Business event budgets rise

The demand for conference centres could rise this year as event budgets across financial and business sectors are increased, according to a new report.

The Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report found that the budget for non-residential training and meeting venues was up 32 per cent on figures from 2009.

Only 27 per cent of businesses will continue to hold training and meetings in residential training venues, Cite Magazine reports.

Des McLaughlin, Grass Roots’ managing director and venue procurement officer said that there is “a steady rise in the use of unusual venues, which for many is seen as a consequence of hotels failing to create innovative new products.”

The incentive to travel is also rising in 2011 generally as clients are expecting ‘destination experiences’ as opposed to the mundane, according to the report.

Mr McLaughlin said that during the recession, Grass Roots have seen the demand for venues that show “something different” double. One in ten venues now categorises itself as an unusual venue and he sees no less demand for these venues during the year.

“This being said, business for hotel groups and conference centres has also increased,” Mr McLaughlin continued, “which is likely to be as a result of companies reinstating their meeting budgets.”

Despite lesser interests in standard spaces, independent hotels still accommodated for the greatest share of increased business and travel budgets. The report expects a 37 per cent rise here.

According to grassrootseventcom.uk.com, the industry report aims to provide a comprehensive overview of key issues and trends in meetings and event procurement. The report is based on both a European and global perspective.

Michael Buble has two weddings, with a third on the way

Singer Michael Buble has enjoyed two weddings this weekend; both of which were his own, according to the Daily Mail.

Buble and his wife, Luisana Lopilato, held their first wedding ceremony last Thursday, March 31st; before enjoying their second set of nuptials on Sunday.

The latter was a religious ceremony held in Argentina, which family and friends were invited to; whereas the former was a more private, civil ceremony, held in Buenos Aires.

However that isn’t the end of the couple’s celebrations, as they are planning to hold a larger wedding ceremony in Canada, sometime in May; where it is thought the couple might also have a proper party at a wedding reception venue, allowing other friends and family a chance to revel in their happiness.

Despite all the festivities, Buble hasn’t sung at any of the ceremonies – at his wife’s request. Back in December, he told the television show Daybreak that she had requested slightly different entertainment.

Speaking to the show’s Ross King, Buble confirmed: “I asked my fiancée if she wanted me to sing and she said no.”

According to the Canadian sensation, Lopilato asked for the Argentine singer, Ricardo Montaner. “So now I’ve got Ricardo Montaner coming!” Buble concluded.

Both the bride and groom looked stunning at both occasions, setting the tone for their upcoming third round of nuptials. At the Buenos Aires civil ceremony, both chose hues of lavender for their outfits; whilst at the Argentine ceremony, they pair opted for a black tie affair – with Buble looking dapper in a tuxedo.

New tourism and investment body for London

The Mayor of London has launched a new promotional agency to entice tourism and investment into the capital, CIT Magazine reports.

London & Partners will assume the role of three existing bodies: Visit London, Think London and Study London; in a bid to consolidate all their functions and experience under one roof.

The capital already welcomes almost 25 million visitors a year, some whom frequent the vibrant party venues London offers alongside the mainstay attractions. The city also creates 6,100 jobs through inward investment and attracts 105,000 international students.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said that the new strategy will also promote London domestically, reminding Brits of the many cultural and business attractions on offer.

He described the city as “an extraordinary place of opportunity and without doubt the best big city to visit, study and invest in.”

“We have some of the world’s greatest cultural attractions from our theatres to museums, some of the finest universities and colleges, and we offer unrivalled choice for those seeking to invest,” said Mr Johnson.

The Mayor also said that a constantly improving commuter transport system and an abundance of clean public spaces were good reasons to visit London.

According to BBC News, a major aspect of London & Partners work will be to work closely with both the transport and film industries in the city.

Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, interim chair of London & Partners said: “As a city, we already lead the way for visitors, businesses and education and now we have the opportunity to develop our strengths even further.

“London & Partners will be able to champion everything that makes the capital so dynamic and secure its future as a leading global city,” she added.

U2 need to "keep it real" at Glastonbury

U2 have been asked to “keep it real” at this year’s Glastonbury festival, by the event organiser, Michael Eavis.

In order to achieve this, Eavis has banned the rock stars from using giant screens or extreme props in their set; instead stripping it down to match the other performers.

According to Event Industry News, the foursome will be forced to leave the “jaw dropping effects” seen on their recent world tour behind; in favour of a more low-key approach.

The Glastonbury set-up typically consists of several mini function venues and stages set up throughout the field in Somerset; and despite U2 being given pride of place on the prestigious Pyramid stage, they will have to tone their performance down.

A source close to the band confirmed the request, claiming: “Michael Eavis told the band it will be almost impossible to bring any elements of their current stage set to Glastonbury.”

“There won’t be room for the big screens and all the props on the Pyramid stage, so the band are having to completely re-design their show for the Glasto gig. Bono has already suggested they completely change the set list.”

Despite having to change their set, Liquida claimed that the band would still “enjoy one of their finest hours” when they perform alongside giants such as Beyonce and Coldplay at the June event.

New rail link to boost businesses

A new rail link between Manchester Piccadilly and London Victoria could support commuter travel and help businesses boost commerce and venue hire, reports Manchester Evening News.

The Department of Transport’s £85m rail scheme could offer 11 additional journeys an hour back and forth to the capital once the initial phase of the rail network has been completed.

Firms could take advantage of the increasing rail journeys by holding their business meetings at a conference venue in London. The capital is a stylish, business-centric city to meet potential clients and thrash out deals in a professional arena.

Greater Manchester has seen an increase in rail use of 82 per cent over the past 10 years highlighting how often commuters and businesses use rail transport for travel. Growth in the region’s railways is forecast to increase by 54 per cent by 2020.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is pleased with the funding for better connections to the capital, saying: “Building a whole new line would create scope for people who live on the current lines to have more frequent services that are less crowded.”

The economic implications for Manchester pleased Stephen Clark, the rail programme director at Grater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive.

“There’s very strong evidence for the impact the hub will have on the economy of Greater Manchester and the North. It’s based on connecting the big cities and getting people to work in the morning,”

Noel Gallagher 'set to marry'

Noel Gallagher is set to marry his fiancée Sara MacDonald this summer, reports spinner.com.

The couple, who have two children together, got engaged on 10 October and look set to hold a lavish wedding later this year.

A source told The Sun: “Noel secretly asked Sara to marry him on her birthday last October. He’s not one for making a big scene. This is the man who kept his leather jacket on when his lad Donovan was born.

“They have been living like they are married for years anyway, but now they have a family together Noel thought it was the right time to do the romantic thing.”

It is unknown where the couple will marry or which wedding reception venue they will choose. However, without any Oasis gigs or football championships this summer, it is likely they will get married within the next 6 months.

“He splashed out on a mega posh Solange Azagury-Partridge ring from a Bond Street jewellers. They are madly in love and spend all their time together without any bickering. They are a perfect match,” reports The Sun.

Noel Gallagher is not the only high-profile celebrity to announce a future wedding recently. Singer Lily Allen, politician Ed Miliband and, of course, Prince William are all set to tie the knot this year.

London is best event destination, say business leaders

Global business leaders have rated London as the best destination for events, based on its return on investment, CIT Magazine reported.

The majority of respondents (84 per cent) in the IMF Sports Marketing Survey also said the city offered global commercial partnerships, backed by a strong media presence.

Furthermore, the capital’s event venues were considered to be of “the highest quality” by 70 per cent of the 110 executives who took part in the poll.

London even fended off international competition from Sydney and New York; with executives agreeing it was better at garnering media interest for major events;

Speaking on behalf of the new leisure and tourism agency, London & Partners, Iain Edmondson told Event Magazine said it was Londoners’ appetite for cultural events that were reflected in the results.

“These results show how valuable major events are to London’s £16bn tourism economy and endorse London’s role as one of the best big cities in the world,” he said.

“London is a place where major events succeed and these results show there is the appetite from Londoners, visitors and commercial partners for more major events beyond the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he added.

London Mayor Boris Johnson also praised the results; owing them to some of the new venues and conference centres that have been built especially for the Games.

He said that London has a “right to have such confidence” about the findings and looked forward to welcoming new major events to the capital.

Johnson concluded: “London is rich in sporting heritage and is a natural backdrop for successful, profitable international sports events. It already boasts some of the world’s most iconic sports arenas and our new state of the art 2012 sports venues are steadily being delivered ahead of schedule.”

Event venues working hard to cope with bank holiday change

Function venues are already having to work extremely hard to cope with plans for the Queen’s diamond jubilee next year.

The Government has announced that the traditional bank holiday at the end of May will be moved in 2012 to allow a four-day weekend in celebration of the Queen’s 60th year on the throne.

The holiday originally scheduled for Monday 28th May 2012 will now take place on Monday 4th June, which is a day before the Jubilee celebrations.  

This has caused a number of event organisers to rearrange the date of their functions, leaving venues scrambling to alter their bookings system.

Those who already had events booked for the first weekend in June may also consider extending the length of their bookings in order to maximise profits during the bank holiday. 

Anyone who is planning to book party venues or a conference space during this time is advised to do so as soon as possible to avoid being caught up in the chaos.

Event Industry News predicted that the mass rearrangement of event dates may leave some contractors unable to cope with demand.

A source from caterersearch.com has revealed that the Government are considering plans to permanently move the May bank holiday in an effort to boost tourism.

London's digital switchover set for 2012

The digital switchover is set to take place in London in 2012, according to BBC News.

It is thought that April 4th 2012 will be the official date for the switchover; which will mean some 12 million people in residential houses, corporate venues and function venues will have to upgrade their televisions or buy a set-top box.

However those who already subscribe to digital or satellite television will only have to perform a  re-tune of their box.

A spokesperson for Digital UK, Vivien Morgan, spoke to This is London about the announcement, claiming: “This is the biggest change in broadcasting since colour TV.”

“Lots of people still have an analogue TV somewhere, particularly in the spare room, or if they don’t watch a lot of TV. It’s not generally the older people – lots of them have switched to watch sport.”

Reports have confirmed that the television signal will be ten times’ better once the switchover has taken place; however some may still be left confused as to what they must do in order to reap this reward.

Morgan confirmed this notion, stating: “There’s a lot of confusion among consumers and we want to address that. It’s a bit like trying to understand the internet – there’s a lot of terminology people think they understand but don’t.”

“But we think they will cope incredibly well, and there are clear instructions online. Digital is here and we have to embrace it – we think people will want to see the Olympics in wide-screen.”

Fellow television expert, Torin Douglas, welcomed the move – although added that in order to keep consumers happy, minimal disruption would have to be made to the television schedules. Speaking to BBC News, Douglas confirmed that with events such as the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Brits wouldn’t want their schedules interrupted.

Britney hints at third marriage

Britney Spears has hinted that she could soon be walking down the aisle with boyfriend Jason Trawick.

The pop singer refused to deny that engagement could be on the cards when questioned by US Magazine about her blossoming relationship with the Hollywood agent.

When asked if she was ready to marry her partner of two years, the pop singer said: “Maybe! Never say never.”

Family members have also indicated in the magazine that wedding bells could soon be in the air – by stating that the couple often talk about the prospect of marriage.

Nearly every major media source has jumped on Spears’ comments, with rumours already circulating about details such as the date, location and wedding reception venue.

In the revealing interview, Spears was also keen to boast that her children had grown almost as fond of Trawick as she has.

The Daily Mail reported that she went as far as saying Trawick is a “hero” to her sons Jayden James and Sean Preston. She claimed: “Jason is just amazing with the boys. They look up to him so much, they adore him.”

“‘He makes me laugh and we are so comfortable being ourselves. We like to stay home, order in, watch movies, go to dinner with friends and we love getting away for the weekend.”