By: John Fernandez | CRP, GMS, SSB

May 4, 2021

Virtual solutions in relocation management were well on their way to becoming the preferred choice long before the COVID-19 pandemic made them a requirement to do business. Supporting the working world’s “anytime, anywhere” focus, the relocation industry has been creating tools and resources to bring solutions to clients that are easy to use and do not require any physical contact. 2021 will see virtual solutions continue to grow in both popularity and functionality due to their convenience, speed, flexibility, and accuracy.

Virtual Relocation services span the relocation spectrum, including the following:

PRE-DECISION SERVICES

A valuable tool, pre-decision allows for a relocation management company to work with your new hires or transferees before an offer is extended or the decision to relocate is made. All of the following services can be provided through online solutions, reports, and electronic communications:

  • Candidate Assessment – Assess candidate expectation, skills, personal qualities, family circumstance, and financial preparedness
  • Cost of Living analysis – Cost of living comparison of origin and destination cities to help determine an acceptable or competitive salary range
  • Market analysis – Determine the likely home sale timeline and identify potential home sale challenges such as negative equity
  • School Reports – Public and Private School reports provided to the relocating employee to aid community selection
  • Moving Cost Estimates – Cost estimates on household goods transport to help budget for relocation costs
  • Community Search and Tours – Virtual Neighborhood Walks let buyers explore new neighborhoods and communities, and help them see nearby local features such as parks, schools, and shopping centers

VIRTUAL VISA AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES

In today’s new normal, the virtual experience extends to the visa application and immigration process:

  • A knowledge base of helpful information and resources
  • Virtual visa and legal consultation
  • Online application and form filing
  • Electronic fee payment
  • Online tools to track and manage case status and processing times

HOME SELLER VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE

The global pandemic forced home sellers, agents, and relocation companies to rethink the real estate process from beginning to end. Including the following.

Consultation, Digital Marketing

  • Virtual consultations using popular meeting platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts
  • Document signatures captured electronically using Dotloop real estate transaction management solution or other e-signature programs
  • Virtual walk-through and preparation for the home
  • Virtual staging using seller-provided photos combined with current furnishings and décor
  • Virtual experience “Open House” event with advertising and promotion
  • Virtual private showings

Offer, Contract, Deposit

  • Electronic offer submittal (once seller receives an acceptable offer, that specific buyer can see the property in person within 24 hours; following the viewing, the seller will execute the offer)
  • Contract to purchase the home is executed electronically
  • DepositLink or other financial service is used to electronically transfer the deposit

Inspections, Appraisal, Financing, Closing

  • Inspections are ordered and conducted (if not waived)
  • Purchase and Sale agreement is executed
  • Appraisal is completed
  • The buyer obtains financing commitment if applicable
  • Final in-person walk-through (if not waived)
  • Closing

HOME BUYER VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE

Like the home sale process, home purchases have traditionally been a very personal, in-person process. 2020 brought about rapid change as the real estate experience quickly adapted to provide a safe, virtual experience for prospective home buyers.

Consultation, Online Views

  • Virtual consultations using popular meeting platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts
  • Document signatures captured electronically using Dotloop real estate transaction management solution or other e-signature programs
  • Online searching for homes
  • Virtual experience tours of homes, either 3D virtual tour online, or a live interactive virtual tour (open house or private showing)
  • Live virtual buyer events
  • Video mail (v-mail) provide video directly to interested buyers

Offer, Contract, Deposit

  • Electronic offer submittal (once seller receives an acceptable offer, that specific buyer can see the property in person within 24 hours; following the viewing, the seller will execute the offer)
  • Contract to purchase the home is executed electronically
  • DepositLink or other financial service is used to electronically transfer the deposit

Inspections, Appraisal, Financing, Closing

  • Inspections are ordered and conducted (if not waived)
  • Appraisal is completed
  • The buyer obtains financing commitment if applicable
  • Final in-person walk-through (if not waived)
  • Closing

VIRTUAL HOUSEHOLD GOODS MOVES SERVICES

While the movement of personal property will always require a physical presence by moving crews, the household goods industry developed effective tools and processes to limit in-person interaction to protect both the transportation employee and the transferee’s family from unnecessary exposure:

  • Online, video, and virtual estimating surveys to document contents of homes
  • Online and electronic communications to arrange services and payments
  • Packing, moving, delivery, and setup services without requiring transferee to be present

VIRTUAL DESTINATION SERVICES

Virtual destination services are a great option for transferees and their family members. These include community tours and orientation, departure services and support, and area consultations. All of these services provide transferees with 1-on-1 consultation and support to ensure their comfort and peace of mind with the destination.

The services provide benefits such as:

  • Providing direct support when needed
  • Keeping assignments on track for success
  • Recruiting and retaining key employees
  • Assisting and supporting family members
  • Developing and growing relationships

For common services such as searching for schools, finding homes, and getting to know the new location, there are several new convenient formats that have risen in use:

  • Real-Time Video – Live video calls let transferees review specific areas, discuss their interests, and share their preferences. The local destination contact provides direct communication on specific points and can answer questions that may arise.
  • Webinar Presentations – Transferees access a 1-on-1 presentation through popular web-based platforms.
  • Pre-Recorded Video – A personalized video is recorded and shared with transferees. They are then free to review the recording at a time that is convenient to their schedule.

VIRTUAL LANGUAGE AND CULTURE TRAINING

A virtual trainer for language and culture allows candidates to access training anytime, anywhere. This access gives candidates the flexibility they need. Whether traveling or in a remote location, the virtual trainer lets candidates learn at their own pace.

Language Modules

  • Intuitive, straightforward interface
  • Self-paced lessons
  • Focus on conversation proficiency
  • Cultural insights and nuances that impact vocabulary and grammar
  • Mobile apps for quick brush-ups

Cultural Modules

  • One-on-one personal training via webcam
  • Coaches explain how to see cultural differences to promote synergy
  • Practical and actionable guidance to operate in business settings
  • Learning to leverage skill sets found in other cultures
  • Communicates values including mutual respect and understanding

VIRTUAL TUTORING FOR CHILDREN

Dedicated learning platforms deliver virtual instructor-led lessons in a fully professional, secure, and GDPR-compliant format. Features include:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Browser-based with no necessary downloads
  • Class reminders and notifications
  • Multiple-language support
  • Audio and video-based lessons
  • Online document sharing and lesson materials
  • Reporting for attendance, learning analytics, and more

The lesson content and methodology are adapted to the children’s needs. Books and materials are either virtual or delivered to the children through mail delivery services.

What's Trending in Workforce Mobility for 2021?

This article is an excerpt from our 2021 Workforce Mobility Forecast. Download a complete copy today, or watch a recording of our latest Thought Leadership Series webinar on the trends that are shaping the industry.

GMS Is Here to Help

GMS is ready to help you with any relocation needs you may have. If you have questions or are ready to get started, please reach out to us online or call 1-800-617-1904 for US or 011-480-922-0700 for international. Our certified team is here to help.

Executive Vice President John oversees global operations, marketing, business development as well as reporting and analytics. John’s 23 years of mobility experience include excellence in varied positions such as Relocation Counselor, International Assignment Manager, Manager of Latin American Operations, Director of International Operations, Global Account Executive, Vice President of Sales and Vice President of Global Services. The depth of John’s mobility experience also includes multiple assignments and domestic relocations of his own. He has lived and conducted business around the globe and speaks multiple languages.

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