Hints and tips.
We understand that not everyone is an expert at booking travel, meetings or events, so we've put together some hints and tips to help you become a pro.
Staying safe in hotels and venues
Here's some top tips on staying safe in hotels and venues.
Bedroom doors should not be left open whilst cleaning corridors, whether a departure or a stay.
If a guest advises a member of housekeeping that they’ve forgotten their key/key card, they should be directed to reception for a replacement following security clearance (unless the housekeeper has a handheld device and can satisfy their own security clearance prior to allowing entry to the room).
Interconnecting doors should always be checked to be locked during every clean, despite whether a departure or stay.
Reception and check-in
Room numbers should not be audibly shared, it should be pointed to on the key card.
Key cards should be presented face down.
Credit card dockets and receipts should not be left in public view.
Keys should be locked away.
Guests requesting replacement key cards or keys should be asked for ID.
Do not allow cards to be taken out of your sight for payment. A handheld device should be brought to you, or you should be asked to take your card to a device for payment..
When an in house or external call requests to be put through to a room number; the name of the guest should be asked prior to connecting. No calls should be connected to a guest room from a market research contact.
A good nights sleep when away from home
You already know that you don’t function at your best after a sleepless night. But sleep deprivation can lead to far worse impacts than a lack of focus and a bout of grumpiness.
So, make sure you get a good night’s sleep while staying away from home, with these top tips.
Ask about your room
Your choice of room can have a big impact on the noise you experience when you’re away. With hotels increasingly offering travellers more choice when it comes to their room, don’t be afraid to ask questions and specify your preferences.
A room on an upper floor, and away from the lift, can be much quieter than those downstairs. But don’t just steer clear of rooms on the ground floor. Rooms on a mezzanine level are likely to be just above the bar or restaurant – and you don’t want to be listening to the pulsating beat of someone else’s party.
And a room with a nice view sounds good – but it’s not always the quietest option. For example, a room overlooking a pool will doubtless be noisier at certain times. Choose a room at the back of a hotel if traffic noise out front is likely to disrupt your sleep.
Report any noise issues
If it comes to it, don’t wait to report noise problems. If the issue is noisy neighbours and a quick pound on the wall doesn’t do the trick, it’s safer to ring the hotel front desk than to confront the source of the disturbance.
And if that doesn’t resolve the situation, ask to move rooms. It might be an inconvenience – but a good nights’ sleep will beat a ten-minute room move any day.
Get some exercise
Taking advantage of any leisure facilities isn’t just great for your all-round health and fitness. Experts agree that regular exercise can help promote sleep. But you’re better off exercising before your morning meeting, than in the evening. That’s because the body’s post-workout energy boost could actually keep you awake.
Turn off, tune out, drop off
When you are ready to sleep, create a wind-down ritual. Meditating or stretching can work wonders, and if you turn off the laptop, dim the lights and turn down the TV volume, you’ll help your brain produce the sleep hormones you need.
And be sure to stop using light-emitting devices such as mobile phones before bed. The so-called blue light that is given off by these electronic devices (even alarm clocks) can interfere with melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleep. If you can’t turn off the alarm display or the standby light on the TV, try and cover it up.
Check it’s a non-smoking room
If you’re a non-smoker, make sure yours is a non-smoking room. It’s easy to assume that rooms are non-smoking as standard these days, but that’s not the case overseas. The lingering scent of old cigarette smoke may be enough to prevent getting a solid eight-hour snooze.
Know your perfect pillow
When it comes to pillows, options are good. Everyone has their own preferences about how a good pillow should feel. The wrong pillow for you could make all the difference. So check what’s available – many hotels now offer guests a choice of firm or soft pillows, or even a ‘pillow menu’ in upscale properties.
Think about temperature
Research shows the temperature in your room can affect the length and quality of your sleep. Our body temperature naturally falls as we drift off to sleep, so an over-warm room can hinder dropping off. A room temperature of around 18-21 degrees Celsius is reckoned to be ideal – but everyone is different. So if your internal thermostat is telling you the room is too hot or cold, and adjusting the heating or air conditioning yourself doesn’t seem to do the trick, do raise it with hotel staff. It may be something they can easily fix.
Air conditioning may be a help, or a hindrance, to a good night’s sleep. Check on the location of air conditioning units in your room. It’s great to be able to cool down easily – but sometimes an air conditioning unit rattles and hums, so can disrupt your sleep. On the other hand, some people find the constant hum of the air con can actually help to block out other external noise. Decide what works best for you.
Don’t share with your colleagues
You might be happy to share a room with a colleague, but it might not be permitted by your company travel policy. That’s not a bad thing – snoring is a major hindrance.
Request a wake-up call
For peace of mind, ask at your hotel reception for a wake-up call, even if you set your usual alarm as well. The chances are you’ll drift off easier knowing that you won’t sleep through your meeting!
If you're not quite sure on something, for example; how to use e-tickets, or submit a delayed travel claim, then look no further we've got your back.
Booking a meeting or venue
Booking the right venue or internal meeting space can take some careful planning. Here's some top tips for getting the best value when planning a meeting or booking a venue.
Think internal meeting space
Before you even think about booking an external venue, make sure you’ve checked out the availability of internal meeting space. If your office conference room is booked, but it meets your needs, double-check with the booker to see if it could become available.
Be flexible with dates
You could save, on average, 22% on both meetings and travel costs if you book during quieter periods. Venues can often be cheaper on Mondays, Fridays and during bank holiday weeks.
Offer food for thought
When venue booking, making sure that the lunch you select covers a range of dietary requirements is the norm these days – but how about picking food that inspires your delegates? Interesting food at a meeting can provide lasting memories – why not mix up the usual sandwiches and snacks with sharing platters, fun finger food, local specialities or even a themed menu? Healthy items and nibbles such as avocado or nuts can keep delegates’ energy levels up, encouraging them to keep listening and learning.
If your delegates are travelling by car, consider venues outside the city centre (if that fits with your company travel and meetings policy). These venues are often more easily accessible to drivers, and may offer better value for money than centrally located properties.
Make it easy to get there
Look at where your attendees are travelling from, and how they will travel to and from the venue. By starting a meeting a little later and avoiding peak-time journeys, you could save up to 38% on the cost of your delegates’ travel.
Don’t get caught out by cancellation policies
Always check the cancellation policy for the venue’s proposed rate before confirming your booking. If your plans are not yet cemented, don’t commit to a contract. Get more advice on getting the venue contract right in our expert guide.
Factor in your accommodation needs up front
If the majority of your meeting delegates need a room for the night, a 24-hour rate at a venue might be more cost-effective than booking a meeting room and bedrooms separately.
Bundle your bookings
The more flexible you can be when venue booking, the more likely you’ll be to save money and make your budget go further.
For example, if you are responsible for regular venue bookings with similar requirements, such as training courses, bundling the events together when negotiating could get you better value for money. And think wider than your own immediate team: are there other people in your company with similar venue needs that you could team up with? Check your company calendar to see if your event could be run on either side of a company conference that already has a confirmed date. You may be able to negotiate a two-day event rate at the same venue.
Be creative with spaces
Consider the objective of your meeting. Are you concentrating so hard on your return on investment (ROI) that you’re overlooking the meeting’s return on experience (ROE)? A standard meeting room might not motivate your delegates to take the right kind of action.
How about a venue on the water, a property that’s perfect for animal lovers, or somewhere with acres of outdoor space to get active? Bold and creative spaces, or something a little bit different, such as a walking meeting, might inspire a different outcome.
Keep safety and security in mind
Traveller safety is more of a priority than ever to business travellers. Think about whether your chosen venue meets your company’s security and safety requirements – and don’t miss our tips to help keep your delegates and their belongings safe on the move.
What to expect when travelling by rail
With restrictions now easing, we wanted to provide an update on what the Rail industry and Agiito is doing to help keep travellers safe.
Four tips to support your trip
Agiito has now made digital tickets the default option for all rail journeys where this option exists. Much in the same way that shops are preferring contactless payment methods, using digital helps navigate away from any train station queues when collecting tickets. Did you also know that paper train tickets cannot be recycled? Yet another reason to go digital!
All operators have now moved away from mandatory reservations but are recommending having one. Changes have been made to the reservation systems that means reservations will not be bunched together as was previously the case. Agiito recommends making a seat reservation for your journey when you book your tickets even if you hold a flexible ticket, if plans change you can be safe in the knowledge that reservations are not mandatory, and you will still be able to board service.
Consider the time of day that you travel or even day of the week, services will be quieter after peak periods for example. We have created a handy guide included on the last page of this guide which shows our key rail partners quieter and busier times.
Check with your Rail Operator if unsure
All Rail companies have a dedicated resource page linked to the measures they are taking to help keep you safe. You can find these pages for key operators included in the last guide of this page.
Rail Industry Safety Pledge
Last year the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) - representing all rail operators collectively - launched a safer travel pledge which focused on key commitments to its passengers that it would undertake. This pledge still exists today and has been modified as restrictions ease.
These key commitments include:
Maximising space – Running more trains with additional carriages to make extra room.
Boosting cleaning – Cleaning trains and stations more regularly across 14,000 carriages and 2,500 stations.
Helping with hygiene – Making it easy for passengers to keep their hands sanitized.
Improving information – keeping passengers better informed.
With such strong measures put into place, it was therefore welcoming to see that such measures had played a key part in no traces of coronavirus being found at four of the countries key train stations and onboard services following tests conducted by imperial college London, you can read more on that here.
Wearing face coverings
Although face coverings are no longer mandatory on public transport in England, the rail industry continues to ask passengers to wear them to protect themselves and other passengers.
Although face masks are only advised in England, in both Scotland and Wales face masks continue to be a legal requirement so please do keep this in mind when travelling in these countries particularly on cross-border services. In addition to this, face coverings remain a requirement for travel on the London underground.
View from the rail operator
With time to pause and review their offering, LNER has focused on improving the service they offer to their customers over the course of the pandemic whilst also ensuring their services remained safe for key workers who used their services. Measures that LNER put into place led to 89% of travellers who travelled during COVID being happy or extremely happy with measures that were put into place.
Recently as passengers begin to travel again, LNER has launched their new at-seat ordering product which works by scanning a QR code located by each seat with your purchase bought directly to you by LNER staff.
David Horne, LNER Managing Director, said: “We’ve been working hard throughout the pandemic to design new ways of making journeys by train – which is the most sustainable method of long-distance travel – as accessible, enjoyable and appealing as possible
“We’ve made booking tickets and travelling with LNER even smarter and introduced new products that make the whole experience of rail travel even more enjoyable. The tools we have invested in and continue to refine our industry-leading and offer customers greater flexibility and more choice when it comes to travelling with us”.