Let staff know the behaviour that is expected of them at the Christmas party, says expert

A business expert has said that managers should let staff know what level of behaviour is expected of them before the company Christmas party.  

Jason Hesse was writing for realbusiness.co.uk this week. He said: “Let staff attending parties know in advance what acceptable standards of behaviour are expected of them. Make it clear that your usual disciplinary policies apply, even if the party is being held away from the workplace.” 

The guidance was just one bit of the advice that Hesse gave in the article for managers about their Christmas parties. Other advice included watching out for drug use and informing staff that they must turn up for work the following day, even if they have a hangover. It is also recommended in the article that bosses don’t provide too much alcohol, or force employees to drink too much, as this could lead to violence that may need to be addressed back in the office.      

The guidance is useful considering it was also reported by reveal.co.uk this week that British workers will go to three parties over the festive season, according to research from Travelodge. The firm also found that 25 per cent of companies said that they would be going “all out” this Christmas.

Business travellers welcome HS2

Business travellers who regularly use Britain’s rail network are largely in support of the HS2 proposals, travelweekly.co.uk reports.

A new survey undertaken by the Guild of Travel Management (GTMC) found that 56 per cent of its members backed HS2, compared to just 25 per cent of those who were against it.

The study involved quizzing 1,000 GTMC members who travelled by rail for business trips a minimum of six times a year in journeys of 50 miles or greater.

Over half said they fully supported HS2, with some even suggested it should go further still and link directly to the continent. Not only that, many respondents (74 per cent) claimed that it was “important” or “very important” for Heathrow to also be factored into proposals so that air travellers can be provided with better, faster rail links.

Commenting on the response, chief executive of GTMC, Paul Wait, told buyingbusinesstravel.com: “The GTMC will be using this and other supporting data to lobby government for ‘open access’ to be more widely adopted across the network, as franchises expire during the next parliament.

“Essentially we will be arguing to bring true competition to the network in order to get a better deal for business travellers on price, capacity and innovation.”

Transport fares in London to be held at inflation rate

London mayor Boris Johnson has announced that public transport fares around the capital will only be adjusted to take into account the discredited Retail Price Index inflation measure from July of last year.

Outlining his plans for the tube, bus and train services that run through London, he said the average fare will go up by 3.1 per cent in the new year, in line with inflation.

According to standard.co.uk, Mr Johnson says this “real terms freeze” will help families who are “feeling the pinch” over the Christmas period.

Many had expected a 4.1 per cent rise in fares after the mayor announced plans to save £16 billion on the delivery of transport around the capital. 

Instead, occasional tube and bus users will be pleased to hear of a freeze on Oyster pay-as-you-go fares starting or finishing outside Zone 1, although annual tube season tickets covering six underground zones will rise by 4.3 per cent to hit £2,320 next year.

A single tube journey within Zone 1 will rise by 4.8 per cent, or 10p, to £2.20, while the same type of journey on the bus will go up by 5p to £1.45.

Speaking on Tuesday (December 3) and cited by theguardian.co.uk, Mr Johnson commented: “I have always said I was determined to beat down fares, while ensuring that we can still invest properly in a transport system that is critical to our city’s success.”

Over half of business travel managers responsible for meetings programmes

New research indicates that business travel managers have branched out of the transportation market and taken control of their company’s meetings programmes as well.   

According to a survey of 183 senior business travel managers from the Business Travel Show (BTS), 58 per cent of travel managers have the final say on how much their organisation spends on meetings.

In 2011, the proportion of travel heads dabbling in meetings was at just 40 per cent, although citmagazine.com says this did rise to 55 per cent last year. 

Many of the travel managers claimed to have their company’s meetings requirements under control. However, 42 per cent of the group admitted to the lack of a strategic meetings management policy (SMMP).

BTS president Carole Poillerat told meetpie.com this proves her group still has a “long way to go” in educating business travel managers about the task they’ve seemingly inherited.

“The willingness of suppliers to help buyers in this way is there and we have to now help increase the collaboration of procurement teams internally. Travel buyers who suddenly inherit the meeting category need to better understand the similarities and differences with travel,” she added.

While there was still room for improvement, the study did at least reveal a concerted effort by travel managers to increase their understanding of the industry they’re moving into – as 59 per cent of managers were not operating an SMMP in 2011.  

Most renowned wedding dresses to be displayed at the V&A

A new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum next year is set to display some of the most famous wedding dresses, according to telegraph.co.uk.  

‘Wedding Dresses 1775-2014’ will show off some of the most renowned gowns throughout history and in today’s modern world. It will feature 80 gowns that have all be selected by the exhibition’s curator, Edwina Ehrman. Many of these will come from the museum’s vast archive.    

Gowns that are set to be part of the exhibition include some of the first ever known bridal gowns, including those from the Second World War. There will also be many modern design, such as the dresses worn by celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Dita Von Teese and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as high-end designs from Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang and Lanvin.

The exhibition could be an ideal opportunity for upcoming brides to get inspiration and ideas for their own wedding dress to wow their guests with.

As well as wedding dresses to look at, event-goers will also be given information on the history of the wedding and where different traditions came from.

The exhibition will run at the gallery from May 3, 2014 up until March 15, 2015, according to elleuk.com.

VisitBritain "delighted" to see relaxation in Gulf visa rules

Britain’s official tourist authority has welcomed a scheme which will allow visitors from the Gulf to enter Britain without having to apply for a visit visa.

According to travelweekly.co.uk, the government has allowed Emirati, Omani and Qatari passport holders to obtain a free electronic visa waiver (EVW) to enter the UK.

Rather than having to apply for a visit visa weeks before they travel, the new system allows visitors to enter the UK by filling in and printing a short online form 48 hours before they set off.

UK border control announced the change in response to figures which showed the number of business visitors and tourists requiring a visa to Britain rising by 15 per cent over the last year.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe highlighted that 2012 saw a record 37 per cent rise in spending from Gulf tourists, up to a record £3,555 per visitor, and said the move will carry huge benefits for British hospitality. 

She told conference-news.co.uk: “We know there is already a huge aspiration to travel to Britain to shop and to enjoy our attractions and events, so we’re delighted that the recent visa changes will make it easier to get here and to come more often.”

Ms Dawe added that if current trends continue, Britain may well see another record year for Arab visitors in 2013.  

  

Employees should be on their best behaviour at the Christmas office party

Drink and behave responsibly at the office party this Christmas, advises life coach Dr Pam Spurr writing for the express.co.uk.

While people like to let their hair down during the festive season, Dr Spurr recommended eating a proper meal before the party and alternating with non-alcoholic drinks while there to avoid a blunder with the boss or other colleagues. 

Dr Spurr said: “The chances are you’re only likely to make a fool of yourself if you drink to excess.

“Have a meal beforehand if the party will be offering only nibbles. Food in your stomach means you’re much less likely to be overly affected by that deceptively mild Christmas punch.

“Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones to prevent getting too tipsy. Plenty of water keeps you hydrated and on top of your game.

“Don’t overcompensate for nerves by pretending to be the life and soul of the party. People will see right through it because it’s very hard to pull off if it isn’t your natural personality.”

Furthermore, employers must be aware of liability at holiday office parties, reports the journalofcommerce.com.

Employment lawyer Gabe Somjen of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP told the journalofcommerce that alcohol and employee behaviour can pose a problem and advises employees to remain professional.

“The office party is really just an extension of the office,” said Mr Somjen.

“Just because it is an office party doesn’t mean a person can engage in behavior that is harassing, bullying or discriminatory.”

UK's first gay weddings will take place on March 29

Same-sex couples will be able to legally marry in the UK from 29th March 2014. 

The date, which is a lot sooner than initially expected, was announced by equalities minister Maria Miller on Tuesday afternoon.

In an interview with bbc.co.uk, she said: “Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from 29 March 2014 it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.

“This is just another step in the evolution of marriage and I know that many couples up and down the country will be hugely excited that they can now plan for their big day and demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married.”

Homosexual couples wishing to be among the first to marry in the UK will have to give formal notice of their intentions on 13 March.

Gay marriages were given the Royal Assent earlier this year. At the time, the government promised that the first gay weddings would be able to take place by the summer of 2014. 

According to dailymail.co.uk, same-sex couples looking to marry in some British consulates and overseas armed forces bases will have to wait until June.

The new laws apply in England and Wales only. 

London enjoys spike in Christmas party bookings

Christmas party venues in London have experienced a huge rise in bookings in 2013, according to new figures.  

A poll, conducted by the London City Selection, has suggested that there has been a 45 per cent increase in Christmas Party bookings in London this year.

Three quarters of London City Selection members said they had taken more Christmas party bookings this year. The IT and financial sectors were cited amongst the industries more likely to book the services of London Christmas party venues.

In an interview with citmagazine.com, London City Selection chair Diane Waldron appeared pleased to hear of this boost to the capital’s events sector.    

She said: “It’s great to see that members are reporting that business is on the increase for events at their venues in the City. 2013 has clearly been a successful year for meetings and events in the City of London and we are delighted that our members are benefiting from this more buoyant market.”

According to incentivetravel.co.uk, the poll also suggested that London’s events companies were experiencing shorter lead times for their bookings. Sixty per cent of those questioned reported a decrease in their lead times this year.

“The shorter lead times continue to be a feature, meaning that as venues we must be responsive and flexible to deal with a very fast-moving events market,” Waldron said.

Knock-on delays affect London airports

Those travelling in and out of London have been told they may still expect delays because of knock-on effects from yesterday’s fog disruption, standard.co.uk reports.  

Wednesday (11th) saw thick flog blanket London and cause lengthy flight delays in Heathrow and London City Airport. Now, although most of the fog has since lifted, travellers have been advised to check their itinerary before making the trip as knock-on effects have caused some shorter delays.

At its peak on Wednesday morning, every single flight in London Heathrow and City airports were delayed or cancelled altogether. This is thought to have been the reason for the lengthy delay in getting fully back up to speed, with a large backlog sending the issues into a second day.

Heathrow was among the worst affected as it runs at 99 per cent capacity under normal conditions. In order to leave more room between taxiing craft, however, certain flights had to be cancelled or delayed.

It wasn’t only London which was impacted by fog but a number of regional airports were also affected, including Southampton, where some 16 flights had been cancelled by lunchtime Wednesday.

Whilst most services are now running to normal time, travellers are still urged to keep abreast of developments and expect short delays. Those on long haul trips may be largely unaffected, however, as many of the issues concern shorter trips to Belfast, Berlin, Dublin and Paris, bbc.co.uk claims.