New Year's Day Parade shows London at its entertaining best

London’s annual New Year’s Day Parade has been praised by attendees. 

The entertaining parade, which this year aimed to honour the city’s reputation as the ‘celebration capital of the world’, was enjoyed by thousands of residents, tourists and special guests.

Bbc.co.uk reports that it featured circus acts, cheerleaders, dance groups and fancy dress characters. More than 400 of the Games Makers from the London Olympics also featured.

The show certainly highlighted London’s ability to put on a show. It was broadcast to a worldwide audience of approximately 280 million people and might certainly have tempted viewers to visit London, perhaps to utilise the party venues or event spaces in the capital. The roadside crowd was three people deep in some places.

Speaking about the decision to invite the Olympics Games makers to enjoy the parade, event organiser Bob Bone told telegraph.co.uk: “We thought it was a fitting thing to ask them to come into our parade so that we could say thank you to them – but also we are looking forward as well as backward, because I think the Games Makers have shown that there’s a great volunteering spirit in this country.”

“There are lots of things that people can carry on doing to carry that spirit of the Games Makers forward into 2013 and beyond.”

Face-to-face meetings help build relationships

Service providers who only communicate via email represent a massive turn-off for customers, according to Cindy Krischer Goodman, a blogger writing for kentucky.com.

Executives tend to complain that people managing their accounts – from lawyers, accountants to email marketing firms – never meet their customers and clients have had enough, according to Goodman.

For example, senior business executive Alejandro Fernandez claims he won’t be renewing with service providers who didn’t meet him in 2012.

“I’m not saying I need to go to lunch with you every day, but if I’m dealing with you for a year, come out and meet me,” he said, cited by bellinghamherald.com. “How do they know all the issues they could be addressing if they are just answering the question I ask?”

As a result, it could be important for service providers to meet up with their customers in mutually-beneficial locations, such as meeting venues, in order to rekindle their relationship for 2013.

Fernandez believes that future generations of workers need to learn about the importance of face-to-face meetings otherwise they could be missing out on key connection-building skills.

“How can you groom the next generation of rainmakers if they haven’t been trained to practice those in-person relationship building skills with existing clients?” he added.

Tips on improving meeting productivity outlined by expert

Improving team idea-generation and problem-solving productivity should be on the agenda for all meeting leaders lest they wish to have a boring, ‘time-suck’ of a meeting.

That’s the advice handed down by Lauren Simonds, writing for time.com, who cites Martin Murphy’s book ‘No More Pointless Meetings: Breakthrough Sessions That Will Revolutionize the Way You Work’.

Simonds lists a number of tips from Murphy’s book, including avoiding constant critique, standing while speaking and switching seats after a break.

‘Nothing crushes creativity and enthusiasm faster than criticism,’ says Murphy. ‘At the outset of a project, focus on generating ideas and worry about evaluating and fine-tuning them afterward. Think quantity, not quality; you can cherry-pick the best ideas.’

When leading presentations at meeting venues, the designated speaker should always be standing. Consequently, the speaker will be more energetic and have a lot more room for gestures, which will ‘engage everyone in the room’.

Finally, if a mid-meeting break is necessary – perhaps to grab some lunch or a drink – then the leader should switch up where everyone used to be sitting.

‘When the meeting participants return from a break, have them sit in different seats. This will increase alertness and nudge folks out of their comfort zones,’ he added, cited by baselinemag.com.

Coloured wedding dresses may be popular in 2013

While coloured dresses aren’t a particularly new style phenomenon, 2013 appears to be the year where an increasing number of brides are looking beyond the traditional white, ivory and cream dresses, reports windsorstar.com.

Pink appears to be bang on trend for celebrity weddings, with Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel donning dresses that incorporated splashes of pink, while a variety of shades should be available for everyday brides. Pink dresses could also be tailored to the decor of the wedding ceremony and wedding reception venue for those looking to add a dash of femininity to their big day.

Victoria Rucks, district manager for dress shop David’s Bridal Canada, commented on the proliferation of pink dresses: “I just think that it is all inspired by the idea of the blushing bride, and that pink just seems to be a beautiful natural transition of that.”

Furthermore, Vera Wang’s bridal collection for spring 2013 also showcased carious tones of red, highlighting that the age of a simple white dress may be firmly left in the past.

Nevertheless, just because a dress has a bit of colour doesn’t mean that would-be brides should drop everything and purchase the garment. Glamour.com suggests that women should try their hardest to resist snap judgement.

Celebrity wedding stylist Nicole Janowicz states: “I had a celebrity bride try on 27 dresses at a fitting in order to find the perfect reception dress. Just as it takes time to find a husband or wife, it takes time to find the perfect gown.”

Location the most important consideration for wedding venues

The three most important considerations for couples booking their wedding venue have been declared: “location, location, location”. 

The maxim, more typically associated with buying the ideal home, has been adopted by wedding expert Kate Gilbert, who claimed it is an equally important consideration for brides and grooms looking for their perfect venue.

Writing for handbag.com, Gilbert explained how the location of a wedding reception venue should be the first aspect to decide upon as this is something that cannot be changed at a later date. Whilst colour schemes and designs can all be altered and amended, location cannot, so couples would be wise to ensure they know exactly the location they want to hold their nuptials before looking at anything else.

Location will, Gilbert added, also be a consideration for extended family members, especially the very young or very old. Gilbert echoed the calls of Rachel Morgan who advised weddingideasmag.com on making it accessible – not just the the doors of the venue but also in getting there in the first place. This, the two claimed, will ensure everyone is happy and no relatives have to miss out because they cannot make the journey.

Lastly, Gilbert added that brides and grooms should bear in mind the notoriously fickle British weather. Whilst grand ideas of marrying under moonlight might be favourable for some, thought should be given to guests to ensure they’ll stay warm and dry throughout proceedings.

“When you start to plan your wedding, it’s all about location, location, location,” she wrote.

“Starting to plan a wedding is daunting, but it will be over in a flash – so remember to enjoy it and know that it will all be worth it in the end.”

Face-to-face meetings "important" for building a customer base

Advice has been offered to businesses looking to hold a successful face-to-face meeting after one analyst said they were an important way to generate new custom.

Writing for guardian.co.uk, blogger Marion Gamel explained that even in an environment where services such as Skype or Twitter allow instant, global interactions, little can actually beat getting together and meeting people in the flesh.

In light of this, Gamel offered business leaders advice on how to get themselves in front of a potentially lucrative audience and how to ensure the event is a success.

Firstly, Gamel warned readers not to publish information on the event until it has been properly organised. Such considerations as themes, potential event venues, entertainment and refreshments all need to be decided upon before sending out the invitations. To ensure the meeting goes off without a hitch, Gamel said organisers should endeavour to think of everything they can so there’s no nasty surprises further on down the line.

Elsewhere, event organisers were urged to make use of all the tools possible to promote the event. Email and social networks can be effective ways of building interest before the big day, whilst surveys given to delegates once it’s all over will offer areas to improve upon next time.

“Offline interaction remains an… important medium for retaining and building a customer base,” features.rr reports Gamel as saying.

“Face-to-face contact is still invaluable. So for many, the question is: how can you drive this interaction? The simple answer is through events. Host networking evenings, tastings, showcases… whatever works for your business sector. Put simply, take the people you’re meeting online, offline.”

Hospitality businesses should be confident about 2013

2013 could be even more successful for the hospitality industry than 2012 according to bighospitality.co.uk.

With a whole range of big events occurring last year, there were fears that 2013 would be considerably quieter in comparison. 

Add to that to a report by pwc.co.uk that stated: “It’s hard to feel confident about 2013,” and it painted quite a bleak picture.

However the British Hospitality Association (BHA) believes that last year simply whet the appetite for events this coming year. Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of BHA, said: “2013 will be the time to start actively realising our ambitions.”

With events like the Diamond Jubilee running so smoothly, it seems companies may be keen to book corporate venues and event spaces this year as well. Suzy Jackson, executive director of the Hospitality Guild, said: “Last year threw the UK’s hospitality industry into the world’s spotlight and we did ourselves proud.”

With the BHA having confidence that this will be another big year for the hospitality industry, businesses around the country shouldn’t see a steep drop in the amount of bookings being taken when compared to last year.

Many of the events of 2012 – such as the Olympics were confined – to a specific location, having a negative impact on some venues. However, as the country rides high on the success of last year, conference centres nationwide should be in for a positive 2013.

London to welcome 115,000 extra visitors per day by 2019

An extra 115,000 people are expected to be heading into London via train every single day by 2019, londonlovesbusiness.com reports. 

Network Rail has announced it will set aside £37.5 billion to improve services into the capital, which will include a 20 per cent increase in the capacity of their carriages, whilst also extending the platforms at Waterloo to accommodate new 10-car trains.

Payment for the improvements will come from the already-announced above-inflation fare hikes, as well as the additional volume of traffic generating yet more revenue.

Elsewhere, to make the network more efficient, plans have been outlined to spend £600 million protecting tracks from adverse weather conditions. Network Rail has also promised to provide 700 more trains a day to connect London with cities in the North, whilst also electrifying the route from London to Swansea to help ease congestion.

Once completed, the new works will be able to accommodate the 115,000 additional passengers expected to descend on the capital every day within the next six years. It will also make the capital more accessible for those around the country and make heading to a conference venue in London significantly easier.

Speaking to guardian.co.uk of the proposals, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, Michael Roberts, explained: “Early clarity from the government on franchising and regulatory framework for rail will be vital in allowing train companies, Network Rail and our suppliers to deliver the best possible deal for passengers and taxpayers.”

Live Music Act to apply to even more venues

Medium-sized event venues could find themselves integrated into the Live Music Act as government proposals suggest the audience threshold could be increased, reports nme.com

By amending the act, venues with a capacity of up to 500 will be exempt from licensing requirements. At the moment, the current limit is 200 people.

The proposal, which comes following a consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, also wants to treat recorded music in the same way as live music. In addition, 500-strong community premises like churches and village halls will also be exempt as part of the plan but circuses will not have an audience threshold.

The only restriction on recorded and live music is that is played only between the hours of 8am and 11pm.

Speaking to musicweek.com about the legislation, The Live Music Forum’s Phil Little stated: “The Live Music Forum campaigned for almost twenty years to bring about these changes and they are more than we hoped for.

“However, it is plain that much of the damage to the scene has already been done. Without an improvement in audience attendance across the board we have an awful long way to go to match the vibrance of live music performance in previous decades,” he added.

App to help men propose

There could soon be a surge of people looking for the perfect wedding reception venue as a new mobile app has been developed to help men propose to their girlfriends.

Handbag.com reported that the app, called Proposal Pro is available to download on iTunes and is designed to ‘help you plan the perfect proposal, from start to finish’.

It includes features on choosing the perfect place to propose and gives advice on shopping for the right engagement ring as well as ring sizes.

According to cosmopolitan.com the app will help you prepare for every eventuality including how to go about asking permission from your girlfriend’s parents.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, this app couldn’t have come at a better time for the men who are struggling with trying to create the ultimate romantic proposal.

A quick search online brought up hundreds of thousands of sites offering tips on how to propose so having all the vital information put together into an app could save a lot of time. For all the nervous men out there who know nothing about engagement rings or just want some ideas on making it extra special, Proposal Pro could be the ideal tool to point them in the right direction.