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the Belgian real estate market revealed


serviced accommodation in Belgium

A Single Point of Contact


Discover, Consider, Deliver

ReLocate visits the EuRA Conference in Stockholm







Stockholm EuRA Conference 2012


Buy or Rent? 4-5 Belgian real estate revealed Serviced, Please! 6-9 Serviced Accommodation A Single Point of Contact RMC’s & DSPs


Members’ News

12 - 13

Society Pages

14 - 15

Dates for your Diary


Welcome to our Summer edition, we’re proud to bring you 16 pages of relocation news: double the size we started with only a few short years ago. We hope you’ll enjoy this bumper edition. This April we visited Stockholm for the EuRA conference and we’re delighted to report back to you on the latest trends in global mobility. Companies are increasingly recognising the benefits that can be gained from international assignments and according to Deloitte we can expect serious growth in the number of global assignments over the next 3 to 5 years. With housing being high up on the list of requirements for anyone moving abroad, we decided to dedicate this issue to the theme ‘accommodation’. Is it better to buy or to rent your home abroad? What are the things to look out for and what are the pros and cons? What about serviced accommodation? What is actually on offer and what is the difference between a business flat and an aparthotel? Our members lift a tip of the veil to reveal a bit more about the Belgian market. Our AGM has just passed and I am delighted to report back to you on a very successful year for ABRA. Our membership continues to grow as does our reputation for excellence. This year we joined the Forum for Expatriate Management, a news and information portal. The company’s website provides global mobility, expatriate tax, international relocation, immigration, and international assignment information. We were also invited to become a member of Brussels Metropolitan, an organisation tasked with contributing to the economic development of the greater Brussels area. On top of this, our organisation has caught the attention of the press. A personal highlight was being interviewed on Valentine’s Day by the radio programme Pieters & Pichal on the personal and emotional side of relocating. In closing I would like to take a moment to remember our good friend Jo Renglé. Jo was a dear member of ABRA, a father, a husband, a friend and a colleague who left us much too soon. He was the managing director and the driving force behind Brussels Business Flats and will be sorely missed by us all. Jo suddenly passed away in his sleep on March 12th at the age of 42, leaving behind his wife and 3 children. We remember him fondly.

cover image: Stockholm Spring - Fiona Klomp editorial: Fiona Klomp



Stockholm 2012


Discover, Consider, Deliver Stockholm, April 25-27, 2012.

Arriving at the Clarion Sign Hotel in Stockholm on the Wednesday afternoon, we’re met with a hive of activity and a very warm welcome. With 577 attendees from around the world, this is the biggest EuRA Conference yet. Over the course of the next few days we’ll be attending various open sessions, meetings and talks on the world of relocation. Themed ‘Discover, Consider, Deliver’ this year’s event promises to offer a broad range of topics from its keynote speakers. 2012 has been hailed as the year in which the race for talent rules the international market. It is no longer about simply finding employees who will take a long- or short term assignment abroad, but rather about maximising results through a customised approach that could save the company serious amounts of money when done right. With a demographic shift taking place that has not been seen since the Middle Ages, global mobility is one of the hottest item of the decade. It is no longer just multinationals that have overseas operations, but small and medium sized companies are going global too. Finding the right person at the right time for the right placement means careful consideration between the development value and business value of the transfer.

Accommodation, banking, insurance and schools are all important parts of the move and are given lot of attention. However, one of the things that we often overlook or consider to be ‘less important’ is an introduction to local culture. Moving abroad can mean some pretty big adjustments for everyone involved. The recent Deloitte survey again highlighted the need for greater cultural awareness. Culture shock is often the biggest hurdle - even for the most experienced expat - so make sure you take some time out to get to know your new home country. Just crossing your country’s nearest border can be fraught with many unexpected and strange situations, as speaker Colin Moon so eloquently demonstrated. Companies working in today’s global, fast paced market want to be able to act quickly and expect the employee to be able to hit the ground running. By ensuring everyone knows exactly what to expect from their work and home environments, adapting to your new home country becomes just that little bit easier. With thanks to speakers Peggy Love, Wendy Wilson, Steve Cryne, Johanna Judkins, Metta Reichenberg, David Rooney, Kristin Mi-Ai Birkeland, Sabine Baerlocher, Bob Rosing, Eileen Lawlor, Carmelina Lawton-Smith, Marike Spieker and Colin Moon.

Are they a junior employee who will view the transfer as an excellent opportunity for personal and professional development or is your transferee a company director who will bring you the strategic opportunity you have been seeking? Creating the right package for your transferee isn’t just monetary and as any expat assignment is a big investment from both the company as well as the employee, it is imperative to ensure you have everything in place to make it a success. We know from experience that the number one reason for declining an international assignment is spousal. If the partner isn’t supportive of the move, can’t work abroad or if the children can’t find the right school, then often the assignment quite simply won’t go ahead. This is especially true for the socalled Y-generation, where both partners want to work. Good communication and managing everyone’s expectations are key to the success of the transfer and, in fact, for any international venture. Finding the right person for the role in the company is merely the first step in an ongoing process. What will you as a company be offering your transferee? Will they be commuting weekly, is the assignment project based or will it last a number of years, in which case will their partner/the whole family be coming along with them? Will the partner be able to work in the new home country? Where will the expat be going and/or coming from? Exactly how big is the cultural change for them? This of course, is exactly where your relocation agent plays an important role; with their support and knowledge you can create the made-to-measure experience you are looking for. Once the job offer has been accepted and the timing has been agreed, it is time to put into action all the other elements of the relocation.

As an inpat to Sweden speaker Colin Moon was perfectly placed to bring an exposé on the nature of the Swedes, revealing life in the land that brought us ABBA, IKEA and the Nobel Prize. His astute observations, perfectly timed delivery and comic impressions had us all in tears of laughter.



Real Estate - buy or rent? an inside view on the Belgian real estate market One of the most important things to decide upon when moving abroad is housing. The Belgians are proud to say they are born ‘with a brick in the belly’, which essentially means they love to build and/or own their homes. But what about the Expat? At which point does buying become more interesting than renting? And what are the deciding factors? We caught up with our real estate members to get their views on the question. “In Belgium buying is more common than renting. Only 25% of houses and apartments are rented out to tenants, 75% are lived in by the owners. If you compare this to our neighbours in The Netherlands this is a 50/50 split. There are two main reasons to explain this. The first is indeed the ‘brick in the belly’: many Belgians like to stay close to family and the place where they grew up, and that results in some rather out-of-the-ordinary numbers: a property is sold only every 35 years in Belgium compared to every 10 years in Anglosaxon countries. The second reason is the high transaction cost when buying a property compared to many other countries. It is this second reason that certainly plays an important role when expats are considering purchasing a property.” explains Walter Vermeeren of domoXim real estate. Mary-Anne Hodru of Belgian Homes agrees: “Expats usually don’t buy a property in Belgium unless they are working here ‘forever’ - for example EU staff who know they are here for a very long term. If you might be moving again in just a few years, it’s probably not interesting to buy as you need to wait several years to have a good return on your investment; costs surrounding a property purchase are relatively high here. It used to be said that in order to get a good ROI one should wait 10 years before selling again, however nowadays it’s more like 5 years as house prices continue to rise in Belgium. So it really depends on the length of the assignment whether it’s interesting to buy or not. If you are particularly keen to buy you can always rent out the property after you leave the country, so location and quality of renovations are important.” “The deciding factor is certainly the intended length of the property ownership. For a planned stay of less than five years, financially speaking renting is more interesting in today’s market. But on the other hand, Belgium’s expat community continues to grow. And expats are ideal tenants, so buying as an investment can often make purchasing a very good decision even for shorter stays. As an owner leaving Belgium, you can use property management services to manage your property here while you are abroad.” adds Walter. So what are the other important considerations to take into account when deciding between buying or renting your new home? SUMMER 2012

“An important factor to take into consideration is that although some expats might think about buying, often the company bringing them over won’t contribute towards the cost of purchasing a home, whereas they will give an allowance to cover rent. It’s a good reason to rent, wouldn’t you agree?” asks Mary-Anne. “And of course for some expats, owning property in Belgium could imply losing their expat tax status, so I’d certainly recommend checking with the company tax consultants what the potential implications might be. On the up side owners in Belgium have some very interesting tax benefits compared to other countries: rental income from properties owned is not part of your income in Belgium. However if the expat is taxed in his or her home country, that advantage does not apply, so be sure to get all your facts together before making any decisions.” Mary-Anne adds. “Apart from the financial analysis on return-on-investment, including the tax aspect, the most important consideration is about attitude and emotion. Many people prefer to live in a property they own, others see real estate as the perfect and long term safe investment, and all these are certainly candidates for buying a property. Others can’t bear the thought of all the


issues that come with property ownership, both financial as well as technical issues, or simply don’t want to live in the same property for more than a few years. And to be honest, these non-financial issues often outweigh the financial issues when deciding whether or not to buy.” Walter tells us. The Economist recently reported that houses in Belgium are 56% too expensive when compared to income and rental prices. The Belgian real estate industry bit back saying that the report doesn’t take into account the actual market, tax benefits, mortgage credits and other benefits. “The report certainly created quite a stir in the media,” laughs Walter, “in one of the seminars we gave at the Ackroyd/ING sessions recently, we showed all the articles we gathered in the space of a single week, with headlines ranging from ‘real estate in crisis’ to ‘prices increasing rapidly in real estate’. We always avoid using statistics unless they are based on factual analysis. The 56% ‘overvalue’ mentioned in the article of The Economist is somewhat lacking in a solid base. Belgium is an anomaly with just 25% of properties having tenants. Often Belgian tenants are people who have a lower income, cannot afford to buy and require low rent properties. Of course this immediately skews the Economist statistics. So the main message here is simply: be careful with statistics.”

Mary-Anne agrees: “The Economist article calls the market overvalued but the market is based on demand and as long as there is a demand, prices will remain strong. Notaries say that the cost of purchasing started to drop by around 2% for houses and around 4% for apartments at the beginning of this year. However, real estate studies say otherwise (Trevi in Le Soir)... I think that these studies simply do not reflect the total market. Notaries look at the lower end  of the real estate market, such as small houses and flats, while Trevi is looking at the other side of the scale, and closer to what could be called  the ‘expat market’. And here, prices certainly aren’t dropping!” “In Belgium houses are built for the long term as the Belgians intend to live in their home for the rest of their life. So the quality of the houses is very high compared to many other countries. So to summarize: if you are an expat with a small brick in your belly, do not hesitate and do buy a property to live in now, and to rent out when you move on! You will feel Belgian and happy!” Walter closes. Mary-Anne Hodru is the Director of Belgian Homes real estate services. Walter Vermeeren is the President of the NOVA Group, of which domoXim real estate is a subsidiary company.

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Serviced, please! serviced accommodation revealed The short-term accommodation market is an important link in the relocation process, both for individuals and families. And the ever growing numbers of globally mobile employees has led to the increased popularity of serviced accommodation with high-end apartments to let in our cities. But what exactly is the difference between an apart hotel and a business flat? What services are on offer and what can you expect from your chosen residence? ReLocate delves into the question and speaks with accommodation members Brussels Business Flats, DVM Belgium, Marriott Executive Apartments, Radisson Blu Astrid Apartments and Thon Residences.

RL: You’ll have to help us a little here: what exactly is the difference between an apart hotel and a business flat? “You could say a business flat is more like a private residents block. Of course we offer a number of services, just not from a reception desk in the entrance hall. It’s a very independent experience as opposed to the more detailed services a hotel offers.” explains Joel Vanmellaert of Brussels Business Flats. “The big difference is the flexibility an apart hotel offers, they are more focused on guest comfort and offer services that are much closer to hotel services, such as day-to-day stays, flexible rates and 24hr assistance.” adds Olivier Simean of Marriott Excecutive Apartments. Hannah Longman of Thon Residences agrees: “The main difference is that a resident at an apart hotel benefits from a hotel service whereas a resident at a business flat does not have this advantage. It is always a nice bonus to be able to offer a cleaning service and around the clock assistance!” “Apart hotel guests enjoy the privacy and space of an apartment, but with the added services of a hotel – services such as laundry, cleaning services, F&B possibilities, free WiFi...” Didier Boehlenof Radisson Blu Astrid Apartments adds. SUMMER 2012

RL: So what kind of services can your guests expect from you? Didier continues: “We offer the guests in our apartments exactly the same services as our hotel guests: free high speed internet, free access to the health & leisure centre with extensive gym, indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna, daily cleaning, regular linen changes, concierge services, underground parking, room service, restaurant and bar on site and meeting facilities.” Olivier adds: “Our apartments are all furnished with fully equipped kitchens, separate living & sleeping areas and guests have complimentary access to our world class Fitness Centre which enjoys a spacious indoor swimming pool. And of course

there are the ‘usual’ services: housekeeping and linen services, high speed internet, on-site parking, concierge desk, laundry services, valet dry-cleaning, newspapers, a foreign exchange service and so on. Essentially our guests have access to all the services available at the Renaissance Brussels Hotel next door as well as the Parnasse Steakhouse and the Schengen Bar.” “Guests staying in our serviced apartments are offered weekly cleaning, access to the gym and 24 hour technical or emergency assistance. All these charges are included in our rent. We can also offer parking, high speed internet and dry cleaning for a small surcharge; really anything the guest may require.” Hannah tells us. “Although we don’t offer the kind of services that you would find in a hotel lobby, our services are included in the rental package: cleaning, changes of bed- and bath linens and a handy-man service for any jobs that need attending to.” Joel lets us know. RL: As the saying goes, it’s all about ‘location, location, location.’ How do you choose your locations? “Our hotel’s city centre location has always been popular due to its proximity to all modes of transport. We realised that there was a growing demand in the market for long stay solutions for


our Antwerp guests. And as the lease of an in-house office complex finished, we decided to give this entire floor a new destination by building 19 apartments. It was the perfect way of marrying our clients’ needs with this extra space we suddenly had available to us.” explains Didier.

This personalized service enbles the newcomers to settle down quicker and feel relaxed and ‘at home’ in their interim housing until such times when they move on to their permanent housing or return to their home countries.” Marijke adds.

“We’ve specifically chosen the location for our Executive Apartments at the centre of the European Quarter. Situated across from the European Parliament and next to the European Institutions, we’ve found them to be ideally located for our guests. They’re close to the prestigious commercial district and next to Place Luxembourg.” adds Olivier. Joel agrees: “Easy access by car or public transport is important and our locations have been chosen with this in mind. Of course being so close to the European institutions and the NATO building holds great appeal for our clients.” “We have locations throughout Brussels, in areas which clients are attracted to. Avenue Louise is an obvious location with prestige and proximity to the city centre and of course we have 3 properties in the European Quarter to accommodate our clients who work in the area. We’ve also found this to be a popular location for those who work outside of Brussels as it is easy to reach the motorway.” Hannah tells us. “Not everyone wants to live in the city centre though which is why our buildings are located in Waterloo and Braine L’Alleud (Lillois), placing our market south of Brussels. There are many expats working and living in the area and of course not everyone finds Brussels city centre the easiest place to be.” Marijke Gilmore of DVM Belgium explains. RL: One of the benefits of staying in a serviced apartment is of course the flexibility on offer. “Plans can change fast, so we have to adapt quickly to meet the guest’s wishes. It is also the current trend that more and more business is done last minute. The time involved in planning has been significantly shortened so we try to be as flexible as possible.” Didier explains. “The lead time of bookings has become much shorter,” Olivier agrees, “and so we allow our guests to cancel their reservations free of charge until 4pm even on the arrival day. Plans change very quickly at the moment and we need to be able to offer flexible and personalised solutions in keeping with this trend.” “At Thon Residences we focus on clearly understanding the clients needs and we adjust as often as possible. Of course, this cannot always be achieved but we try our best to make our guests comfortable and happy.” Hannah adds. Joel agrees: “Projects can unexpectedly overrun or finish sooner than expected which impacts on the assignee’s stay. Generally speaking our guests are here for a number of months, so it is important to offer the option of extending your stay month by month. Towards the end of a stay shorter periods are also possible.” “We’re finding that accommodation budgets are always under pressure, so we try and be as flexible as we can. The ‘welcome factor’ in the apartments is much needed and appreciated. So we make time available to explain the different appliances at check-in, waste disposal rules and procedures, advising newcomers on local restaurants and shops.

images: overleaf - swimming pool at the Marriott Brussels above - the welcome factor at DVM

RL: How about things like car-sharing services, concierge services, other third party agreements.....? “Because our apartments are located within the hotel, we can offer the guests the same services as any other guest. We can help with all of their needs: car rental, parking, taxi services,.. Even the possibility to use the ‘Velo’ city bikes to explore Antwerp and of course the arrival of the Diabolo line will make travelling to and from Antwerp a lot faster and easier for our guests. All requests will be handled with our typical “Yes I Can!” service.” Didier lets us know. Olivier adds: “We offer our guests limousine and private car services through our concierge desk, but if you’re staying in Belgium for a few months, it’s probably more interesting to sign up with Cambio – the car sharing service. There are 3 Cambio cars right next door on Place du Luxembourg and they’ve recently added 3 electric cars to their fleet, so a zero-emission trip around the city is on your doorstep!” RL: What have you found clients are looking for when choosing a serviced apartment? Is there a typical stay or request? “At DVM we’re seeing fewer families, more so the individual ‘fire fighters’ that corporate companies are sending across in need of 1-bedroom apartments. They come from pretty much all over the world and have all manner of backgrounds. It can be difficult being so far away from home, so definitely the comfort of the apartments is important. The other main request is for larger apartments with 2 or 3 bedrooms for company staff members to share whilst on assignment in the local area.” Marijke tells us. “We’ve found that most of our guests are busy business people. This means they fit as much work into as little time as possible, resulting in long days. Staying in a serviced apartment saves them time - commuting to a gym, doing laundry, shopping, and so on. It’s about ease and comfort,” says Didier, “Most guests are working on projects in and around Antwerp, with an average stay of at least a month or expats moving to Antwerp who need RELOCATE


intermediary accommodation. If we have Belgian nationals staying with us, they are often expats returning home or leaving from home, and in need of temporary housing.” he adds. “Clients seek that feeling of comfort and want a ‘home away from home’ with fully equipped services, comfort and security. The big advantage of our Executive Apartments is the access to the services and facilities of the Renaissance Brussels Hotel, located just next door. Due to our location our clients are mainly government guests and they come from around the world. We’ve noticed that short stays are more frequent travellers and long stays are more related to special project teams working on long term contracts in Brussels.” Olivier informs us. Hannah tells us: “Clients are looking for an easy moving process without having to organise removal vans and such like. They want to move in and not have to make any changes. They want a modern yet comfortable décor and a welcoming atmosphere. Each of our locations has its own look and feel and we regularly update our interiors. In our recently refurbished Residence Parnasse we went for a very modern touch: neutral colour tones but with vibrant accents such as cushions and carpets. The well-known Flemish interior designer Pieter Porters decorated Stanhope Residence. His motto is ‘more is more’ and he has produced some very luxurious and opulent apartments. This combines with the general atmosphere of the 5 star Stanhope Hotel and allows our residents to truly live the life of luxury that they seek.

The type of client depends on the Residence. We have housed ambassadors to CEOs, expats to NATO employees. Of course, with many of our locations being so close to the European Parliament, we get a lot of business from the European Institutions. However, we also receive families who have recently moved to the area. A typical stay for us does not exist. Every client stays different amounts of time and this is also why we are so popular.” “Our main business comes from consultants who seek studios or one bedroom apartments. They tend to stay anything up to around 5 months and are a truly international crowd. The 2 and 3 bedroom apartments tend to get longer stays of on average 7 months. Sometimes we house high level Belgians living just a bit to far from Brussels to commute every day. They prefer to spend weekdays closer to work and go home over the weekends.” Joel tells us. RL: ‘People are strange’ as the Doors once sung: you must have come across some interesting requests over the years and some rather memorable events... The question elicits some knowing smiles among our panel: “We organised an event for a road safety agency and had a car crash simulator test to help teach people about preventing car accidents. It was quite a sight, sitting there in the middle of our conference room!” laughs Olivier. “There have been many, but I’ll never forget one particular client calling us asking us to bring him a bar of soap as he was lying in the bath...


As we’re not a hotel, we did wonder what he was thinking when he made the request...” Joel tells us. Didier simply smiles: “We have a lot, but I cannot divulge.” RL: So what about the future, are you seeing any particular trends or changes up ahead? Joel elaborates: “We’re seeing shorter stays and certainly less families, but the last few years have been heading this way really so that’s no surprise. The clients remain the same but accommodation budgets are going down which in turn impacts on the length of the stay; assignees need to fit more work into their days and get results faster.” Olivier agrees: “We’ve also noticed that our project business is shorter and therefore the length of stay is shorter too. The economic situation is fragile, clients pay more attention to their expenses and aim to reduce their cost as much as possible. Other than that guests want the latest technologies such as access to iPads and their smartphones when they’re travelling.” “We’re finding that guests plan and book their stay last minute, this really is becoming a trend. The lead time has significantly shortened which means guests also appreciate more flexibility and more services, of course preferably at a lower cost.” Didier continues.

images: left - a room with a view at Radisson Blu Astrid above - Pieter Porters interior at Thon Stanhope Residence

“The smaller players cannot offer this so my personal opinion is that a lot of these smaller providers will start disappearing in coming years. As companies are preferring to use the one relocation service provider worldwide it is necessary to look further than the Belgian market alone. Again here the smaller players cannot offer what is requested.” Joel continues. Olivier agrees: “The market in Brussels for serviced apartments and relocation business will remain highly competitive. Customers are looking for value for money, convenience and added value and they want it as soon as possible. We also see shorter length of stays related to project business as a continuing trend in 2012.”

“In spite of our renovation and building works DVM has enjoyed good occupancy rates last year, with approximately 90-95% occupancy on average. We expect this trend to continue even though the economic climate is still somewhat uncertain. Global mobility remains high on the agenda for our clients.” Marijke adds. Joel jumps in: “Budget wise I do not see a great change in the next few years. What is changing for us is that more and more often we need to deal with the purchase department instead of the HR department. It all comes down to budgeting at the end of the day.” RL: How do you see the market developing? “Over the last 5 years or so, we’ve seen more small players emerging. Landlords who previously rented out unfurnished flats have started running to IKEA and are now renting out furnished apartments. But as we deal more and more with purchase departments, we’re also learning that companies like to deal with one supplier, one agreement, same kind of flat. It makes life so much easier for the company.” Joel tells us.

“The market in Antwerp for corporate apartments is growing. But the supply of good serviced accommodation remains limited. We see more and more people coming to Antwerp for a limited period. They prefer to live in an apartment which is fully serviced, so they don’t have any other worries.” Didier tells us. Hannah adds: “We are trying to get the Thon name out there. Our principal objective is to increase our number of long stays and reduce the short stays. The business is definitely there, we just need to take it!” “Due to the increasing demand for apartments we’re currently renovating 2 brand-new one bedroom apartments and works are nearing completion, thankfully, as they’re already let!” Marijke laughs. for further information please visit: Brussels Business Flats - DVM Belgium - Marriott Executive Apartments - Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp - Thon Residences - or visit the ABRA website for a complete list of all our accommodation members.



A Single Point of Contact RMCs & DSPs

More and more often we see that client companies prefer working with a single supplier for all their international mobility needs. The rise in popularity of Relocation Management Companies (as opposed to Destination Service Providers, i.e. the actual relocation agents) is perhaps easiest explained by the need to move quickly in a fast paced market. By outsourcing the supply management to a single point of contact for all their relocations worldwide, companies are able to focus their attention on the actual business opportunity at hand. Although many view RMC’s as a controversial addition to the mix – it’s easier and quicker to just deal with the client company directly – and as an extra cost that puts pressure on the relocation agent’s fee, it would appear RMC’s are here to stay. Friday’s Open Session at the EuRA conference brought us a panel discussion on the topic and the panel members had some very useful information to share. EMERGING MARKETS With the top destinations in 2012 being the US, China, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Germany, the Middle-East and Africa you can imagine there can be some very large differences in what’s on offer. Some of these emerging markets may not have structural services such as property services or public transport in place so have as much information as possible ready for your client. Make sure you find out about local policy and processes to ensure a smooth transfer. HINTS & TIPS It is very important to client companies to be shown that you take great care in safeguarding sensitive information from accidental reading by passers-by. Have a password on your PC, don’t leave papers lying around the office or in the back of the car and make sure all staff are trained to do this. Have a business continuation plan: what will you do if your office burns down overnight – can you work on your laptop from home? It may seem rather obvious and it needn’t be very complex, but the client company wants to be sure that you are ready for any eventuality. Be ready to present quarterly, bi-annually or annual reviews and reports on the transfer. What went well, what could be improved on, where have you saved the client company money or added value? If you’ve managed to negotiate a particularly interesting discount on rent or have negotiated a free parking space that would otherwise have cost €100 a month, be sure to report on this, don’t let the client company take your negotiation skills for granted. FOCUS Although the relocation fees are just a small percentage of the total spend on an international transfer, it is tempting for companies to try and drive this fee down. By ensuring that these ‘soft’ cost savings are brought to the client’s attention, the focus is removed from ‘hard’ costs such as fees.


With growing competition in the market place quality, excellence and added value have become core values, so make sure you are known for your outstanding quality of service. KEY TRENDS Budgets remain under pressure for the foreseeable future and the key message received has been that it’s all about value: the client company needs to be able to show value at assignee and at corporate levels. The client company also expects a seamless delivery of service, no matter which country they are moving their employees to. The key trend today remains delivering an increasing number of types of policies and programmes such as Local Plus, Graduate, Accompanied, Unaccompanied, long term, short term and so on. Essentially any type of combination that will offer the most benefits for the company and its assignees at the lowest possible cost. Companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of global mobility which has meant an increase in all types of international assignments. Long-term assignments are continuing to grow and there are more families on the move again. Most importantly, markets are moving fast: so be ready to move as soon as given the go-ahead. Companies go abroad as they are seeing opportunities and they want to be able to move quickly. With thanks to EuRA speakers Patrick Oman, Hannah Boulton, Miriam Duignan, Chris Pardo and Lisa Reid.


Go Diabolo - Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel European travellers will be delighted to hear that the keenly awaited Diabolo Project will be operational from 10/06/12. Offering a direct train from Brussels International Airport to Antwerp Central Station, this line will cut travelling time down to a mere 34 minutes. From June onwards you’ll get to Antwerp in less time than it takes to get to Brussels. The network offers direct connections to the major European cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. “We’re delighted that the plans for this very important connection are coming along so well and that we are only weeks away from seeing it completed. It will make travelling between Brussels Airport and Antwerp so much more pleasant for our guests.” comments Geert De Keersmaeker, MICE manager of Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp. Please visit for further details.

NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS Creative Writing Course for Expatriates Ever thought about becoming a writer? Or thought about how it would feel to be published? Dr Anne Randerson’s new 4-session creative writing course might just be the thing for you. You will receive plenty of advice, practical tips and encouragement from an experience, published writer. Dates: Fridays 25th May, 8th June, 13th July, 20th July. For further details or to register contact Anne Randerson via: or tel: +32 485 357 029.

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The Antwerp International School, which has students from more than 40 countries, hosted its biannual International Day to celebrate diversity on Saturday May 5th. A fun day featuring food and goodies + refreshments from around the world. After the official opening by Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters, the teachers, pupils and parents offered various demonstrations and performances such as music, dance, games and competitions: from “live” football to minigolf.

And to join the (A)WAY Facebook group follow:

The highlight of the day was the international market where you could buy products, food and drinks from many countries: coffee and donuts from Canada, tea from China, a real Australian barbeque, South-African snacks, traditional Indian curries and wine from Hungary. As usual, part of the day’s proceeds go to a charity or organization from the Antwerp area. This year it is the organization “To walk again”, founded by Marc Herremans, the famous triathlon champion who fell during training in 2002 and became paralyzed. Marc attended the Antwerp International Day personally to share his experiences and promote his organization. Please visit for further details on their events.

• SUMMER 2012

Of course it wouldn’t be an am & pm relocation stand if there wasn’t some Belgian chocolate involved... And between the Manneken Pis choccies and the Belgian beers on offer, it is perhaps little surprise that the stand quickly became the favourite destination for visitors of the EuRA conference!


NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS Another Office for Partenamut AIRINC Announces London Office Opening In response to increased client demand for a local AIRINC presence in this key mobility market, AIRINC is pleased to announce the opening of a new full-service office in London. Effective March 5, 2012, AIRINC’s United Kingdom office is located at the following address: Bow House - 1a Bow Lane - London EC4M 9EE - UK Phone: +44 207 332 6106 The London office will be AIRINC’s fifth full-service office globally and its third in Europe. It represents AIRINC’s commitment to providing U.K.-based clients with enhanced, real-time customer service through local representation. Kay Hall, Managing Director of AIRINC Europe, is very excited about AIRINC’s growing presence in Europe. She commented, “We provide a truly global product. However, we feel that servicing on a local level is of importance in some markets. This is a move we have talked about for a long time and I am delighted to be starting with such a strong and experienced team of colleagues.” Kay will be relocating to the UK this summer, our loss is certainly London’s gain. Kay, we would like to wish you every success in your new venture!

Partena Business & Expats extends its welcoming area and adds an extra office at Rue Montoyer! As you know Partena Business & Expats opened a new brand agency in September 2010 located Rue Montoyer, 41. Since then, we did not stop growing and have helped many expat people arriving in Belgium to settle down. New offices have opened at the beginning of May at Rue Montoyer, 39. This “back” office includes a large conference room welcoming up to 20 guests, where it will be possible to organize several events with our partnerships targeting Human Resources or any other clients .

Should you need any other information on it, please contact Henrique Canario, Business & Expats Director : 0493 93 97 11 and/or

From Expat to Expert - vzw De Rand

This autumn the Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel and vzw De Rand will be joining forces to launch their high end orientation course for expats. The course has been designed to help new arrivals to Belgium learn to cope with everyday life, to ease the transition and to make the most of their experience abroad. Providing practical information about living in Belgium and its cultural highlights and with guest lecturers from various Flemish universities, this promises to be a ‘must-do’ on anyone’s list. There will be a maximum of 30 participants per course to allow everyone the opportunity to interact. The full programme includes two guided visits to experience first hand the historical splendour and the creative and artistic riches of the region. It will help you understand the influence of language and traditions on our society and to embrace its culture. The programme starts in October and ends in March. The sessions are held on Fridays, from 9h30 till 12h45 with the exception of the closing event which is an evening session.

Relay for Life at St John’s St John’s International School will be one of the host locations for this summer’s Relay for Life, a 24 hour walk/run team relay in support of cancer research, celebrating the lives of everyone who has ever been touched by this disease. It is the second year for the International Community run and the first year the event will be hosted by St John’s. You can join the team and take part in this sponsored run, become a volunteer or even sponsor the event as a partner. Support the fundraising efforts for this very worthy cause! Relay for Life will take place at St. John’s on June 2-3. For more information or to participate, please go to

For further details please contact Raymonde Wauters at HUB: or tel: 02 210 1621.

• .



ABRA Members’ Meeting - Tuesday 6th March 2012 Our March Members’ Meeting was generously hosted by the British School of Brussels. Principal Sue Woodroofe was a most engaging speaker and took the opportunity to present further details on BSB’s expansion. Guest speaker Mr Toon Van Assche gave a presentation on ‘Intercultural Effectiveness’ highlighting the many differences we all come across when faced with working in another culture and how to bridge the gap. With over 85 attendees, our March meeting has been our largest yet, thank you to all our members who have helped make it another event to remember. To put names to faces, please visit the ABRA website.





At Hasenkamp we understand what you mean when you say “valuable”. e-mail: tel : +32 (0)2 759 83 30 fax: +32 (0)2 759 83 37

THE ART OF MOVING YOU WHEREVER, WHENEVER... If you would like to see your event listed in ReLocate, or for further information on advertising, please contact with the details. For any other enquiries contact ReLocate is published quarterly for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY: ABRA MEMBERS’ MEETINGS 2012 September meeting: Wednesday 19th Sept. December meeting: Wednesday 5th Dec.

For the digital version of ReLocate please visit our website to either view or to sign up to receive your quarterly copy straight to your inbox. Join us on Facebook and LinkedIn by following these links:

EARP Training Day “International Assignment Management” Date: 16 June 2012 Location: Marriott Hotel Grande Place, Brussels Registration:

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ReLocate Summer 2012  

specialist magazine for members and friends of ABRA - the Association of Belgian Relocation Agents - global mobility, relocation news and mo...

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