"Big increase" in business in East London, says culture minister

The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has refuted claims that parts of London are becoming a ‘ghost town’ during the Olympics and has assured business in the east is booming.

In an interview with standard.co.uk, Mr Hunt dismissed media reports suggesting that the West End was taking a knock as a result of the Games, which are predominantly held in the East End of London.

Those who have marketed their businesses to tie in with the Games; whether that be a flower stall or city function venues, are said to be doing “extremely well”, he said. Overall however, he conceded that the biggest gains are being felt in East London.

“I think anyone who has a business anywhere in London is frankly quids in,” he said. “London was a fantastically important global city but thanks to the Games it is iconic.”

There are around 40,000 more people flooding into the East End than usual, added the culture secretary, while visitors to the West End remain unchained.

In the long run, experts close to Mr Hunt are forecasting that 4.5 million more tourists will visit the UK after the Games, four-fifths of whom would pass through London, cites politics.co.uk.

“The number of visitors we expect in the years that follow will be huge,” he continued. “All this publicity in every corner of the planet can only help our restaurants and hotels and I think it is going to be a massive boost.”

Culture as important as finance and trade, claims report

As well as being a financial and trade powerhouse, London is also a cultural pillar which delivers a huge financial incentive to the economy, reports freshbusinesthinking.com.

The World Cities Culture Report 2012 found that London’s culture – such as theatre screenings, galleries and event venues – played a critical role in ensuring its economic prosperity.

The capital’s 214 theatres and their ‘world renowned productions’ generate more than £500 million in ticket sales per year, while 566 screens of London’s 108 cinemas generated over £235 million. Furthermore 349 live venues, 10 major concert halls, 337 clubs and 37,450 restaurants merely add to London’s splendor; giving tourists the chances to experience a vibrant cultural environment.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson spoke to london.gov.uk about the report: “World cities are international hubs for commerce and trade, but as this groundbreaking report makes clear, they are powerhouses for culture too – in London the creative industries alone contribute £19 billion to our economy and employ 386,000 people.

“In coming together as city leaders and policymakers we want to harness the full potential of culture, which makes our cities exciting and desirable places to live in and visit, but also makes a massive contribution to wider social and economic goals,” he added.

Venture out when looking for venues, marketer advises

When choosing the perfect event venue or conference space, it’s best to play away from home.

This is the view of Peter Clarke, a marketing head at UK creative events agency Pumphouse Productions, who believes a change of scenery contributes to fresh thoughts and creative thinking amongst attendees.

Picking a local venue might be seen as the easy option for companies leaving it until the last minute to plan their conferences. However, staff might struggle to shake off their daily routines whilst situated at their day-to-day workplace.   

Writing at eventindustrynews.co.uk, Mr Clarke argued that a delegate experience is a one-off chance to impress and shouldn’t serve as a regular meet and greet for those invited to attend. To maximise productivity, he said, organisers must opt for a unique venue, far away from company headquarters. 

“If you want fresh thinking, go to a fresh venue. The output variance between the home board-room and a well-chosen meeting room will be staggering. Away is ‘distraction-free’, home comes with all the baggage of the day-today operation. Get rid of the baggage!,” he stated.

Mr Clarke went on to cite video presentations as an excellent way to deliver brand messages; stating that the combination of picture, colour and music is ideal for delivering messages in a “strategic, impactful manner.”

Furthermore, plenty of fresh clips are likely to be needed at the marketing head’s latest event. According to pumphouse.co.uk, Mr Clarke’s group will produce six creative videos and four stage sets for Pumphouse’s most recent booking; from Thompson Holidays.      

Olympic victory parade confirmed for September 10th

A victory parade for Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes will take place in London on September 10th.

Bbc.co.uk report that the parade is expected to pass through the City of London from the Guildhall to The Mall, although the official route is yet to be confirmed.

The event is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of Brits into the capital, who will help Britain’s successful athletes celebrate their performance at The Olympics. It arguably provides the perfect opportunity for those who didn’t manage to get tickets to any Olympic events to get involved in the Games.

Team GB is already just two gold medals away from breaking the all-time national Olympic record – so the athletes and supporters could well keep the celebrations going long into the night at some of the party venues London has to offer.

Shortly after the announcement, London 2012 chairman Lord Seb Coe paid tribute to the British public for the incredible support offered to Britain’s athletes throughout The Games so far.

He told guardian.co.uk: “My message is a massive thank you to the people of this country. Am I surprised? Probably not. Is it one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen in my lifetime? Yes, it is.”

Engagement at work at high levels, claims survey

A face-to-face meeting between employer and employee with the intention of praising their high standard of work could be helpful in trying to boost engagement, reports hrmagazine.co.uk.

A study by HR consultancy ETS, backed up by broader ETS survey trends data, shows that 90 per cent of employees are willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for their employers – while 81 per cent would recommend their employer as a ‘great place to work’.

In addition, 85 per cent still intend to be working for their employer in a year’s time, cites thomsons.com.

A bit of one-on-one time in a conference space could be key for those who don’t feel engaged as one of the most important factors in raising engagement levels is making the employee’s work feel valued. Through a bit of praise during a meeting, employees can leave feeling like their work matters to the company.

Hannah Stratford, head of business psychology at ETS, commented on the figures: “The factors that drive employees to be engaged at work differ between companies. Where some companies go wrong is in investing in engagement surveys but failing to ask employees the right questions and not acting on the results.

“Surveys must be aligned with business objectives to give accurate, meaningful data on which relevant action can be taken. This is the only way to better engage workers,” she added.

Venue association event to welcome all members

The Association of Event Venues (AEV) has decided to freshen up a long-standing welcoming policy ahead of its annual AGM.

According to eventindustrynews.co.uk, the September 19 gathering in Birmingham will be open to all AEV members wishing to gain industry insight and converse with fellow owners of event spaces. 

The gathering was formally an exclusive domain of senior professionals, but organisers of this years AGM are allowing members of all levels to attend in an attempt to boost peer-to-peer networking within the association.

AEV director Chris Skeith says that bringing groups from all member venues was an “obvious choice” given that networking and feedback sessions provide delegates with a platform to share their ideas.  

Talking to exhibitionnews.co.uk, Skeith said of the new plans: “We have designed the day to be interesting and enjoyable for attendees, providing them with greater industry insight, as well as giving them as many opportunities as possible to meet and network with each other and with members of the working groups.”   

Skeith went on to claim that the level of response from AEV’s 40+ members has already seen an increase from last year, largely due to the open invite system. 

AGM+ will also include seminars from a so far unnamed industry expert, dedicated networking sessions and updates on the industry – allowing representatives to plan ahead with forecasts for growth and emerging trends in mind.


Overnight stays in hotels on the rise

Booking a one-night stay in a hotel appears to be increasingly common as recharging batteries in a hotel is a more appealing prospect than a late-night commute home.

Research from Travelodge, cited by travelmole.com, found that 37 per cent of workers are taking ‘nightcations’, a single night out of town in order to not miss too much work.

Furthermore, if a meeting booked at a conference venue in London runs on too long, for example, workers can book a one-night stay at a nearby hotel instead of commuting home in the dark. This way, the meeting can resume quickly in the morning.

In addition, these ‘nightcations’ can also be used as stress relievers. London and Liverpool residents have been cited as the most overworked employees, with an average of 11 extra unpaid hours worked every week slipping under their employer’s radar.

On the other side of the spectrum, Wales, Manchester and Belfast were the lowest with just over seven hours each week.

Travelodge spokeswoman Shakila Ahmed commented on the trend to femalefirst.co.uk: “This year we have experienced a significant rise in just Saturday night bookings compared to previous years,

“To obtain a better understanding of the rational behind this trend we commissioned research to investigate how the economic crisis is affecting the psychologies of British holidaymakers,” she added.

Olympic legacy will become reality, claims London Mayor

London mayor Boris Johnson is absolutely positive that the capital’s Olympic event spaces will deliver the “legacy” that is so often spoke of.

At a press conference on the matter, Mr Johnson estimated that around nine million people will come to see the Olympic Park and its venues every year, citmagazine.com reports.

He also said it is likely to become one of London’s top ten must-see sights, alongside such other treasures as Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and Westminster’s Big Ben.

Mr Johnson suggested that the early successes of the Games prove that legacy is possible: “We have shown that we can finish a major project on time and under budget, that we can move an unprecedented number of people around the city safely and we can put on the greatest show on earth.”

London is already in a better position at this stage then most other host countries, he continued. Six out of the eight Olympic venues have already secured a future, while there are ongoing bids coming in for the Olympic Stadium and the Press and Broadcast Centre.

The future of London’s infrastructure was also discussed at the press conference, says cnplus.co.uk. On this topic, Mr Johnson talked up the necessity of the Crossrail 2 project, which would connect Hackney and Chelsea by rail.

“Crossrail 2 is in my view indispensable for the future of the city,” he concluded.

London event venue opinion and review site launches

A new website that aims to provide a wealth of personal opinion and reviews for event venues in London is being launched this month.

Meetingroom-review.com has set itself a target of reaching 300 reviews, covering venues of all shapes and sizes by Christmas this year, meetpie.com reports.

Meeting Room Review’s Emily Fowler says that the site was conceived as a means to provide truly unbiased information and opinion for event bookers. It could have the same impact on the conference, meetings and events industry as Trip Advisor has in the travel world – if things go well.

“The site will contain fresher, more up-to-date information than anything in the marketplace,” she claims. “The information will be colourful and detailed and because we are gathering content from people who have used the venues, it will be more reliable.”

When asked about what happens when a bad review comes in, Ms Fowler says that Meeting Room Review will contact venue managers to let them discuss their service openly.

“I’ve seen too many poor venues that remain poor because there’s no structured feedback in place. Meeting Room Review will change this,” Ms Fowler asserts.

As well as meeting the Christmas review goal, the site is also aiming to have 1,000 users signed up by spring 2013. Venue owners are free to register their businesses on the site, according to meetingroom-review.com.

Majority of THL companies boosted by Olympics

The majority of companies belonging to THL (travel, hospitality and leisure) sectors experienced a pick-up in fortunes over the course of London 2012, Deloitte has revealed.  

Cited by e-tid.com, researchers found that 68 per cent of companies reported an increase in demand for their services during the Olympics, while a mere 18 per cent recorded a decline.

Although 80 per cent of THL businesses had expected growth to arrive in some form when surveyed in January, Deloitte stated on Friday 10 August that the Games is currently “providing a net positive impact to large businesses in London”.   

Furthermore, Deloitte acknowledged that the companies benefiting most from the Olympic lure were those who had planned ahead and targeted tourists with their offering. Deloitte’s lead London 2012 partner, Heather Hancock also stated that location has been hugely important in attracting customers.

Ms Hancock highlighted that “sharp, nimble” hotel groups and retail chains moved staff between branches to cope with the extra demand, but event venues and independent retailers in east London were always the best positioned to benefit.

“As the heart of London moved east, location has clearly been important, especially for smaller businesses with fewer locations,” she stated   

Talking to reuters.com, Ms Hancock concluded: “In the longer term, there is no doubt that London 2012 has been fantastic showcase for London and for the United Kingdom.”