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Last month Conference & Incentive Travel Magazine (C&IT) released their state of the industry report which included the annual list of Top 50 UK Event Agencies.

We’re excited to share that this year, Clarity didn't just make it into the Top 50 but came straight in at number 10. The listings are based on event turnover and is a great achievement for the whole team. This comes the same year that Clarity's Martin Hayes-Gleave won MICE Manager of the Year at the Business Travel People Awards.

Clarity Event Management has gone from strength to strength, our in-house event production experts, venue consultants and group air team work in partnership with our clients to create outstanding experiences for their organisations and employees. We have a great track record across multiple sectors including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, retail and public sector, with a terrific track record of delivering return on investment and customer satisfaction.

Our experience has seen us work with groups from 10 to 30,000 as we have the expertise to successfully accommodate all types of functions. Our success over the last twelve months has come from targeting the delivery of a solution that will not only embed our clients brand values, but also creates the right memories for attendees.

Clarity Event Management regularly support our clients with:

  • Event management
  • Venue finding
  • Technical production
  • Incentive travel
  • Delegate registration
  • Dinners and awards
  • Creative design solutions
  • Executive leisure
  • Group travel

All of this sits alongside our Business Travel departments, which is a £430m turnover business, offering unrivalled buying power in the events sector.

Want to see them in action? Check out our highlights video:

To find out more about how our Clarity events team can help you, click the link below to access our latest brochure or call 0800 731 1627 to arrange a time to meet for a more detailed discussion.

As we discuss the relationship between personal and business as part of our Hearts & Minds campaign, we invited Clarity Account Managers Fraser Thomson and Matt Carter onto the show so discuss life on the road.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Should you check your emails outside of work hours?

How about travelling outside of work hours?

From missing your children's first steps to keeping motivated while working from home, we get the inside story on what it means to be a great account manager from some of the best Clarity have to offer.

We also discover our guests first, best and worst travel scenarios, in our popular final segment.

Absolute Clarity episode five is now LIVE and you can also find it here:

▶︎ Click here to listen on iTunes

If you would like to get in touch with Absolute Clarity about appearing as a guest, sponsoring, or suggesting a future topic, email us: podcast@claritybusinesstravel.com

You can also join the conversation by following us on Twitter @Clarity_BT using the hashtag #AbsoluteClarity #HeartsMinds 

Have you downloaded the Hearts & Minds manifesto? Click here to get your copy now.

On this month's episode host Alexandra Kington invites Tim Page, Senior Director from SAP Concur onto the show. They discuss expenses and how they can impact traveller satisfaction.

Does a badly managed expense programme put your staff at risk?

What are the financial benefits of implementing an automated system?

How can your expense system help you balance your personal and business life?

Watch them discuss managing work, answering questions raised by  the new Heart & Minds manifesto, a challenge to the procurement community to take a more traveller centric approach.

To keep up to date with what’s changing in the world of business travel, subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications. Clarity presents is a monthly show, make sure you don’t miss the next episode.

When you travel for business, it’s inevitable your personal lifestyle will be affected in some way or other. Many business travellers are aware that their jobs often come at a cost to their extracurricular activities and family life. Achieving the nirvana of work life balance is a hotly debated topic.

Is it actually possible? Or is it an urban myth? 

As a business traveller, how do you make sure you don’t miss out on the important things in life? 

We’ve put together our top five tips on how to balance your personal and business responsibilities:

1. Establish a routine

This isn’t always easy to do but if you have the opportunity, it’s worth adopting. Whether it’s choosing the same hotel if you regularly travel to a destination, or perhaps it’s a fitness routine you carry out daily before setting off on your travels, routine is a great way to achieve a level of stability. It could be something you do daily, weekly, or less frequent. Speak to your travel bookers or travel management company to see what they can do to help you maintain a set standard.

2. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This doesn’t necessarily need to involve professional services. With technology and the advancements in AI, there are many online tools that can help you balance your work and personal tasks. We recently compiled a selection of travel apps that we found useful for business travellers and there are other products such as smart watches and trackers that are worth looking at too. When it comes to booking travel itself, this is where travel management companies can show their real value, vastly cutting down time spent searching and booking trips as we provide total trip management solutions, freeing up your time to get on with other tasks.

3. Plan ahead

If you are spending half a day on the train or a few hours in the air, why not use that time to catch up on work or tasks you’ve not had time for at home. Planning isn’t just about making the most of your journey, but can also mean outlining an itinerary to tackle both personal and business objectives. For example, moving meetings to a central location and planning several appointments in a single day to avoid an extra night out of town and potentially save money. Or perhaps planning travel an hour later to avoid peak fares and enabling you to do the school run. All of these things can make for a more positive business travel experience.

4. Schedule personal time

This may come across as impersonal and perhaps a slightly odd way to approach keeping in touch. However many psychologists have advised scheduling set times to speak to loved ones and sticking to them have proved effective in minimising stress on the road. If a date night, family event or fun activity has been added to your calendar, it gives you something to work towards and look forward to. Making a conscious effort to set time aside for these activities can also help to improve productivity over time, as it takes you away from those moments where you might be over-stretching yourself.

5. Plan in down time

We’ve said this time and time again, but in the fast paced world of modern day living, taking time out to relax is essential. Personal wellbeing is something we should all be mindful of. Stress is currently the most popular factor that throws off a travellers cycle of work and rest. By keeping an eye on your overall health, it can help to improve your everyday capabilities. A little relaxation can go a long way.

Season two of Absolute Clarity, the number one business travel podcast is well underway and today we go live with episode four.

Host Kyle Daniels welcomes: Julia Fidler, Global Employee Experience Lead at MS Travel; Paul Casement, Sales and Account Director at Clarity and Louise Kilgannon, a consultant with award winning travel consultancy firm Festive Road.

The topic at hand, employee engagement.

What makes an employee engage with their business?

Will too many questions put them off? 

Will too few give you the information you need to better their experience?

They discuss travel persona's, embracing the new age of social media and how important it is to have honest feedback.

And of course the episode ends with our guests sharing their first, worst and best travel stories.

Absolute Clarity episode four is now LIVE and you can find it here:

▶︎ Click here to listen on Soundcloud

▶︎ Click here to listen on iTunes

For more information on Microsoft, visit: www.microsoft.com/en-gb/

For more information about Festive Road, visit: www.festive-road.com

If you would like to get in touch with Absolute Clarity about appearing as a guest, sponsoring, or suggesting a future topic, email us: podcast@claritybusinesstravel.com

You can also join the conversation by following us on Twitter @Clarity_BT using the hashtag #AbsoluteClarity #HeartsMinds 

Bridging the gap between policy and preference

The world is changing at a breakneck pace. A new generation has joined the workforce and brought with them challenges to the system and a new way of doing things. One of the most impactful changes is the focus on individual happiness. There is a new era of the discerning employee searching for the ever elusive nirvana of work/life balance.

Where does travel fit in to this? 

“Employee wellbeing has always been a focus for businesses and travel managers in particular, but with an equal focus on cost. At times policies are implemented that may not fit with the employees’ ideas for a comfortable, pleasant trip” explains Darren Williams, Head of MI for Clarity. 

However, by placing our primary focus on cost rather than the traveller, it can often work out to be more costly in the long term. 

“The motivations of travellers have changed. They’re interested in security, comfort, convenience and more than ever want the guess work taking out. As with most other facets of their lives, they crave speed and simplicity, meaning a rise in automation and personalisation that wasn’t available 5 years ago.” 

At Clarity, the importance of traveller satisfaction is clear. The development of several new features within Go2Insight, Clarity’s state of the art management information tool, demonstrates both the sector’s desire to gain further insight into this issue and the commercial benefits this insight can bring. 

One particular area of focus is safety. Williams explains, “Using data and insight we can start to combine reactive and proactive duty of care elements to enhance feelings of traveller security. By overlaying crime data onto hotel locations we can advise travellers of potential hot spots or alternatively, safer options. This will not only enhance the traveller experience, but make them feel happier with the trip overall, as they are aware that efforts have been made by their employer to consider their safety.” 

So how can we track the impact using insights like this have on traveller happiness or are we limited to anecdotal evidence? 

“There are a number of mechanisms available to track sentiment and we’ve chosen two which give a good balanced opinion that can be used together or independently,” says Williams. “One is the feedback direct from the traveller. Using our mobile tools, a traveller will be able to rate elements of the trip on a scale of ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Excellent’. 

We don’t need chapter and verse, we don’t even need the traveller to type in the booking reference as it’s all linked to the original booking. From this we can track the travellers opinion on multiple elements of the trip" from the quality of the Wi-Fi, dining options, to the quality of sleep, and then with this data, we can track individual product quality, and sentiment on those elements.”

He continues, “The second mechanism is using global sentiment from social media. This utilises blog posts, reddit feeds, review sites, and more, from which we can garner an anonymous opinion on brands, products and experiences across a wide range of demographics. This enables us to work with our customers to build a travel programme focused around traveller experience, evidence based sentiment and cost.”

The ability to achieve a balance between cost and convenience, policy and preference is no longer an out of reach, unobtainable goal, but a realistic option for measuring your travellers’ satisfaction against your policy. And in this age of employee centric travel, we could soon see this becoming the norm.  

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the relationship between travellers and technology. Booking tools, tracking devices, security alerts, how are we using technology at the moment and how does it impact on a traveller? 

With the introduction of new GDPR regulations earlier this year, traveller and employee data came under scrutiny, especially when in relation to safety and employer responsibility. 

Our second episode of Clarity presents discussed the challenge companies face when implementing duty of care processes. Being away on business, doesn’t mean working 24/7 but during a business trip, employers are responsible for the safety of their staff so knowing where they are becomes important. Host Alexandra Kington and Product Development Manager Will Murray examined how we tread the line between visibility and privacy. 

We discovered, this is where we need travel and tracking protocols to strike a balance between protection and personal freedom. Processes need to be put in place where traveller safety can be monitored, or their safe arrival can be recorded without imposing on their ability to travel freely. 

On Absolute Clarity, Kyle, Will and Ben Cooper from Travel Risk Media looked how to handle travel risk on a global level and by implementing the right tools, maintaining a balance is achievable. 

However, a good risk management policy needs to rely on more than just technology. A risk management policy should not be there solely to manage risk for the business but to instil confidence in the traveller too. We teamed up with Business Travel IQ and have developed a best practice guide to help you develop or create a risk management programme for your company. Click here to download a copy of the guide

Technology plays a large part in the traveller experience and with nearly 75% of business travellers using their mobiles for travel related activities, it’s time to move on to the next part of our Hearts & Minds campaign: How do our everyday road warriors maintain a healthy work-life balance? 

Click here to download a copy of the Hearts & Minds manifesto

If you would like to discuss or view a demo on the tracking and booking tools Clarity have to offer, get in touch salessupport@claritybt.com or call 0800 731 1627

Have you been keeping up with season two? 

Episode three went live today and we welcome Rami El Dashan and Mark Croucher from Virgin Atlantic to wax lyrical about all the work that goes on behind the scenes at Virgin. From their exceptional levels of customer service to their desire to partner with small independent businesses, we ask the questions to truly understand what makes them tick. 

Listen out for some inside information on their relationship with Delta and the recent Air France - KLM deal, before we get into Rami and Mark's first, best and worst travel experiences. 

Episode two welcomes back Will Murray, Product Manager for Clarity and Ben Cooper from Travel Risk Media to discuss all things traveller risk and safety. 

Absolute Clarity episode three is now LIVE and you can find it here:

▶︎ Click here to listen on Soundcloud  

▶︎ Click here to listen on iTunes

For more information on Virgin Atlantic, visit: www.virginatlantic.com

If you would like to get in touch with Absolute Clarity about appearing as a guest, sponsoring, or suggesting a future topic, email us: podcast@claritybusinesstravel.com

You can also join the conversation by following us on Twitter @Clarity_BT using the hashtag #AbsoluteClarity #HeartsMinds

As part of our Hearts & Minds campaign, we’ve been looking at how we can take a more traveller centric approach to business travel, without impacting an organisations profit and productivity. This month we’ve been focusing on the relationship between travellers and technology. We’ve discussed traveller tracking on both our video and podcast features, but what areas of technology are travellers really interested in? 
Nearly 75% of business travellers use their smartphone for travel-related activities. We decided to collate a list of the best mobile phone apps for business travellers: 

Best travel app for complex itineraries

Google tripsIf you’re company works from Google mail, Google trips is a great travel tool as it automatically scans your emails and auto populates your travel into Google calendar and the Google Trips app. It links to airline information, pushes disruption notifications and can give you relevant suggestions on your destination. It’s not great for complex rail but will help with those international journeys. 

Go2MobileWith Google Trips having framed what an itinerary app can do, if you are using Gmail you are also able to view an enhanced itinerary as the platform can clearly read our Clarity Trip Planner. Go2Mobile has a number of features that provide and prompt you with relevant information on your trip. An upcoming feature is rail itinerary with a smart workflow to quickly find your best open return departure or the ability to add your car parking spot to remind you where to go once you return from a trip. 
For more information on Go2Mobile contact salessupport@claritybt.com

TraxoAs well as being a powerful tool to combine all your personal and business travel, Traxo leverages the comprehensive dataset to facilitate airmiles reclaims. 

AwardWalletWhen you travel for work, you can’t always use the same airlines or stay loyal with a single hotel brand. But with a tool like AwardWallet, you don’t have to. It keeps all your different programmes in one place letting you check your balance at any time, even if you’re not online. 

Best travel app for when your flights delayed

Flightaware Want to know exactly what’s going on with your flight or how busy it is at the airport you’re headed to? Well FlightAware will do just that, and it’s live! It’ll help you monitor delays, airport conditions and receive real time updates when planes land, taxi and take off. 

App in the Air   Another app that helps track flight delays and changes to itineraries. App in the Air also comes with the added feature of helping you navigate airports. If you have a tight connection or need to meet colleagues you can use this app to plan ahead, even if you don’t have internet coverage.  


GateGuru This one you might like to keep on hand to help you navigate an unfamiliar airport is GateGuru. This app will not only show you round, it’ll give you a real time estimation on how long it will take you to get to your gate, considering wait time and delays. 

Flight BoardIf you want minimal fuss Flight Board is the app to download. It holds an easy to read flight board, with a menu allowing you to switch from departures to arrivals for any airport. As well as up to date times, it also issues gate numbers. 

Loungebuddy Sometimes the inevitable happens and your flight does get cancelled or your one hour wait turns into six. In those instances, Loungebuddy could be your saviour. This app gives you access to those secretive, indulgent spaces: the airline lounge. Based on your flight details, Loungebuddy can work out what lounges you have access to or allow you to browse and book what’s available and lists their amenities and up to date prices. 

Best travel app for keeping safe

FCO email alertsA wild card in our list of apps, as this isn’t actually an app you can download. The FCO have created a facility for you to sign up for email alerts when you know what country you’re travelling to. The alerts provide guidance, tips and useful contacts should an emergency situation occur. 

MySafeTravelIf you find yourself in a situation where you may need to notify friends and family back home that you are safe, MySafeTravel allows you to send a ‘check in’ email to re-assure your emergency contact list where you are and a note to give them peace of mind regarding your safety. 

Go2TrackWe mentioned our Go2Mobile app earlier, and with our added Go2Track app user can receive pre-trip info, alerts, notifications and even share their GPS location to their organisation. 

Prey anti-theftIt’s not going to save your luggage, but it’s designed to protect your digital valuables. The app allows you to find your phone, laptop or tablet even after they’re gone. It lets you retrieve and wipe data or eve lock devices remotely from across the office or the other side of the world! 

Best travel app for when you need to stay connected

Wifi map When working on the move, wifi can play a crucial role in being able to get work done. Wifi map helps travellers locate free wifi spots all over the world. Its crowd sourced by a community of users and each hotspot is rated on quality. Of course, make sure all your data is secure before logging on to a new network. 

LinkedIn The LinkedIn app is not only useful for keeping in touch with people you have met, it’s also a great tool to connect you with members nearby. You can discover connections in your area and exchange business cards, a feature that comes in handy when attending conferences and events. 

SkypeWhether it’s to conduct meetings, conference calls or to simply keep in touch with family, skype is a handy app that will allow you to make free calls and keep in touch. It even has the ability to host a video call with up to ten people if you need to host a virtual meeting. 

Whatsapp The use of SMS is quickly deteriorating as services like WhatsApp rise in popularity. It’s a great way to keep in touch with groups of people and it also has the ability to make video and regular calls. 
It’s worth noting that some countries have WhatsApp and Skype bans in place and others rely on them - either way it’s handy to have them just in case. 

Best travel app for travelling within a city

CitymapperCitymapper provides a detailed journey planner which includes real-time departure and disruption notifications and is available in around 30 cities worldwide. It connects with ridesharing services and presents everything clearly and can even send you an alert when you need to hop off a bus or a train, helpful if you’re somewhere new. 

Parkopedia Picked up the hire car but have no idea where to park near your meeting? This app will find you all the available spaces and price them up based on your time of arrival and length of stay. 

SAP ConcurA useful tool for any business traveller. This free app allows you to take photos of receipts, send information on reimbursements and even build basic approval and processing workflows for your teams. It’s a great way to keep track of your expenses on the go. 
Clarity is a preferred travel partner of SAP Concur, which means we have fully integrated data and shared client services, so you have the benefit of Clarity support and also avoid the need to expense your travel.

XE Currency converter The best thing about this currency converter, is it works on live exchange rates which makes it a valuable business tool, especially if you are trading internationally. You can set alerts for certain rate changes if you need to monitor a specific currency or view charts to check fluctuations. 

Best travel app for when you need some down time

AroundMe   When you find yourself in a new area AroundMe analyses the businesses and services around you such as banks, hospitals, coffee shops etc. helping you find what you need and even providing you with directions. 

Google translate Never one hundred percent accurate, but Google translate can come in handy when trying to decipher a menu or shop signs abroad, especially as its integrated with your device’s camera and microphone, so it can translate different text and audible speech. 

ZeamoEarlier in the year we touched on ways you can keep fit whilst travelling, one of the recommendations being to find an app that allows you to find nearby facilities and book single use passes. There are plenty of country specific apps, like payasugym for the UK or gymasyougo for Canada. Zeamo seems to be one of the few to hit worldwide locations and can match you based on your workout preferences.

Yelp

 Similar to TripAdvisor, Yelp is becoming increasingly popular when trying to locate the best restaurants or bars in any area. Not only does it populate searches based on popularity, it will display address, opening hours and even menus for listings. 
If you’re in the UK, TablePouncer is a handy app if you’re ever trying to secure yourself a seat at some of the finest eating establishments, handy if you’re trying to source a last-minute location to impress a client or prospect. 

What are your favourite business travel apps?

Do you prefer to book your travel online?
Or have a travel agent or booker take care of it all?
Do you think personalised travel using AI is a positive thing? 

The balance between human interaction and the use of technology is a tricky one and one that many industries are battling at the moment, including the world of business travel. As part of our Hearts & Minds campaign, we are keen to look at the relationship between Travellers & Technology and see how we can bring the two together to improve the traveller experience, without increasing the cost. 

Here at Clarity, our online booking tool Go2Book offers users access to the richest local and global content for air, rail, hotels and ancillary products. It provides total trip management configured to bespoke travel policy requirements, giving the traveller a seamless experience and the travel buyer visibility of the booking.

Implementing a self-serve booking tool is usually a cost-effective method for businesses. Automation and the need for online tools grows every day as travellers strive for efficiency and fast answers but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are willing to do away with old fashioned service. 

What about those trips which are not straight forward? Where the cheapest flight option involves a 22hr layover and delays employee productivity by a further two days which in turn ends up costing the business more money? Is our technology smart enough to tackle these situations right now? We’re making big strides with our use of data, but it doesn’t shy away from the fact that sometimes a human touch point is needed to fulfil a task to its highest potential. 

There are plenty of situations which may require immediate action, or special circumstances" airline strike action, weather related emergencies or even something as simple as road traffic delays impacting a full itinerary. Booking tools can solve these problems, but most travellers choose the reassurance of an experienced agent to help when they find themselves in what can become a stressful situation. 

There is no denying online booking is the way forward, but this has to be sustained alongside a quality network of business travel specialists. 
Having experienced travel agents with the awareness of company’s booking policies and travel patterns can be a real bonus for ensuring traveller satisfaction. It can also contribute towards marginal gains, as consultants can tap into their extensive knowledge to find the best possible route based on the desired outcome of the trip, rather than the cheapest option available. 

Technology is a crucial requirement for travellers in this day and age and travel management companies need to find that sweet spot to blend it in with just enough human interaction to keep the costs low whilst maintaining a high level of employee productivity and traveller satisfaction. 

If you would like to discuss or view a demo of the Clarity Go2Book online booking tool, get in touch: salessupport@claritybt.com or call 0800 731 1627

Find out how brighter business travel can boost your bottom line.

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