This article was written by our Director, Rene Stegmann, after her return from EuRA’s 2019 Conference in Munich.
Travel to Europe
Over time, with all the international business travel I have done, I have come to realise that Europe is a long way away from home, and each time I prepare to go, I pack way too much. So, on this trip I wanted to see why I overpacked, and I came to the following conclusions:
• I am so far away from home I don’t want to leave anything behind
• I like options, and my own wine
• The weather overseas ranged from 2 degrees to 22 degrees Celsius
• I took a large suitcase, which out of habit just needed to be filled
So next trip (note to self), take a smaller suitcase and realise that Europe’s 2 degrees and a conference means you don’t leave the hotel. You taxi to restaurants, thereby not requiring that big coat! Oh, and I guess drink the local wine!
I did also realise that most of the other conference attendees coming from Europe fly in last-minute and leave as soon as the conference is over. I think because a few of us travel from so far away, we certainly like to make more of a meal of our travels and include the “pudding”.
Berlin (The Pudding)
As has become customary, we have a diverse global “bubbles group” of four ladies, who travel from Australia, South Africa, Dubai and Ireland, and meet before the EuRA Conference at a new city that we’ve not visited before. This year that city was Berlin.
We absolutely loved Berlin, with its eclectic and authentic charm, which is lost in so many modern, Westernised cities that have a McDonalds and a Starbucks on almost every corner. Not to say Berlin did not have these, but it seemed to somehow be more supportive of the local business community, with made-in-Berlin items seeming to have a strong presence in the areas in which we travelled. It is a fairly spread-out city, and while I certainly felt we saw so much that Berlin has to offer, I would definitely go back to experience even more of the city’s authenticity and culture.
It was lovely to change the pace of work at home and laugh with friends in our industry who just enjoy life (and “pudding”).
TIRA (The International Relocation Associates)
We then made our way on EasyJet to Munich. These low-cost airlines really do offer no frills at all. But then again, that’s what you’re paying for, so they live up to their names.
We then enjoyed a day of education on “Scaling Up”, which is a fantastic approach for the TIRA members to start looking at their own businesses, and to see if and how we can scale our businesses. I certainly had many takeaways from this workshop – my main one being simply the four things we should all focus on to maintain a successful business; strategy, implementation, people, and cash. I know it this is easier said than done, but I keep coming back to these basic principles at Relocation Africa, and I am hoping to scale based on having these four principles top of mind.
We also hosted our TIRA annual general meeting. This year, I am stepping down as TIRA President, and will play a more supportive role as Immediate Past President for the next year or two. We believe in developing and diversifying the board at TIRA, and keeping ideas fresh, and this requires a roll-over of the board every few years. We now have a new board and great goals for the future, with the plan being to announce the new president at the next board meeting, at the end of May. For more information about TIRA, feel free to visit our new website here.
I started out at the EuRA Conference feeling motivated as a result of the inspiring Scaling Up workshop the day before, and was ready to hit the ground running. We attendees all probably over-book our calendars at the EuRA Conferences, feeling the need to see as many people as possible. After so many years of doing business, you’d think we would have other, more holistic strategies for these conferences, but sadly it seems we need to fill every gap in our diaries to make the most of the opportunity to engage with as many of the EuRA participants as possible. We certainly did so, and this year we also managed to fit a couple of educational sessions in, to learn about some of the trends in the relocation industry. Like most industries, ours is rapidly changing, and we consistently need to ensure that our business is nimble enough to alter course if necessary, as opposed to being too stuck in its ways. It’s about balancing the traditions that have allowed us to get to where we are, with being open to necessary changes in order to keep up with our ever-evolving industry. And it’s a balance I think we’ve achieved at our business.
I would say our biggest takeaway from the Conference relates to the assignee (customer) experience (CX), and the methods we can use to ensure that the journey of relocating using our services is one that creates a positive and powerful individual experience. Emphasis on the individual, as each relocation is unique, and therefore requires an individualized approach from our side.
Emphasis was not on the technology component of the Conference as much as it was in previous years, but rather on finding ways to humanize our processes, ensuring our effort is focused on customer experience. The rest of the technology and processes will then follow suit. That’s what we believe, at least.
Luckily I managed to have a sightseeing day in Munich, during which I had a chance to absorb the English Gardens, the Town Hall, and the view of the city from the 90-odd stairs up St Peter’s Church, as well as enjoying great food, a museum, and of course, pudding at Café Luitpold.
We also had a lovely evening at a brauhaus, and even rented outfits to experience more of the local culture.
Below is a gallery of some of the beautiful sights in Munich, so you can share in the environment that I was fortunate enough to enjoy during my trip.
Here’s to a prosperous second half of 2019, until the next conference has us packing and jetting off once again!
For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.