Best Practices and Communications from Relocation Industry Suppliers
The global COVID-19 outbreak has redefined the way Cartus and our suppliers operate day-to-day. We are all working to maintain service delivery and introduce adapted working practices to ensure those relying on our relocation service experience minimum disruption. Our number one priority for both global employees and members of our supplier network is their safety. We are committed to providing updates in regards to how we are managing specific relocation touch points and during this pandemic
Destination Services Providers (DSPs)
Our global DSPs are using different approaches to communicate with clients such as blog updates, email newsletters, and, in some cases, posting on social media. When face-to-face deliverables are not available, virtual communications via phone, email, and video provide expats and transferees consultative information on:
- Additional resources related to their location
- Additional authorized services
- Researching best-fit rental properties, confirming availability and scheduling viewings for the expat/transferee to view unaccompanied (these capabilities are location-specific and driven by city/state/country legislation)
Many of our relocation management suppliers are also using their websites to communicate COVID-19 updates to customers. For example:
- In mainland China and Hong Kong, Dwellworks has a "Happening at Dwellworks" page on their website where they are providing COVID-19 updates via a blog. Information includes quarantine procedures, local school and shop closures, and impacts on social activities.
- In Latin America, LARM includes a section on their "features" webpage advising on how they are operating. LARM will also be offering further updates via Instagram in the coming weeks.
Temporary Housing Network
Suppliers are providing regular updates via email and on their websites regarding:
- Properties decisions to accept bookings
- Travel restrictions for those at the end of assignments, extensions, or localized moves
- Self-isolation (on a case-by-case basis)
- Safety of guests and housekeeping staff at properties
For example, Oakwood has a link on its website with general information about cleaning practices in the accommodation provided and recommendations they have made to their supply chain. There is also a FAQ section and a contact number for queries.
Suppliers are providing daily updates on global changes concerning travel and immigration disruption via their websites, blogs, and social media channels.
For example, Fragomen's website contains information about temporary immigration-related measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. There is also a regularly updated Policies Summary PDF link where you can click on a country, and the PDF will jump to the relevant page in the document.
Education and Spouse/Partner Support
As with immigration updates, these services are using regular emails and posts on their social media channels to communicate to customers. Some suppliers have had a virtual business model in place for decades, with coaches and team members able to deliver lessons through blogs and virtual workshops. Suppliers such as REA, Bennett International, and The Impact Group are collating resources that could be useful to their participants and families in this time, such as:
- Ways to support remote learning
- Ways to adapt to working from home
- How to talk to children about the coronavirus
- Activities for children to do indoors
- Advice on school closures globally
Our suppliers are keen to reassure their participants that the service they receive will be as uninterrupted as possible in the coming months.
Van Lines and Freight Forwarders
The majority of our suppliers are making good use of social media, such as LinkedIn, to update customers.
The following guidelines apply for van line drivers and crews:
- Virtual surveys being completed where and when possible
- Updates on delivery of Quality Control site visits
- Van line Leadership is checking in with drivers and crews daily to ensure no one is ill
- Drivers and crew practice social distancing from homeowners and other crew members
The following guidelines apply for our freight forwarders:
- Delays expected due to a decrease in volume, limiting steamship lines and air freight shipment availability
- Extended custom clearance due to slowdown from short-staffed agencies
- Virtual surveys are being completed where available
- Pack and load dates are subject to change
- Potential increased storage at the origin if door-to-door moves cannot be completed as scheduled
With respect to the servicing of claims for Cartus-insured shipment, UNIRISC staff will continue to support claimants. When services of a repair or inspection company are needed to adjudicate a claim, government restrictions may impact availability of physical inspections. UNIRISC is implementing the following process options for those situations, and for customers wishing to avoid in-home visits:
- Offering FaceTime and virtual inspections with repair and inspection firms
- Allowing photo submission of damaged items in lieu of an in-home inspection
- Honoring requests that in-home visits be postponed until government restrictions are relaxed and risk minimized
- Asking our repair services to deliver repaired items to a customer's garage or to a doorman to minimize contact, whenever possible
Some suppliers are experiencing high call volumes regarding updates on insurance policies and are posting regularly on social media channels. For example, Travel Guard (formally AIG) has a dedicated page on their website to answer customer FAQs and provide information such as:
- What to do about booked trips and refund policies
- Links to copies of policies
- 'Coronavirus Resource Center' with updated news on COVID-19 and a section for customers to view their policies
Appraisal and Inspection Network
At this time, down-line suppliers in states where they are still able to work are being instructed to follow recommended best practices such as:
- Social distancing while in the transferee's home
- Limiting contact with surfaces where possible
- Limiting time in the home where possible
You may read more on policymaking, planning, and impact on relocation on www.cartus.com/coronavirus. Please bookmark this page, as we will be updating it with new developments on the situation and other useful resources as appropriate.
Note: The majority of the information above has been sourced from our suppliers' online and social media pages as well as websites such as WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Center for Disease Control).