Ten months into the worst pandemic in a hundred years, service providers continue to adapt, innovate and work harder than ever to stay relevant and provide value to their clients.
Impacts of this pandemic have been varied, depending on industries and consumer demand. Some sectors of the economy have thrived, while others suffered significant losses in business volumes and revenues. The corporate relocation industry, unfortunately, falls into the latter.
As a Destination Services Provider (DSP), the impact of lockdowns and restrictions on corporate travel have been severe. Almost overnight, as the world literally came to a standstill, the nature of our business and service delivery changed.
Initiations were halted or continually deferred as we all adjusted to a new reality. Offices were shut down and all employees tasked with working from home.
Clients’ need for information and timely updates became paramount, as everyone was left scrambling and guessing as to what was to come next.
And we continue to adapt and alter our modus operandi as most countries, including Canada, continue to see an unprecedented surge during the second wave of this crippling pandemic. There is now a new variant that is cause for renewed alarm, with the threat of looming lockdown extensions as well as possible curfews, which only serves to increase our challenges.
Adapting to the new norm and taking on the challenge
What these past 10 months have taught us is that we possess a tremendous ability to not only deal with such adversity but to actually rise to the challenges and overcome them.
In our sector, we have adapted and made significant changes to how we do things, some of which will continue long after this pandemic is over. While our office staff all work from home, we have been forced to accelerate our adoption of communication platforms like Zoom and Teams in order to keep our team connected and productive.
Similarly, our relocation specialists have turned to similar technologies like FaceTime, Whats App and Skype to not only connect with transferees and assignees, but in some cases to effectively service their needs.
This includes conducting neighbourhood tours and orientations via video, as well as providing virtual and visual tours of rental accommodations. Both of these “new” forms of servicing our clients are expected to continue as they offer some real efficiencies and benefits to clients, even when the need for isolation is no longer required.
The challenges in information dissemination
Our Destination Services app has also proven to be a very useful tool in advising and informing our relocating expats.
The need for information, especially in these difficult and stressful times, has never been more crucial.
Clients, be they mobility managers or the relocating expats, are dependent on information that we provide to ensure a relocation goes as smoothly as possible during these times.
he types of information are varied and continually changing – impact on housing rates and other cost of living factors, country-wide as well as regional protocols in place to combat this pandemic, as well as continual and timely updates on changes to the protocols as they occur.
At the time of this writing, one province (Quebec) has already instituted a curfew, and within days the province of Ontario is expected to implement something similar. All of which needs to be communicated to our clients and potentially travelling expats so that as they are properly informed and can make the right decisions.
The rise of out-of-the-normal services to cope with the health protocols
What we have also seen is the rise of services that we did not provide in the past. In addition to the aforementioned video tours and viewings, grocery shopping and delivery has become a mainstay as expats are required to strictly quarantine for 14 days when arriving in Canada.
Virtual assistance and video-calling support have also increased dramatically as in-person accompanied services have been impacted due to contactless and social-distancing requirements.
Keeping the doors open
Through it all, we continue to welcome transferees and assignees as they enter Canada, and ensure that they are properly and safely serviced throughout their transition.
The duty of care that was once primarily reserved for our clients, has had to be adjusted to ensure that there are adequate safeguards for our staff and relocation specialists providing accompanied services to our clients. Masks, PPE and cleaning and travelling protocols for vehicles have been introduced and are now the norm, and we will continue to further adjust and adapt as we collectively navigate through this pandemic.
We have learned much in the 10 months since this nightmare began, but as things once again get a lot worse before they get better, we will have to continue learning and coming up with new and improved ways of doing things.
While the effects of this coronavirus will be felt for years to come, one thing it did do was accelerate our progress and operational advancements in leaps and bounds.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and a global travel and economic shutdown definitely forced every company and industry to innovate, adapt and improve in order to survive.
And with vaccines on their way, we can hopefully all look forward to operating with these increased efficiencies and improvements as we welcome back a return to normalcy.