TOWIE star aims for number one

A star of The Only Way Is Essex is hoping to bag a coveted Christmas number one this year and is taking singing lessons to help.

Twenty-two year-old James ‘Arg’ Argent boasted of his plans for pop-stardom on the way to his first lessons at the Royal Academy of Music yesterday.

The Sun reports that the Frank Sinatra wannabe told his fans via Twitter: “Voice coaching has started! Learning at The Royal Academy of Music, Wow! #TeamArg Xmas No1?”

The ITV2 star is known for crooning out the hits at best pal Mark Wright’s engagement party in the smash-hit reality/soap show. If successful, there’ll undoubtedly be no shortage of Christmas party venues ready for TOWIE cast to party in.

Argent is not alone in his ambition to dominate the charts, as list.co.uk reports that the rest of the TOWIE crew might have a crack at the whip too.

Maria Fowler recently explained that she and her co-stars were willing to take on any competition for the top spot, even if that includes beating an X Factor winner.

When asked whether they could beat Simon Cowell at his own game, Maria explained: “Yeah we would – I’m confident of that. It would be all of us! ‘Have a Happy Reem Christmas’ or something like that. That would be amazing.”

Crouch and Clancy reject tradition at their wedding

Peter Crouch and Abby Clancy reportedly rejected tradition at their recent wedding, by making their families sit at separate tables at their wedding reception venue.

Traditionally, the parents of the bride and groom sit at the top table. However the famous pair decided they’d rather have their friends by their side.

Although it isn’t known if the respective parents were upset by the decision, a source close to the newly-married couple said: “Peter and Abbey were acting like embarrassed school kids who didn’t want to be seen with their parents.

“It was like they didn’t want the grown-ups near them spoiling their fun. It seemed quite a weird thing to do on such a big occasion,” the source added on Digitalspy.com.

The reception was held on Friday, where the party went on until 4.30am, reports revealed. A three-course meal was served up to guess such as footballers Lee Hendrie and Glen Johnson; whilst Crouch and Clancy danced for the first time as a betrothed couple to U2’s ‘Sometimes you can’t make it on your own’.

If the pair regretted their decision to leave their family out then they certainly haven’t shown it, as they have already been spotted beginning their honeymoon in Ibiza.

According to Mail Online, the couple “couldn’t keep their hands off each other.”

Companies shouldn't feel ashamed about events

Companies shouldn’t feel ashamed about holding events at function venues to reward their staff, as to not do so would mean a “basic breach” of the employment contract.

That’s the opinion of businessman Nigel Cooper, who spoke out about the media’s hounding of companies who treat their staff to the odd night out.

According to him, in recent years, companies have felt forced to cancel their Christmas parties or work nights out, due to the struggling economy. Some have even held their events in secret for fear of being branded excessive spenders. This isn’t the right attitude, Cooper said.

“Private companies that profit as the result of their own and their staff’s hard work must realise the danger of not saying thank you in the right way because of the witch-hunt of public perception,” the business expert argued on Eventmagazine.co.uk.

“When rewards for hard work and performance are due, they should be paid. It’s a basic breach of contract if they are not. They is a danger that [staff] will be de-motivated and tempted to move elsewhere if their efforts are not being recognised and rewarded.”

Cooper cited companies such as HSBC and Apple as those who have continued to reward their staff throughout the recession yet still “thrived” financially.

Although HSBC was one of the few banks that did not require a government bail-out, it still got a beating in the press for rewarding its staff appropriately. As Cooper pointed out, Steve Jobs of Apple fame wouldn’t have encountered the same press bashing, so it really is a bug bear for only the British media.

Cooper concluded by summing up his thoughts on Conference-news.co.uk: “Having a culture of success if important not only for a thriving business but for a thriving economy. Let us not dampen our potential in the wake of public perception.”

Ashley Cole 'will' remarry Cheryl

The hunt could be on for another lavish wedding reception venue as Ashley Cole reveals he wants Cheryl back.

According to the Mail Online, the Chelsea and England footballer, told friends: “I’m going to marry Cheryl again, it’s what we both want.”

The couple were spotted kissing each other at Cheryl’s 28th birthday bash attended by friends and family of the singer on Friday night.

The paper claims that the couple have been seeing each other in secret for over three months. This would mean their secret affair began before Cheryl failed to become an American X Factor judge.

“It was no secret that Cheryl’s mind was not on The X Factor – Simon Cowell even said as much,” said a source close to the footballer.

“Ash made it clear to all his friends that he wanted to win Cheryl back and they’ve been properly in touch for the past six months, meeting at his brother Matty’s house.

“They’ve spent so many evenings together, it was all like a covert operation,” they said. “There was a kiss here and there, but things got a little bit more intimate just before Cheryl went to America.”

Other reports suggest that Cheryl has now moved back into the marital home in Surrey, and that there could even be talk of emigrating on the cards.

A source cited in The Mirror revealed: “There are talks of moving abroad, perhaps Barcelona”. The source also suggested that the couple “could not live without one another” and are even planning to have children.

Microsoft: Live events offer "depth of contact"

Live events offer an unrivalled “depth of contact” that are not found in any other kind of marketing media.

These were the words of Alex Reeve, Microsoft’s director of mobile business, who spoke at the Grass Roots Meetings Industry Forum 2011.

Even if typical costs for live events may be traditionally higher, Reeve argues that the benefits of live interaction far outweigh those of other communication methods.

Cited in a Meetpie.com report, Reeve said: “Cost per contact is massively higher than other mediums. But the depth of contact gives great value for money.

“It’s the upside down version of TV – which has a high entry cost, low cost per contact and low depth of contact.”

Reeve went on to reveal that Microsoft – the world’s biggest software company – has a marketing budget of around £24 million. Of this, the majority (£16 million) went into television advertising and retail marketing.

Around £400,000 is spent by the tech-giant on the booking of function venues and other live staging costs that come hand-in-hand with hosting events.

According to CITMagazine.com, he added that the “one-to-one” contact made events “way better than everything else” in terms of marketing investment. Reeve also said that businesses can expect a higher return on investment through relationships forged at live events.

However, he warned that “content is still king”, adding that “you need to get that right once everyone is there.”

London is 'most exciting' European city

London has been declared the the ‘most exciting’ city in the new European Cities survey by TripAdvisor.

The English capital fended off competition from the cultural meccas of Barcelona and Paris to pip the top spot, PR Newswire reveals.

Over 3,500 European travellers cast their vote in the forth annual survey by the world’s largest travel site which also revealed that people consider London to be the ‘easiest city to get around’.

With accolades such as this, and such brilliant event spaces on offer, London’s reputation is shining on the continent – just ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

“This research is based on traveller perception, so it’s encouraging for everyone involved in London’s tourism industry that, despite the concerns around cost, the city is regarded by European travellers as a vibrant and accessible destination,” said Emma O’Boyle, a TripAdvisor spokesperson.

“Undoubtedly the buzz around next year’s Olympics has contributed to London being crowned Europe’s most exciting city, and we fully expect this momentum to continue into 2012 and beyond,” she added.

European voters even credited inner-city cab drivers as being the second friendliest in Europe, coming just behind Rome.

London has also cleaned up its act this year with regards to the ‘dirtiest cities’ category. In 2009 it was shortlisted in second place, but this year it didn’t feature at all.

Other notable results, as cited by BelfastTelegraph.co.uk, found that Venice is the most romantic city, Stockholm is the safest, while Athens was rated the dirtiest and Zurich the cleanest.

Towns across the UK prepare for jubilee

Towns, cities and counties across the nation are beginning their preparations for the Queen’s Jubilee next year, with some actively planning local celebrations already.

Apparently, local authorities have “pledged to make the four days [marked to celebrate] memorable” for their residents.

One such authority is Portsmouth Council. It has confirmed it will hold events in similar to those seen during the Royal Wedding last April – wherein many people likely hired function venues to celebrate in style.

Furthermore, a councillor for the whole of Hampshire, Ken Thornber, confirmed that the entire county would play host to many events in celebration of the Royal anniversary. He told The News: “Hampshire County Council will…provide a wide range of opportunities for people to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.”

“In particularly, we will work with schools, museums and libraries to enable people to share in the celebrations of the Queen’s 60-year reign.”

It is thought street parties will be also be encouraged by the council; a theme prominent throughout the UK and particularly popular in London. The Associated Press confirmed that throughout London “traditional street parties and picnics” will take place.

The capital will also see its fair share of organised events go ahead, such as a concert at Buckingham Palace and 1,000 boats being released along the River Thames.

Significant social media presence seen in events industry

Social media could be an attractive option to those advertising venues for hire as an IMEX survey reveals a significant rise in the use of online networking among event professionals.

The explosion in the use of social media was revealed by delegates at the IMEX conference in Frankfurt, an event that claims to be the essential worldwide exhibition for meetings and incentive travel.

According to the Hosted Buyer Social Media Survey, 71 per cent of meetings professionals now use Facebook for networking and business promotions, up from 60 per cent in 2010.

Twitter also saw a solid growth; its usage with respondents was up 41 per cent, compared to 27 per cent in 2010.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn – often considered to be the social network of professionals – was used by 69 per cent of buyers surveyed.

Interestingly, the readership of blogs declined somewhat, with 86 per cent saying that they do not read them compared to 83 per cent in the previous year.

In a statement, IMEX-Frankfurt.com suggested that it is possible that longer blog formats are proving more challenging for meetings industry professionals to squeeze into a busy working day (as opposed to short social networking messages).

Meetpie.com cites Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, who comments: “It is interesting to observe the continued rapid growth of marketing channels such as Twitter and also to see that Facebook has maintained its position as the most commonly used social media platform among hosted buyers.

“New technologies are being introduced all the time and are fundamentally changing the way we work, communicate and do business.”

Bauer explained that QR codes, for example, are a “relatively new innovation but are already being widely used by many organisations in other business sectors” adding that she expects to see their use increase “significantly” across the international meetings industry in the next year.

Bauer also speculates that mobile payment systems, environmental monitoring and even intelligent sensors embedded into mobiles are the next areas to watch within the industry.

Weekend sees celebrity baby boom

Actress Kate Hudson and fashionista Victoria Beckham both gave birth over the weekend, to a boy and girl respectively.

This may mean the pair will soon be seeking out venues for hire for christenings or naming parties.

According to the Mail Online, Kate Hudson and her fiance, musician Matt Bellamy, welcomed a “healthy baby boy” on Sunday. The name is yet unknown, however the boy will be a little brother for Hudson’s other son, seven-year-old Ryder.

Meanwhile, in the same hospital, Victoria and David Beckham welcomed Harper Seven, a 7lb 10oz girl. Both Beckham and Hudson gave birth at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles – a favourite medical facility with the rich and famous.

Although Hudson hasn’t revealed anything more about the situation, footballer David Beckham did make an announcement via Twitter.

The Sun revealed his words: “I am so proud and excited to announce the birth of our daughter, Harper Seven Beckham. She weighed a healthy 7lb and 10oz.

“Victoria is doing really well and her brothers are delighted to have a baby sister,” he added.

Furthermore, a source close to the couple said the baby was “the double of Victoria as a little girl,” and the the pair chose the name because “the baby arrived around 7am in July – the seventh month.”

Hospitality executives 'optimistic' about economy, claims report

Senior executives in the hospitality industry are the most optimistic about the economy compared to their peers in other sectors, a new report has claimed.

In Ernst & Young’s Capital Confidence Barometer, just under 80 per cent of executives in the hospitality and real estate industries said they were optimistic about the economy.

Big Hospitality reports that this is significantly higher than the 66 per cent of executives in other non-related industries. Moreover, the report also revealed a renewed interest in investment in the sector.

“Not surprisingly, given the heightened sense of optimism among hospitality and real estate executives, a significant proportion are gearing up for what is expected to be an extended period of growth and transactional activity in the real estate and hospitality sectors,” said Ernst & Young in the report.

“In fact, 42 per cent say they are focused firmly on either raising or investing capital,” they added.

The renewed confidence within the industry was much better than results recorded just six months ago. The new figures could suggest that there could be a boom in hospitality bookings from event spaces to corporate venues and meeting venues.

“The outlook for M&A activity in the hospitality and real estate sectors seems to be brightening,” said Michael Fishbin, global hospitality leader at Ernst & Young, who was cited by HotelNewsNow.com.

“In October 2010, only 20 per cent of executives polled expected to execute a transaction in the next six months, but that figure more than doubled in our April 2011 survey,” he said.

The Capital Confidence Barometer polled 1,000 global firms including companies in the UK.