David Cameron gets behind Britain for Events campaign

Prime Minister David Cameron has re-affirmed his support for the UK’s events sector by getting behind the Britain for Events campaign.

In a letter congratulating the sector for its contribution to Britain’s flourishing hospitality industry, Mr Cameron had plenty of kind words for the event venues, planners and hosts that have aided its progression over the last year.

Cited by meetpie.com, he said: “I am delighted again to congratulate Britain for Events for its admirable and tireless work in promoting the country and its many talents to the world.”

This marks the second time the Prime Minister has praised Britain for Events – a campaign which aims to grow the value of the UK events industry from £36 billion to £40.8 billion by 2020.

As reported by britainforevents.co.uk, Mr Cameron had previously congratulated the sector for “proudly showing the world exactly what Britain is” in 2012, when London’s successful hosting of the Olympic Games was beamed around the world.

Michael Hirst, spokesperson and chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership, described the Prime Minister’s support as a “great endorsement of the industry.”

However, he said it’s now up to groups like his own to leverage this backing to grow, progress and promote the industry. 

  

More runways needed in the South East to keep up with demand, says Sir Howard Davies

The head of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, has said more runways in the South East are needed if the region is to keep up with increasing demand.

According to buyingbusinesstravel.com, the Airports Commission is currently working on a report which will list its recommended expansion options. The report will be finished before the end of the year but the final recommendation will not be revealed until 2015, after the next general election.

The conclusion so far is that more runways are needed and Sir Davies explains that continuing to use the current number of runways available would not be a good idea.

“To rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy and would also almost certainly not be the best solution in terms of minimising the overall carbon impact of flights and travel to and from airports,” he said.

Over 50 major organisations, individuals and companies have already submitted their ideas as to where expansions should take place. Suggestions include all the major London airports: Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.

This could mean Heathrow airport may receive a third runway, a plan which was approved by the last government but then scrapped by the coalition government in 2010, reports bbc.co.uk.

Politicians told to back hospitality or risk losing out on economic benefits

Politicians are to be urged into including the British hospitality industry within their manifestos for the next general election, reports bighospitality.co.uk.

Backed by 33 of Britain’s leading hospitality and tourism associations, the Campaign for Tourism will look to put pressure on all political parties through letters highlighting the industry’s potential contribution to UK GDP.

Letters released under the campaign banner claim that under current policies, none of which mention tourism, are only hampering the industry’s chances of being able to create opportunities for young people.

The campaign’s launch comes in light of an Annual Review into tourism from VisitBritain, which claims that visitor spend has increased by 13 per cent to £11.2 billion in 2013.

Despite this, investment in tourism has dropped by 25 per cent over the last ten years with high VAT rates on accommodation and attractions are doing little to prevent this downward spiral.

Lord Lee of Trafford, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tourism, said the government still “hasn’t got the message” that hospitality can have a noticeable effect on the economy.

He told catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk: “Tourism and hospitality is the number one industry in more constituencies than any other industry in the country. By coming together to support this campaign, we are able to deliver a clear message to the government: Take tourism seriously.”    

London hailed as best international business location

London has been described as the best location in which to set up an international business.

Aaron Levie, who is chief executive of Box, made these noteworthy compliments whilst opening his company’s new offices in Mayfair earlier this week. 

It’s the first base outside of the United States for the company reportedly valued at £750 million, following what Levie describes as an “exhaustive search” for the right location.

Explaining why he ultimately picked London, Levie told standard.co.uk: “We looked at our customer mix, the talent we wanted to bring in and the eco-system. London is unquestionably a hub for consulting, for finance, for media and for marketing. We need to go where the customers are.”

This need to go where the customers are could explain why many businesses choose to host business conferences in London. The capital has a huge range of event spaces suitable for conferences of all sizes and is arguably one of the easiest locations in the UK to reach by public transport.

Levie claimed that the amount of London-based start-ups had reached a “critical mass”. Having touched base in the capital, he also suggested that his company might now be in a position to float on the stock market.

Speaking to computing.co.uk, he said: “You want an attractive market [to float a company] and we’re in that now.”

London posts record tourism numbers in first half of year

More tourists are visiting London than ever before, according to new figures.

A report released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has indicated that around 8 million foreign tourists stayed in the capital during the first half of 2013.

That’s eight per cent more than in the previous year and an all-time record for London. Visits to London’s top 33 tourist attractions are up by 9.6 per cent on last year.    

In an interview with itv.com, Mayor of London Boris Johnson suggested that these figures could be due to a post-Olympic buzz still present in the city. 

He said: “Last summer the palpable buzz of this great city was beamed across the globe. Since then London’s draw has gone from strength to strength with billions of pounds of international investment and huge regeneration projects continuing apace.”

“These fantastic tourism figures not only support new jobs and growth in London’s economy but are yet another testament to the Olympic legacy.”

Standard.co.uk reports that if London can attract as many tourists in the second half of the year then it stands to become the world’s best city for tourism.

Bangkok currently holds that title, having attracted 15.98 million visitors last year, compared to the 15.5 million who stopped off in London in 2012.

Business owners reminded about Christmas party tax breaks

Business owners have been reminded about the tax breaks they can receive on corporate Christmas parties.

Charlie Hepburn, who is managing director of Vivid Event Group, claims that many clients remain unaware of the tax rules on annual staff parties introduced back in 2003.

It states that the cost of an annual staff party is an allowable tax deduction for businesses, provided that the cost per head does not exceed £150.   

This is provided that it’s the only annual staff party of the year. If businesses throw an annual summer party, for example, as well then the £150 per head cost has to be spread across both events in order to be tax deductible.

Speaking to citmagazine.com, Hepburn said: “We still find that we are having to educate businesses of [Section 264 of the Income Tax Earnings and Pensions Act 2003’s] existence. Companies remain unsure of its implications, and how they can use it to their advantage. Once they gain a full understanding of the exemption, they feel cent about factoring it into their annual expenditures.”

It appears as if this advice will apply to more businesses this year than in 2012. Meetpie.com reports that the amount of businesses that have already booked their Christmas party is up 12 per cent on last year.

Music a key driver of domestic tourism in UK

Event planners have been informed that music is one of the biggest drivers of domestic tourism in Britain, reports bighospitality.co.uk.

Conducted by VisitBritain and UK Music, The Wish You Were Here report discovered that 6.5 million Brits travelled across the nation to attend gigs and concerts in 2012.

They spent a total of £2.2 billion on their travels, with most of the money going on tickets, transport and accommodation.

VisitBritain said the average concert attendee will spend £602 on seeing their favourite act, while festival-goers will part with £910 over an average weekend. Both figures are higher than the £602 UK tourists typically spend on a trip, highlighting just how important music is to the hospitality industry.

As the group previously revealed, music also has a role in enticing international visitors. According to visitbritain.org, in 2012, tourists were encouraged to holiday in the UK by the nation’s Grammy and BRIT Award-winning artists.  

The most recent report called on towns and cities to act upon the findings by promoting their own music heritage, similar to the way Liverpool promotes its connection with The Beatles.

Sandie Dawe, the group’s chief executive, said the report confirms the “significant” appeal that music has on Brits and could shape VisitBritain’s future endeavours.

“This will act as a catalyst for us all to ramp up our activity and forge better relationships with festival organisers, promoters, venues and producers to raise awareness of our amazing music scene across the world,” she added.

Younger business travellers more likely to spend and complain

Millennial business travellers are more likely to spend and complain on business trips than their older counterparts, a new study has found.

According to smartplanet.com, research by Harris Interactive, commissioned by Expedia.com and Egencia, found that business travellers between the ages of 18 to 30 are more likely to spend money on their company credit card.

Younger travellers said they use company money on expensive meals the most, with 42 per cent admitting they do this. In comparison, only 26 per cent of older travellers (those between the ages of 46 and 65) do the same.

Other big expenses for young business travellers included room service (37 per cent), hotel room upgrades (27 per cent), checked-bag fees (24 per cent), airline upgrades (22 per cent), alcohol (21 per cent) and car services (20 per cent), reports businesstravelnews.com.

In addition, younger travellers tend to complain more if they have a bad experience. The research found that over a quarter have written a negative review about a service during a trip within the last year.

Travel reviews are important to millennials too, as eight in ten responded that reviews are either “somewhat” or “very” important when choosing somewhere to book.

Eurostar sees five per cent rise in passenger numbers

Thanks to a rise in the number of business travellers, Eurostar experienced a five per cent rise in passenger numbers in the third quarter of this year.

According to globalrailnews.com, Eurostar has experienced a 14 per cent growth in the business travel market compared to 2012.

The company has even seen an increase in passengers from non-EU countries; as Eurostar experienced a year-on-year rise of 13 per cent thanks to the London Olympics in 2012.

As a result, the cross-border rail service has seen its sales rise by ten per cent in the third quarter, resulting in £207 million worth of ticket sales.

Chief executive, Nicolas Petrovic, said the figures were very positive for both the company and UK business as a whole.

“Business traveller volumes have been growing steadily for several months and this quarter’s performance continues that encouraging trend,” he said. “As a bell-weather for the health of the wider UK economy, the growing strength of the corporate travel market gives us confidence in the business outlook to the year end.”

It’s likely that travel numbers will set to increase too, as Eurostar recently announced its plans for a new route that goes directly to Amsterdam from London, reports travelweekly.co.uk.

London stays the top choice for meetings in Europe

A new report has revealed that London will remain the most popular place to have meetings in the whole of Europe.

According to buyingbusinesstravel.com, American Express’ 2014 Meeting and Events Global Forecast revealed that London ranks higher in popularity for meetings than Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona and Paris.

Although the meetings industry is expected to remain flat over Europe, the UK can expect to see a rise – according to the report. This is due to the UK experiencing a stronger economy, whereas the rest of Europe isn’t doing so well, reports businesswire.com.

The report also shows that more companies are choosing to host meetings in their own offices or booking venues which are close to their home. In addition, getting meetings approved is also becoming more complex.

Michael Schuller, vice president of American Express Meetings & Events Europe, said that it’s likely that the demand for local meetings will see a rise.

“While challenges remain, there are sign of economic recovery in specific European markets – such as the UK and Germany – where we see optimism in all meeting categories,” he said.

He added: “While face-to-face global meetings remain a strong business tool, demand for local meetings in the region is expected to increase as companies look to make the most of restricted budgets and reduce time away from the office.”