Organise the Christmas party early, writes expert

With only three months to go until Christmas, it is absolutely essential that firms have already located a venue for their corporate Christmas party.

That’s according to expert journalist Louise Cashell at the Cork Independent, who believes that booking as soon as possible will reduce any tears come Christmas time when all the local venues are fully booked.

“At this stage it’s absolutely vital for you to have booked the venue for your party,” she writes. “You would be surprised how far in advance different workplaces book their spot for their Christmas party and there’s the possibility on missing out on your venue of choice if you don’t book it straight away.”

The Manchester Evening News agrees with Cashell’s sentiments, noting that venue bookings for Christmas parties have been booked as early as the beginning of last month.

In addition, Cashell highlights the difference between sending out invites and getting a response. Sending out an invite isn’t necessarily a declaration that the invitee will attend.

She writes: “You may have to put a deposit down for your venue and it will be a waste of money if you are booking a spot for someone who doesn’t plan to attend.”

By organising the Christmas party early, business owners are ensuring the run-up to a festive office Christmas a lot more stress-free than usual.

China rates UK for meetings and events

China’s confidence in the UK’s event industry has been revealed in recent research, which found the UK is the second favourite destination for China’s outbound business events in the EU.

Considering that one-third of the country’s events are now staged outside of China, the endorsement is a glowing appraisal of UK event and hospitality professionals.

According to the research – presented at the China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) – 54 per cent of Chinese event buyers said that they predicted an increase in foreign event venue bookings over the next 12 months.

In the last year alone, 71 per cent of the 445 respondents said that they had organised more events than ever before.

Although the UK was found to be the second most EU popular country for event bookings behind France, it still has some way to go. Many EU countries fell behind those based in the Asian and North American continents.

Research participants cited event cost followed by location, quality of accommodation, quality of service and the size of the venue – plus the time of year – as the most influential factors when choosing their UK meeting venues, says CIBTM.com.

Report author Sally Greenhill says that the Chinese event industry has a promising future and will soon become a major international player.

She told Meetpie.com: “GDP growth in China remains above nine per cent, while advanced economies are struggling to meet two per cent. There are predictions it could be a $150 billion (£92.6) industry in a very short time.”

Workers using sneaky measures to check mobiles in meetings

An increasing number of workers are taking a sneak peak at their mobile phones during work meetings.

That’s according to Karen Leland, a marketing consultant writing for Huffington Post, who claims that business meetings could be more productive if electronic devices were put away.

However, this doesn’t stop workers from taking a cheeky look at their mobiles or tablets in corporate venues, which could make small and large businesses suffer.

Leland writes: “In my experience, small businesses suffer just as much as major corporations from their constant checking of cell phones in important meetings and even one-on-one conversations.”

In addition, Leland cites a survey from Qumu that reveals the majority of those surveyed (62 per cent) believe that during work meetings, co-workers at sneaking a peek at their mobiles.

According to the survey, the most common way to have a look at a mobile whilst remaining under the radar from boardroom members is to hide it under the table – the preferred method of 47 per cent of those surveyed, cites londonthenews.com.

42 per cent have excused themselves from a meeting to ‘head to the bathroom’ when in actual fact they are checking their mobile device, while nine per cent pretend to tie their shoes in order to play with their mobiles.

Free Wi-Fi initiative reaches 100 signatures

ABPCO, the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers, has secured more than 100 signatures in its campaign to bring free Wi-Fi to major event venues across the UK.

Under the moniker the ‘Conference Cloud’, ABPCO also revealed that the campaign has secured the support of 15 venues so far. These include the Nottingham Conference Centre, The Twickenham Experience and Hilton London Heathrow Airport T5.

According to TheConferenceCloud.co.uk, the initiative gained momentum within hours of its launch last month.

ABPCO Chair Michael Foreman said: “We are delighted with the response to the campaign and welcome on board all those who have signed up as venues or lent their support via the petition.”

Meetpie additionally reports that a debate is due to be held with those that have already pledged their commitment at the end of this month. It will be hosted by the first venue to sign up, Twickenham Experience.

Pitching in on the Wi-Fi project, Hazel Corpes, sales and marketing administrator for biomedical company Miltenyi Biotec, told CIT Magazine: “As an exhibitor, we find it invaluable for delegates at conferences to have free Wi-Fi, so they are able to look up details of our products and services immediately.

“Free Wi-Fi is so ubiquitous nowadays, that it’s hard to believe that it isn’t available at all conferences already.”

ABPCO is encouraging venues to show their support through the social networks LinkedIn and Twitter, using the hash tag #confcloud.

Frankie Sandford eyeing up wedding venues

The Saturdays singer Frankie Sandford is pondering the possibility of marrying boyfriend Wayne Bridge, cites Daily Mail.

Sandford admitted she would love to tie the knot with Manchester City left-back Bridge – as long as people stop calling her a ‘WAG’, an acronym for the wives and girlfriends of high-profile footballers.

She also claimed that if she began the hunt for a church and wedding reception venue, her family wouldn’t mind as they adore the footballer.

Sandford confirmed in the Sunday Mirror: “I hope we do get married in the future. My family wouldn’t be disappointed if I married him. He can’t do any wrong in the eyes of my friends and family – they absolutely love him!”

However, the ‘Notorious’ singer is conscious of her age and won’t be forced into any nuptials. “I am only 22,” she explained. “Everyone is trying to marry me off and get me to have babies but I’m not even 25. That is for the future.”

The singer hopes her technical WAG status won’t overshadow her music career either. She is aware dating Bridge hasn’t exactly boosted her reputation but hopes dating Bridges “doesn’t define” her as a person.

“I was in the Saturdays before I met him. I know what people think when I say I go out with a footballer but then I met Wayne and you can’t help who you love. It’s just one of those things,” Sandford added.

Gene Simmons sets wedding date after 28 years

Gene Simmons of rock band Kiss has finally asked his fiancé to marry him; some 28 years after the pair started dating.

According to the MailOnline, Simmons will marry Shannon Tweed on October 1st.

A high-profile union such as this may influence long-term couples in the UK to finally break the ‘forever engagement’, choose a wedding reception venue and marry themselves.

Simmons proposed to the former Playboy Playmate on the season finale of his reality TV show, ‘Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels’. The series follows the lives of the family, which is made up of 62-year-old Simmons and 54-year-old Tweed. Their children – Nick (22) and Sophie (19) – also play a starring role.

During his proposal in Belize this July, E! Online quoted the rock star as saying: “I come with so much baggage, but you’re the only friend I’ve got. You’re the only one I love…and you’re the only one I ever will love.” Tweed is said to have burst into tears shortly after.

Their children were also emotional about the union. They released a card that described the pair as a couple of “loose strings” coming together.

“There will no longer be a Team Tweed or a Team Simmons,” it said, “but instead a Team Tweed Simmons, and as annoyingly long as that is, we hope you’re on it.”

Before meeting, the soon-to-be-wed couple had a string of high-profile romances with other celebrities. Simmons was known to have dated both Cher and Diana Ross, while Tweed had a brief relationship with Playboy magnate, Hugh Hefner.

Cigarettes sales stubbed out in venues from next month

Pubs, function venues and other indoor public spaces have been reminded to move or bin their cigarette vending machines ahead of a nationwide ban on October 1st.

One law firm in particular, Poppleston Allen solicitors, has advised publicans and entertainment venues that only one month remains until the law changes.

Venues will no longer be able to sell cigarettes on public display from these machines, but can continue to do so from locations that are obscured from public view – such as from behind the bar.

“[This is] a reminder to operators that there is now exactly a month until it will no longer be possible to situate cigarette vending machines in public ares of your premises,” said Jonathan Smith, managing partner of Poppleston Allen, in a Big Hospitality report.

The law will apply to all venues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to a BBC News story that covered MPs decision to change the law back in October 2009. At the time, anti-smoking campaigners such as The British Heart Foundation were incredibly supportive of the initiative.

“Consigning vending machines to the scrapheap will cut off an easy supply of cigarettes to children,” said its chief executive Peter Hollins. “This policy must be carried out across the UK as soon as possible.”

Furthermore, Smith added that operators in Scotland will also be required to ask all customers who look under the age of 25 for identification if they wish to purchase cigarettes or alcohol.

Although this is not a legal requirement, he strongly advises that all staff are re-trained and made aware of the changes. Point of sale materials may also help efforts, he added.

Meeting planner accreditation goes global

Proprietors of meeting venues can now become a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) as the accreditation roles out internationally.

The CMP is a desirable title for those in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. It is the foremost qualification that recognises individuals who have achieved the industry’s highest standard of professionalism.

Meetpie reports that the administering body for the accreditation, the Convention Industry Council (CIC), is branching out of North America to revise their policy for a new CMP International Standards status.

Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP, CEO of the CIC, described the changes to the title in more detail: “The resulting CMP International Standards are much more detailed than the previous blueprint,” she said.

“So it was really a matter of re-weighting the topics and adding updates that have occurred in the industry over the five years since the previous analysis,” she added.

Through the CMP program, individuals who are employed in meeting management pursue continuing education, increase their industry involvement, and gain industry-wide recognition, says ConventionIndustry.org.

The requirements for certification are based on professional experience and a written examination. Over 14,000 individuals in 36 countries and territories have earned the CMP designation since its inception.

Ms Kotowski said it was standard practice to update the the blueprint for CMP endorsement every five years and that the CIC are happy to be right on time to revise the document for new applicants.

Half of businesses prepared for London Olympics

More than half of hospitality, travel and leisure businesses say that they are now prepared for the impending London Olympics next year.

In what is expected to be possibly the busiest time ever for event venues and hospitality providers, 55 per cent of businesses claim they are ready for the big event.

Just 37 per cent believe that they are running behind their own schedule. However, Deloitte’s Games Readiness research noted that there is a marked improvement on firms’ overall preparation, up 23 per cent since on last year.

Deloitte’s head of travel and tourism, Graham Pickett, told Big Hospitality that although the period during the Games will “remain very challenging,” it is “an opportunity that few can afford to ignore.

“London 2012 represents a significant and very timely opportunity for most UK travel, hospitality and leisure operators,” he said, adding that VisitBritain estimates that visitors spending during the Games will be around the £2 billion mark.

The research also revealed that just under half of businesses cite staffing levels as the biggest concern during the Games, which are expected to attract around 380,000 visitors. Pickett warned that firms must be prepared for all eventualities, staffing or otherwise.

“London 2012 is an immovable deadline,” he said. “Businesses in this sector must recognise that they now need to act quickly to make the most of the opportunity,” he added on DeloitteLondon2012.co.uk.

Could Snooki be heading for the alter?

Rumours are rife that the most famous star of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’, Snooki, will soon be heading for the alter with boyfriend Jionni LaValle.

Although the pair have endured a rocky relationship, Snooki (real name Nicole Polizzi) has revealed she definitely sees them getting hitched – perhaps in the not-too-distant future.

She did admit that being part of such a globally-popular show did have its drawbacks, the pair are strong than ever. Wakeywakeynews.com cited her remarks: “I try not to [watch the show together] because it just starts fights. I mean obviously with the show, it kind of sucks a little bit seeing all the drama that goes on. But we’re holding it together.”

Snooki added on Thedeadbolt.com that their relationship was so strong, she and LaValle could be “going to the chapel”, stating: “I mean, it’s that serious now!”

It’s unknown whether Snooki would choose to wed in a local, low-key ceremony or perhaps head to a luxurious wedding reception venue in London for a more outlandish affair. Given her outgoing personality, out-there style and tendency to be the centre of attention on Jersey Shore, the latter may be a more realistic option.

For now it seems the pair are just seeing where life takes them. After revelations came out that Snooki slept with fellow cast member Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, who knows whether the pair will continue to weather the storm.