Synergy Global Housing was pleased to attend two major industry conferences in April 2023: one hosted by the European Relocation Association (EuRA) in Dublin, Ireland, and the other hosted by the Institute of Travel Management (ITM) in Brighton, England. The events brought together hundreds of organizations and professionals in the business travel and global mobility industries to connect, share, learn, educate and inspire. Synergy representatives were in attendance to take part in various panel discussions, meetings, symposiums, keynote addresses, networking lunches and more – either playing an active role or listening and learning.
Key takeaways from these productive conferences are outlined below. We’re tremendously grateful for the opportunity to exchange so many insights with peers, and inspire each other to advance our organizations and the industry as a whole.
EuRA 2023 Recap
The European Relocation Association (EuRA)’s 2023 conference took place April 25-28 in Dublin, Ireland. With a focus on three defining action verbs — enquire, inspire, deliver — the events of the conference covered topics such as immigration, sustainability, being a valued partner, best practices in move management, the importance of intercultural skills and the power of local.
Synergy’s Charlotte Winter, EMEA General Manager, participated in a panel discussion on sustainability in corporate housing and global mobility. Alongside Alex Neale, Group Head of Partner Relationships at SilverDoor, and Vidak Glavinic, Director of Global Supply Chain at Dwellworks, Winter shared her thoughts, tips and insights on environmental, social and corporate governance, also known as ESG.
“It’s clear to see that sustainability in all forms remains top of the agenda, with sustainable mobility an overarching theme through the week,” Winter remarked about the discussion. “I really believe that through sharing best practices and working collaboratively as an industry, we will continue taking positive steps forward and delivering on this critical topic.”
Insights from Relocation Management Companies
A large topic of discussion among relocation management companies (RMCs) was the technology industry. Recent large-scale layoffs in tech have impacted the global mobility industry in a significant way. Some RMCs are witnessing a higher occurrence of shorter stays, typically lasting 30 days or fewer, compared to longer stays spanning 60 days or more. This trend can be attributed to guests’ uncertainties surrounding the stability of their employment. Moreover, in certain locations where the market has eased, this has facilitated quicker and smoother transitions into permanent housing, thereby reducing the need for extended stays.
As remote work becomes commonplace in the post-pandemic world, the so-called “war for talent” — increasing competition among businesses for a global pool of potential workers — is also affecting RMCs. Despite the challenges brought on by tech layoffs, RMCs are benefitting from the war for talent and the demand for relocation services that it generates.
Opportunities Identified by RMCs
Discussions between RMCs throughout the conference brought forth a number of opportunities for the industry to consider. Those opportunities include:
- Suppliers proactively sharing market insights and supporting partners by educating the clients
- Many client expectations around rates are out of line with the realities of the markets, and often based on old data
- Raising the profile of sustainability when sharing accommodation options
- Point out sustainability efforts, and what makes a property special and more sustainable
- Make temporary housing look less sterile
- Don’t be afraid to show some personality in apartments
- With an audience raised on Instagram, style of the apartments is key
- Counselors and Global Solutions teams should know the product they’re selling — both core and wholesale
- Detail is critical, and as much information as possible should be added to property profiles
- A working desk in all apartments remains essential
The Role of Technology
RMCs and the role of technology in how they do business was another key topic at EuRA 2023. All agreed that modern tech is important, but that it must strike a balance with human-centric solutions, especially in regards to corporate housing. The most crucial responsibilities are making sure the technology is up-to-date, that it supports guests’ needs and that it’s always delivered hand-in-hand with human support.
Tech initiatives like including QR codes in apartments linking to local happenings were cited as being well received. Other initiatives, such as requiring guests to download an app in order to access their temporary housing, were less well received. Assignees often neglect to download the app or are unable to connect to WiFi, leaving them stuck outside of apartments without access.
The question of live booking and whether it’s been a net positive or negative for RMCs garnered a wide variety of responses. Some RMCs believe live booking doesn’t allow the proper conditions for research, negotiation or partnership. Others have seen an increase in requests for live booking from travel management companies. The demographic that is booking also matters — younger demographics are content with live booking, but a majority still wants to do research and take time in making their decision.
ITM 2023 Recap
The Institute of Travel Management (ITM) Conference 2023, dubbed ITM Energise, took place April 26-27 in Brighton, England. A total of 540 delegates from the United Kingdom and Ireland business travel communities were in attendance, with a one-to-four ratio of buyers to suppliers. Key conference themes were diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability and well-being, and sessions were tailored to educate, inform, connect and inspire all attendees.
Synergy also had the pleasure of sponsoring the Networking Lunch on both days of the conference, and in attendance were our team members Robert Alley, Claire Barrie, Jack Bryson, Christianna Best and Sofia Oragano. You may have noticed the servers at the lunches sporting Synergy shirts and hats in our signature red color!
Keynote Address and ITM Chair’s Supplier Session
In her keynote address, Kelly Beaver MBE, Chief Executive of Ipsos UK, spoke about current attitudes toward work, life, travel and sustainability. “Sustainability has become a core British value, but travel is an area where the British public feels conflicted: 42% believe that to reduce carbon emissions, we need to fly less. But 58% agree that travel brings social and economic benefits,” she said.
Collaboration, conversations and content were among the key takeaways from the ITM Chair’s Supplier Session. Data remains critical (and not just for spend reporting), but above all else, for a supplier partnership to be successful, buyers want transparency. Valued suppliers are also those that challenge buyers to think differently and benchmark, and are an extension of the buyer’s business.
Other Important Takeaways
Additional takeaways from the conference included:
- 82% of participating organizations are on a path to being carbon-neutral
- Individuality is welcome
- Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of getting started
- Prepare for the unexpected
- Long gone are the days of the “one-stop shop”
Jack Bryson, Business Development Manager at Synergy, was highly pleased with how much the conference fortified the relationships between industry suppliers and buyers. “I believe we had a very successful ITM. The content and insights were great, but most impressive of all was the sterling effort by our team to connect with buyers,” Bryson said.
Synergy looks forward to attending EuRA and ITM again next year, as well as numerous other industry conferences and events throughout the rest of 2023. To stay informed about when and where you can find us at these events, all over the world, check our blog or follow us on LinkedIn.