Meetings industry will boom in 2012, finds American Express

The majority of events suppliers expect there to be more corporate meetings in 2012, research from American Express Meetings and Events has found.

In a recent survey of meetings experts that included planners, buyers and suppliers from around the world, 60 per cent said that they expected the number of business meetings to increase next year, according to CIT Magazine.

However, higher travel costs and budget-cutting within organisations will mean that firms will be focusing on the right balance of cost effectiveness – as well as “experience impact” – when considering potential meeting venues.

Those polled confirmed that business budgets are indeed tight, or shrinking; with 33 per cent saying that they are decreasing and 60 per cent saying they were flat.

“In many cases, meetings and event spend is an indicator of outward facing organisations connecting with their clients and prospects, and well run meetings and events can be leading drivers of new business and growth for organizations,” comments Issa Jouaneh, vice president at American Express Meetings and Events.

“Even in the face of economic uncertainty, meeting industry stakeholders appear to be cautiously optimistic as they report an increase in services and property demand from clients,” he added on Market Watch.

Other trends found include an attraction to more green event venues, fuller agendas at meetings – but with less participants – and meetings that take place closer to home.

Motivation Month to promote UK events industry

London’s official promotional organisation for events, London & Partners, has announced a month-long campaign dedicated to selling the city as a world-class events destination.

‘Motivation Month”s primary objective is to incentivise bookers to host their events in London’s corporate venues and event spaces, reports LondonAndPartners.com. Secondly, it offers an opportunity for industry representatives to talk shop and share knowledge with one another.

The campaign, which is backed by government, will run throughout February 2012 and culminates in the International Confex show – a trade show that aims to connect event organisers from across the globe.

“It’s vital that as an industry we learn from each other continue to strengthen London’s business tourism and events offering,” explained Tracy Halliwell, director of Business Tourism and Major Events at London & Partners.

“By creating this campaign, we hope that London will retain its crown as Europe’s leading destination and inspire event planners to bring future events and incentives here after 2012,” she added on Meet Pie, which is to provide coverage of the event.

Industry magazine Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT) will also be supporting.

The month will be packed with a range of different activities; including free webinars, top motivational tips, round table discussions, open days and ‘lunch and learn’ industry seminars.

London voted the world's most reputable city

London has been named as the most reputable city in the world.

The English capital fared best in a study measuring the public perception of 100 large cities around the world.

The study took into account respondents’ feelings of trust, esteem and admiration towards the cities. Their perceptions of attributes such as the economy, administration and general appeal were also considered.

Incentivetravel.co.uk reports that London fared well in all of these categories, closely followed by Geneva, Sydney and Vienna.

The results may highlight the benefits of choosing London as the host city for any international corporate event that a business may be holding. When it comes to corporate events, London certainly has plenty of function venues suitable for impressing clients of all statures.

Gordon Innes, who is the CEO for London’s official promotion organisation London & Partners, was thrilled to hear that the city was recognised this way.

Speaking to londonandpartners.com, he said: “We are delighted with this accolade recognising our reputation as a world class city. The award demonstrates London’s enduring appeal to visitors, students and businesses.

“The many enhancements to the city in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will ensure the capital continues to be trusted and admired by the global community and Londoners alike.”

Businesses urged to throw Christmas party for employees

Company bosses have been urged to throw Christmas parties for their staff this month by a business expert.

Leisa Docherty, who is a people service director at Sage UK, has stated that although Christmas parties can be expensive for small businesses, they can often deliver a massive boost to staff morale.

This increased morale can often make a world of difference when it comes to staff productivity to the point where many bosses find Christmas parties to be a worthwhile investment.

In an interview with Fresh Business Thinking, Docherty said: “With staff under increased pressure, taking the time to celebrate the successes of the year is invaluable. Companies planning to not party as a team this festive season should try and reconsider. Even low key events are invaluable for boosting staff morale.

“Here at Sage, we will be holding Christmas parties across all of our main offices, as it gives us another way to thank our people for their hard work and celebrate the successes we have collectively achieved.”

Her words might encourage some bosses to throw a surprise corporate Christmas party at the last minute, with the aim of boosting productivity going into the new year.

She was speaking shortly after a new survey revealed that around 40 per cent of businesses won’t be splashing out on a festive bash this year.

According to wigantoday.net, the majority of business owners not throwing a party claimed it was only because they were aiming to cut back on spending.

Stacey Solomon to say "I do"

Former X Factor star and fan favourite Stacey Solomon has become engaged to long-term beau Aaron Barnham, the Mail Online reports.

The 22-year-old was spotted boasting a diamond engagement ring as her and the new fiancée arrived in Heathrow Airport yesterday. The pair had been taking a mini-break in New York when Aaron reportedly popped the question on board of a horse driven carriage in Central Park.

Stacey immediately leapt to her Twitter page to gush: “I can’t believe he’s finally asked me.”

As if that left any doubt in her followers minds’, Miss Solomon’s publicist later confirmed the news that the couple were indeed engaged.

The hunt will no doubt now be on for a wedding venue. London will of course appeal to the mother-of-one as she increasingly spends her time in the media spotlight fronting campaigns for brands like Iceland.

However, it is not yet clear just when the wedding will take place. As well as trying to make a mark in the music industry with her version of ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ this year, the ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’ 2010 winner is four-months pregnant with 24-year-old Aaron’s child; the couple’s first together.

Despite this, Stacey appears determined that Aaron is the one for her. Speaking to The Sun recently she said: “We are really excited. And I’m really looking forward to everything, knowing I am sharing it with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

Her spokesman Max Clifford today added: “Stacey and Aaron are engaged and we’re all absolutely thrilled for them. They’re a lovely genuine couple who get on so well. It’s a wonderful finale to what has been a tremendous year for her.”

Sinead O' Connor to marry in secret location tomorrow

Sinead O’Connor has revealed that she will wed her long-term boyfriend Barry Herridge tomorrow.

The 44-year-old singer phoned radio talk show host Ian Dempsey to broadcast the news after she had held back from making the announcement whilst appearing live on his show yesterday.

The singer is obviously keen to keep the ceremony private as she refused to name the location of the nuptials or the wedding reception venue. Although rumours revealed by Ctv.ca have alleged the couple may head to America, as no details have been revealed, they could as likely marry within the UK.

The singer was convinced to share the exciting news with Dempsey by her fiance, who is a massive fan of the show.

According to rte.ie, she told the radio star: “He loves your show and he said ‘If this leaks out and Ian Dempsey asked you that question and you didn’t tell him, he’s going to shoot himself!'”

Dempsey then spread the news via his Twitter page to the delight of many O’Connor fans. The date coincides with the singer’s 45th birthday and it will be her fourth marriage in total.

O’Connor has promised to share one or two photos from the ceremony on her blog as soon as possible, meaning her fans may find out the destination she chose as early as tomorrow.

London could enjoy a white Christmas

There could be an extra special touch to any personal corporate Christmas parties held in London this year, as the capital could be covered in a blanket of snow, reports The Telegraph.

The newspaper cited a Met Office forecast that revealed the North of the country is a lot more likely to enjoy a white Christmas, but that the South could see one too if a cold front is blown in its direction.

Ladbrokes is currently offering 3/1 odds that it will snow in the capital, with a spokesperson from the company saying: “The white Christmas market is always popular and we are expecting a flurry of bets following the recent snow, with our odds expected to fall further.”

The offical Met Office forecast from December 19th – January 2nd predicted the south of England will enjoy above-average temperatures, but that cold nights are expected all over the country.

The odds of a white Christmas in other parts of the UK were shorter, at 2/1 for Aberdeen and 5/2 in Newcastle.

What’s more, Met Office representative John Wylie told UTV that people should not assume that Northern Ireland will have another snowy festive season just because it has been that way the past two years.

He explained that the freezing temperatures seen in the country in recent years were down to some “very unique circumstances”, which will not necessarily be repeated in 2011.

Statues to be unveiled for Arsenal 125th anniversary

The 125th anniversary of Premier League football club Arsenal is set to be marked with the unveiling of three statues outside the team’s north London stadium.

BBC News reported that the representations of Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Herbert Chapman will be unveiled on Friday (December 9th) in “prominent positions” around the Emirates ground.

There is some debate about the exact date that the club was founded, but it is generally agreed that it was in late 1886, so Gunners fans may be tempted to hire out event spaces for a celebration before the year is up.

For Arsenal, the unveiling of the three statues is a nod towards the club’s history, with Adams and Henry representing its more recent period of success, while Chapman was manager during the team’s first era of dominance in the 1930s.

Mail Online noted that Arsenal’s 125th anniversary celebrations have not been limited to the art pieces; their latest kit features reference to the landmark and a film entitled Forever Forward was produced alongside Nike.

Starting out as Dial Square, the club soon changed their name to Royal Arsenal and then Woolwich Arsenal, before eventually dropping the Woolwich from their name in the early 20th century.

Dismiss the Christmas party at your peril

Even during the economic downturn, businesses that do away with the annual corporate Christmas party could be damaging employee morale in 2012.

That’s according to the Forum of Private Business, who are warning bosses that staff are likely to be less productive and less incentivised if they aren’t rewarded with a Christmas bash at the end of a tough year.

Even if cash is tight, the Forum says that there are plenty of bargains to be had for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).

HR Magazine cites the Forum’s chief executive, Phil Orford, who says: “The benefits of an annual get-together cannot be underestimated. They encourage communication, motivate staff, and reward them at a time when other perks, such as pay rises and bonuses for many just aren’t an option.”

The Forum has issued 10 tips for employers about how to get the most out of their budgets, reports Fresh Business Thinking. Ideas range from offering employees a choice of Christmas party venues, to hosting their own entertainment when inside – like throwing a pub quiz for example.

“The important thing for employers to remember is that being seen to do something for staff at Christmas, however small the gesture, is far better than nothing at all,” Orford added.

Men most likely to snog boss at Christmas party

Christmas party nights are frequently as source of embarrassment for some, but men are most likely to get themselves into an awkward position with the boss, according to new research.

Zoosk, the social dating network, discovered that over half of men (52 per cent) have no qualms about getting into a romantic clinch with the boss and returning to work completely unphased by their actions, reports Female First.

Women on the other hand are more likely to reach for the nearest job advertisement, as 45 per cent admit they would rather get a new job than face the embarrassment of a going back to work after a Christmas kiss with management. Just one in five men (18 per cent) on the other hand would do the same.

Female office workers have already worked out how they plan to keep their male counterparts heightened emotions at bay too. This year 68 per cent of British women will be taking their significant other with them to the work party, even if 40 per cent admit they’re most keen on getting drunk when they’re there.

“We all know that work place Christmas parties are a time to let your hair down and celebrate the impending holiday, but it appears British men are more relaxed than most when it comes to their festive office antics,” said Jane Barrett, Zoosk’s international marketing director.

“Interestingly the Zoosk survey shows that British ladies don’t want to be embarrassed and would rather walk away from a job than have a red-faced New Year,” she added.

Psychologist and careers expert Meredith Fuller told Stuff.co.nz that employees should be reminded that just because a party takes place outside of an office, it doesn’t mean it is out of bounds for good behaviour.

“Legally if your company puts on a Christmas party, it is considered a workplace,” warned Fletcher. “This is not the place to be jumping up and down on the table and have everyone hear what you’re shouting.”