CIT magazine offer tips to avoid no-shows

The venue is booked and the invitations have been sent. You have a list of confirmed attendees but on the big day you find there are a number of empty seats and unclaimed delegate badges.

It is every organisers worst nightmare to turn up to chosen event venues and find an empty room, but event organisers need to fear not, as Conference and Incentive Travel magazine have given a range of approaches used by some industry experts to tackle no-shows.

Lesley Mason, director of client services for marketing agency George P Johnson told them that their agency caters for a certain number of dropouts, that way the budget remains unaffected.

“For some clients the dropout rate can be as high as 40 per cent. But if you have a focused event with content specific to a targeted audience, non attendance tends to be lower,” she said. Mason advises holding a conference mid-week as in her experience it has proved more successful than an event scheduled for a Monday or Friday.

An industry survey carried out by one event agency which questioned 180 event managers found that more than 50 per cent consider no-shows to be a problem. One way this can be overcome is using the draw of social responsibility. One event company teamed up with UNICEF in an effort to tackle the challenge. It used a system where delegated pledge once they confirm attendance to an event, but if they don’t attend they must make a donation.

Teresa Crockett, account manager for the Live Group said the best solution to the problem is to make terms and conditions explicit. Charging guests that don’t show up to cover costs such as catering “encourages people to be more considerate,” she said.

Graham O’Connell the National School of Government’s head of organisational learning and standards added that the most basic way of ensuring attendance is to attract willing delegates in the first place.

Third-party event spend tracker launched

The first ever third-party event spend tracker has been launched, according to Meetpie.

It tracks all third-party event spend, whether that’s audiovisual expenditure or planning costs to production and delegate management. 

“Over the past five years we have achieved average savings for clients of more than 30 per cent on their venue spend and with the introduction of a full third-party event spend tracker this can only lead to greater cost and time savings and improve efficiency and leverage,” explained Des McLaughlin who works in venue procurement.

It’s thought the main benefit is that it helps businesses to fully see their event spend, boosting transparency of the planning and also allows conference centres or the businesses themselves to benchmark costs and performance. That would allow event venues to remain competitive when setting prices, and give businesses greater negotiating power.

Mr McLaughlin added: “Approved suppliers will be trained on the approach and supporting software, bookers will use the system to generate quote requests and book through the technology, so activity can be tagged and drive the level of visibility and compliance required to effectively monitor and manage spend.”

“The approach will not stifle the ability to select a supplied, based on their creativity or other factors typically in play when looking for production support, but will enable successful tracking of spend across all aspects of event-related activity.”

New business model is the future for events

Results of a survey which found that 70 per cent of event professionals believe there should be a charge for live events streamed over the web, are to be revealed this month.

Researcher and entrepreneur Rohit Talwar’s survey is set to be completed on 7 November. The results of the research, which forms part of the Convention 2020 study into the events industry, will be analysed and unveiled on 15 November.

As reported by CIT magazine, early results from the survey indicated that priorities for 2011 include increased networking opportunities and extended use of social media to promote event spaces.

Return on Investment is still a key factor within the industry but while 77 per cent of agencies will use 2011 to focus on new customers, 63 per cent want to maximise delegate satisfaction.

By 2015, Talwar believes alternative business models will be in place. Seventy per cent of respondents believed that presentations streamed live on the internet should be charged for and 65 per cent of respondents believed all sessions should be available on a pay-per-view basis once the event has taken place.

Talwar added that the survey is part of a new research programme which will include monthly polls.

 

Lady Gaga serenades newly-wed couple in London

A couple who were celebrating recently getting married were serenaded by popstar Lady Gaga whilst they were drinking in London.

According to The Sun, the couple from New Zealand had recently got married and were celebrating with friends they met at the backpackers’ hostel they were staying in.

The pub in West London wasn’t serving as their wedding reception venue, but the bride said the unexpected performance was something she’d always remember.

Julie Searle said: “It was unbelievable. We were toasting our future by drinking champagne and beer with some guys we met in the hostel we were staying at. Then Lady Gaga, dressed in this fabulous cerise dress, came in with her entourage. She stood at the bar and ordered a drink for everyone.”

As reported by The London Evening Standard, the popstar asked them if they were celebrating their wedding. When they explained they were, Lady Gaga said the occasion called for a song and one of their hostel friends rushed back to his room to grab his guitar.

“After he came back he spoke with her and her people and they played Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones for us in the back room,” Julie said. “She was really cool but her entourage stopped anyone recording it. I would have liked a reminder, but then I’m sure I’ll never forget it.”

London wins most welcoming European city and World Destination of the Year

It’s good news for party venues: London could be best place to throw a party, after it was crowned the most welcoming city in Europe according to a survey.

A ‘mystery shopper’ poll assessed six European cities and found that London was the kindest to visitors. According to The Independent, the capital scored particularly well when it came to airport signage, taxis, bus tours and city centre tourist offices.

The ‘mystery shoppers’ spent 24-hours in London, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Berlin and looked at how welcome they felt when considering 11 categories.

Public transport in London scored well, however the reception given to tourists in museums saw London fall to the bottom of the list. Airport tourist information and evening restaurants also lost London some points, but that didn’t seem to hamper the city’s performance. London won, followed by Paris and Amsterdam in joint second place.

It was also revealed today by Visit London that London was crowned World Destination of the Year for the fifth time at the World Travel Awards.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that London has been recognised for such prestigious awards,” said Sally Chatterjee, CEO of Visit London. “With the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games just around the corner, it’s now more apparent than ever how important tourism is to the capital and the country’s economic growth.”

More businesses book corporate Christmas parties this winter

There has been a boost in the number of corporate Christmas parties being booked this year, with one event organiser reporting a 30 per cent increase when compared with last year.

Bookings for mixed group nights have also grown by a quarter, with smaller companies opting to book events alongside other companies to celebrate the end of a difficult year.

“Although companies are continuing to keep a watchful eye on expenditure, the importance of rewarding staff for their hard work and loyalty through a Christmas party is recognised as integral in boosting team morale,” explained Tim Stevens, managing director of the events company to CIT Magazine.

Mr Stevens added: “With recent economic growth figures exceeding expectation, companies are seeing the need for building relationships and creating a sense of community internally, where staff at all levels can come together.”

The benefit of having corporate Christmas parties outside of the office is that they’re much less hassle to organise, because it’s done by the venue for you. If the right event venue is chosen, the imagination of the party planners and their resources will transform the venue into a Christmas wonderland much more effectively than pushing the photocopier aside, pulling the desks to the edge of the room and putting up the odd banner.

The corporate Christmas party is a good reward for staff, say CIPD

A poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that 72 per cent of companies are holding a corporate Christmas party this year.

As reported by Director Magazine, that’s a massive increase on the 58 per cent of companies that held one last year.

It’s thought that the reason the corporate Christmas party is regaining its popularity is because it will be a welcome boost to morale after a year that will have been stressful for many employees.

Charles Cotton, CIPD reward adviser, said: “A Christmas party can be used as a way of reinforcing that you’ve come through a tough year and survived. It’s a good way of recognising and rewarding contribution over the previous 12 months and engaging employees.”

Furthermore, as many businesses discovered last year by not throwing a corporate Christmas party, it can be seriously damaging if people aren’t rewarded for their hard work.

“Last year there was a bit of backlash when staff who had stuck with companies through tough times didn’t even get a party at the end,” said Debi O’Donovan, editor of Employee Benefits Magazine. “This year employers are seeing that what looks like a frivolous spend is quite wise in tough times, where we need to motivate staff.”

2012 Olympics won't bring London transport to a standstill

The 2012 Olympics are expected to drive massive amounts of tourism to the UK capital, with previous research predicting that the city’s 120,000 hotel rooms will be in fierce demand as visitors from around the world flock to the Olympic event venues.

However UK Inbound’s chief executive has stressed that London’s infrastructure is more than capable of handling the extra load. Speaking in Conference and Incentive Travel, Mary Rance said that businesses should be reassured that transport to conference centres and corporate venues in London will not be hindered by the thousands of leisure tourists.

“The UK is completely different from previous host countries,” said Ms Rance, “both in terms of our ease of access and our intrinsic strengths, while the infrastructure improvements generated by the 2012 games will make us even more attractive in the long term.”

UK Inbound is the trade association representing the UK’s inbound tourism sector. It is reportedly working in partnership with other organisations such as Visit Britain, Visit London and the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) to counter suggestions that Britain and London in particular will be too expensive or busy for business tourism during the games.

“We have more than enough capacity here and we need to reassure potential visitors that they can enjoy this fantastic, dynamic destination just as much in 2012, if not even more so,” said Ms Rance.

 

Corporate Christmas parties offer big returns for small outlays

According to Director Magazine, corporate Christmas parties can provide businesses with big returns in exchange for a relatively small outlay.

That’s because a Christmas party can be utilised as a way to reward employees, especially when financial incentives are out of the question. It’s advised that small businesses which can’t afford to pay bonuses would do better to invest the money they can spare in a party.

“The cost per employee of a Christmas party is relatively low compared to the engagement that a company is likely to get from the event,” explained Debi O’Donovan, editor or Employee Benefits Magazine. “In terms of bang for your buck, it’s highly effective.”

Businesses should remember that they get a tax allowance for corporate events; up to £150 tax-free can be spent on each employee. If the same was awarded in a bonus, it would be subject to national insurance and tax deductions, which would quickly eat into the sum.

The best way to plan corporate Christmas parties, advises Director Magazine, is to involve staff with the planning process and take on board their ideas. “If you’re a managing director, and you are on a significantly different salary, you can forget what’s important to staff so you need to ask them what they want as well,” Ms O’Donovan advised.

Commercial visitors fuel growth in London hotel profits

Business tourism from visitors to London’s conference centres and corporate venues has helped fuel a 19% increase in profitability for London’s hotels sector in September, reports meeting industry site MeetPie.

MeetPie report that a survey from TRI Hospitality Consulting has shown that there was a significant 11.8% rise in corporate and conference demand in London in September, rising from 25.2% in August to 37%. This increased demand helped drive average rooms in the corporate hotels sector by 7.7% and a corresponding 10.7% increase in rates for hotel rooms dedicated to serving conference centres.

This placed the average monthly rate for the conference sector at £152.54, 4.3% above the previous year to date figure of £146.04

“What a difference a year makes,” said Jonathan Langston, managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting.

“In September 2009 London hoteliers were nursing declines in both volume and price and the outlook heading in to the winter was bleak. But with a 19% increase in GOPPAR [Gross Operating Profit per Available Room], London Hoteliers have regained any losses suffered during the same period last year and once again surpassed the monthly performance of 2008.”

GOPPAR in the capital grew 20.2% in the third quarter of 2010, following previous increases of 8.7% in Q2 and 16.5% in Q1. 

The survey also showed the impact of corporate and conference demand on ancillary spend as well as room revenue, with the level of Total Revenue per Available Room (TrevPar) growing an additional £40 between August and September.