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VIP Whisperers: Graebel Employees Talk Executive Relocations

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Your company’s Vice President of Operations in Atlanta is relocating to Mexico City to serve as President of a new LATAM branch. Your mobility program hinges on relocations like this, where it’s paramount that this VIP’s experience from pre-departure to arrival is seamless…and easy.

At Graebel, we know how much each of these relocations matter to the success of your company. We talked with two of our Executive Concierge program veterans who’ve spent thousands of hours relocating VIPs to all corners of the globe. Leslie Christensen, one of our most seasoned Executive Consultants, and Jean Ann Reed, the Global Manager of our Onsite Management Program, about what a successful VIP concierge relocation experience looks like.

Here’s how Leslie characterizes the ideal VIP relocation experience

“We strive to create exceptional experiences throughout the entire process to ensure that the VIP doesn’t have to worry about all of the complexities that we’re taking care of on their behalf. When they and their family members step into a new life in a new location, thinking, ‘Wow, that was pretty easy!’ That’s when we know we did our job well.”

Do you need a single point of contact?

Yes. You should establish a primary liaison for this VIP within your own Mobility team and with your Relocation Management Company. At Graebel we assign an executive consultant, like Leslie, to each VIP in our Executive Concierge program to oversee their entire experience.

In addition to coordinating with the VIP’s executive assistant on matters related to travel and calendars, it’s sometimes even more critical that the consultant works closely with the VIP’s spouse or partner. It’s not unusual that an executive consultant will work more with that person than they do with the VIP, who may already be on assignment in the new location.

A more inviting experience for everyone – the role of an Executive Consultant

In an extensive introductory meeting with the VIP and their family, the executive consultant will quickly determine certain unique dynamics.

  • What are the communication styles and priorities for each of the people involved – the VIP, spouse/partner and other family members?
  • How much guidance do they want?
  • How involved do they want to be?
  • What’s their level of experience with these situations?

Then the discussion shifts to how the family envisions the move.

  • What personal challenges do they anticipate?
  • What types of support or assistance would make this an exceptional experience?
  • Are there real estate needs? Transportation challenges? Legal documents to obtain? Schools to enroll in? A spousal/partner career to consider?

“I could never give you a complete list of every area of support we provide, let alone every action we take. It completely depends on the family’s story,” Leslie explains. “It’s my job to uncover every bit of that information and make sure that we have the right VIP-vetted suppliers prepped and in place. “Then,” she adds, “I’m empowered to strategize and make the appropriate arrangements and keep all those trains on their tracks!”

Easy exits and soft landings – the role of an Onsite Move Manager

Our onsite move manager (OSM) is the executive consultant on the ground, who coordinates the household goods pickup and delivery processes. Jean Ann Reed, the Global Director of our On-site Management Program, sees the assigned OSM as the liaison between the family, all the service providers and moving elements. 

They'll choreograph movers and speciality services. Ensure building and parking access. Work with the owner to identify heirlooms requiring a higher level of car. Facilitate the acquisition of elevator permits, reserve parking and loading dock access. Handle the paperwork/shipment documents and ensure any concerns of the customer are resolved with the utmost care.

“Whatever’s necessary to elevate the experience,” is how Jean Ann describes an OSM's approach to supporting the relocation.

Saying “yes” extends to the third-party suppliers as well. Jean Ann offers an example we can all relate to.  “Sometimes when household goods are delivered, the furniture may not fit in a room the way the family envisioned. Our movers will patiently move a sofa or hutch to every wall in the room without raising an eyebrow, until we figure out the best layout!”

In some cases, the spouse or partner will simply hand Jean Ann the keys and leave all the details and oversight to her. Where the family is taking care of other matters, Jean Ann will unload the refrigerator or the dishwasher – whatever’s necessary to keep the packing and loading process on track.

The process repeats at the destination where she’s been known to run to the hardware store to pick up a replacement hinge or drawer pull to circumvent a potential claim.

Pro-action anybody?

Yes, always! Since VIP relocation service professionals are usually seasoned and may have relocated or been on assignment before, they have the foresight to take a pro-active approach to avoid potentially unforeseen problems. Because of this, we take additional pre-emptive steps to ease their minds at the very beginning.

Leslie describes a key aspect of pro-activity, “In addition to having that A to B discussion with the family, I plan and coordinate with my client’s in-house Mobility team. They know me, I know them, we speak the same language. I bring solutions to the table that include strategy and tactics and together, we’ll usually resolve a matter even before the VIP raises it.”

Does “24/7” support really mean 24/7 support?

Absolutely. A concierge program should offer the peace of mind of real time access whether by phone, text, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, WeChat, or other arrangement.

Here’s Leslie’s take on 24/7: “Yes, we’ll respond to a call at any time – nights, weekends, holidays. But frankly, that rarely happens. We have this down to a science. Thanks to thorough planning and detailed ongoing communication, our work usually doesn’t stretch too far outside normal hours.”

Jean Ann agrees that this is the exception, but those exceptions are important. “In one case, after day one of a household goods delivery, the executive called me at the hotel, panicked, because he couldn’t find an important legal document he needed right away. I reminded him where the document boxes had been unpacked in the office of his new home. He couldn’t find it and was certain it was in an empty packing box, now broken down on the back of the moving truck. I called the driver, and in the middle of the night we went through the packing material piece by piece. No luck. I called him back. He looked one more time in the document files and found what he was looking for!”

Is your Concierge Relocation Program adding value?

It’s important to evaluate the costs and benefits of your VIP-level relocation program. What’s the value of undistracted, productive time for the VIP? What’s the value of the peace of mind for the spouse or partner? How important is it to the executive that their family acclimates quickly to their new location? How does that executive value an employer that offers this premium benefit?

Having a solid strategy in place for VIPs is important. Through our Graebel Mobility PathBuilder® program, we work with clients to gauge “Return on Mobility,” as we collaborate on a plan to help them engage strategically across their organizations. We can work with you to evaluate your VIP-Concierge Relocation program to uncover the metrics and the stories that will document Mobility’s value and contribution to your organization.

Want to learn more about how we can help build or enhance your Executive Concierge Program? Contact us today.