The architecture of moving prose

Apr 14 | 2021

A somewhat sideways look at relocation speak, by Val Prinsep, Chairman of Worldwide Movers Africa Group.

Val Prinsep As one of the oldest living movers around, I have the luxury of writing things that younger striplings find antiquated and sometimes demeaning.  Now, I don’t mean to denigrate them as I know how seriously they take their careers and their belief that the new relocation-speak is the holy grail to look more productive than the competitor across the street; or the marketing guy at the next desk hoping for a promotion.

“Nowadays, our differentiation in strategy architectures signal a fundamental transformational change in our customer interface values. Our aspiring game changers co-create roadmaps by leveraging low-hanging fruit to implement agile, state-of-the-art prototypes.” Yes, indeed. 

If you have a little free time on your hands (with a nasty dose of COVID still loitering around the corner), I’m sure you’ll get some simply splendid relief from the consistently bad news by taking a peek at the super-slick websites of some of our leading relocation management companies around the world, particularly in the USA.  It’s a brave new world of wunder-folk who effortlessly provide an elysian avenue to dazzling happiness.  It’s mostly crafted for HR moles or, perhaps should I say, the staff of the Capital Management Operation Centres of Excellence (CMOCEs). 

Here’s where my age cruelly exposes my illiteracy in the new world of relocation management vernacular. Forgive me if I mix the buzzwords and expressions of these new peddlers of serendipity but I can’t resist trying to translate and quantify their particular cocktails of promises and prescriptions, concocted during hours and hours with brightly colored felt-tip pens and easels. You can imagine it, can’t you? “Let’s, like, go into white-space so the spirit of innovation is, like, firmly resident if you know what I mean.” Of course, what was I thinking?

The yesteryear of moving families from one place to another was fairly straightforward: best origin agent + reliable transporter + best destination agent + solid insurance = satisfied everybody. The triumvirate of quality providers augered well for superb service at competitive prices.  It’s a different world today, often managed by chirpy personal customer tele-assistants whose “true analytics, ideation and facilitation skills” can make magic moves while thinking that low volumetric-weight is reason enough to gorge on cheeseburgers. The ubiquitous RFQs to squeeze suppliers’ prices are fair enough but many would suggest that it mostly favours the taste for higher margins and questionable service levels.  And, I can’t resist a quick moan here, to gripe about bigger companies obliging smaller ones to solve their cashflow problems.     

But, back to my cocktail of buzzwords and come-ons to impress the most jaded HR manager. Perhaps you thought you knew it all but try these pithy pitches from you know who:

“A successful relocation relies on our staff coming forward to contribute their ability to access a comprehensive real-time snapshot of the entire program while capturing data from key suppliers.” Well, our small bubble of COVID-free thinkers had to ponder this one. The consensus was that they are dependent on asking their staff to ask the folks who actually do the move, what the hell is going on, which is entirely sensible.   Nonetheless, if that doesn’t sufficiently reassure you, it will be consoling to know that “We access a true, single source of truth to enhance co-browsing capabilities and interactive timelines that empower you to course correct in real-time”. Well, that’s much better than relying on multiple rubbish sources.  But we think this is a metaphor that focusses you on the imminent shipwreck that will befall your move if you, personally, don’t yank the tiller in right direction.  

And, by way of further reinforcement, “The converging and diverging priorities of our optimized lab concepts, coupled with our recommended service offerings guarantees a radically simplified relocation solution for legendary results.”  Bubble responds: so, the additional high-margin extras mean legendary profits?   Talking of legends, I was taught that precious few Olympian Gods and Goddesses like Poseidon, Apollo and, at a pinch, Aphrodite, were worthy of the accolade, but I guess the felt-tip boys and girls consider their employers to be right up there with them. Now, how cool is that? 

Does this marketing gobbledygook really enhance the chances of a “professional relocation enactor” getting the business? Given the king’s ransom they pay their marketers, it must be a slam dunk but it’s sad that companies freely spawn this awful prose.     

In a world of conspiracy theories and spurious accusations, perhaps it’s acceptable to use super-superlatives and jumbo techno-lingo to peddle one’s wares. But for me and our bubble, we’ll continue to champion the integrity of the properly qualified mover and learn to live with the legends. I’m retiring for good shortly.

Photo:  Val Prinsep