would all add notes to the system on the culture of a corporate client as we perceived it in each country, so that we could better communicate accurately and equally with them. I went against type in hiring staff who held the same philosophy of communicating with clients as I did.” Within the business world we work so hard to promote good communication and to avoid conflict. If all of the models and methods we use in the business world, could be applied to the wider arenas of ideology and politics, we would live in a very different world.
EuRA Directory 2006-07 a_w.qxp
t was almost as if the delegates and guests gathered at the Gran Melia Hotel, Palma de Mallorca were witnessing two Congresses instead of one, such was the buzz generated at this year’s event. And in a way, it was two events, thanks to the ash cloud that caused last year’s Congress to be cancelled at short notice. Around 550 people representing 42 countries around the world came together for three days of networking, business and fun, with many enjoying all three in equal doses. The biggest names in global relocation found themselves under one roof with experts from locations around the world. Sessions, seminars and top speakers all provided valuable information to those involved in the profession and there was something for everyone. The weather was warm and sunny, all the elements of the event went like clockwork and the whole caboodle culminated in a ‘Rave In The Cave’ in the foothills of Mallorca’s imposing mountains. This was a highly successful event – as can be seen from some of the pictures on these pages – wiuth delegates and guests looking forward to the next Congress in Stockholm in April 2012.
WITH PLEASURE EuRA’s new President,
Åse Löfgren Gunsten, reveals how she manages a successful Scandinavian enterprise and still has time for the good things in life.
Who is Åse Löfgren Gunsten? (in 3 sentences!) Åse is the owner and managing director of Nordic Relocation Group since 1994. She holds a Swedish degree in Nursing from the Red Cross School of Nursing and also a degree from the Stockholm University in Human Resource Management. As president she will dedicate time and effort to ensure that the great work being done by both the EuRA council and the EuRA office continues, as always focused on meeting the needs of EuRA’s members. What do you think is your greatest personal achievement to date? This is probably a tie between raining four great kids and building up a sucessful company. What inspires and motivates you? People; Positive, creative, hard working people who also have the ability to laugh at themselves. What is your advice to someone beginning their career in global mobility management? Know that it will take time and hard work. Also know that you will get gratitude and lots of positive response from your clients when the job is well done. Who do you most admire, and why? It’s always rewarding to hear about people who have struggeled to make something of themselves, having dreams and working hard to realise their goals. I also admire people who have managed to find a balance between work and private life. What do you never travel without? Apart from the obvious of make-up, a change of clothing and Passport, it would have to be my iPhone and computer/iPad. What is your favourite book? Just to many to choose from. On by bedside table I have currently five books; a Southeast Asien cook book, Your Brain at Work by David Rock; The National Geographic/Feb.edition ; Parky. My autobiography; Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris and Eyewitness-London. What is your favourite film? Couldn’t tell you. Depending on my mood it will differ.
What is your favourite piece of music? Everything from Classical to traditional jazz to Abba, etc If you spent a year on a desert island, what would you miss the most? If I had all the necessities of water, food and shelter I would probably miss the company of other people around me When are you happiest? When I’m with friends and family. If you had the choice of living anywhere in the world, where would it be? Springtime in Southern Europe, Summertime in Sweden, Autumn in the Americas, winter in South East Asia. Do you have a favourite saying? Simplicity wins If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Please let it be a group of friends, enjoying each other’s company together with the great wine and food being served at a BBQ in our garden. If a film were made of your life who would you like to play Ase Lofgren Gunsten? Knowing nothing of film I would gladly hand that decision over to other more competent people. What is your next big project? We have a very big Group Move going on to Gothenburg taking up allot of my time and effort. It’s both fun and challenging. We also just opened up a new office in Lund (June 1st). As President of EuRA I will be travelling a bit more assisting the association in any way I can. I do believe that will take care of my agenda for some time to come. How would you like to be remembered? I would like to be remembered as a very good and trustworthy friend. In business I would like to be considered fair, honest and direct. I also want to be remembered for always seeking a win-win situation. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? I have lots of ambitions and tend to grasp for the ones within reach. One step at a time.
Nordic Relocation Group Your gateway to Sweden Nordic Relocation Group is Sweden’s leading suppliers of relocation services and has a proven track record of “Excellence in Relocation”: Not only by holding the EuRA quality seal since 2008 but also as being rewarded with Cartus Platinum Award 2010 for the high quality in our services delivered to customers. Nordic Relocation Group is also a part of Absolute Nordic Relocation (www.abolutenordicrelocation.com) offering excellence in relocation services throughout the Nordic region of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Åse Löfgren Gunsten
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