Vision meets a new ‘digital’ reality at the 2015 ARP conference

The ARP National Relocation Conference 2015 was held in Bloomsbury, London and its theme: “Vision Meets Reality” was comprehensively explored through a series of lively and engaging sessions.

ARP Conference, London 2015

Dominic Tidey, ARP

After Tad Zurlinden's rousing welcome speech, Dave Coplin, 'Chief Envisioning Officer' at Microsoft gave an engaging and persuasive keynote address on the subject of using technology more effectively.This was followed by "Just a Minute" the first of a series of highly effective, quick-fire presentations by the conference's various sponsors, the exact timing of which was strictly policed by Tad Zurlinden to the amusement of the audience.Geoff Davidson of Hessel Group then gave a very useful talk on mobility compliance focusing on the financial sector and data collection in particular and raised some challenging questions that will prompt further debate.After lunch, Sophy King of Peregrine Immigration conducted a lively interactive session on the subject of the UK immigration cap and changes to Tiers 1 and 2, a subject which obviously resonated with the global mobility audience.Nicola Cook, of Company Shortcuts, ably demonstrated why her metier is sales and marketing, with a session that made us all feel capable of becoming a 'supersalesperson'. Her theme also tied in neatly with Dave Coplin's plea for a more intelligent use of technology, because Nicola highlighted the fact that buyers now are typically doing up to 75 per cent of their own research before they even contact an organisation with a view to purchasing. So, she argued, companies and individuals need to be more agile in their response and use more subtle techniques to engage their target market.Pickfords ended this part of the day's programme with an enlightening talk about compliance and cost containment in relocation and removals. Entitled 'Moving Stories' Steve Wilkins and Kerry Chislett gave the delegates an interesting insight into the human and sometimes highly emotional aspects of relocation.The plenary session moderated by Simon Johnston of Icon Relocation was a well-balanced mix of experienced relocation professionals. Simon began by talking about his pride in his own office team who nimbly dealt with a lightning strike on their offices that knocked out power and badly damaged the building. He attributed Icon's employees' determination to keep the office running, to the team having 'bought into' the vision of the company and to being able to deal with all manner of new and challenging situations as a daily part of their jobs.Andrew Scott of Dwellworks offered some fascinating insights into the process of a UK-based company adjusting to working within a larger, American organisation and emphasised how a greater understanding of cultural differences can result in a much stronger, more cohesive team.Marco Previero of R3Location told his more personal account of the process of converting his vision of a new start-up company into reality and how the actual journey was very different to the anticipated one. Although some aspects of the plan have taken longer to complete, he said, other parts of the business have taken off surprisingly quickly and easily and he foresees that 2016 will be a challenging but rewarding year for the global mobility industry.Jo Layton from The Apartment Service echoed these themes as she recalled the evolution of TAS from a regional company to a global one. She said that having successfully sold a 24/7 style of service, she quickly realised that in order to achieve the 100 per cent guest satisfaction for which she aimed, the company needed an operations department to deliver it, and so in the last year, TAS have opened additional offices in New York and Singapore.Fittingly, the last speaker, Jonathan Hopper of Garringtons told the story of a company that was born out of adversity, but one that spotted opportunities in the midst of the economic recession of 2008. The leader of a management buy-out, Jonathan demonstrated how vital it is to have a vision in business, but remain responsive to changing client demographics and economic conditions.He recounted that by early 2009, when many of the bankers who were Garringtons' traditional clients were losing their big bonuses (and jobs) the lawyers dealing with the fallout of the banking crisis had money to spend. Garringtons, he said, also recognised the demand for a different type of service and a more flexible way of working, so the firm now allows more remote working and has a corporate relocation team. However, Jonathan emphasised that it is vital to remain alert to change and he argued that the property market is significantly shifting again with the appearance of online agencies and accommodation sites such as Airbnb.Once again, the effective use of technology gave the assembled professionals a truly global topic with which to exercise their very human brains.
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