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YEAR 4, ISSUE 2




                                   SPECIALIST MAGAZINE FOR MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF ABRA
                                                                       SUMMER 2012




                          BUY OR RENT?
                                  the Belgian real estate market revealed



                                                 SERVICED,
                                                   PLEASE!
                                    serviced accommodation in Belgium

                                  A Single Point of Contact
                                                               RMCs & DSPs

                                Discover, Consider, Deliver
                      ReLocate visits the EuRA Conference in Stockholm


                  MEMBERS’ NEWS             • SOCIETY PAGES
YEAR 4, ISSUE 2


                                                                                                                    EDITO




INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
                                                                             Welcome to our Summer edition, we’re proud to
Edito                               2                                        bring you 16 pages of relocation news: double the
                                                                             size we started with only a few short years ago. We
Stockholm                           3      hope you’ll enjoy this bumper edition.
EuRA Conference 2012
                                           This April we visited Stockholm for the EuRA conference and we’re delighted to
Buy or Rent?                4-5            report back to you on the latest trends in global mobility. Companies are increasingly
Belgian real estate revealed               recognising the benefits that can be gained from international assignments and
                                           according to Deloitte we can expect serious growth in the number of global assignments
                                           over the next 3 to 5 years.
Serviced, Please!      6-9
Serviced Accommodation                     With housing being high up on the list of requirements for anyone moving abroad, we
                                           decided to dedicate this issue to the theme ‘accommodation’. Is it better to buy or to
A Single Point of                  10      rent your home abroad? What are the things to look out for and what are the pros and
Contact                                    cons? What about serviced accommodation? What is actually on offer and what is the
                                           difference between a business flat and an aparthotel? Our members lift a tip of the veil
RMC’s & DSPs
                                           to reveal a bit more about the Belgian market.

Members’ News                    12 - 13   Our AGM has just passed and I am delighted to report back to you on a very successful
                                           year for ABRA. Our membership continues to grow as does our reputation for excellence.
Society Pages                    14 - 15   This year we joined the Forum for Expatriate Management, a news and information
                                           portal. The company’s website provides global mobility, expatriate tax, international
                                           relocation, immigration, and international assignment information.
Dates for your Diary               16
                                           We were also invited to become a member of Brussels Metropolitan, an organisation
                                           tasked with contributing to the economic development of the greater Brussels area. On
                                           top of this, our organisation has caught the attention of the press. A personal highlight
                                           was being interviewed on Valentine’s Day by the radio programme Pieters & Pichal on
                                           the personal and emotional side of relocating.
                                           In closing I would like to take a moment to remember our good friend Jo Renglé. Jo
                                           was a dear member of ABRA, a father, a husband, a friend and a colleague who left us
                                           much too soon. He was the managing director and the driving force behind Brussels
                                           Business Flats and will be sorely missed by us all. Jo suddenly passed away in his sleep
                                           on March 12th at the age of 42, leaving behind his wife and 3 children. We remember
                                           him fondly.




                                           Eddy Bonne
cover image:                               President
Stockholm Spring - Fiona Klomp
                                                WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS FOR THEIR CONTINUED SUPPORT
editorial: Fiona Klomp
www.illus.be




SUMMER 2012
                                                                                                                                        PAGE 3



Stockholm 2012
Discover, Consider, Deliver
Stockholm, April 25-27, 2012.                                         Accommodation, banking, insurance and schools are all
                                                                      important parts of the move and are given lot of attention.
Arriving at the Clarion Sign Hotel in Stockholm on the                However, one of the things that we often overlook or consider
Wednesday afternoon, we’re met with a hive of activity and            to be ‘less important’ is an introduction to local culture. Moving
a very warm welcome. With 577 attendees from around the               abroad can mean some pretty big adjustments for everyone
world, this is the biggest EuRA Conference yet. Over the course       involved. The recent Deloitte survey again highlighted the need
of the next few days we’ll be attending various open sessions,        for greater cultural awareness.
meetings and talks on the world of relocation. Themed
‘Discover, Consider, Deliver’ this year’s event promises to offer     Culture shock is often the biggest hurdle - even for the most
a broad range of topics from its keynote speakers.                    experienced expat - so make sure you take some time out
                                                                      to get to know your new home country. Just crossing your
2012 has been hailed as the year in which the race for                country’s nearest border can be fraught with many unexpected
talent rules the international market. It is no longer about          and strange situations, as speaker Colin Moon so eloquently
simply finding employees who will take a long- or short term          demonstrated.
assignment abroad, but rather about maximising results
through a customised approach that could save the company             Companies working in today’s global, fast paced market want to
serious amounts of money when done right.                             be able to act quickly and expect the employee to be able to hit
                                                                      the ground running. By ensuring everyone knows exactly what
With a demographic shift taking place that has not been seen          to expect from their work and home environments, adapting to
since the Middle Ages, global mobility is one of the hottest          your new home country becomes just that little bit easier.
item of the decade. It is no longer just multinationals that have
overseas operations, but small and medium sized companies are         With thanks to speakers Peggy Love, Wendy Wilson, Steve Cryne, Johanna
going global too. Finding the right person at the right time for      Judkins, Metta Reichenberg, David Rooney, Kristin Mi-Ai Birkeland, Sabine
                                                                      Baerlocher, Bob Rosing, Eileen Lawlor, Carmelina Lawton-Smith, Marike
the right placement means careful consideration between the           Spieker and Colin Moon.
development value and business value of the transfer.
Are they a junior employee who will view the transfer as an
excellent opportunity for personal and professional development
or is your transferee a company director who will bring you the
strategic opportunity you have been seeking? Creating the right
package for your transferee isn’t just monetary and as any expat
assignment is a big investment from both the company as well
as the employee, it is imperative to ensure you have everything
in place to make it a success.
We know from experience that the number one reason for
declining an international assignment is spousal. If the partner
isn’t supportive of the move, can’t work abroad or if the
children can’t find the right school, then often the assignment
quite simply won’t go ahead. This is especially true for the so-
called Y-generation, where both partners want to work. Good
communication and managing everyone’s expectations are key
to the success of the transfer and, in fact, for any international
venture.
Finding the right person for the role in the company is merely
the first step in an ongoing process. What will you as a company
be offering your transferee? Will they be commuting weekly, is
the assignment project based or will it last a number of years, in
which case will their partner/the whole family be coming along
with them? Will the partner be able to work in the new home
country? Where will the expat be going and/or coming from?
Exactly how big is the cultural change for them?
This of course, is exactly where your relocation agent plays
an important role; with their support and knowledge you can
create the made-to-measure experience you are looking for.
                                                                      As an inpat to Sweden speaker Colin Moon was perfectly placed to bring an
Once the job offer has been accepted and the timing has been          exposé on the nature of the Swedes, revealing life in the land that brought
agreed, it is time to put into action all the other elements of the   us ABBA, IKEA and the Nobel Prize. His astute observations, perfectly timed
relocation.                                                           delivery and comic impressions had us all in tears of laughter.

                                                                                                                                    RELOCATE
PAGE 4



Real Estate - buy or rent?
an inside view on the Belgian real estate market
One of the most important things to decide upon when moving
abroad is housing. The Belgians are proud to say they are born
‘with a brick in the belly’, which essentially means they love to
build and/or own their homes.

But what about the Expat? At which point does buying
become more interesting than renting? And what are the
deciding factors? We caught up with our real estate members
to get their views on the question.

“In Belgium buying is more common than renting. Only 25% of
houses and apartments are rented out to tenants, 75% are lived
in by the owners. If you compare this to our neighbours in The
Netherlands this is a 50/50 split. There are two main reasons
to explain this. The first is indeed the ‘brick in the belly’: many
Belgians like to stay close to family and the place where they
grew up, and that results in some rather out-of-the-ordinary
numbers: a property is sold only every 35 years in Belgium
compared to every 10 years in Anglosaxon countries.

The second reason is the high transaction cost when buying a
property compared to many other countries. It is this second
reason that certainly plays an important role when expats are
considering purchasing a property.” explains Walter Vermeeren
of domoXim real estate.

Mary-Anne Hodru of Belgian Homes agrees: “Expats usually
don’t buy a property in Belgium unless they are working here
‘forever’ - for example EU staff who know they are here for
a very long term. If you might be moving again in just a few
years, it’s probably not interesting to buy as you need to wait
several years to have a good return on your investment; costs         “An important factor to take into consideration is that although
surrounding a property purchase are relatively high here.             some expats might think about buying, often the company
                                                                      bringing them over won’t contribute towards the cost of
It used to be said that in order to get a good ROI one should         purchasing a home, whereas they will give an allowance to
wait 10 years before selling again, however nowadays it’s more        cover rent. It’s a good reason to rent, wouldn’t you agree?” asks
like 5 years as house prices continue to rise in Belgium. So it       Mary-Anne.
really depends on the length of the assignment whether it’s
interesting to buy or not. If you are particularly keen to buy you    “And of course for some expats, owning property in Belgium
can always rent out the property after you leave the country, so      could imply losing their expat tax status, so I’d certainly
location and quality of renovations are important.”                   recommend checking with the company tax consultants what
                                                                      the potential implications might be. On the up side owners in
“The deciding factor is certainly the intended length of the          Belgium have some very interesting tax benefits compared to
property ownership. For a planned stay of less than five years,       other countries: rental income from properties owned is not
financially speaking renting is more interesting in today’s           part of your income in Belgium. However if the expat is taxed in
market. But on the other hand, Belgium’s expat community              his or her home country, that advantage does not apply, so be
continues to grow. And expats are ideal tenants, so buying as         sure to get all your facts together before making any decisions.”
an investment can often make purchasing a very good decision          Mary-Anne adds.
even for shorter stays. As an owner leaving Belgium, you can
use property management services to manage your property              “Apart from the financial analysis on return-on-investment,
here while you are abroad.” adds Walter.                              including the tax aspect, the most important consideration is
                                                                      about attitude and emotion. Many people prefer to live in a
So what are the other important considerations to take into           property they own, others see real estate as the perfect and
account when deciding between buying or renting your new              long term safe investment, and all these are certainly candidates
home?                                                                 for buying a property. Others can’t bear the thought of all the


SUMMER 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                     PAGE 5

   issues that come with property ownership, both financial as                                                 Mary-Anne agrees: “The Economist article calls the market
   well as technical issues, or simply don’t want to live in the same                                          overvalued but the market is based on demand and as long
   property for more than a few years. And to be honest, these                                                 as there is a demand, prices will remain strong. Notaries say
   non-financial issues often outweigh the financial issues when                                               that the cost of purchasing started to drop by around 2% for
   deciding whether or not to buy.” Walter tells us.                                                           houses and around 4% for apartments at the beginning of this
                                                                                                               year. However, real estate studies say otherwise (Trevi in Le
   The Economist recently reported that houses in Belgium are                                                  Soir)... I think that these studies simply do not reflect the total
   56% too expensive when compared to income and rental                                                        market. Notaries look at the lower end of the real estate market,
   prices. The Belgian real estate industry bit back saying that                                               such as small houses and flats, while Trevi is looking at the other
   the report doesn’t take into account the actual market, tax                                                 side of the scale, and closer to what could be called the ‘expat
   benefits, mortgage credits and other benefits.                                                              market’. And here, prices certainly aren’t dropping!”

   “The report certainly created quite a stir in the media,” laughs                                            “In Belgium houses are built for the long term as the Belgians
   Walter, “in one of the seminars we gave at the Ackroyd/ING                                                  intend to live in their home for the rest of their life. So the
   sessions recently, we showed all the articles we gathered in the                                            quality of the houses is very high compared to many other
   space of a single week, with headlines ranging from ‘real estate                                            countries. So to summarize: if you are an expat with a small
   in crisis’ to ‘prices increasing rapidly in real estate’. We always                                         brick in your belly, do not hesitate and do buy a property to live
   avoid using statistics unless they are based on factual analysis.                                           in now, and to rent out when you move on! You will feel Belgian
                                                                                                               and happy!” Walter closes.
   The 56% ‘overvalue’ mentioned in the article of The Economist
   is somewhat lacking in a solid base. Belgium is an anomaly with                                             Mary-Anne Hodru is the Director of Belgian Homes real estate
   just 25% of properties having tenants. Often Belgian tenants                                                services. www.belgianhomes.be
   are people who have a lower income, cannot afford to buy and                                                Walter Vermeeren is the President of the NOVA Group,
   require low rent properties. Of course this immediately skews                                               of which domoXim real estate is a subsidiary company.
   the Economist statistics. So the main message here is simply: be                                            www.domoXim.com
   careful with statistics.”




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PAGE 6




Serviced, please!
serviced accommodation revealed
The short-term accommodation market is an important link in           RL: So what kind of services can your guests expect from you?
the relocation process, both for individuals and families. And
the ever growing numbers of globally mobile employees has             Didier continues: “We offer the guests in our apartments exactly
led to the increased popularity of serviced accommodation             the same services as our hotel guests: free high speed internet,
with high-end apartments to let in our cities.                        free access to the health & leisure centre with extensive gym,
                                                                      indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna, daily cleaning, regular
But what exactly is the difference between an apart hotel and         linen changes, concierge services, underground parking, room
a business flat? What services are on offer and what can you          service, restaurant and bar on site and meeting facilities.”
expect from your chosen residence? ReLocate delves into the
question and speaks with accommodation members Brussels               Olivier adds: “Our apartments are all furnished with fully
Business Flats, DVM Belgium, Marriott Executive Apartments,           equipped kitchens, separate living & sleeping areas and guests
Radisson Blu Astrid Apartments and Thon Residences.                   have complimentary access to our world class Fitness Centre
                                                                      which enjoys a spacious indoor swimming pool. And of course




RL: You’ll have to help us a little here: what exactly is the         there are the ‘usual’ services: housekeeping and linen services,
difference between an apart hotel and a business flat?                high speed internet, on-site parking, concierge desk, laundry
                                                                      services, valet dry-cleaning, newspapers, a foreign exchange
“You could say a business flat is more like a private residents
                                                                      service and so on. Essentially our guests have access to all the
block. Of course we offer a number of services, just not from
                                                                      services available at the Renaissance Brussels Hotel next door as
a reception desk in the entrance hall. It’s a very independent
                                                                      well as the Parnasse Steakhouse and the Schengen Bar.”
experience as opposed to the more detailed services a hotel
offers.” explains Joel Vanmellaert of Brussels Business Flats.        “Guests staying in our serviced apartments are offered weekly
                                                                      cleaning, access to the gym and 24 hour technical or emergency
“The big difference is the flexibility an apart hotel offers, they
                                                                      assistance. All these charges are included in our rent. We can
are more focused on guest comfort and offer services that are
                                                                      also offer parking, high speed internet and dry cleaning for a
much closer to hotel services, such as day-to-day stays, flexible
                                                                      small surcharge; really anything the guest may require.” Hannah
rates and 24hr assistance.” adds Olivier Simean of Marriott
                                                                      tells us.
Excecutive Apartments.
                                                                      “Although we don’t offer the kind of services that you would find
Hannah Longman of Thon Residences agrees: “The main
                                                                      in a hotel lobby, our services are included in the rental package:
difference is that a resident at an apart hotel benefits from a
                                                                      cleaning, changes of bed- and bath linens and a handy-man
hotel service whereas a resident at a business flat does not have
                                                                      service for any jobs that need attending to.” Joel lets us know.
this advantage. It is always a nice bonus to be able to offer a
cleaning service and around the clock assistance!”                    RL: As the saying goes, it’s all about ‘location, location, location.’
                                                                      How do you choose your locations?
“Apart hotel guests enjoy the privacy and space of an apartment,
but with the added services of a hotel – services such as             “Our hotel’s city centre location has always been popular due to
laundry, cleaning services, F&B possibilities, free WiFi...” Didier   its proximity to all modes of transport. We realised that there
Boehlenof Radisson Blu Astrid Apartments adds.                        was a growing demand in the market for long stay solutions for
SUMMER 2012
                                                                                                                                    PAGE 7

our Antwerp guests. And as the lease of an in-house office          This personalized service enbles the newcomers to settle down
complex finished, we decided to give this entire floor a new        quicker and feel relaxed and ‘at home’ in their interim housing
destination by building 19 apartments. It was the perfect way       until such times when they move on to their permanent housing
of marrying our clients’ needs with this extra space we suddenly    or return to their home countries.” Marijke adds.
had available to us.” explains Didier.
“We’ve specifically chosen the location for our Executive
Apartments at the centre of the European Quarter. Situated
across from the European Parliament and next to the European
Institutions, we’ve found them to be ideally located for our
guests. They’re close to the prestigious commercial district and
next to Place Luxembourg.” adds Olivier.
Joel agrees: “Easy access by car or public transport is important
and our locations have been chosen with this in mind. Of
course being so close to the European institutions and the NATO
building holds great appeal for our clients.”
“We have locations throughout Brussels, in areas which clients
are attracted to. Avenue Louise is an obvious location with
prestige and proximity to the city centre and of course we have 3
properties in the European Quarter to accommodate our clients
who work in the area. We’ve also found this to be a popular         images:   overleaf - swimming pool at the Marriott Brussels
location for those who work outside of Brussels as it is easy to              above - the welcome factor at DVM
reach the motorway.” Hannah tells us.
                                                                    RL: How about things like car-sharing services, concierge
“Not everyone wants to live in the city centre though which is      services, other third party agreements.....?
why our buildings are located in Waterloo and Braine L’Alleud
(Lillois), placing our market south of Brussels. There are many     “Because our apartments are located within the hotel, we can
expats working and living in the area and of course not everyone    offer the guests the same services as any other guest. We can
finds Brussels city centre the easiest place to be.” Marijke        help with all of their needs: car rental, parking, taxi services,..
Gilmore of DVM Belgium explains.                                    Even the possibility to use the ‘Velo’ city bikes to explore
                                                                    Antwerp and of course the arrival of the Diabolo line will make
RL: One of the benefits of staying in a serviced apartment is of    travelling to and from Antwerp a lot faster and easier for our
course the flexibility on offer.                                    guests. All requests will be handled with our typical “Yes I Can!”
“Plans can change fast, so we have to adapt quickly to meet the     service.” Didier lets us know.
guest’s wishes. It is also the current trend that more and more     Olivier adds: “We offer our guests limousine and private car
business is done last minute. The time involved in planning         services through our concierge desk, but if you’re staying in
has been significantly shortened so we try to be as flexible as     Belgium for a few months, it’s probably more interesting to sign
possible.” Didier explains.                                         up with Cambio – the car sharing service. There are 3 Cambio
“The lead time of bookings has become much shorter,” Olivier        cars right next door on Place du Luxembourg and they’ve
agrees, “and so we allow our guests to cancel their reservations    recently added 3 electric cars to their fleet, so a zero-emission
free of charge until 4pm even on the arrival day. Plans change      trip around the city is on your doorstep!”
very quickly at the moment and we need to be able to offer          RL: What have you found clients are looking for when choosing
flexible and personalised solutions in keeping with this trend.”    a serviced apartment? Is there a typical stay or request?
“At Thon Residences we focus on clearly understanding the           “At DVM we’re seeing fewer families, more so the individual ‘fire
clients needs and we adjust as often as possible. Of course,        fighters’ that corporate companies are sending across in need
this cannot always be achieved but we try our best to make our      of 1-bedroom apartments. They come from pretty much all
guests comfortable and happy.” Hannah adds.                         over the world and have all manner of backgrounds. It can be
Joel agrees: “Projects can unexpectedly overrun or finish sooner    difficult being so far away from home, so definitely the comfort
than expected which impacts on the assignee’s stay. Generally       of the apartments is important. The other main request is for
speaking our guests are here for a number of months, so it is       larger apartments with 2 or 3 bedrooms for company staff
important to offer the option of extending your stay month          members to share whilst on assignment in the local area.”
by month. Towards the end of a stay shorter periods are also        Marijke tells us.
possible.”                                                          “We’ve found that most of our guests are busy business people.
“We’re finding that accommodation budgets are always under          This means they fit as much work into as little time as possible,
pressure, so we try and be as flexible as we can. The ‘welcome      resulting in long days. Staying in a serviced apartment saves
factor’ in the apartments is much needed and appreciated.           them time - commuting to a gym, doing laundry, shopping, and
So we make time available to explain the different appliances       so on. It’s about ease and comfort,” says Didier, “Most guests
at check-in, waste disposal rules and procedures, advising          are working on projects in and around Antwerp, with an average
newcomers on local restaurants and shops.                           stay of at least a month or expats moving to Antwerp who need

                                                                                                                                  RELOCATE
PAGE 8

intermediary accommodation. If we have Belgian nationals             The type of client depends on the Residence. We have housed
staying with us, they are often expats returning home or leaving     ambassadors to CEOs, expats to NATO employees. Of course,
from home, and in need of temporary housing.” he adds.               with many of our locations being so close to the European
                                                                     Parliament, we get a lot of business from the European
“Clients seek that feeling of comfort and want a ‘home away          Institutions. However, we also receive families who have
from home’ with fully equipped services, comfort and security.       recently moved to the area. A typical stay for us does not exist.
The big advantage of our Executive Apartments is the access          Every client stays different amounts of time and this is also why
to the services and facilities of the Renaissance Brussels Hotel,    we are so popular.”
located just next door. Due to our location our clients are mainly
government guests and they come from around the world.               “Our main business comes from consultants who seek studios
We’ve noticed that short stays are more frequent travellers and      or one bedroom apartments. They tend to stay anything up
long stays are more related to special project teams working on      to around 5 months and are a truly international crowd. The
long term contracts in Brussels.” Olivier informs us.                2 and 3 bedroom apartments tend to get longer stays of on
                                                                     average 7 months. Sometimes we house high level Belgians
Hannah tells us: “Clients are looking for an easy moving process     living just a bit to far from Brussels to commute every day. They
without having to organise removal vans and such like. They          prefer to spend weekdays closer to work and go home over the
want to move in and not have to make any changes. They want          weekends.” Joel tells us.
a modern yet comfortable décor and a welcoming atmosphere.
Each of our locations has its own look and feel and we regularly     RL: ‘People are strange’ as the Doors once sung: you must have
update our interiors. In our recently refurbished Residence          come across some interesting requests over the years and some
Parnasse we went for a very modern touch: neutral colour             rather memorable events... The question elicits some knowing
tones but with vibrant accents such as cushions and carpets.         smiles among our panel:
The well-known Flemish interior designer Pieter Porters              “We organised an event for a road safety agency and had a car
decorated Stanhope Residence. His motto is ‘more is more’ and        crash simulator test to help teach people about preventing car
he has produced some very luxurious and opulent apartments.          accidents. It was quite a sight, sitting there in the middle of our
This combines with the general atmosphere of the 5 star              conference room!” laughs Olivier.
Stanhope Hotel and allows our residents to truly live the life of
luxury that they seek.                                               “There have been many, but I’ll never forget one particular
                                                                     client calling us asking us to bring him a bar of soap as he was
                                                                     lying in the bath...
                                                                                                                                        PAGE 9

As we’re not a hotel, we did wonder what he was thinking when
he made the request...” Joel tells us.
Didier simply smiles: “We have a lot, but I cannot divulge.”
RL: So what about the future, are you seeing any particular
trends or changes up ahead?

Joel elaborates: “We’re seeing shorter stays and certainly less
families, but the last few years have been heading this way
really so that’s no surprise. The clients remain the same but
accommodation budgets are going down which in turn impacts
on the length of the stay; assignees need to fit more work into
their days and get results faster.”
Olivier agrees: “We’ve also noticed that our project business
is shorter and therefore the length of stay is shorter too. The
economic situation is fragile, clients pay more attention to their
expenses and aim to reduce their cost as much as possible.
Other than that guests want the latest technologies such as
access to iPads and their smartphones when they’re travelling.”
“We’re finding that guests plan and book their stay last minute,
this really is becoming a trend. The lead time has significantly
shortened which means guests also appreciate more flexibility
and more services, of course preferably at a lower cost.” Didier     images:   left - a room with a view at Radisson Blu Astrid
                                                                               above - Pieter Porters interior at Thon Stanhope Residence
continues.
                                                                     “The smaller players cannot offer this so my personal opinion
                                                                     is that a lot of these smaller providers will start disappearing
                                                                     in coming years. As companies are preferring to use the one
                                                                     relocation service provider worldwide it is necessary to look
                                                                     further than the Belgian market alone. Again here the smaller
                                                                     players cannot offer what is requested.” Joel continues.
                                                                     Olivier agrees: “The market in Brussels for serviced apartments
                                                                     and relocation business will remain highly competitive.
                                                                     Customers are looking for value for money, convenience and
                                                                     added value and they want it as soon as possible. We also
                                                                     see shorter length of stays related to project business as a
                                                                     continuing trend in 2012.”
                                                                     “The market in Antwerp for corporate apartments is growing.
                                                                     But the supply of good serviced accommodation remains
“In spite of our renovation and building works DVM has enjoyed       limited. We see more and more people coming to Antwerp for a
good occupancy rates last year, with approximately 90-95%            limited period. They prefer to live in an apartment which is fully
occupancy on average. We expect this trend to continue even          serviced, so they don’t have any other worries.” Didier tells us.
though the economic climate is still somewhat uncertain.
Global mobility remains high on the agenda for our clients.”         Hannah adds: “We are trying to get the Thon name out there.
Marijke adds.                                                        Our principal objective is to increase our number of long stays
                                                                     and reduce the short stays. The business is definitely there, we
Joel jumps in: “Budget wise I do not see a great change in the       just need to take it!”
next few years. What is changing for us is that more and more
often we need to deal with the purchase department instead of        “Due to the increasing demand for apartments we’re currently
the HR department. It all comes down to budgeting at the end         renovating 2 brand-new one bedroom apartments and works
of the day.”                                                         are nearing completion, thankfully, as they’re already let!”
                                                                     Marijke laughs.
RL: How do you see the market developing?
“Over the last 5 years or so, we’ve seen more small players
                                                                     for further information please visit:
emerging. Landlords who previously rented out unfurnished            Brussels Business Flats - www.bbf.be
flats have started running to IKEA and are now renting out           DVM Belgium - www.dvmbelgium.com
                                                                     Marriott Executive Apartments - www.marriottapartmentsbrussels.com
furnished apartments. But as we deal more and more with              Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp - www.radissonblu.com/astridhotel.antwerp
purchase departments, we’re also learning that companies like        Thon Residences - www.thonhotels.com/brusselsapartments
to deal with one supplier, one agreement, same kind of flat. It      or visit the ABRA website for a complete list of all our accommodation
makes life so much easier for the company.” Joel tells us.           members.


                                                                                                                                   RELOCATE
PAGE 10




A Single Point of Contact
RMCs & DSPs
More and more often we see that client companies prefer
working with a single supplier for all their international mobility
needs. The rise in popularity of Relocation Management
Companies (as opposed to Destination Service Providers, i.e.
the actual relocation agents) is perhaps easiest explained by
the need to move quickly in a fast paced market.
By outsourcing the supply management to a single point of
contact for all their relocations worldwide, companies are able
to focus their attention on the actual business opportunity at
hand. Although many view RMC’s as a controversial addition
to the mix – it’s easier and quicker to just deal with the client
company directly – and as an extra cost that puts pressure on
the relocation agent’s fee, it would appear RMC’s are here to
stay.
Friday’s Open Session at the EuRA conference brought us a
panel discussion on the topic and the panel members had some
very useful information to share.
EMERGING MARKETS
With the top destinations in 2012 being the US, China,
Singapore, Hong-Kong, Germany, the Middle-East and Africa
you can imagine there can be some very large differences in
what’s on offer. Some of these emerging markets may not have
structural services such as property services or public transport
in place so have as much information as possible ready for your
client. Make sure you find out about local policy and processes
to ensure a smooth transfer.
HINTS & TIPS
It is very important to client companies to be shown that you         With growing competition in the market place quality, excellence
take great care in safeguarding sensitive information from            and added value have become core values, so make sure you are
accidental reading by passers-by. Have a password on your             known for your outstanding quality of service.
PC, don’t leave papers lying around the office or in the back of
                                                                      KEY TRENDS
the car and make sure all staff are trained to do this. Have a
                                                                      Budgets remain under pressure for the foreseeable future and
business continuation plan: what will you do if your office burns
                                                                      the key message received has been that it’s all about value: the
down overnight – can you work on your laptop from home? It
                                                                      client company needs to be able to show value at assignee and
may seem rather obvious and it needn’t be very complex, but
                                                                      at corporate levels. The client company also expects a seamless
the client company wants to be sure that you are ready for any
                                                                      delivery of service, no matter which country they are moving
eventuality.
                                                                      their employees to.
Be ready to present quarterly, bi-annually or annual reviews
                                                                      The key trend today remains delivering an increasing number of
and reports on the transfer. What went well, what could be
                                                                      types of policies and programmes such as Local Plus, Graduate,
improved on, where have you saved the client company money
                                                                      Accompanied, Unaccompanied, long term, short term and so
or added value? If you’ve managed to negotiate a particularly
                                                                      on. Essentially any type of combination that will offer the most
interesting discount on rent or have negotiated a free parking
                                                                      benefits for the company and its assignees at the lowest possible
space that would otherwise have cost €100 a month, be sure to
                                                                      cost. Companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of global
report on this, don’t let the client company take your negotiation
                                                                      mobility which has meant an increase in all types of international
skills for granted.
                                                                      assignments. Long-term assignments are continuing to grow
FOCUS                                                                 and there are more families on the move again.
Although the relocation fees are just a small percentage of
                                                                      Most importantly, markets are moving fast: so be ready to move
the total spend on an international transfer, it is tempting for
                                                                      as soon as given the go-ahead. Companies go abroad as they
companies to try and drive this fee down. By ensuring that
                                                                      are seeing opportunities and they want to be able to move
these ‘soft’ cost savings are brought to the client’s attention,
                                                                      quickly.
the focus is removed from ‘hard’ costs such as fees.

                                                                      With thanks to EuRA speakers Patrick Oman, Hannah Boulton, Miriam
                                                                      Duignan, Chris Pardo and Lisa Reid.
SUMMER 2012
PAGE 12

             Go Diabolo - Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel                          NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS
European travellers will be delighted to hear that the keenly
awaited Diabolo Project will be operational from 10/06/12.                         Creative Writing Course for Expatriates
Offering a direct train from Brussels International Airport to
Antwerp Central Station, this line will cut travelling time down       Ever thought about becoming a writer? Or thought about how it
to a mere 34 minutes.                                                  would feel to be published? Dr Anne Randerson’s new 4-session
                                                                       creative writing course might just be the thing for you. You will
From June onwards you’ll get to Antwerp in less time than it           receive plenty of advice, practical tips and encouragement from
takes to get to Brussels. The network offers direct connections        an experience, published writer.
to the major European cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and
Frankfurt.                                                             Dates: Fridays 25th May, 8th June, 13th July, 20th July.

“We’re delighted that the plans for this very important                For further details or to register contact Anne Randerson via:
connection are coming along so well and that we are only weeks         anne@crossculturalhorizons.com or tel: +32 485 357 029.
away from seeing it completed. It will make travelling between
Brussels Airport and Antwerp so much more pleasant for our
guests.” comments Geert De Keersmaeker, MICE manager of
Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp.                                                                         •
Please visit www.radissonblu.com/astridhotel-antwerp for
further details.                                                                                          Magazine Give (A)WAY!

                                                                                                      (A)WAY magazine is once again

                               •                                                                      pulling out all the stops for you,
                                                                                                      our faithful readers of ReLocate
                                                                                                                 magazine.

                     International Day at AIS                                                        A free magazine is on offer to you
                                                                                                     until May 30th, for your free copy
The Antwerp International School, which has students from                                                     please contact:
more than 40 countries, hosted its biannual International Day to                                      production@awaymagazine.be
celebrate diversity on Saturday May 5th. A fun day featuring food
and goodies + refreshments from around the world.                              And to join the (A)WAY Facebook group follow:
                                                                             https://www.facebook.com/awaymagazinebelgium
After the official opening by Flemish Minister-President Kris
Peeters, the teachers, pupils and parents offered various
demonstrations and performances such as music, dance, games
and competitions: from “live” football to minigolf.                                                  •
The highlight of the day was the international market where
you could buy products, food and drinks from many countries:
coffee and donuts from Canada, tea from China, a real Australian
barbeque, South-African snacks, traditional Indian curries and
wine from Hungary.

As usual, part of the day’s proceeds go to a charity or organization
from the Antwerp area. This year it is the organization “To walk
again”, founded by Marc Herremans, the famous triathlon
champion who fell during training in 2002 and became paralyzed.
Marc attended the Antwerp International Day personally to
share his experiences and promote his organization.

Please visit www.ais-antwerp.be for further details on their
events.
                                                                       Of course it wouldn’t be an am & pm relocation stand if there
                                                                       wasn’t some Belgian chocolate involved... And between the

                               •                                       Manneken Pis choccies and the Belgian beers on offer, it is per-
                                                                       haps little surprise that the stand quickly became the favourite
                                                                       destination for visitors of the EuRA conference!


SUMMER 2012                                                                                          •
                                                                                                                                 PAGE 13

       NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS
                                                                                        Another Office for Partenamut

           AIRINC Announces London Office Opening

In response to increased client demand for a local AIRINC
presence in this key mobility market, AIRINC is pleased to
announce the opening of a new full-service office in London.

Effective March 5, 2012, AIRINC’s United Kingdom office is
located at the following address:
Bow House - 1a Bow Lane - London EC4M 9EE - UK
Phone: +44 207 332 6106

The London office will be AIRINC’s fifth full-service office globally
and its third in Europe. It represents AIRINC’s commitment to
providing U.K.-based clients with enhanced, real-time customer          Partena Business & Expats extends its welcoming area and adds
service through local representation.                                   an extra office at Rue Montoyer!

Kay Hall, Managing Director of AIRINC Europe, is very excited           As you know Partena Business & Expats opened a new brand
about AIRINC’s growing presence in Europe. She commented,               agency in September 2010 located Rue Montoyer, 41. Since
“We provide a truly global product. However, we feel that               then, we did not stop growing and have helped many expat
servicing on a local level is of importance in some markets.            people arriving in Belgium to settle down.
This is a move we have talked about for a long time and I am
delighted to be starting with such a strong and experienced             New offices have opened at the beginning of May at Rue
team of colleagues.”                                                    Montoyer, 39. This “back” office includes a large conference
                                                                        room welcoming up to 20 guests, where it will be possible to
Kay will be relocating to the UK this summer, our loss is certainly     organize several events with our partnerships targeting Human
London’s gain. Kay, we would like to wish you every success in          Resources or any other clients .
your new venture!
                                                                        Should you need any other information on it, please contact

                                •                                       Henrique Canario, Business & Expats Director : 0493 93 97 11
                                                                        and/or henrique.canario@partenamut.be

              From Expat to Expert - vzw De Rand

This autumn the Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel and vzw De
Rand will be joining forces to launch their high end orientation
                                                                                                      •
course for expats. The course has been designed to help new                                Relay for Life at St John’s
arrivals to Belgium learn to cope with everyday life, to ease the
transition and to make the most of their experience abroad.             St John’s International School will be one of the host locations
                                                                        for this summer’s Relay for Life, a 24 hour walk/run team relay
Providing practical information about living in Belgium and its         in support of cancer research, celebrating the lives of everyone
cultural highlights and with guest lecturers from various Flem-         who has ever been touched by this disease.
ish universities, this promises to be a ‘must-do’ on anyone’s list.
There will be a maximum of 30 participants per course to allow          It is the second year for the International Community run and
everyone the opportunity to interact.                                   the first year the event will be hosted by St John’s. You can
                                                                        join the team and take part in this sponsored run, become a
The full programme includes two guided visits to experience             volunteer or even sponsor the event as a partner. Support the
first hand the historical splendour and the creative and artistic       fundraising efforts for this very worthy cause!
riches of the region. It will help you understand the influence
of language and traditions on our society and to embrace its            Relay for Life will take place at St. John’s on June 2-3. For more
culture.                                                                information or to participate, please go to www.relayforlife.be

The programme starts in October and ends in March. The
sessions are held on Fridays, from 9h30 till 12h45 with the
exception of the closing event which is an evening session.                                           •
For further details please contact Raymonde Wauters at HUB:
raymonde.wauters@hubrussel.be or tel: 02 210 1621.


                                •                                                                                             RELOCATE

.
PAGE 14

                       ABRA Members’ Meeting - Tuesday 6th March 2012
Our March Members’ Meeting was generously hosted by the British School of Brussels. Principal Sue Woodroofe was a most en-
gaging speaker and took the opportunity to present further details on BSB’s expansion. Guest speaker Mr Toon Van Assche gave
a presentation on ‘Intercultural Effectiveness’ highlighting the many differences we all come across when faced with working in
another culture and how to bridge the gap. With over 85 attendees, our March meeting has been our largest yet, thank you to all
our members who have helped make it another event to remember. To put names to faces, please visit the ABRA website.




SUMMER 2012
  PAGE 15




RELOCATE
WHOEVER SAID ONE WORK OF ART WAS MORE
VALUABLE THAN ANOTHER?




                                     At Hasenkamp we understand what you mean when you say “valuable”.



                                     THE ART OF MOVING YOU
                                       WHEREVER, WHENEVER...
    www.hasenkamp.com
e-mail: brussels@hasenkamp.com
    tel : +32 (0)2 759 83 30
    fax: +32 (0)2 759 83 37




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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY:
                                                          Join us on Facebook and LinkedIn by following these links:
ABRA MEMBERS’ MEETINGS 2012
                                                   http://www.linkedin.com/groups/ABRA-4003947?gid=4003947&trk=hb_side_g
September meeting: Wednesday 19th Sept.                       https://www.facebook.com/groups/121640974602883/
December meeting: Wednesday 5th Dec.

EARP Training Day
“International Assignment Management”
Date: 16 June 2012
Location: Marriott Hotel Grande Place, Brussels
Registration: www.eura-relocation.com



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