London Festival 2012 to showcase capital culture

London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced a series of free performances, gigs and events as part of the London 2012 festival, reports Event Magazine.

A number of performances, including a special ‘floating opera’ created by the Royal Opera House, Monty Python Star Terry Jones and composer Anne Dudley, form part of a series called Secrets: Hidden London, which bring to life some of the capital’s lesser-known locations.

In addition, the creation of a outdoors arts festival called Showtime will help people tour local high streets and experience free cultural events in various function venues, reports The Stage.

Furthermore, “cultural trails” have been created to help people navigate their way through the city-wide festival.

Johnson, who commissioned the events, commented: “2012 is one of the most thrilling years in our city’s history and as we welcome the world we have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase and strengthen London’s outstanding culture and creativity, which are a hugely important part of our economy.

“We’re creating the biggest festival of outdoor arts ever to be seen in the capital, as well as fantastic new work that will throw new light on some of our city’s lesser known landmarks and hidden gems. Wherever you are you will feel a part of the 2012 celebrations and experience a summer like no other in one of the most exciting cities on earth,” he added.

Britain looks to Japan to increase tourism

Representatives from VisitBritain embarked on a trade delegation Japan this week in an attempt to capitalise on its rapidly-recovering outbound travel business, e-tid.com reports.

A series of meeting, seminars and presentations have been scheduled to broadcast the appeal of Britain as a holiday destination. It is hoped this will boost revenue for hotels, event spaces and tourist attractions.

VisitBritain has recently launched a £25million advertising campaign in Tokyo in an attempt to take advantage of the Japanese travel market’s growth. Amongst the adverts include a ‘GREAT’ image branded across trains and billboards, with the graphic also broadcasted on digital screens at Tokyo Metro Underground.

British travel companies are looking to the Olympics to act as an engine for future business and, while they look to woo potential holidaymakers after the game have taken place, there are plenty of reasons behind pushing campaigns in the world’s seventh most valuable source market for international tourism.

With an annual outbound traffic of 16.63 million tourists and research conducted by VisitBritain revealing that 26 per cent of visitors had been to Britain on four or more occasions, the Japanese have an evident affection for Britain; dwarfing other countries in visitors coming back for further holidays.

In an interview with breakingtravelnews.com, Keith Beecham, VisitBritain’s overseas network director, said: Our commitment to the Japanese outbound sector is stronger than ever, highlighted by the fact that we are bringing a strong delegation of British tourism businesses to meet with Japanese trade in this special year for Britain.

“We have increased our marketing investment in Japan and millions of commuters here in Tokyo will have seen our GREAT images that we hope will inspire them to choose Britain for their next holiday.”

Radiohead announces partnership with Ticket Trust

World famous rock band Radiohead has announced it will be making tickets available for their unannounced UK tour on an ethical face-value ticket exchange, reports Gigwise.

The band, who has signed its fan club tickets up to the Ticket Trust – a fan-to-fan ticketing site which allows other buyers to pay face value for tickets – announced the partnership after allegations made about secondary ticketing sites like Viagogo.

As a result, Radiohead believe that more fans will now be able to hit event venues on their UK tour after paying face value, rather than paying “inflated prices”, cites Event Magazine.

Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge, representatives of Radiohead’s management Courtyard Management, commented on the partnership: “In recent years, the band’s enjoyment of their own shows has been marred by the knowledge that a great many of their fans have been obliged to pay well over face value for their tickets.

“Secondary ticketing is wrong on so many levels and as management, with ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the band, we must ensure that their fans are treated fairly. This is why we are happy to work with the Ticket Trust.” they added.

Unfortunately, tickets for Radiohead’s Australian tour are already appearing on secondary ticketing sites at inflated prices after going on sale this morning, much to the dismay of the band’s fans down under.

Meetings the key to running a family business

Family businesses can improve their communication by holding effective business meetings.

That’s according to business expert Henry Hutcheson, writing for News Observer, who believes that communication can bring a mum, dad, son, daughter, son-in-law and more from the family business closer together; effectively improving productivity.

Of course, the business environment can be a jarring place, so it could be better for employees to rent conference space to hold a meeting rather than conduct it in the kitchen of the family house.

Furthermore, developing a code of conduct ensures everyone in the family gets a chance to have their say, Hutcheson writes.

“The purpose of the code of conduct is to lay the ground rules of how the meetings will take place to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be heard, and that behaviours that impede communication are left outside. The key to an effective family code of conduct is that it must be created from scratch by the family members themselves,” he claims.

In addition, holding regular meetings can avoid brewing animosity between family members. Meetings can be held weekly, monthly, quarterly or decided at the end of every meeting, adds Hutcheson.

If a family business ends up successful, they have a better chance of being rich beyond their wildest dreams after family business owners dominated Bloomberg’s list of billionaires, campbdenfb.com revealed.

Symbolic breaks can smooth stuttering meetings

Executives should use symbolic breaks to help bring new context to a meeting that is not progressing as planned, it has been claimed.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, Athens University of Economics and Business adjunct professor Charalambos Vlachoutsicos pointed out that negotiations can often stall, which is when people should use physical actions to achieve a shift in tone.

So when individuals are in meeting venues trying to decide terms, they should not give up when the conversation reaches an “impasse”, instead they should try altering the circumstances, according to Mr Vlachoutsicos.

He said: “So if you’re stuck in a negotiation and nothing you can say seems to make a difference, try to change the frame in the way I’ve just described. Change your position – or even the room you’ve been talking in. Tear up the document and bring out a blank piece of paper. Anything to symbolise a break with what’s gone before.”

It is not easy to negotiate with powerful board members, but it can be “exciting” to see such conversations play out, Business Insider expert Brendan Sheehan noted.

The strategy involved can become “fun” to appreciate once people stop seeing such negotiations as arguments, he said. It becomes a case of spotting sophisticated techniques and contrasting styles.

British Hospitality Association backs holiday at home campaign

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is calling on its members to pledge their support to VisitEngland’s ‘Holidays at Home are Great’ campaign.

Starting this week, the campaign seeks to boost domestic businesses by encouraging more Brits to do away with Spain, and stay at home this year, reports Big Hospitality.

As part of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans, a new website will be launched to promote regional landmarks, attractions and event spaces all across England.

The website, which will offer special deals to Brits, including hotel stays, meals, tickets to attractions and other offers, will be the focus of a celebrity-endorsed television campaign due to air from today.

Now Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, is urging hospitality leaders to jump on board with the campaign in earnest.

Cited by EatOutMagazine.co.uk, she said that this year in particular presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to promote themselves thanks to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“We need to use every means to encourage more British people to stay at home and enjoy what Britain has to offer – and Olympics year is an ideal year to launch such a campaign,” he said.

“Britain offers an incredible range of attractions and with the Olympic Games in London and in other parts of the country, there’s even more reason for people to holiday in this country this year.”

“The campaign gives operators a new platform on which they can promote any special offer,” she added.

Feel Jewish for a day with Purim, urges Rabbi

People are being encouraged to get into the Jewish spirit for a day by celebrating the festival of Purim.

Rabbi Moshe Waldocks wrote on his Huff Post Religion blog that the day – this year celebrated today (March 7th) involves gifts of pastry and fruits to neighbours as well as presents to the poor, but also involves masquerade outfits.

For people who are holding a celebration at event spaces, their choice of costume is said to be revelatory of their true nature, with people able to exhibit hidden truths, explained Rabbi Waldocks.

He said: “On Purim we flip reality on its head. Like a reversible parka Purim pulls us inside out. Creating the ying to the yang of Torah, providing the raucous background to the saga of the Jews, Purim revels in [the] revelation of the hidden.”

While it is a religious occasion, Rabbi Waldocks stressed that people can celebrate it by “singing, dancing eating and drinking”, as long as they do so in a state of “expanded consciousness”.

All Voices writer Sherrill Fulghum explained that Purim remembers the exposure of a plot to eliminate the Jewish population, when believers think of those less fortunate than themselves.

She pointed out that the day is special as it is one of the rare occasions when individuals are expected to become a little tipsy.

Traditional weddings are back in vogue, says expert

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood-style weddings is officially out, according to Wendy Donahue, writing for articles.chicagotribune.com.

She suggested red carpet style weddings are sliding down the priority list for brides-to-be. Instead, they’re dusting off traditional wedding value, but implementing a modern twist.

Veronica Sheaffer, a gown designer, explained why: “Brides are looking to capture the sweetness of their grandmothers’ weddings while also staying current. There’s been a return to old-fashioned, hand-crafted weddings – lots of DIY decor – and that’s been reflected in the bride’s look as well.”

However, Sheaffer revealed to articles.mcall.com that brides aren’t looking for 1980s dresses and neither will Sheaffer stock them as it’s “the worst decade in fashion ever”.

Nonetheless, brides are looking to add the element of surprise to their wedding days; personalising everything from the dress to the wedding reception venue.

Event planner and author Kelly Seizert believes even the most formal weddings are adding their own personalised, intimate touches, harking back to traditional values.

“We had a bride this past fall who had a lovely strapless ball gown for her wedding and reception,” she said. “After the entree, she changed into her mother’s dress from the ’70s, altered and shortened, and danced the night away in that. It honoured her mum and changed things up a bit.”

St Patrick's Day a celebration for revellers and retailers alike

The upcoming St Patrick’s Day celebrations will not only be a happy time for party goers, a media commentator has noted.

Sarah Mahoney wrote on her Media Post Marketing Daily blog that restaurants, bars and retailers will all hope to boost sales as revellers get into the Irish spirit on March 17th.

St Patrick’s Day is a popular time for people all over the world to organise parties at function venues, dressing in green and indulging in Irish treats such as Guinness stout.

However, a representative from the National Restaurant Association told Ms Mahoney that the fact the occasion lands on a Saturday this year is not ideal, saying: “Weekends are typically busier than weekdays for restaurants, so it is actually better for the restaurant operator when holidays fall on a slower day of the week, like Monday or Tuesday, for a traffic boost.”

As part of the celebrations, a number of landmarks around the world will be going green, according to the Press Association, including the London Eye in London and the television tower in Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, claimed that St Patrick’s Day offers a “unique opportunity” for people of Irish descent to reconnect with their heritage, while showcasing the culture for the whole world.

Live Music Act welcomed by industry experts

Industry experts have welcomed the passing of an act that cuts restrictions of live music in small event venues, reports Event Magazine.

Bands playing low-key venues on a UK tour will no longer be cut off by the promoters for unstated reasons as the Live Music Act no longer requires small venues to gain local authority permission to hold live performances between the hours of 8am and 11pm.

The act, which is likely to come into force by autumn 2012, also removes “audience limitations” for performances of unamplified live music.

Musicians have Lib Dem Peer Tim Clement-Jones Bath MP Don Foster to thank as they introduced and promoted the bill in the Commons respectively.

Jo Dipple, chief executive of the music industry’s umbrella body UK Music, welcomed the law, telling Record Of The Day: “For a Private Members’ Bill to receive Royal Assent is a monumental achievement, even more so for one that is introduced in the House of Lords.

“The global success of our industry is dependent on a flourishing network of small venues, where tomorrow’s headliners can learn their craft and develop their career. Allowing these venues the freedom to host live music is a huge boost for British artists and means more opportunities for developing talent, as well as enriching our local communities and the economy overall,” she added.