Business Traveller

Not all rooms are created equal

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It is an unacknowledged truth that one can choose a seat on a plane or cabin on a cruise ship, yet for all the flashy online booking channels out there, not much can be known about a hotel room (beyond its category) until check-in.

Cue resigned disappointment as you approach your nest you for the following few nights, a room that sits disturbingly close to the bank of elevators, is on a low floor near a popular nightclub and has a connecting door with strange noises emanating from behind it.

You fling open the curtains half expecting herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains, or at least a pretty park; instead you’re faced with a disused warehouse splashed with graffiti.

The title of this post is the tagline of Room 77. “The vast majority of travellers who book at online travel sites feel like they get the worst or average rooms today,” says the site’s founder Brad Gerstner who conducted some research into the matter.

Will the London Olympics kill tourism?

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This week I have been looking ahead to next year’s Olympics from a travel perspective.

The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), which routinely terrifies Olympic host cities with head-turning shock figures, brought out a survey last week suggesting leading inbound operators are seeing an average 90 percent downturn in bookings during the London 2012 Games.

Heathrow’s third runway: Forever out of reach?

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Heathrow Airport operates at 98 percent capacity – but another runway is now off the table for the foreseeable future.

The UK’s business travel industry has reacted rather glumly to the announcement by Labour Party transport spokesman Maria Eagle that they will not be supporting plans for a third runway at London Heathrow.

Heritage: Of monumental import

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I recently attended “The Forum on Cultural Heritage in a Developing World,” a Global Heritage Fund meet. It became clear throughout the day that some of the world’s big development issues can be dealt with through heritage – the Fund estimates that the 500 major heritage sites in the world’s poorest countries have the potential to generate over $100 billion a year by 2025.

Cultural tourism is vital for ancient monuments’ sustainable maintenance – but it must be well regulated or else the very spirit of the place and its authenticity will be destroyed. The Forum was held in London’s Spencer House, an 18th century townhouse-cum-private palace that had lost its lustre until an authentic restoration by Lord Rothschild who purchased the house in 1985.

Five green holiday trends for 2012

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Greentraveller, whose content is syndicated on Reuters Business Traveller, is celebrating its fifth birthday and presenting readers with no-fly holiday ideas for next year

Richard Hammond, who founded Greentraveller in 2006, maintains: “The single most important decision travellers can take to reduce their impact on the environment is to seek alternatives to flying.”

Take yourself to the zoo tomorrow

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You have a day of leisure in the UK capital? Why ZSL London Zoo’s “Keeper for a Day” experience might be the most rewarding, relaxing and educative way you could fill it

“Mammals North” specialist keeper Mick Tiley met our five-strong group at a service entrance within London’s elegant Regent’s Park. We were a TV producer, a banker, an electioneer and a retailer, all 30-somethings and all fizzing with excitement. We were to muck out and/or feed a coterie of creatures big and small, from the meerkat and the squirrel monkey to the giraffe and tiger. “I lose very few people,” Tiley joked.

Ode to an airport

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In August, Tony Parsons spent a week at London Heathrow as its second writer-in-residence. The result, a short story collection named “Departures”, came out today

In an idea devised by the lateral-thinking people at Mischief PR, in 2009 Alain de Botton penned non-fiction A week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary. With a Ballardian, infrastructure-fetishist relish, de Botton wrote movingly of the 65.7-million-passengers-per-year airport’s glazed surfaces and giant potted vegetation, and the people rushing around them.

Doing business – in person

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How frequently should we meet when there’s ever more ways in which to communicate… and where does this leave business events?

It’s hard being a modern businessperson. Is the telephone too intrusive now that everyone deals in email? Is a text message too informal? Are out-of-the-office meetings an expensive waste of time when a Skype video call on ubiquitous mobile devices – or a telepresence session – can work wonders? Are face-to-face catch-ups integral to keep our business relationships ticking over?

It’s enough to turn the most alpha exec insecure.

The hotel industry has always had a love-hate relationship with technology; they love adding tech toys to their rooms and meetings suites but loathe the fact that these very gadgets have stopped many of us needing to (or being allowed to) meet up in said facilities.

(Un)Packaging Britain for Chinese travellers

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The Chinese are coming, but not as fast as some would like. How can we make them feel at home?

It is enough to get Great Britain’s travel and luxury retail industry salivating. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Europe is expected to grow from 3 million in 2010 to 4.5 million by 2015 and around 8.6 million by 2020.

Travel shorts: Turbulence

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The first in an occasional series of short stories written by business travellers which seek to expose our interior monologues when on the road


Oliver Lemanski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turbulence
By Oliver Lemanski

“Would you like a hot towel sir?”

I crash out of my semi conscious daze to the sudden proximity of a very pretty if perhaps a little over made-up air stewardess starting intently into my eyes and brandishing a bizarrely large set of stainless steel tongs, in the grasp of which sits a steaming white towel.