VisitBritain trusts events to help grow visitor figures by 29 per cent

The national tourist board has vowed to support British events as it looks to boost the number of international tourists by 29 per cent.

VisitBritain has set its sights on welcoming 40 million overseas leisure and business visitors by 2020 with the hope of generating £31.5 billion in income and creating an extra 200,000 jobs.  

The overall strategy calls for Britain to build on its improved international image, while the government has promised to form better links with the travel industry. Increasing the product range on offer for inbound tourists and making it easier for overseas visitors to get into Britain are among the other aims outlined by culture secretary Maria Miller.

As reported by meetpie.com, boosting business tourism will be another point of focus for the board after a campaign for its inclusion in the strategy was launched last year. Event venues and planners may now be hoping that VisitBritain is true to its word and can encourage more companies to organise their conferences in the UK.  

A spokesman for VisitBritain said the government’s plan of action reiterates the importance of major events to increase visitor numbers.

“VisitBritain will build on the work already being carried out in this area – particularly in supporting major event bids and using its overseas network to provide key insights and trade engagement,” he told breakingtravelnews.com.

The board has been given £24 million to support the new strategy and has taken little time in announcing a £2 million, two-year marketing campaign to promote Britain in key international markets. 

London Underground enjoys impressive year

The London Olympics helped deliver an impressive year for the Tube as the number of journeys on the Underground rose five per cent to a record 1.2 billion in total.

Reported by standard.co.uk, figures from Transport for London also suggested ‘unprecedented numbers’ used the London Overground and DLR, rising by 22 per cent and 16.2 per cent respectively.

Furthermore, reliability also improved by 20 per cent, ensuring those travelling to destinations around the capital – such as one of the city’s many event venues, for instance – completed their journey on time.

Tube usage during the Olympic Games was also cranked up by Olympic staff and visitors using ‘free’ travel cards, ensuring the number of people using the service hit record heights.

London Assembly transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon believes TfL should not become complacent but instead continue to ensure capacity and reliability improves “for many more years to come”.

In addition, Mayor Boris Johnson commented on the impressive figures to londonlovesbusiness.com: “It has been another stonking year for London and the Tube network which has enabled the capital to showcase itself to the world. With London due to grow by a city the size of Birmingham over the next decade it is imperative that we continue to see the sustained investment in our transport network.”

Companies should have 25 more meetinga a year, advises expert

A company’s success can depend on how many meetings they have, according to one expert cited by ewallstreeter.com.

Dave Lavinsky, a meetings specialist writing in detail for entrepreneur.com, wants firms to have “25 more meetings each year” so each employees can attain their annual goals.

Companies should always have ‘one big-picture meeting’ which brings together all of the key decision-makers and department heads of a business, according to Lavinsky.

“Running this meeting is easier than you might think. Start by asking this question: How do we want our company to look a year from now? Use this question to gain consensus on your annual financial metrics and goals,” he said.

Furthermore, meeting leaders may want to book a conference space for a larger meeting on a regular basis.

For example, Lavinsky believes monthly goal meetings can be helpful, as breaking down annual goals into bitesize chunks makes them easier to achieve. In addition, leaders should also start with a 15-minute recap of the previous month, covering such subjects as monthly company results and other achievements.

“Finally, set your overall goals for the current month. Take 15 minutes to discuss what your company can realistically accomplish as a team,” he added.

Employees tend to enjoy goal setting meetings as they “have a voice” as well as a direct influence on the company’s strategy and goals, concludes Lavinsky.

Expert urges workers to research their targets before networking

Recruitment expert Ken Sundheim has urged young professionals to research all of their networking targets in order to make the right impression.

Though conducting research on the location of the venue and revising the order of play might be standard practice for delegates at conference events, Mr Sundheim believes they should go one further and learn more about the people they could meet along the way.

For instance, employees could inquire about the companies that are definitely signed up to attend their event and try to establish exactly who will be representing certain firms. That way they’re completely prepared for meeting people as soon as they step into the conference space.

There is, however, one rule of thumb when attempting to network with fellow professionals in order to build up a contact list. Writing at forbes.com, Mr Sundheim said workers should only try to contact someone once. He argued that one meeting was enough to form a working relationship or send someone firmly off the radar.

Cited by techinvestornews.com, he said workers can get the most out of networking with someone by writing down five goals they would want to achieve if they were that individual.

“Once you know someone’s motivators, you know how to effectively approach networking,” he concluded.

Avoid 'cross-chatter' when scheduling multiple meetings, advises expert

When booking multiple meetings in a single day, meeting leaders need to ensure they overcome the challenge of shifting ‘topics, verbiage, and focus’ from one client to the next.

That’s according to meetings expert Jeremy Raelin, writing for business2community.com, who has outlined a number of tips for meeting leaders looking to ‘blend’ into any client engagement.

If meeting leaders have booked back-to-back meetings in a conference space, they should always take a break at the end of each session. This can come in the form of a toilet break or five minutes to grab a glass of water.

“Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to end meetings 5-10 minutes earlier (end a meeting at 10.55am rather than 11.00am) since it is often easier to end a meeting at an unconventional time than it is to start one at an unconventional time,” added Raelin.

If back-to-back meetings have been booked, take diligent notes on each one and save the drafts until there is time to ‘review, finalise and disseminate’ to the team, he suggests.

In addition, meeting leaders should introduce attendees and detail the subject of the meeting.

“Introducing all attendees not only sets the stage for the expected level of discussion and decision making expected, but it also buys the Facilitator time to adjust to a different client,” he concluded, cited by csgi.com.

Tight venues can still make a wedding, claims expert

Prospective couples looking to stage a party after their big day have been told not to worry about a lack of space at their wedding reception venue, as there are numerous ways of utilising every inch of a room.

Writing at huffingtonpost.com, wedding preparation expert Amanda Rich highlights that couples will often find an event space they love but will opt for something less flattering in order to bag themselves more room.

She says small venues can still work so long as the planner has strayed away from the conventional layout and gone for something a little more personalised.

For instance, most wedding receptions have the dinner and dancing taking place in the same room. Ms Rich says that by putting each activity in a different room – providing the venue can offer as much – the couple have lots more space to play with.

Speaking from experience of attending such events, Ms Rich also insisted that standing-room only parties are nothing to frown at. Cited by pallasdress.com, she claimed the intimacy really helps to make the occasion even more special, but advised planners to supply chairs for some of the older guests.

In addition, even more space can be saved by opting for a DJ over a band and using long rectangular tables rather than circular surfaces. The former could be especially useful for those looking to save space and money, as DJs commonly charge less per hour than live groups.

Expert recommends meeting face-to-face meetings with wedding videographers

Couples looking to book a videographer for their wedding have been urged to meet up with professionals in the field to avoid a potential disaster.

Writing at hellomagazine.co.uk, filmmaker Rachael Givens urged people to always meet up with a videographer before they decide they’re worthy of capturing their big day.

Ms Givens said a couple should be looking for someone that’s passionate about what they do and easy to get on with. While some might deem the first point more important than the second, she highlighted that the videographer is there from the start of the ceremony right until the end, so getting someone that’s personable is a must.

Furthermore, a face-to-face meeting – perhaps at the wedding reception venue to check out the set-up – allows the couple to disclose their visions and ideas for the shoot. Ms Givens says her best work in this area of film has come when the couple has mentioned stories about their proposal and little details about their relationship.

This however only represents one stage of the research process. Cited by usmatrimoney.com, Ms Givens also advises couples to watch previous films from the director to see whether they connect in an emotional sense, although doing this can also provide hints regarding the quality on offer.

Other tips included choosing a company that can offer a package deal, including filming, editing and a finished product, while thinking about costs was also advised.

“When it comes to paying for your videographer sometimes cheaper doesn’t mean worse and pricey doesn’t mean they’re the best,” she says. Due to this, Ms Givens advises lots of research into any potential candidate.  

Defining purpose of meetings can improve effectiveness

By following one of the four purposes for business meetings, leaders can spend meeting time more effectively and deliver greater clarity on the issues at hand.

That’s the sage advice handed down by strategy guru Ryan L. Sievers, writing for chicagonow.com, who believes meeting organisers need to be more efficient with their time.

As a result, Sievers has outlined four guiding purposes for a business meeting: learn/brainstorm, inform/explain, discuss/engage and decide/conclude.

“Defining these purposes is intended to provide a simple way to frame up a meeting at the outset to be productive and reach a basic objective,” claims Sievers, cited by frrole.com. “The purpose of the meeting must be communicated in advance to all of the participants in order to properly set expectations of and for the participants.”

For instance, a learn/brainstorm-orientated meeting is designed to be exploratory and collaborative for all involved. On the other hand, booking conference space for a inform/explain meeting suggests the meeting leader will be primarily delivering information such as an update or result – explanatory rather than exploratory.

Furthermore, discuss/engage meetings involve refining an idea, plan or issue while decide/conclude meetings involve an element of committal on a ‘specific and defined’ agenda.

“Every meeting should be set up with one of the high-level purposes and driven to reach that single goal,” adds Sievers.

London up to 6th in international association meetings table

London has moved up to sixth position in the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) list of the most frequent hosts of association conferences, reports bighospitality.co.uk

The capital jumped from 14th in 2011 right the way up to seventh in last year’s rankings and has continued its upward trend again this year, tying with Singapore just outside the top five.   

Researchers from the ICCA counted a total of 11,150 international association events this year, which had to be held by association congresses of at least 50 people that met regularly across more than three countries. The overall amount was 1,000 more than last year, providing clear evidence that the sector is performing strongly. 

Most of the international meetings held in the UK last year look place in London, as 150 international associations decided to stage their meetings in the capital. Acknowledging the huge contribution this might have had on business tourism, hospitality chiefs have since voiced their support for event venues and infrastructure around London

“London’s popularity as a host for major business events continues to rise thanks to a concerted effort to capture more of the fiercely competitive business tourism market,” added Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.  

“We have the expertise, the transport system, venues and accommodation to ensure these events will receive a world class experience.” 

In terms of the top countries for association events, meetingsnet.com says the US, Germany and Spain made up first, second and third, with London’s effort helping the UK score fourth. 

Variety key to hospitality-based social media accounts

Function venues, restaurants and other hospitality-based companies should ensure their social media accounts offer a wide variety of content.

That’s according to advice issued by the director of Twitter UK, Bruce Daisley, who – alongside some hospitality experts – shared his top tips on how to get the most out of social media with bighospitality.co.uk.

He explained that publishing a combination of competitions, special offers, photos and videos is a great way to engage all kinds of different followers. Restaurants could publish pictures of their food, for example, or event venues could share a video of a recent party they hosted.

Using Vine, the app that allows users to take six-second videos, is another way to share a product or service in an engaging way, added Vikki O’Neil, a restaurant marketing consultant. Running regular competitions can achieve this too, although businesses should ensure they comply with all rules set out by each social network regarding contests.

Companies operating in the hospitality sector should consider their tone of voice on social media too, before diving into anything. For example, if operating a high-end, formal event venue, a professional tone would probably be best – but for a fun, offbeat cafe, a lighter tone would be more relevant.

Rounding off the advice, cafe owner Shaun Alpine-Crabtree shared his thoughts on why an investment in social media is worth it for hospitality businesses. He concluded: “You can see the return on investment… What is the value of 10,000 people talking about you? Can you put a price on it? Absolutely not. Is it necessary? Absolutely.”

With Barclays’ head of hospitality and leisure, Mike Saul, recently telling breakingtravelnews.com that social media can create a “very powerful feedback loop”, Alpine-Crabtree’s comments might just be spot on.