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How to do stress-free business travel

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How to do stress-free business travel

By Simon Botto, CEO of DayBreakHotels

Business travel can be stressful and tiresome for multiple reasons.

Not only can inconvenient flight times and different time zones throw you off, but finding somewhere to stop and freshen up if you’ve got a late check-in can be a challenge after an early flight; as can finding somewhere suitable and professional to conduct meetings when in a new city.

As an Italy-based entrepreneur I frequently find myself travelling for work, and over the years I’ve developed a number of tricks that make short and sweet business trips a little bit more manageable. Why not try them out?

  1. Plan your workload before you fly

Working on a plane isn’t ideal, and many aircraft don’t have great wifi yet. So if you’re thinking of working on the plane, make sure you’ve got some work to do that won’t necessarily require an internet connection.

It can also be a good idea to do the thinking part of any task before you get on the plane, because it can be distracting environment that isn’t conducive to the most productive working after take off.

If actually working on the flight isn’t something you fancy, ensure you’ve done everything that needs doing before boarding the plane, so that you’re not sat there feeling stressed about your long task list. This is particularly relevant if you’ve got a long flight, as stress is not conducive to a sound sleep!

  1. Be strategic about your sleep to adjust to new time zones

If you’re flying long haul, or are dealing with a time zone change of over four hours, be strategic about when you sleep on the plane to give yourself the best chance of feeling fresh when you get to your destination.

A great way to avoid horrendous jet lag is to set your watch to the new time zone as soon as you board the plane, and then sleep accordingly. Invest in a comfortable neck pillow, a decent eye mask and some ear plugs so that you’re able to block out annoying aircraft rumbles, the sound of people walking up and down the aisles, and any lights being switched on or off. Also ensure you have some extra layers with you, because planes can get chilly. Feeling well rested will make all the difference!

  1. Try to fly at a decent time

If you have a morning meeting, try and arrive at your destination the evening before. This will ensure you have time to bank a good night’s sleep and freshen up in the morning before conducting any business. If you have to wake up at 3am to catch a 6am flight, by the time you arrive at a meeting you’ll be exhausted and disorientated.

Even the most seasoned of commuters would find this kind of journey fairly unbearable before work, so go for an evening flight the day before if you can. Arriving late at night the day before a meeting is always preferable to arriving in the morning.

  1. Plan your base before you go

If you’re not going to be able to fly to your destination the evening before, and are going to find yourself in a new city with just a few hours to kill until your meeting or conference, it’s always good to set yourself a base before you board your flight. This should be somewhere you can relax, freshen up, get some wifi and just generally get your head in the game before getting on with your work.

Using a day use hotel service to get a hotel room and shower for a few hours can be a good idea; or alternatively you could find a quiet coffee shop or library where you can sit and re-set before you have to start working.

Wherever you end up, having time refresh after your flight is always a great idea, and will help ensure you’re firing on all cylinders when you have to get down to business.

  1. Find somewhere professional to conduct your meeting

If it’s on you to pick a location for any meetings you might be conducting, try and get there prior to the meeting to ensure it’s a suitable space. Coffee shops can be a good option, or look for a nice big restaurant or bar that’s bright and spacious.

You can also book out the meeting rooms and other hotel services on demand in some cities via a platform like DayBreakHotels, or look for co-working spaces that might allow you to hire their meeting rooms for a few hours. This is ideal if you require a more formal environment, or need to accomodate a number of people.

Business travel can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be! As with most things, organisation is key. Plan ahead, get some rest, and your overseas travel can be exciting, productive and lucrative.

Business

How retailers can deliver in the social commerce boom

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How retailers can deliver in the social commerce boom 1

By Sian Hopwood, EVP, Local Business Units at BluJay Solutions

E-commerce may have made waves across the supply chain over the last few years, but freight forwarders, shippers and those delivering on the last mile have seen nothing yet: a social commerce boom is upon us. Consumers are increasingly making purchases on social media, helped by the one in four British businesses which had enabled this by the end of last year. According to PayPal, this number will have doubled by time of publication. Britain is still playing catchup, however: this is nowhere near the global average of 45 per cent of sales volume which is purchased through social media.

Social media platforms are creating opportunities for businesses to convert consumers’ browsing behaviours into frictionless shopping experiences. Once destinations for interacting with family and friends, these platforms have added marketplaces and become another shop-front for brands. By integrating ‘buy’ and ‘checkout’ functions, social platforms have given consumers the ability to browse items and make purchases directly through Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, creating new ways for them to take immediate action on purchase intents and interact directly with brands, in real-time.

However, as immediate communication and instant service becomes the norm across all industries as digital transformation takes hold, freight, transportation and distribution businesses need to adapt to keep up. BluJay research indicates that 61% of supply chain professionals believe that delivering an enhanced customer experience is now the main driver for supply chain innovation, over reducing costs. This means understanding the shift in consumer behaviour, being aware of advancements in ecommerce and service provision and knowing how to leverage these changes to achieve a competitive advantage.

New ways to shop

Consumer attitudes and preferences have changed dramatically over the past five years. Alongside advancements in mobile technology, consumers have embraced immediate communication and now expect instant customer service. UK businesses have a huge opportunity to capitalise upon the impending boom, with 8.4m British consumers already shopping via social media. With a fifth of those already taking part in social commerce weekly, this proportion looks set to rise, along with the average monthly spend of £71.

Consumers are seeking new ways to engage with brands using technology, with younger generations leading the social commerce charge. According to the Global Web Index report, the adoption of social commerce is particularly high among Generation Z and Millennials, with 60 per cent more inclined to make a purchase on a social platform when given the opportunity. Buy now, pay later schemes like Klarna also give customers even easier ways to purchase products at a time of their choosing.

Transforming delivery on the last mile

Social commerce is about offering a fast, easy and frictionless end-to-end experience. Unfortunately, one of the less considered components of this revolution is how supply chains need to evolve to meet the expectation for seamless, speedy delivery.

The challenge for freight, transportation and distribution companies is fulfilling orders placed via social media efficiently, competitively and conveniently. This is imperative as it only takes one bad experience for a customer to look elsewhere.

So, how can these businesses keep pace with socially minded consumers, given the speed at which purchases can now be made?

Today, shoppers expect brands to be ‘always on’ and provide real-time product information, such as whether a product is available in a particular store and delivery time frames. But to do this requires two things: visibility into inventory levels and the ability to communicate real-time information to partners, suppliers and customers alike. Brands will be looking to freight, transportation and distribution companies to provide the visibility demanded by customers, making visibility solutions vital for shippers.

How BluJay networks helped AO.com to deliver

Freight, transportation and distribution companies will also struggle to meet customer expectations in the age of social commerce without the support of a wider network. For retailer AO.com, the expansion of its supply chain operations and delivery support for its vast and growing product range meant disruptive change. A focus on improving last-mile delivery would benefit both its business model and foster good customer relationships.

In order to capitalise upon the market and take the business to the next stage of growth, AO.com chose to join logistics specialist BluJay Solutions’ DropShip network. Streamlining AO.com’s transactional processes, the drop shipping solution helped maintain a reputation for delivering on time, highly valued by customers. At the same time, AO.com was able to join BluJay’s Commerce suite, join a Global Trade Network of logistics firms and the hundreds of suppliers also in the DropShip networks to expand.

Networks provide a base from which flexibility, scalability and operational creativity can be born. In the case of brands experiencing surges in sales as a result of social media posts, with a network, workflows can easily be adjusted to optimise the supply chain, or 3PLs combined with drop shipping called on to meet demand. It’s a balancing act to ensure the orders get fulfilled on time, yet if a delay was to occur, their transport counterparts can offer ad-hoc services, such as overnight delivery, to meet their requirements.

Into a new retail landscape

Social commerce and its parent e-commerce are only going to increase in the coming years as 5G is rolled out across the planet and mobile shopping becomes not only possible for more people in more places, but a higher-quality and more pleasing customer experience. Processes must be streamlined and optimised if businesses are to satisfy changing customer expectations and fulfil their promises. Across retail and ecommerce, from freight to delivery, businesses must have a strategy if they are to survive in a new retail landscape populated by socially-minded shoppers.

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Rightmove portal sees strong UK housing activity in 2021, reinstates dividend

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Rightmove portal sees strong UK housing activity in 2021, reinstates dividend 2

(Reuters) – Rightmove, which runs Britain’s largest online real estate portal, on Friday said it expected continued robust market activity this year, ahead of a potential extension of tax break and reinstated dividend payment.

House building has been a bright spot for Britain’s economy as buyers have taken advantage of low interest rates and the temporary tax break, while appetite for bigger homes suitable for remote working has also driven demand.

Britain is set to extend the stamp duty holiday by three months to June 30, local media reported, a move that could additionally support the housing sector after Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week unveiled a phased exit plan from coronavirus lockdowns.

“The UK housing market has, for the most part, shaken off pandemic-related challenges to forge an optimistic start to 2021”, the company said. It added it was likely that the current shortage of new listings will correct once the immediate lockdown is lifted and will have no lasting impact on estate agency branch numbers.

Rightmove, which had to offer a 75% discount to agency and new home customers during the April-July period in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, said that annual Average Revenue Per Advertiser (ARPA) fell 28% to 778 pounds per month.

The FTSE-100 company, which operates the popular portal that helps take the pulse of the UK property market, declared a final dividend of 4.5 pence per share, while annual operating profit slumped 37% to 135.1 million pounds ($188.26 million) for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020.

($1 = 0.7176 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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Pandemic pushes BA-owner IAG to a 4.4 billion euro loss in 2020

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Pandemic pushes BA-owner IAG to a 4.4 billion euro loss in 2020 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways-owner IAG posted a loss of 4.37 billion euros ($5.31 billion) for 2020 after a year of minimal flying and burning through cash, and it warned on Friday it could not say what would happen in 2021.

The worsening travel outlook and tighter restrictions brought in by countries over the last two months have threatened to ruin Europe’s critical summer season and leave some carriers in need of another round of funding support, analysts warn.

IAG said that the ongoing uncertainty and duration of COVID-19 meant that it could not provide a future profit forecast, illustrating the scale of the challenge for IAG’s new boss Luis Gallego, who is six months into the job.

The group’s focus continues to be on cutting costs to reduce cash burn to try to ride out the crisis.

IAG said on Friday it had total liquidity of 10.3 billion euros, and there were now signs there could be some relief on the way for its strained finances.

UK-focused airlines were buoyed earlier this week when Britain laid out plans for travel markets to possibly reopen from mid-May, prompting a flood of bookings, but uncertainty remains over whether it will include IAG’s long-haul routes.

“Getting people travelling again will require a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right,” IAG’s Gallego said in a statement on Friday.

“We’re calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely.”

IAG’s 2020 operating loss before exceptional items was slightly better than a consensus forecast for a 4.45 billion euros loss, after it sunk to a 1.165 billion euro loss in the October-December quarter.

($1 = 0.8230 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)

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