Connect with us

Business

Be Travel Savvy

Published

on

Shanghai

By Debbie Suenson-Taylor

ShanghaiWe’ve all heard the travel horror stories. The business executive who finds the hotel they booked online is miles away from the office and bears no resemblance to the glossy pictures on the web site. Or the hotel hasn’t received their booking and there aren’t any rooms left because of a major sporting event. Or the executive with the excruciating toothache who can’t afford to see a dentist. The worst case scenario is that the airline which your Personal Assistant (PA) booked has gone into liquidation; you’re stranded so you have to pay for another air ticket at a greatly inflated price.

Businesses must be travel savvy to avoid these situations. The assumption is that the Internet will magically find the best deals, but this isn’t always the case. Cheap prices are flagged up on web site to draw visitors, but the reality is often very different. Your PA may be drawn to a travel web site because of bargain prices, fabulous pictures and promises but on closer inspection, you may find that although the price may be right, other elements aren’t.

The best course of action is to outsource all your travel arrangements to a travel professional who can supervise all the details. They will have access to the best rates, can ensure that the travel operators are legitimate, standards are upheld (for example IATA, CAA, FAA) and monies are protected through bonded and trust accounts, such as ABTA, TTA, or ATOL (UK only) to protect clients’ money should the travel supplier default on service. Travel professionals also have the operational back up so alternative travel arrangements can be put into place if there is a problem.

The Role of the PA
Hong-kongMany companies offload travel bookings to the Personal Assistant (PA). The PA will not only spend an enormous amount of time trying to find the best deals, but without personal knowledge or experience will be unable to detect the closest hotel to the office, for example. They also lack a network of global contacts to find out invaluable local information such as bank holidays.

The best solution is for the PA to work alongside a travel management company because this will save time and money and give peace of mind. They will have the reassurance that if something goes wrong on the business trip, a travel professional is dealing with it. Many business trips are a last minute situation which means a PA would need to drop everything to make the bookings whereas a travel management company can easily pick up the request and using their experience and contacts, make all the necessary bookings.

A travel management company will supply a 24 hour emergency number which a business executive can call from all over the world if there is a problem, if they want to change travel plans or requirements such as a hire car.

Using a travel company is advantageous to PAs as most offer a free booking service and an incentive scheme. Travel management companies will have insider knowledge about destinations as they are part of a reliable support network of industry professionals who share information.

Visa Applications
It is vitally important that the correct visas are obtained prior to travel and for any business, this is very time consuming. For example, a European travelling to the USA must have a visa, but if the PA tries to do it online they may fall victim to several scam web sites which charge £100 for a visa for UK citizens compared to $14 by using the official site.

A good travel management company will arrange all visas either directly or through a specialist agency. You need to allow plenty of time for the visa process so the rule of thumb is to apply for visas as early as you can. Again your travel management company will advise you.

Business Etiquette
If you’re travelling to a country on business for the first time, it’s a good idea to do some research into the business customs so you don’t make any mistakes. Travel management companies can advise on this.

Did you know that pointing in the UAE is considered rude, so don’t use a pointed finger to accentuate words. In Saudi Arabia always give a warm and firm handshake starting from the person on your right hand side and move towards your left anti-clockwise. Do not forget to greet each person with a “Salaam Alaikum” with a slight bow of your head and a genuine smile. It goes down well with your hosts.

In Japan, business cards are essential so make sure you have plenty with you. European Mediterranean countries such as Spain and Italy often combine business with lunch, which can start at 1pm and go on for most of the afternoon.

Check what the typical working week is. Many of the Chinese companies require staff to work on a Saturday morning including Hong Kong; whilst recently the weekend in Oman has been changed to fit in with Dubai, UAE so it’s now Friday and Saturday rather than Thursday and Friday.

Insurance matters
One of the conditions of booking travel arrangements is that you must have your own insurance. A recent consumer study found that insurers had not updated the small print of their policies for years, failing to account for rise in expensive items such as smart phones and tablets that business employees now travel with. Many have very low limits on what people can claim, especially once the excess had been deducted. Many have a limit of £300, some only £200 yet an iPhone cost £500 to replace. So you need to check your insurance cover to ensure that all gadgets are covered. Travel consultants will refer you to specialist insurance companies but you must check carefully what is covered.

Health insurance is vitally important. If you have to see a dentist in the USA with severe toothache, you want to have peace of mind that you’re covered.

If your spouse or a family member is joining you on a business trip, make sure you check what the policy says about children travelling with you. Another survey showed that about 42% of insurers will not insure a child that does not live permanently with the family, nor include stepchildren with a different surname, unless they are specifically named.

If your country is part of the European Union (EU) you will be entitled to a European health card which gives you free access to healthcare in Europe. Apply for yours online.

Vaccinations and health concerns
You need to check what vaccinations and health precautions you need to have before travelling to various countries. An essential took for worldwide advice can be found at www.nathnac.org which is full of facts and requirements for all countries

Health advice – http://www.nathnac.org/ds/map_world.aspx
If you’re travelling to China, Asia, Africa or South America, you must make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Plan well ahead – in some cases, you may need to have a six week course of tablets prior to your trip. Major cities and airports throughout the world have health centres which will carry out the vaccinations and give you healthcare advice. Check online for the one nearest you.

Additional Extras
Debbie-Suenson-TaylorBy their very nature, business travel arrangements tend to change. The boss realising you are in San Francisco then wants you to visit a client in San Diego “so just hire a car,” she says. One of the advantages in having a travel management company oversee the travel itinerary is that the PA, who is always overloaded, can call them and know that these little details will be taken care of.

Outsourcing your travel arrangements to a travel professional will not only attain the best deals, but also peace of mind.

Debbie Suenson-Taylor worked in large corporations before setting up her own company Travel Producer www.travelproducer.co.uk offering bespoke travel solutions to TV production teams, PAs, business executives and consumers.

 

 

 

Business

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World?

Published

on

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World? 1

After a turbulent year, enterprises are returning to the prospect of a new world following an unprecedented pandemic.

Around the country the way we interact with customers, how consumers buy, and what interests the public has rapidly changed. Successfully managing these digital transformations may be the difference between your success and failure at this stage of continuing economic uncertainty.

Of course, the investment may appear unviable, but the benefits maintain growth and profitability. Digital transformations change the way you conduct your business. It allows you to take a step back and reconsider every aspect of your business. This includes the technology you use, how your staff operate, and how customers interact with your brand.

The World Economic Forum has predicted that the value added by digital transformations across all industries could be greater than $100 billion by 2025. Digital transformations are allowing organisations to rapidly innovate.

Accepting this innovative approach to your business right now may spell the difference between company liquidation and prosperity. Here, we look at the benefits of digital transformation and why it’s essential for your business.

Transform your customer experience

The main objective for a business is to fulfil the needs of their customer. A positive experience is vital to retain customers and encourage new consumers to interact with your brand. Likewise, positive customer experience is a core principle of digital proficiency.

A recent study found that 92 per cent of the top 100 organisations have a mature digital transformation strategy in place to improve their customers’ experience. This is compared to all other organisations where only 22 per cent of responding companies have these strategies in place.

One way to achieve this is to recreate your e-commerce platforms to better represent the needs of your customers. A complete rejuvenation can help to identify problems and obstacles in your current system.

SMEs have the opportunity to base their digital transformations on the successes of other businesses. In terms of customer satisfaction, 70 per cent of the leaders reported a significant and transformational value in overall customer satisfaction.

Data-based insights

Digital transformation can help you to better understand your market. By tracking metrics and analysing the data that you collect, you will be able to better understand your customers. You can also gain a clearer understanding of how the sector operates under varying circumstances. This helps companies to make better business decisions.

One survey on the use of data in business showed that 49 per cent of businesses believe that analytics are of most use in driving business decisions. Two-thirds of businesses surveyed believe that data plays a pivotal role in driving strategies.

There’s a plethora of ways that businesses can collect essential data. These include surveys, transactional data tracking, social media monitoring, and in-store traffic monitoring.

Greater collaboration across departments

By centring your organisation around digital infrastructure you can create a consistent working experience. Sharing data and information with your staff can promote idea sharing and innovation.

Organisations are beginning to create companies based on a digital culture. This shapes the way that staff communicate with each other and how technology influences the way they work. This culture reinforces their other digital strategies.

It’s important to maintain engagement with staff during a digital transformation. One report indicates that 79 per cent of companies that focus on culture sustain strong performance throughout their transformation.

When organisations are built around a common goal, business transitions will be smoother.

Improved agility and innovation

Digital transformations allow your business to stay agile, in that it is always prepared to and welcomes change.

The most successful organisations do not follow the beaten track. They look to see how their company can diverge from their original mission and build on their successes. Technology allows these new approaches to be developed alongside extending business enterprises.

One survey shows that 68 per cent of businesses believe that agility is within their top three most important initiatives. This means ensuring that every interaction between customer, technology, and staff is meaningful.

These agile interactions can include, for example, the development and improvements of chat-bots. It all works towards helping locate the best possible options for staff and customers.

Frequent technological innovations  make it difficult to predict what business will look like in the future. Organisations can prepare themselves for this through digital transformations, allowing any future developments and changes to integrate into their business operation.

Being recognised as a digitally transformed business, customers and staff will recognise your attempts to innovate and provide the best possible service. The ability to create additional revenue also highlights the need to adapt to the digital age. The future is showing its face through technology. Businesses must take advantage of the transformed society to change how they operate and reap the rewards.

Sources

https://www.weforum.org/press/2016/01/100-trillion-by-2025-the-digital-dividend-for-society-and-business/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2017/07/13/why-digital-leaders-focus-on-customer-experience/#4b97fa896228

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Deloitte-Analytics/dttl-analytics-analytics-advantage-report-061913.pdf

https://www.futureseriesfuse.com/insights/digital-transformation

http://go.nuodb.com/2016-database-report.html

Continue Reading

Business

Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online

Published

on

Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online 2

Have potentially difficult conversation at work, like discussing a pay rise, explaining deadline delays or going through performance reviews are hard to do successfully under the very best of circumstances. Now many of us are faced with the additional challenges that remote working presents meaning you need to have these kinds of conversations virtually. A little preparation and advance thought about the direction of the discussion can really help to make the interaction feel more natural and improve your changes of a successful outcome.

Tony Hughes, CEO at Huthwaite International leading global provider of sales, negotiation and communication skills development, shares advice on how to handle difficult workplace conversations online.

Plan your communication airtime

Planning for a call can be an unpopular task, but taking a few minutes to think through the structure and purpose of your conversation can really help you to achieve your objectives – assuming you know what they are! Work out your primary, and also secondary objective as a fall back, so you will not have to rely on pressing for just one outcome if that becomes too difficult to resolve in one conversation.

Think about how you will show empathy

It can be difficult to observe someone’s body language over a virtual camera call so tone of voice is more easily interpreted. Listen carefully for clues to how the conversation is going from their tone and note that nerves tend to make the voice higher and this can be very noticeable – a warm drink may help to relax your vocal cords and deepen your voice. Smiling when you speak (if appropriate) will also help to relax you and the other person. If you need to get it all right first time, practice makes perfect. Practicing with a friend of colleague can help to produce the relaxed tone of voice necessary to sound sympathetic or authentic.

Active listening is essential

Listening is what separates skilled communicators from unskilled and using active listening is key to ensuring the conversation goes well. We demonstrate active listening by acknowledging statements. Acknowledging is not the same as supporting, by acknowledging we show we are listening but do not necessarily show agreement. Using phrases such as ‘I understand’, or paraphrasing statements show that we are aware of their opinion and their thoughts without necessarily agreeing with them. Taking care to allow people to fully express themselves, especially if they are agitated or excited, is key to defusing the situation.

If we must disagree with them, we should take care to make a positive statement before and after the disagreement. This means saying things like ‘I fully understand what you’re saying, and will do my best to help. However, I will need some time to investigate the situation. Let me come back to you in X time’.

Remember counter offers can be counterproductive

Communicating online can bring a sense of urgency to get the conversation over with quickly, especially if people are not used to virtual communication methods. This unnecessary pressure can cause people to make hasty, often ill-considered counter offers or proposals in a bid to reach an agreement about the difficult conversation they’re having or to tick the task off our list. Whether this is agreeing to workloads for the week, or discussing a pay rise – rushing conversations and making hasty proposals can be counterproductive and may show you’re not really listening and intent on pushing your own agenda. Good communication is about listening and understanding the needs of others, whilst maintaining a strong stance.

Avoid irritating verbal behaviours

Having a difficult conversation in the workplace is hard enough without the added complication and tensions that communicating virtually may present! Try to avoid adding to this by keeping the conversation free from irritating verbal behaviours. This means avoiding self-praising declarations by using words such as ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ when talking to people. This can cause tension as they can undermine the person you’re speaking to and may cause lasting damage to your relationship.

Other verbal behaviours such as telling someone you’re ‘being honest with them’ or ‘that you’re trying to be frank’, can indicate that you may not have been completely honest in the past, or that you may be suggesting your counterpart is being intentionally dishonest. Steer clear of this use of language. It can lead to tension and a breakdown in communication further down the line.

Remember to show emotion

Perhaps surprisingly, skilled communicators show their emotions and indicate how they are feeling towards a situation more than the average communicator. This skill is particularly important what dealing with a difficult online conversation. For example, phrases including ‘I am pleased we are making progress’ or ‘I’m worried that this won’t work out’, can be used as a substitute for an outright agreement or disagreement as it’s difficult to argue with someone else’s emotions. This verbal behaviour also reveals something personal, which is likely to encourage trust within a conversation. If someone expresses that they’re concerned a deadline won’t be achieved – it’s then difficult to retort with ‘no you’re not.’ When used in the right context, showing emotion is a highly effective way of deescalating confrontation.

Ensure you avoid defend/attack spirals

Defend/attack verbal behaviour is when the focus shifts from the problem to the person and the conversation becomes personal. Skilled communicators avoid this behaviour during a difficult conversation, as it can generate frustration and end very negatively. Usually, involvement in a defend/attack spiral is a heat of the moment reaction and it can be tricky to avoid. Difficult conversations tend to be high pressure, so to avoid this behaviour communicators should aim to understand and resolve, rather than react. This allows the conversation to become open and a solution to be achieved harmoniously.

If you want to learn more about how Huthwaite International can help your team develop a highly effective virtual communications strategy visit: https://www.huthwaiteinternational.com/business-performance-solutions/delivery-options/virtual-learning

Continue Reading

Business

Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis

Published

on

Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis 3

By Andrew Johnson, Creative Director and Co-Founder.

How well do you really know your business?

Do you know which derivative of your logo to use on a pink background? Have you got a preferred font for PowerPoint presentations? Would you be able to look at a range of social posts and pick out the ones from your brand?

If your answer to any of the above is no, it’s probably time to think about your brand guidelines. Whether you’ve already got a set but feel they need a refresh or you’re starting from scratch, it’s crucial to have a firm grasp on your marketing do’s and don’ts.

Consistency makes you memorable

Before we get into the details of what to include, why do you even need brand guidelines? The simple answer is consistency.

Consistency is arguably the most important element of marketing. It makes your brand recognisable and helps you become known for a certain look and feel. Having a consistent brand also builds familiarity with your audience. People want to know what to expect from you. If you’re persistently using the same logos, imagery and tone of voice (TOV), people will start to take note and, over time, become fond of your brand. This is how brands become household names.

What’s more, just because you think you know your business inside out doesn’t mean everyone who joins your team does. For anyone creating marketing materials for your business, brand guidelines are an invaluable tool to ensure everything is in line with your desired look and feel.

Building your brand

Having a set of concrete brand rules will help your company look its best at all times. So, what type of things should you include in your brand guidelines?

  1. Define your vibe with TOV

Tone of voice is your brand’s personality coming through in words. Do you want to appear funny or serious? Casual or formal? Cheeky or respectful? Enthusiastic or matter of fact? Your TOV will be a blend of these different elements and work on a scale.

In your brand guidelines, you should clearly state “we write like this” and “we don’t write like this”. Are there any words you don’t like? Can you use casual contractions (“you’re”, “it’s”, “can’t”) or would you prefer to take the more formal route and avoid them? Are you comfortable shortening your brand name from, say, “Hyped Marketing” to “Hyped” or should the full name be used at all times?

These are all important things to consider if you want to make sure anyone writing marketing materials for you is on the same page.

  1. Pick (and stick to) your colour palette
Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

Colours have a remarkable way of evoking certain feelings. For example, blue is often associated with trust, which is why you’ll see banks and hospitals use it a lot. Once you’ve chosen your colour palette, it’s important to stick to it to create a cohesive feel across all materials.

Your brand guidelines should contain CMYK, RGB, Pantone and Hex colour references for each colour in your palette. These references make it easy for anyone producing or printing materials for you to ensure they have an exact colour match — rather than just taking a wild guess!

  1. Learn your logos

Your logo should reflect what your company does day-to-day and marry together your colour palette and TOV into one little emblem.

Most businesses have derivatives of their primary logo, which should be used wherever possible. Your choice of logo will depend on where it appears. For example, you might use a white version of your logo on a solid colour background or a black version when colour printing isn’t available. Icon logos (with no accompanying text) also tend to be more suitable for social media profiles.

It’s also important that your guidelines include the correct proportions, opacity, colour usage and exclusion zone so that your logo always appears as intended. No one likes a squashed, off-colour logo!

  1. Tune into typeface

Selecting one or two fonts to be used across all materials is vital for maintaining consistency and expressing your brand personality. Do you prefer serif or sans serif? Sans serif is becoming increasingly popular (particularly for online materials as it’s easier to read on a screen) but serif still has a more formal effect.

In your guidelines, define where these fonts should be used. For example, you might use one  for internal communications and another for external or different ones for online or offline materials. It’s also worth choosing one font for headings and another for body copy or sub-headings. Make sure you note which colours from your palette should be used as well.

  1. Include the right imagery

Elegant copy, snazzy colours and a slick logo are all essential for your brand’s identity. But what about images? It’s key to include a section in your guidelines about the kind of imagery that should be used across your marketing materials.

Do you prefer photographic or illustrative imagery? Should your images feature people? Will you take the photos yourself or are you sourcing them elsewhere? If so, where are you sourcing them from? Get it all written down to ensure all imagery used is in line with the look and feel you want to create.

It’s never too late…

You may be reading this and thinking it’s too late for you to draw up brand guidelines for your company — but it never is.

While it may feel daunting to overhaul the way you produce your marketing materials, progressing with more consistency only cements what works for your brand and helps dispose of anything that doesn’t.

Are you looking to refine your brand and ensure it’s instantly recognisable? Get in touch with us today to learn more about our branding services and how we can help create brand guidelines and a TOV document for your business.  

Continue Reading
Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2020
2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards now open. Click Here

Latest Articles

The Coming AI Revolution 4 The Coming AI Revolution 5
Technology24 hours ago

The Coming AI Revolution

By H.P Bunaes, CEO and founder of AI Powered Banking. There is a revolution in AI coming and it’s going...

Q&A with Joe Steele, Head of Workplace Technology at Starling Bank 6 Q&A with Joe Steele, Head of Workplace Technology at Starling Bank 7
Interviews1 day ago

Q&A with Joe Steele, Head of Workplace Technology at Starling Bank

In just under a year, many businesses had no choice but to go online and with digital transformation on the rise...

How financial services organisations are using data to underpin future growth 8 How financial services organisations are using data to underpin future growth 9
Technology1 day ago

How financial services organisations are using data to underpin future growth

By John O’Keeffe, Director of Looker EMEA at Google Cloud In addition to the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a...

Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021 10 Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021 11
Top Stories1 day ago

Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021

Xformative, a Mastercard Start Path recipient, shares what these questions mean for fintech partners and their innovations This year, fintechs...

A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows 12 A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows 13
Banking1 day ago

A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows

SAS research reveals that banks offered an improved customer experience during lockdown A quarter (27%) of banking customers noted an...

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World? 14 Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World? 15
Business1 day ago

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World?

After a turbulent year, enterprises are returning to the prospect of a new world following an unprecedented pandemic. Around the...

Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online 16 Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online 17
Business1 day ago

Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online

Have potentially difficult conversation at work, like discussing a pay rise, explaining deadline delays or going through performance reviews are...

Black Friday payment data reveals rapid growth of ‘pay later’ methods like Klarna 18 Black Friday payment data reveals rapid growth of ‘pay later’ methods like Klarna 19
Finance1 day ago

Black Friday payment data reveals rapid growth of ‘pay later’ methods like Klarna

Payment processor Mollie reveals the most popular payment methods for Black Friday Mollie, one of the fastest-growing payment service providers,...

Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis 20 Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis 21
Business2 days ago

Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis

By Andrew Johnson, Creative Director and Co-Founder. How well do you really know your business? Do you know which derivative of your...

COVID-19 creates long and winding road for startups seeking investment 22 COVID-19 creates long and winding road for startups seeking investment 23
Investing2 days ago

COVID-19 creates long and winding road for startups seeking investment

By Jayne Chan, Head of StartmeupHK, Invest Hong Kong Countless technology and other companies describe themselves as innovators, disruptors or...

Newsletters with Secrets & Analysis. Subscribe Now