Certain Relocation Tasks Sometimes Taking Longer Today
Certain Relocation Tasks Sometimes Taking Longer Today

Certain Relocation Tasks Sometimes Taking Longer Today

Mobility Trends and Hot Topics

Published: Jun 2, 2022

Once Routine, No Longer

It’s exciting that 2022 relocation levels have roared back to pre-pandemic numbers, but with this increase, parts of the mobility workload have changed too.

Before the pandemic, many routine tasks typically only needed a “one-time touch” or perhaps an hour or two’s effort to complete. Today, some of those same tasks take more effort and multiple steps to accomplish.

Why is this?

Though COVID-19 cases are down in the U.S. and around the globe, mobility stakeholders increasingly need to find solutions for new challenges impacting processes. These are often related to:

  • higher cost of housing and inventory shortages,
  • global supply chain and transportation challenges,
  • geo-political fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and
  • COVID-19 lock downs in large Chinese cities.

Consumers at the height of the pandemic could better appreciate disruption and delays, but that tolerance has lessened. Surveys of today’s consumers reflect higher overall customer service needs than a year ago. According to Hubspot’s Annual State of Service in 2022 Report, 93 percent of customer service teams say customers have higher expectations than ever before.

Time Consuming Tasks

With a culture based on flexibility, NEI tailors each move to the needs of the transferring employee/family while streamlining tasks. NEI also sets expectations and prioritizes counseling during the move process to head off or minimize delays and cancellations.

Still, certain relocation tasks are sometimes taking longer today. For instance, before the pandemic, setting up a shipment to get through customs was often a one-time touch. Since then, it might take several touches after the initial setup due to external factors/delays.

Consider these other examples of more time-consuming relocation challenges today:

  • U.S. Domestic Destination Housing

Helping to find suitable properties is taking longer for both renters and homeowners today. Searches have had to become broader, but NEI prepares clients to anticipate the need for expanded rental assistance and to potentially extend the benefit’s eligibility period. This provides homeowners and renters more time to secure permanent, suitable destination housing.

NEI’s Client Relations Managers keep clients informed of market trends and have proactive discussions, where it makes sense, regarding company assistance, such as Mortgage Assistance programs and Interest Rate Subsidies. These benefits have not been seen in client policies for some time, but are making comebacks. NEI works with lenders to provide clients information on such programs as a competitive tool to help meet Talent Acquisition goals and to entice new hires/employees to relocate as rates and cost of living rise. 

  • Temporary Housing Limitations

Temporary Living accommodations around the world are taking longer to source, come at substantially increased costs, and have limited inventory, which may also translate to longer lease periods requirements, sometimes up to 90 days, which can be more than an employee needs.

It takes longer to source options now as relocation companies must reach out to more partners than in the past just to obtain the number of necessary options. Even then, employees may not get their preferred location, number of bedrooms or amenities since occupancy rates for temporary accommodations (serviced apartments) are around or above 90 percent in many major destinations and there is limited 2- and 3-bedroom availability.

Decisions must be made quickly and increased flexibility is essential. Relocation teams spend more time today setting expectations and advising employees about:

  • Choosing accommodations well in advance
  • Expanding traditional commute times to increase housing options

NEI advises clients to consider options such as:

  • Securing long-term rentals and cycling transferees through them
  • Considering Airbnb/hotel/extended-stay options and per diems for meals, as needed

Our teams are proactive and conscientious, advising employees during initial briefing calls and throughout the entire move/assignment process.

  • Flight Cancellations and Delays

Now a regular occurrence, experts expect flight disruptions to continue indefinitely. Outside of weather issues, challenges range from reduced flight schedules to parts shortages to not enough pilots or crew members.

Though such disruptions are out of relocating employees’ control, NEI is giving more attention to helping travelers during such events now. We also counsel relocating employees to consider padding their travel schedule with an extra day of time - where possible - to help absorb delays and book flights as soon as possible because costs are likely to increase due to demand, fuel and labor costs, and flight capacity issues.

  • Rental Car Options  

Due to reduced vehicles inventory during COVID and supply chain issues (semiconductor shortage, transportation, cable bundles made in Ukraine, etc.), rental car availability is greatly reduced and rates are much more expensive than before the pandemic.

NEI Account Executives dedicate more time counseling employees to:

  • consider alternative dates / pick-up locations,
  • research availability before booking travel,
  • determine if alternative airports offer better rental options, and
  • consider public transport, Uber or ride-share options that are less expensive.
  • Geo-political Challenges

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine heated up, employees on assignment in Russia wished to be quickly repatriated or evacuated to another location. NEI not only helped to manage the expedited visa and immigration challenges, but also coordinated an extremely volatile period while airlines cancelled flights into and out of the country with little notice. Countries across the globe closed their airspace to Russian airlines and Russia banned airlines from dozens of countries. This turned the typically seamless process of coordinating employees’ flights into a laborious exercise of routing and re-routing people through the few available airports.

NEI Account Executives provided guidance for each employee/family. Due to this extraordinary event, many expats in Russia seeking quick departures had to settle for long flights to unfamiliar countries to avoid closed airspace to Russian flights.

Getting Back to “Normal”

It will be a while before things “get back to normal” – if ever. However, active listening, proactive solutions, and efficiency are the bedrock of NEI’s mission to provide Service Exceeding Expectations. Whatever the challenge, we are here to support our clients and their relocating families.

Things are taking more time and effort to accomplish than in the past, but we continue to leverage automation technologies to improve efficiencies on repeatable tasks so our employees have more time to engage in higher value activities with our customers.

Here are just a few comments that reflect how we are exceeding the expectations of our clients and their relocating families during these challenging times:

  •  “My NEI Account Executive is involved and caring, I always got help from her even when situation was quite unusual. She helped me to change tickets when direct flights to Europe were cancelled in Russia and extended my stay at the hotel when I got a positive COVID test….She managed the whole process and we were always in contact, and everything went smoothly. My NEI Account Executive has been the epitome of professionalism, efficiency & calm during an incredibly challenging time! Her recommendations, follow up and advice were invaluable. Anyone who does not utilize NEI is at a severe disadvantage.”
  • “NEI provided amazing service. My Account Executive fully communicated every aspect of our coverage and was able to provide explanation to any of our questions…She is extremely knowledgeable of the process. She put us at ease through the process which wasn't always easy with COVID complications. Her turnaround time responding to us was exceptional.”

If you would like to discuss current trends or ways we could help your company, please contact your NEI representative.