The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 was the most relevant event of the 2020 financial year, and is also the most disruptive factor in Saba’s activity throughout its history. It is an unprecedented crisis that has affected the business and professional, but also the personal sphere. In this regard, the whole organisation mourns the death in 2020 of three Saba collaborators, two in Barcelona and one in the United Kingdom, as a result of the pandemic. The recollection of them as people and their contribution to the company will remain alive in our memory.
In 2020, the company designed and implemented a series of measures to combat this exceptional situation, which have been extended into 2021, revised and adapted to the evolution of the health crisis. They are framed within the context of limitations to mobility and restrictions on economic activities adopted by the authorities to contain disease transmission. These actions at all times include close, thorough monitoring of all pandemic indicators with the aim of providing up-to-date records.
In 2021, in an environment of uncertainty and global economic recession, Saba faces a series of challenges that need to enable it to achieve, in the medium and long term, a return to normality at all levels. The entire organisation is working cohesively to achieve this objective.
Beyond actions and challenges, the company will maintain as its main operating premises the health and safety of its employees, its customers, preventing spread of the coronavirus and the operation of its services.
Pandemic management in 2020
Continuity of activities
Saba has a Business Continuity Plan that takes into account the risks that may affect all its operations as well as the services provided to customers.
The company understands the activity in its car park network to be important public service that serves as an ancillary and necessary activity to facilitate the action of critical and essential services.
From the start of the crisis, Saba designed and implemented an internal communication plan to inform, assist and deploy prevention measures for all Group employees, such as the channel for queries and communications on COVID-19 and the banner with updated information on the Intranet. The ongoing review of internal protocols for action enables Saba to help preserve, above all, the health and safety of workers, customers and suppliers.
Along this line, Saba launched the PAEE Employee Assistance Programme in the second half of 2020. This is focused on providing emotional support to Saba’s workers, manifested as a free, completely confidential 24-hour psychological counselling service provided by a team of experts. This service is added to personal support in all necessary cases.
The operation of the car park network was maintained in 2020, tailored to the circumstances, as was the activity of the Customer service and Control Centre (CCC) itself, which provides service to the car park network in Spain, Italy and Portugal. This operation has been carried out with the minimum necessary structure, always attending to the activity and the adequate control of the facilities and employee safety. The structures have also been adapted to each situation as the scenarios provoked by the pandemic have changed.
Technology has been an essential tool for addressing current and future challenges. Saba’s previous efforts in this field enabled remote working in central services, not only maintaining the recurring processes, but also implementing new, more demanding monitoring and control procedures, such as remote management of the car parks themselves with staffing levels commensurate with the low activity experienced, especially during the first months of the pandemic.
In the case of the Customer service and Control Centre (CCC), the teams were initially split into separate, fully operational blocks with the aim of minimising the risk of contagion due to the reduced density of people and preserving the continuity of services at the various locations. Two alternative centres were also set up in two car parks, while a great deal of effort was made to move the CCC jobs to the employees’ own homes, so avoiding travel to the work centres and also facilitating remote working. As with operations, all situations are actively monitored step by step to adapt the teams.
The series of actions was aimed at maintaining the quality of customer service, efficiency of management and the commitment to excellence that Saba always pursues.
To this end, we use all the technological tools and channels available, as well as our direct, flexible human treatment, which makes it possible to attend to all incoming requests in the best possible way, responding to the exceptional circumstances that we are all experiencing. In this regard, since the first moment the State of Alarm was decreed in Spain, Saba recommended electronic payments and implemented a series of measures such as periods for cancelling products without cost or cost-free status for subscribers exceeding their time slots, among others, in addition to driving sales through the website.
Digitalising the business, enhancing sales channels and the offer of new products adapted to the new demands in a pandemic scenario are among the objectives under continual review by the Saba and will be, without doubt, levers in the gradual recovery to the activity levels prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
In the area of social responsibility, the network of car parks, especially those located near hospital centres and other authorised centres, has been placed at the service of the health authorities, to fulfil the needs of healthcare personnel as they arise. The evolution of the health crisis and the subsequent requirements in this regard led Saba to provide other types of service, such as the allocation of spaces for vaccination campaigns, for example.
Given the looming insecurity in a global environment as to how the pandemic will evolve, and what impact it will have on economic activity, the main objective for 2021 is undoubtedly the recovery of normality at all levels.
And this purpose passes through a number of points, such as, in the external context, the easing of restrictive measures in the field of mobility and economic activity, and internally, commercial policies, through the adaptation of products, recovery of subscribers and the drive to new digital channels, as well as the pursuit of new opportunities in the market, setting specific development objectives for each country. Similarly, collaboration with Administrations, whose economic situation has deteriorated when they need to be the main agents of the necessary economic incentive, represents an opportunity for Saba in turn.
Cost control measures, already applied in 2020, since the beginning of the health crisis, will be maintained, with continuous monitoring, prioritising those investments that cannot be deferred and that directly affect operation of the car parks.
And, in this same field of operational management, Saba will continue to respond to this exceptional situation by implementing a series of measures such as remote management of infrastructures through the CCC, expanding the number of connected car parks and adding new countries (Chile and the United Kingdom) to the current ones (Spain, Italy and Portugal), in addition to implementing strategic business initiatives. Examples are the launch of payment by number plate for short stays or renewal of the extension of Saba’s business website and app e-commerce products and services.
Looking beyond 2020, Saba will be alert to recovery funds driven by the European Union to aid the reconstruction of Europe post-COVID-19; a Europe that will be greener, more digital and more resilient. Saba works to study strategic projects and to present expressions of interest to the competent authorities to qualify for grants and loans designed by the EU to help repair the immediate economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. There is a special focus on projects within the field of electric charging, in line with the push the company is giving to electric vehicles, in addition to participation in others where the car park is the central point, such as urban micro-distribution (last mile) or the designing of mobility platforms, among others.
And all of these challenges will need to be addressed, as must be the case, while management maintains its primary focus on the health and safety of all Saba of employees, by applying risk prevention and control measures in all the countries where the company operates.