Since the easing of lockdown measures in France, initiated in May 2021, ICMIF member the IMA Group (Groupe IMA) has seen a very significant recovery in its activity. Over the weeks, the number of trips made by its members reached a level 11% higher than in June 2019. This corresponded to 40,000 cases of members requesting mobility assistance per week. In addition, the recent bad weather placed great demands on subsidiary IMH (Inter Mutuelles Habitat) with more than 77,000 cases of assistance with housing being dealt with in June (a historic record for the mutual), or more than 25% compared to 2020.
100 support officers on permanent contracts
Regardless of climatic events, In July the Group was anticipating a particularly intense 2021 season in France and Europe knowing that nearly 70% of French people planned to spend their summer in France and over 75% of them planned to use their personal vehicles to get to their holiday location*.
In the context of these high levels of activity, the IMA Group decided, as of May, to gradually recruit 100 employees on permanent contracts. At the same time, the company amplified its recruitment plan for seasonal workers: 500 people will this year to join the permanent staff of the company to support the 45 million members of the IMA Group during the summer period (from mid-June to the end of September). Likewise, more than thirty students will come in support from IMH teams in Niort, Strasbourg and Marseille.
Employee engagement with the “All Assistants” programme
Based on the experience of summer 2020 and June 2021, the Group expected very strong variations in activity linked to the less and less predictable behaviour of French and European tourists due to issues such as last-minute bookings of trips given the health and economic uncertainties due to the Covid-19 pandemic combined with increased levels of teleworking and “days off” during the week. To strengthen its ability to adapt and deal with these uncertainties, the company created a programme on one of its sites called “All Assistants” (Tous Assisteurs) to mobilize its Support teams to help manage workload. The programme offers the possibility for employees who wish to be trained in the management of an assistance file to then assist with taking calls for help from members who need assistance on the road. Back in mid-July, more than 50 employees had volunteered for the programme.
Claude Sarcia, President of the IMA Group, said: “This reinforcement of our workforce will enable us to meet the collective challenge which awaits us this season to respond to an increase in activity which should be between 5 to 10% more compared to 2020 without sacrificing the quality of service which is at the heart of our model. It is part of the dynamic initiated by our group, which has doubled in size in 10 years by creating sustainable jobs in the territories where it is established (Niort, Nantes, Rouen, Strasbourg, Marseille, Madrid, Milan, Liège, Munich…).”
The scorching temperatures observed across most of France last week combined with the crossover of holidaymakers during the weekend of Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 August generated a sharp increase in calls to the IMA Group for assistance with travel issues.
The Group was called to assist with more than 10,340 interventions over two days, including nearly 6,000 on Saturday 14 August, making this an exceptional weekend and breaking its 2020 record.
Over this week as a whole, the Group handled 38,725 assistance cases, a figure 6.6% higher compared to 2020 and 18.8% compared to 2019.
Claude Sarcia said: “As we anticipated, the activity of this month of August is turning out to be very intense. Under these exceptional conditions, all of the Group’s teams, both permanent and seasonal, are fully mobilised to support our members with assistance services and meanwhile the pandemic still requires the organisation of particularly complex medical repatriations.”
*IPSOS Study – Alliance France Tourisme, June 2021