London named second best city in the world

London has been named as the world’s second favourite city, behind only New York, standard.co.uk reports.

A new Ipsos Mori survey quizzed people from across the globe to find out which city was the most loved. In total, residents from 24 countries were asked to pass judgement on 48 cities across five categories: best city overall, best in which to live, best for business, best to visit and best in Europe.  

Both New York and London appeared in the top five for all their categories (New York excluded from Europe, of course), being the only two cities to do so.

In the overall favourite city category, London came second behind New York. It ranked third for best place to live and fifth for doing business, which is good news for conference centres in the capital – knowing it has huge global appeal. Meanwhile, it placed fourth for best place to visit but came top as the best city in Europe.

New York didn’t just take the crown for best overall city but was also named as the greatest in which to do business. Paris, meanwhile, took the title for best place to visit and Zurich was named best in which to live.

Commenting on the results, Ipsos Mori chief executive Ben Page told telegraph.co.uk: “The citizens of the world have spoken and given a massive vote of confidence in London and the UK.

“Together with positive signs for the UK economy and London generally, and after a brilliant Olympics in 2012, this survey reaffirms London as not only the most important city in Europe, but also affirms Britain continuing to punch above its weight globally.”

Petition for direct rail link between London and Shrewsbury to be handed to MPs

A petition that has called for a direct London – Shrewsbury rail link has garnered 4,000 signatures, bbc.co.uk reports.

Network Rail has long been lobbied for a new link that would enable the people of Shrewsbury to get to London without needing to change at Crewe, Birmingham New Street or Wolverhampton. Twice in recent years, however, it has turned down the requests, claiming that the line would not be able to cope with extra traffic that would come from the addition.  

This new proposal, however, already has high-profile backing, with Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains having already said it would be prepared to run the twice-daily service.  

Now, a group of Shropshire MPs is set to deliver the 4,000-signature document to the government in the hope of creating this link once and for all.  

Supporters have claimed that a direct link between Shropshire and London would not only benefit the West Midlands, but also bring more people into the capital on work or social duties every day. Not only that, it could provide a whole new demographic for any conference venue in London to target, whilst also making a commute significantly more feasible. 

Commenting, Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski told brightonwired.co.uk: “We are only one of two county towns which doesn’t have a direct train service to London and that has a detrimental impact on inward investment and tourism. 

“We are only talking about two, or possibly three return journeys a day, it’s ludicrous that Network Rail are saying the line can not cope with extra services.”

Slow motion video set to be next big wedding trend

A slow motion video booth is set to be the next big wedding trend, according to huffingtonpost.com.

Photo booths have become commonplace at weddings over the past few years but they are set to be upgraded to the new slow-motion video booths after a new trend has been sparked.

Couples may want to find something unique to add to their wedding reception venue and photo booths have been a popular choice.

Images can be taken home by guests or kept by the happy couple as an unusual and different memento of their big day.

Dailymail.co.uk reports that the latest slow motion video booth craze was sparked by a couple who captured some images of their guests having a party in the booth, using a variety of different props.

Bubbles, confetti and animal heads all formed a part of the footage, as well as wedding guests dancing, pulling silly faces and acting out jokey scenes with each other.

The video made in the slow motion booth seems to have taken the place of a traditional wedding video, potentially triggering a surge in popularity of these types of videos.

Various different types of wedding entertainment are becoming popular, with everything from boardgames to mad libs featuring at receptions.

British business travellers develop preference for taking the train

British business travellers want to cut down on their overnight stays in favour of taking more train journeys, according to new research.

American Express Global Business Travel questioned over 500 professionals from the UK, finding that fewer delegates stay in a hotel when on trips up to around 200 miles away from home.

According to buyingbusinesstravel.com, 43 per cent of the UK travellers said they were making more day trips than overnight stays. That came despite 60 per cent saying they had combined a work outing with a holiday.

Over half of the group (52 per cent) said they preferred to take trains on trips below the 200 mile mark, which is now more feasible than ever due to improved services into a number of British cities. 

London, for example, boasts an excellent public transport network for those flocking to corporate venues around the capital.

Champa Magesh, UK general manager of American Express Global Business Travel, told incentivetravel.co.uk: “With European high-speed rail networks well established in Europe and phase one of the HS2 from London to Birmingham progressing, rail travel is becoming an increasingly popular business travel option, as is implementing a specific business travel strategy for rail travel.” 

A slightly different view was given when it came to trips over 200 miles, with 76 per cent declaring a preference for flying. Just 16 per cent chose the train, although 72 per cent preferred rail if it was more convenient.  

Business travellers increasingly flying in economy class

Business travellers are increasingly being made to fly economy class so they can still travel even at times of financial belt-tightening, businesstravelnews.com reports.

New research by Capita Travel and Events found that long-haul economy class flight booking have risen by nine per cent year-on-year. Interestingly, this corresponded with a nine per cent drop in business class bookings, which led analysts to claim it was a simple switch over, with businesses favouring the cheaper – if not quite so comfortable – option.

This trend is thought to have emerged from businesses being a little more strict with their finances as a result of the still ongoing financial instability. Rather than simply doing away with international meetings or cancelling bookings for faraway event spaces, however, firms appear to still send their workers out, albeit in economy class.

Now, in order to placate those workers having to fly economy class, Capita anticipated that business owners may soon opt to book their workers into business lounges at the airport, to at least offer them a short time spent at their laptop or tablet device. This option, it was claimed, could make significantly better business sense.

Explaining further, Capita’s air product manager Corrie Long, told meetpie.com: “Switching a seven hour flight from London Heathrow to Dubai from business class to economy could save a business as much as £1,400.

“We can often limit the perceived, or real impact, of a policy change on the traveller’s experience or work productivity by adding lounge access for as little as £17.49. This small extra has a minimal effect on the overall saving, but facilitates relaxation and a more beneficial working environment for the individual.”

HS2 alone would boost London GDP by 0.5 per cent

The HS2 rail link could boost the economy of Greater London by 0.5 per cent, freshbusinessthinking.com reports.

A new study, undertaken by KPMG and commissioned by HS2 Ltd, found that Greater London could see its already buoyant GDP increase by 0.5 per cent simply because of the HS2 link.

Overall, Britain as a whole could see financial gains of around £15 billion every year once the link has been completed. If accurate, this would mean that the link had more than paid for itself within two years of opening. Furthermore, this statistic was said to be based on much more qualitative data than prior estimates as it considers both GDP increases and tax paid in to the Exchequer.

Put another way, this £15 million economic boost would be the equivalent of creating an entirely new economy of the same size as Oxfordshire or Cambridgeshire. Much of this growth, it has been claimed, could be attributed to business passengers travelling more regularly to meeting venues around London and the regions as travel times plummet.

“There have been repeated calls for a business case for the HS2 scheme focused on jobs, productivity and growth,” KPMG’s head of infrastructure, building and construction, Richard Threlfall told theconstructionindex.co.uk.

“KPMG’s analysis forms a key part of that business case, setting out the economic impact across the country of the HS2 scheme. It shows beyond reasonable doubt that HS2 brings net benefits to the country of many times the scheme’s cost.”

Majority of event venues optimistic about trading outlook in 2013

The vast majority of UK event venues are predicting a positive end to the year for business, according to a new survey.

‘Future Trends in Meetings and Accommodation’ from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reveals that 83 per cent of venues are optimistic about the trading outlook for the rest of 2013.

A total of 83 per cent predicted the same for 2014, providing an indication that more companies will look to find venues for hire in order to host large-scale gatherings next year.

Conducted in association with Conference Centres of Excellence and the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), the survey also lifted the lid on some of the challenges faced by venues in 2013.

According to meetpie.com, 80 per cent of the respondents said Britain’s weak economic recovery would be the biggest barrier to their growth. Skills shortages among staff was also named as a major concern, along with increased competition due to an over supply of venues.

The findings were revealed by Liz Hall, head of hospitality and leisure research at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), at the HBBA’s Made to Measure Forum on 5-6 September.

Held at London’s Twickenham Stadium, the event welcomed a record-breaking 350 delegates, who were treated to two days of networking and education sessions from industry experts.   

London Fashion Week attracts thousands to the capital

London Fashion Week has once again attracted thousands of tourists into the capital.

The five-day event, which began on Friday 13 September, featured new lines from more than 120 of the world’s top designer brands.

Dailymail.co.uk reports that there were plenty of celebrities amongst the thousands of attendees last weekend, many of whom have been photographed in the party venues London has to offer after the shows.

The likes of Harry Styles, Ellie Goulding, Nicola Roberts and Kelly Osbourne were all snapped on the front row of the catwalk for the recent Henry Holland display – and were all reportedly spotted heading to enjoy the nightlife in Primrose Hill afterwards.

Meanwhile, Kate Moss and David Beckham have also been photographed enjoying the event venues elsewhere in London shortly after the shows finished. There are all sorts of parties and events thrown in the capital during this weekend, adding to London’s strength as a tourism destination.

As well as the annual tourism boost that the event brings London, a report from express.co.uk has suggested that it will also encourage a boost in retail spending across the UK. However, a larger proportion than ever of money spent by Brits on fashion was tipped to be taken online. 

Three in ten enjoy business travel for the change of scenery

Three in ten business travellers (30 per cent) thoroughly enjoy their trips as they provide a welcome change from life in the office, reports travelweekly.co.uk.

In its survey of 1,284 British professionals, research group Mintel discovered that many people value business travel due to the change of scenery on offer.

Although this might only involve travelling to London to visit one of its many event venues, it was clear that delegates still enjoy the break.

However, this dropped to a quarter (26 per cent) among parents, while less people with children (29 per cent) declared a preference for trips that involved overnight stays than people without (38 per cent).   

Around 20 per cent of the group said they would consider bringing along a member of their family, possibly to address this issue, yet only 12 per cent said they have been allowed to do so.

To heap even more pressure on companies without a coherent and fair business travel policy, Mintel’s research discovered that just a quarter (27 per cent) had seen all of their travel expenses reimbursed.

Mintel travel and tourism analyst Harry Segal told traveldailymedia.com this suggests there is scope for companies to change their policies in order to make business travel seem like a more attractive proposition.

“With a sizeable proportion of business travellers claiming that they work longer hours and that business trips are putting a strain on their relationships, companies looking to get the best out of employees in the time they are away should perhaps take note of where negative implications are occurring,” he added. 

London City Airport reveals £200 million expansion plans

Plans have been submitted for a £200 million expansion of London City Airport, which aims to meet growing business travel demands.

According to buyingbusinesstravel.com, if the plans are approved, the airport’s annual passenger capacity could double from three million to six million by 2023.

The planning application seeks approval for new aeroplane parking stands, a parallel taxi lane and an extension of the terminal. These additions and expansions would allow for bigger aircraft to land at the airport and increase the runways’ capacity, breakingtravelnews.com reports.

The expansion could be beneficial for business travellers who frequent conference centres in London, as well as the thousands of tourists that flock to the capital every year.

Chief executive officer of London City Airport, Declan Collier, said that the expansion is vital and could create up to 1,500 new jobs for the East London area.

“In terms of the wider UK economy, the airport already contributes £750 million every year – through business and leisure tourist spend, the operation of businesses on site, productivity savings and air passenger duty – and when this project is completed, we can expect to double that amount,” he concluded.

The plans have been submitted to the London Borough of Newham, which will make a decision on whether to approve the application or not.