Trafalgar Square Christmas tree to be lit up this week

A huge Christmas tree set to be installed in London’s Trafalgar Square has now arrived in England – from Norway – and will be lit up on Thursday (December 6th).

The landmark could be a popular stop-off on the way to Christmas party venues in the capital, as the tree is enormous and will be decorated in a traditional Norwegian style, thisisgrimsby.co.uk reports.

For the company transporting the tree, DFDS Seaways, the project has been a source of pride. Managing director Sean Potter hailed his team at Immingham, as well as their counterparts in Scandinavia for the way they have acted throughout the course of the tree’s 700-mile journey.

He said: “For many people around the world, the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree symbolises the start of the Christmas season. We are honoured to transport the world’s most famous Christmas tree through Immingham.

“This year we were experiencing strong winds and our DFDS Seaways vessel and stevedores from Norway did a first class job shipping the tree safely and securely from Norway to Immingham.”

According to itv.com, the tree is between 115 – 120 years old and measures around 21 metres in height. The Norwegian spruce (its Latin name is picea abies) is sent as a gift each year to symbolise the friendship between the UK and Norway.

A fir tree has been delivered every year since 1947 – although the tradition started some years earlier, when the King of Norway was hiding out in the UK during the Second World War. He was sent a Christmas tree each year by his subjects to remind him of home.

Events industry subject to 2013 Parliamentary inquiry

The competitiveness of the UK events industry is set to be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, according to eventmagazine.co.uk.

The results of the inquiry, which will be lead by chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Nick de Bois, will then be presented to industry at International Confex.

It hopes to discover the differences between the UK and other countries in terms of ‘subvention, the event pitching process and destination marketing’.

The inquiry marks the first time such a process has been held into the issues of events and event venues, as well as highlighting a significant step forward for the annual Britain for Events campaign.

Britain for Events, de Bois and the APPG will work together to call witnesses from the industry for the inquiry, which will hopefully results in a swathe of changes to make the UK a ‘more attractive’ destination for events.

Last year, a report from the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) found that the British events market was at a significant disadvantage compared to other cities when it came to bidding for international events, cites eventsecrets.com. This was put down to less government support for for events, so event marketers may find it interesting to see if anything will change as a result of the inquiry in 2013.

Mixed reaction from hospitality to Chancellor's Autumn Statement

Mixed views are coming out of the hospitality sector after Chancellor George Osborne announced a number of financial boosts and cuts in his Autumn Statement this week, cites mymeetingprofessional.com.

Reported in full by bighospitality.co.uk, the Chancellor announced a number of new key business-led measures in order to help economic recovery. For example, the cut in corporation tax to 21 per cent by 2014 and an increased in capital investment allowance from 25k to 250k were both welcomed by businesses across the UK.

Furthermore, extra tax relief on small investments, an extension of business rate relief for small firms and a crackdown on tax avoidance were also hailed by companies.

However until these measures are actually implemented, businesses in the hospitality sector – such as event venues, caterers or pubs – remains cynical.

In addition, hospitality firms questioned the lack of movements on VAT, the beer duty escalator or red tape.

John Longworth, director general of British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), commented on the budget: “The Chancellor has taken a number of very positive steps, despite being constrained by politics, budgets and Whitehall inertia.

“However, the Government is still tinkering around the edges. The Budget next March must make truly radical and large-scale choices that support long-term growth and wealth creation,” he added.

Effective meetings lead to improved communication, advises expert

Higher levels of productivity and increasing employee morale are just two of the positives that can be extracted from an effective office meeting.

That’s according to meetings expert Pete Alexandre, writing for business2community.co.uk. He believes in order to hold an effective meeting, the event leader needs to fully establish a meeting objective.

Before attendees even enter the pre-booked conference space for a meeting, the leader should define the purpose of the meeting, generate new ideas and decide whether they are communicating ‘information’ or ‘gathering status reports’.

“Once you know the meeting objective, you can set a detailed meeting agenda that breaks the meeting down into topics to be covered and time allotted for each area,” Alexandre claimed. “This will not only serve as a timeline to ensure your meeting runs according to schedule, it will also help participants prepare in advance.”

In addition, it’s important that meeting leaders make a note of the running time. Being careful of the time encourages others to follow suit and ensures everything runs according to plan, surveyshack.com added.

Finally, leaders should give attendees the opportunity to participate during the meeting if time allows. Alexandre added: “Feedback can be incorporated into every stage of the meeting, from planning to follow-up.”

Think about holding a daytime Christmas party, suggests columnist

A columnist has urged companies to think about holding their Christmas festivities during the day, rather than at night.

While the typical festive party in the UK tends to be run at night and involve significant amounts of alcohol, Alexandra Levit suggested on openforum.com that this might not always chime with a firm’s corporate culture.

She pointed out that any organisations which are concerned could just hold a ‘dry’ party during the day. Function venues may have greater availability at this time, as well as there being less chance of drunken mishaps.

Ms Levit encouraged bosses to talk to their employees about what they want from their Christmas party, so that they can create something that is meaningful to their workforce. She also offered tips on how to avoid alcohol-related trouble at night.

“Choose an offsite location, consider drink tickets instead of an open bar, and provide transportation home. Before the event, email attendees a reminder message with friendly mentions of your behaviour policies (harassment, etc.),” said the columnist.

When it comes to dressing for a daytime occasion, there are some sartorial rules to follow, according to heraldsun.com.au. Advice from ‘Vogue’ editor Edwina McCann indicates that satin and sequins simply do not work when it is sunny, while tinsel should not be considered as an accessory.

Nearly half of female workers spend £100 ahead of Christmas party

Around 45 per cent of women spend £100 ahead of their Christmas party, according to new research.

The survey, undertaken by Asda fashion brand George, revealed that some ladies splash out as much as £210 in the run-up to their Christmas party. Dailymail.co.uk reports that this cash goes on things like new clothes, beauty treatments and make-up.

For women, the biggest expenditure is often the purchase of a new dress, costing around £50; with two-thirds of respondents saying they buy up to three dresses in the days and weeks leading up to the event.

Fiona Lambert, brand director at George, said: “There’s nothing worse than panicking about what to wear to the annual office Christmas party.”

Aside from a dress, other items regularly bought ahead of the big day are party tights, manicures, pedicures, spray tans, fake eyelashes and new shoes. It is also common for people to splash out on a haircut specifically for the occasion.

In spite of this Christmas party spending, the latest quarterly Mumdex survey from Asda suggests overall festive spending may be set to drop, reports retail-week.com. The matrix revealed that 45 per cent of mothers who shop at the store will spend less this year.

Judith McKenna, chief operating officer at Asda, said: “Consumer confidence is key to getting the economy moving again. With over 90 per cent of mums expecting the economy to be the same or worse next year we have a long way to go.”

One in ten admit regretting something they do at the Christmas party

New research has revealed that ten per cent of workers regret doing something at the workplace Christmas party, reports uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com.

The research, conducted by lastminute.com, questioned 1,500 employees in the UK about their office parties – which take place at event venues around the nation.

Top regrets included “ranting” at a fellow employee, spreading office gossip and getting overly familiar with co-workers.

As well as having consequences for employees, the data also revealed the annual festive celebration affects the productivity of businesses. It claims that UK companies lose £259 million in lost productivity the day after an office Christmas party, with 37 per cent arriving hungover or late and another 16 per cent calling in sick or not performing to their full potential.

A third of employees, however, take a day off as holiday to avoid these types of situations.

Employees were right to worry about locking lips with a co-worker, as more research on office Christmas parties revealed today found that one in ten workers had faced disciplinary action for romantic activity during their work celebrations.

The research, collected by dating website ashleymadison.com, surveyed 4,800 male and female workers.

Founder of the website Noel Biderman told dailymail.co.uk: “These parties offer an informal atmosphere, and when mixed with alcohol and pent-up sexual tensions between two colleagues, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

LBA Airport reintroduces flights to London

Yorkshire residents can now fly to London with ease, now that Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) offers direct flights to the capital.

British Airways’ new service to London Heathrow launched today following a long campaign for flights from LBA to the capital to be reintroduced.  There had been no flights from LBA to London since Flybe cancelled their service to Gatwick in March 2011. 

A number of local business executives and celebrities have spent months explaining why such a flight was necessary and have now been rewarded for their hard work. British Airways will send eight planes a day to the capital.

Many professionals in Yorkshire may have wanted easier access to the event spaces or higher class of conference venue London has to offer.

In an interview with bbc.co.uk, LBA’s commercial director Tony Hallwood predicted that the flights would prove extremely popular.

He said: “We believe there will be lots of support from our local businesses in the region for this. We have every intention of growing the number of flights and British Airways have said that if the business is here they will deliver it.”

Thetelegraphandargus.co.uk reports that the first flight to the capital was greeted with a water cannon salute from the local fire service.

Advice offered to those dreading the Christmas party

Advice has been offered to employees that are anxious about their upcoming Christmas parties.

Many workers complain about not feeling a part of the social goings on in their workplace or a detachment from their fellow workers. Whilst this is typically easy to avoid during the rest of the year, Christmas party season makes it incredibly difficult, as many have an expectation upon them to attend their work shindig, regardless of whether or not they’d actually like to attend.

Much of this comes from the raucous nature of typical Christmas parties. Freshbusinessthinking.com reports that despite 53 per cent viewing the occasion as an opportunity to network, few end up doing so, whilst 38 per cent end up getting “too drunk”.

Whilst the majority of workers cannot wait to get dressed up in their finery and spend every weekend in December in various function venues, others simply dread the experience and would like nothing more than an easy way to get out of it.

Now, following such a problem raised by a reader of bdonline.co.uk, ‘Agony Uncle’ Matthew Turner revealed his tips for those dreading their Christmas party. 

Whilst admitting he too wasn’t the biggest fan of Christmas, Turner advised that workers should at least turn up at their Christmas parties. In simply doing the minimum and turning up, he said, it will show both fellow workers and bosses that the person is willing to get involved. After all, he added, it’s only an evening and the employee is still able to duck out when they feel able.

Transparency crucial to addressing issues in pharmaceutical events

Transparency in discussions is crucial to navigating around compliance issues and complex codes when organising medical events.

This was recently claimed at a masterclass session at ‘Navigating Compliance Waters’, an event hosted by Kenes Education which discussed issues faced by organisers looking to put on events in the field. According to kenes-group.com, this formed part of an interactive conference at a conference space in London, led by a number of experts in associations, sponsorship, industry and compliance.

Delegates heard of the frequent changes made to accreditation criteria and industry compliance in relation to two areas – continuing medical education (CME) and continuing professional development (CPD).

Cited by meetpie.com, Jane Landles, secretary to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) – which administers Codes of Practice for the British Pharmaceutical Industry – urged companies to be transparent in their contributions to future events. Ms Landles added that she’d sooner spend time keeping the industry out of trouble, rather than digging it out of it.

Addressing the audience, she stated: “It’s important you know about the codes that the industry has. There is no point in a conference organiser putting together an offering that the industry can’t accept.”

In response, Nicky Simpson, an associate director congress at pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Europe, claimed his own firm were fully aware that codes of practice will change over time and that Astellas was already planning for the future.

“We will look to engage earlier with the congress organiser,” he commented. “We should be transparent and open in all our dealings.”