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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

EasyJet makes an attempt at the insurance market

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EasyJet, the low-cost British airline, has started a new partnership with Collinson Group and it will be offering its customers travel insurance solutions underwritten by Zurich Insurance, available on its website.

Zurich says that the customers will be welcomed by “persona-based products if their booking matches the profile for specific covers like winter sports, business travel, or sports such as cycling and golf.” They also have the option to buy the insurance separately from the flights through the easyJet website.

The pricing engine will also use variables such as the traveller’s destination, time of year, group size, and flight add-ons to make a suggestion regarding the type of product needed.

“We believe there is significant opportunity to introduce more tailored products at the point of sale, in addition to products that add greater customer engagement. We will continue to work with easyJet to create market differentiators to drive customer satisfaction and support their brand values,” said Greg Lawson, head of travel insurance at Collinson.

This new partnerships proves that the combined strengths of two businesses have the potential to innovate the market, offer better services, and understand the customer’s needs.

The airline is pleased with their partners and is happy to be able to sell travel insurance across Europe. The product will be available in 13 European markets, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.

Collinson Group is a global leader in shaping and influencing customer behaviour to drive revenue and add value to its clients. Their areas of expertise are Loyalty, Lifestyle Benefits, Insurance, and Assistance, and together with their clients create value, engagement, and loyalty in their relationship with their customers.

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The East India Company welcomes the new year with a new gin

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The beginning of this year will see a consumer launch of the new London Dry Gin developed by The East India Company. It is the brand’s first gin product and the first spirit in the company’s 400-year old trading history.

Since its creation in 1600, it has built a small empire based on sharing the East experience with the UK through the production of premium teas, rare coffees, artisan biscuits, jams, and marmalades and other fine food offerings. At the end of last year, it embarked on a new journey with the creation of London Dry Gin.

The current owner of The East India Company, Sanjiv M, said: “When I took the helm, I set about developing high quality tea, coffee and hospitality, but creating a spirits collection was also a very serious ambition. Gin felt like an obvious place for us to start due to the original trade of botanicals and historical connections to The East India Company. I am delighted to be creating a very prestigious gin as our first adventure into spirits.”

The brand has been working on its inaugural spirit since 2007. The goal was to develop a premium, commercially viable alcohol product that would reflect the company’s history and commitment to quality ingredients sourced from all over the world.

The development team spent 3 years researching through the company’s own records and the archives held in the British Library, Kew Gardens, Maritime Museum and the V&A, to source the key information that will create the perfect recipe for their new gin.

Jamie Walker, the Commercial Director, said that history and quality of flavour represent the key to success: “For centuries, The East India Company has traded the natural botanicals essential in the flavouring of a true London Dry Gin, and even pioneered the popularity of the original G&T. We’ve come full circle, in a sense, with the creation of an authentic London Dry Gin that is distilled in London using the world’s finest botanicals and created by a brand that stands for quality.”

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New Hotel Opening in the UK in 2018

A new year means new holidays and for those who want to try something new this year, here are the new openings from the UK.

The earliest opening is in January by the New Road Hotel in Whitechapel, London. It will be an independently owned business offering 80 rooms that reflect the East London scene. It will be perfect for both business and leisure travellers and the prices start from £169 per room based on a bed and breakfast deal.

The Academy will reopen this April in London. With its New York-based Champalimaud Design, it blends the modern and antique, showing the lives of the Bloomsbury Set who lived in that area in the early 20th century. The guests will be welcomed at their arrival by a beautiful garden courtyard, a breakfast bar and buffet, and cosy corners.

This spring will also hold the opening of the Monkey Island Estate in the historic village of Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire. The island has a history dating back 800 years, with monarchs, aristocrats and artists using it as their own meeting place. This superb renovation will consist of 27 bedrooms and three deluxe suites, aiming to bring all the Londoners to their private countryside escape.

The Grand Central Hotel in Belfast will become Northern Ireland’s largest hotel and will open in June. It will add 104 rooms to its 200 existing ones, creating over 150 jobs and offering over 300 luxury bedrooms, a restaurant, bistro, rooftop lounge, retail units and offices.

Another re-opening is Surrey’s 18th century inn, The White Horse in Dorking. It received a £3million refurbishment, benefiting of an addition of 16 new bedrooms, a total re-design of the ground floor restaurant, bar, and events spaces, There will also be a new restaurant concept for an all-day dining space that will integrate the hotel’s long-standing history.

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The ENTERTAINER had a great year and it is planning an even better one

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The app-based business, the ENTERTAINER, is on track to have a successful year. It has planned to achieve 1,000 operators across 4,000 outlets by January 2018.

The ENTERTAINER is the leading provider of offers from well-known dining, leisure, hotel, entertainment, and beauty brand across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In the first five months of trading in the UK, it secured 500 hospitality operators, and brands like Banana Tree, Busaba Eathai, Snog Frozen Yogurt, and Belgo are happy to join the app.

Karthik Ramakrishnan,the Group Operations Manager of Banana Tree said about this partnership that it “enables us to drive footfall and loyalty, whilst attracting a whole new customer base. Most importantly, we haven’t cheapened our brand with too many discounts.”

What this business offers is a platform for the brands to promote their offers and promotions to an audience they might otherwise not have. It limits the discounts available to consumers to three per year to protect the brand’s values and the offers are valid 7 days a week, for a 12-month period.

The volume of customer data collected by the app also gives a valuable insight into customer behaviour and intention. It organises its customer data by types of offer redeemed, frequency, location, and savings.

The Global Marketing Director of the ENTERTAINER, Mike Rich, is enthusiastic about the new partners and thinks that the uncertainties coming from the Brexit are making the operators more loyal. He also adds that “the most difficult part of retaining loyal customers is acquiring them in the first place. Through offers and incentives, operators can drive footfall, leaving their front and back-of-house teams free to do what they do best – delivering a fantastic experience that leaves customers wanting more.”

The ENTERTAINER app is free to download for iOS and Android and new users have the opportunity to try one offer for free.

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Healthy Hospo launches its first event

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Healthy Hospo, a newly launched non-profit platform for the hospitality industry, will be hosting its first event on the 15th of January. The event will bring together professionals from different areas of hospitality to share their knowledge in the field.

The event will consist of a series of 20 minute talks and workshops covering mental health, exercise, nutrition, healthy drinking, yoga/pilates, and meditation. The speakers list includes Tim Etherington –Judge, the founder of Healthy Hospo, Camille Ralph Vidal, the Global Ambassador of St Germain, Adrian Hodson, the founder of Real Kombucha, and many more.

Healthy Hospo aims to build a healthier, happier, and more productive hospitality industry with the help of its project that incorporates events, a website, and consultancy services. The website offers free information, advice, and support, while the consultancy programme will work with the employers to improve the workplace.

This social enterprise was developed by Tim Etherington-Judge, who, after a mental breakdown in 2016, has decided to use that experience to help others: “In 2016 I had a very personally traumatic time but I wanted to take this experience and turn it into something positive. Healthy Hospo will seek to improve the health and wellness of hospitality professionals throughout the industry through preventative measures enabling them to lead healthier, happier working lives and build more sustainable careers. I also hope that by doing this we will also benefit business owners, helping them build a healthier workforce resulting in increased profitability, staff retention and reduced lost days to sickness.”

The hospitality industry is known as one of the unhealthiest ones, because it lacks the securities and benefits that other industries have. The healthcare and insurance depends on country and employer and the paid sick leave is rare. There are also not a lot of organisations within the industry to support the rights and wellbeing of its workers.

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Sainsbury’s Planning on Buying Home Retail Group

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Sainsbury’s request to buy Home Retail Group has been approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The £1.4bn takeover of the UK based retailer that is the parent company of Argos and Habitat, has been under discussion since April this year. Sainsbury’s went under an in-depth investigation with the CMA that gave them green light to close the deal in early September.

This decision will broaden the supermarket’s product range and reduce its reliance on the competitive grocery market. Argos stores will be implemented in the supermarkets, adding a more varied range of homeware and other products. They will also acquire Argos’s online business.

This comes as good news for Sainsbury’s which has recently announced it will create 900 jobs for its launching of same-day online delivery services. This new service will allow the customers who order before 12pm to get their shopping delivered before 6pm. However, it will only be free of charge for orders over £100.

The idea will be carried out in three stores: London’s Streatham Common and Richmond and Surrey’s Brookwood for the start, and will expand to 30 outlets by Christmas. “This is a natural next step in delivering our strategy to help customers shop whenever and wherever they want,” says Robbie Feather, Sainsbury’s director of the online sector.

The second largest chain of supermarkets in the UK operates over 1,200 supermarkets and stores, and employs around 161,000 staff. It holds 16.7% of the market shares, overtaken by Tesco with 28.4% shares. It was founded in 1869 and was the largest grocery retailer until 1995 when Tesco became the market leader – a title that it is still owned by the same company.

With its purchase of Argos and the implementation of a same-day delivery system, Sainsbury’s looks like will become a major rival in the non-food retailing industry.

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Oscar Wilde at Reading Prison

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“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” is a beautiful quote from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Wilde is one of the most famous authors of all times and events organised in his name, with readings and plays, are not something unusual.

But there is a particular dark time in his life that hasn’t been celebrated that much – his years spent in the Reading Prison. During those (almost) two years he wrote “one of the longest and greatest letters in the English language” – De Profundis – a poem wrote for his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas.

To remind people of what has happened in that prison during the late 1890s, HMP Reading will open to the public for the first time, to celebrate its former inmate Oscar Wilde. Actors Ralph Fiennes and Maxine Peake and singer Patti Smith are among those ones who will read the four-and-a-half-hour long poem.

De Profundis is a love letter that was never sent. Wilde talks about his journey in the Victorian times prison system. His misery can be felt along the whole poem, with passages like “The most terrible thing about it is not that it breaks one’s heart – hearts are made to be broken – but that it turns one’s heart to stone.”

30 more artists, writers, and performers have signed up to be part of this project. There will be artworks exhibitions, reading of some other prison letters, and people will also be able to wander around the cells and check the conditions the prisoners were kept in and even the Victorian architecture.

The Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison will run from 4th of September to 30th of October. It is part of an initiative started by the University of Reading called Reading International, to promote art.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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It’s been six weeks into the previews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the Pottermania still isn’t over. This might be due to the very restrictive approach it’s been taken with this play.

“Imagine Star Wars was opening in one cinema in one city and that was the only place you could see it. That’s sort of what’s happening with this. The amount of interest worldwide is that much,” says Sonia Friedman, theatre producer. The play is only available for the public in just one venue, the Palace theatre, in London.

It has been managed so well that fans who haven’t seen the play still don’t know what is happening with Harry, Hermione, and Rob. The audiences and the newspapers refused to disclose any information about the plot. What is known is that Potter is dealing with parental issues: “how does a 40-year-old man, who’s also an orphan and a wizard and one of the world’s greatest heroes, how does he do the most basic thing of being a dad when he’s had no parenting experience and actually quite a lot of abuse,” says Friedman.

What theatre wants to prove is that it can compete visually with CGI technology. The play’s chills given by ingenious illusions, makes it the darkest of all the Harry Potter projects.

For those who haven’t got the chance to see the play, mainly for location reasons, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will release its book, a “special rehearsal edition”, on July 31st. The book is based on the script used for the play and it promises to offer loads of surprises for its readers, including tears. It is Amazon’s most preordered book of 2016, both in the U.S. and the UK.

Because the play keeps getting sharpen to make it even better and to fill the audience’s needs, an edited edition with new content will come in 2017.

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British Retail Consortium Announced their New Chairman

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Richard Baker has just been announced to be the new chairman of one of UK’s leading trade associations –  British Retail Consortium (BRC). He will start his term on the 1st of September, when Sir Charlie Mayfield will leave this position after two years.

Baker already is a member of the BRC, with a status of chairman for the furniture retailer DFS and Whitbread. He has previously been the chief executive of the beauty, health, and pharmacy retail chain Boots, from 2003 to 2007. Previous to that, he was the chief operating officer at one of the biggest supermarket retailers in the UK, Asda.

Baker said he is looking forward to starting his work with the BRC: “The BRC has a strong track record of championing the needs of British retailers – small, medium, and large. A backdrop of unprecedented transformation in the industry and many external uncertainties provides a real opportunity to influence the future.”

But he is not the only one happy to take on the lead on the retail company. Helen Dickinson, the chief executive, said that: “His wealth and breadth of experience will be critical as we take the BRC forward through a period of profound political and economic change.”

The retail industry is proposing itself to thrive in the face of Brexit’s uncertainty and challenges. Baker wants to ensure that this sector will have a voice in the government and will maintain ongoing dialogue with policy-makers on issues such as apprenticeships and business rates: “One of the great things we do in retail, which I don’t think is always fully recognised, is to create a huge amount of general business managers, which is huge value-add to British business,” he said.

Whether or not the retail industry, together with BRC, will continue to prosper is still unknown, but confidence and determination is definitely a sign of future success.

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American Whiskey, is the Best Whiskey?

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One of the most popular drinks in a party is definitely whiskey. Whether is on the rocks, an Old Fashioned, or a Manhattan, it definitely steals the show in British clubs and home parties.

Scotland’s The Famous Grouse Scotch is no longer the favourite whiskey in the UK. Jack Daniel’s outsold it in the past year, with sales that have risen by 9.3% in shops and supermarkets. The Famous Grouse saw their sales fall by 14.9% mainly because young people prefer the American brands over the home grown ones.

“Generally speaking, Bourbon has overtaken Scotch. The best whiskey is coming not from Scotland anymore, but from Kentucky.” said Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible. However, speaking at a global level, Scotch sells three times the amount of American whiskey, with U.S. being the world’ largest market for Scotch.

The reasons why British people choose American over Scottish are disputable. It might be because the youth simply doesn’t want to drink what their fathers and grandfathers do; or it might be the great advertising campaign JD has had over the last years, from T-shirts and posters to pool tables with the brand’s logo on.

Jack Daniel’s is a brand of Tennessee whiskey, which is straight bourbon, but made in the state of Tennessee. It has not always been so famous, but when you have a brilliant marketing and advertising team behind, great things happen. In the 1950’s it gained its place in the pop culture and famous figures like Winston Churchill and Frank Sinatra were spotted drinking the American whiskey.

During the years, Jack Daniel’s has become an iconic whiskey with its black and white label and square bottle. It has spread the story of how it was founded to the world and it managed to turn not only into the most famous whiskey brand, but into a cultural icon.

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