London Cycle Scheme

London Cycle Hire Scheme

The Cycle Hire Scheme officially rolled out today at 8am, Friday July 30.  You can take a cycle, ride it where you like, then return it, ready for the next person.  The bikes are available to anyone over 18 who can ride a bicycle without assistance. The bikes will be available around the clock and come with dynamo lights for riding at night. They don’t come with large baskets, helmets or locks, however.

How do I get pedalling?

For the first month, the Cycle Hire Scheme will only be available to registered members (you can register at www.tfl.gov.uk), who pay an annual subscription of £45 and are given access the bikes with a keycard which will be posted to them. As registered users, they’ll be exempt from the access fees that pay-as-you riders will have to pay.

So how does the pay-as-you-go option work?

We’re assured that the pay-as-you-pedal option will be available from the start of September. Once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to purchase access either online, by phone or at a docking station. A day’s access will cost £1 and a week’s will be £5. After you cough up, you’ll be given a keycode which will unlock the bikes.

How much does it cost? Once you’ve paid your access fee, a 30-minute ride is free: keep docking the bike and there’s no limit to how many trips you can take in a day. Otherwise, it’s £1 for an hour, rising to £50 for the maximum hire period of 24 hours. Hang on to the bike for longer and you may face a £150 fine; if you don’t return it, it’s £300. (Fees are charged to riders’ membership accounts or, for pay-as-you-go, the card used to pay the access fee.)

How do I find a bike?

By the end of the summer, 6,000 bikes will be available at 400 docking stations around central London (roughly Zone 1 on a tube map). If the rack’s empty, the docking station will direct you to the nearest available bike. Pop your keycard or access code into the lock, and off you go.

How do I return the bike?

Find an empty space at any docking station and park your bike. With 10,200 spaces for 6,000 bikes, it’s unlikely your station will be full. If it is, though, go to the terminal and you’ll be given an extra 15 minutes to get to another station. (The terminal will show you where to find the nearest free space.)

For more information on the scheme click here.

Go Native Comments

To find the nearest docking station to your Serviced Apartment click here.

Social Media “Overload” in the Travel Industry

Yesterday’s, Corporates reject social media “overload” – Hogg Robinson Group article over at the Air and Business Travel News website has sparked a bit of a debate here at Go Native HQ.

According to HRG’s commercial director Stewart Harvey, clients are calling for more targeted travel information in the event of a crisis and rejecting social media.

Citing the recent ash crisis which brought chaos to the skies over Europe, Harvey said social media had produced an “information overload” to which its clients had reacted negatively.

Harvey then explained that HRG experienced a change in client demands over the past five years, and the overriding message was one of greater control and refinement of information.

Technology such as information broadcasts, in which multiple travellers are blanket messaged, had “overwhelmed” and were becoming less popular, HRG said.

Harvey highlights some key findings which exposes the user segmentation that exists in digital media consumption.  On one hand, HRG shows an adverse reaction to social media among their very specific clientele, yet conversely, social media engagement globally is at an all time high (see ‘Facebook Passes 500 Million Users’ on Mashable as an example).

In response to the article, Go Native’s COO Shaun Prime agrees with some the issues raised, however, perceives the solution to be focused on “tailoring and managing the information available online for the customer”, allowing HRG to target specific information to travellers while on the move.

In an effort to incorporate more specificity and immediacy their provision of travel information, Paul Saggar, HRG’s director of technology product development, revealed that work was underway on at least two mobile applications. The first app will be an extension of HRG’s web-based i-Suite product. The second will be a hotel booker that utilises the geolocation made possible by inbuilt mobile GPS technology.

What are your thoughts? Are HRG’s findings a reflection of social media sentiment among corporates or do HRG just need the right digital tools to engage with their travel clients? Follow @gonativeltd on Twitter to join the discussion.

Business Travel Tips

Route Planner Websites – for Walking

Go Natives latest Business Travel Tip is those websites that give you walking directions.  So if you have had enough of:

  • road traffic and your sat nav telling you to turn right
  • hot and busy tubes and buses

then you should don your walking shoes to get around. Plus it’s a great way to discover the area you are living / working in.

Google Maps

Google has launched a beta version of this service on Google Maps.  Its very easy to use, you simply type in your to and from location, hit the small icon of the man and click on Get Directions.  This will then calculate your route, providing you with:

  • written directions and a map of suggested walking routes and the time taken to walk the routes

Plus, prior to heading off on your walk if you click on the little camera icon next to the written walking instruction this will split your viewing pane into 2 sections:

1. a live google street view

2. the map of your route

Walkit.com

Walkit.com is another walking route planner website.  You can use the easy search functionality to get walking directions using the journey planner, or try one of their suggested walks which will again display written directions and a map. Other features of the walkit website include showing you:

Distance - how long your journey is in miles, kilometres and steps

Time- how long it will take you to walk the route at a slow, medium or fast pace.

Calories - how many calories you will burn based on the pace you are walking at.

CO2 Saved – shows how you are reducing your carbon footprint by opting to walk instead of travelling by tube, bus or car.

mywalkit – you can get more tailored information if you wish to with their new mywalkit feature.

Walkit is UK based and does not cover all locations.  At present the website has walking directions for most major UK cities.

Go Native Comments

Business travellers need to quickly become acquainted with the area they are working / living in so these tools can be very effective to ensure your working days run smoothly; be that, if you need to walk to a meeting, a client event, find your way from your Serviced Apartment or hotel to a particular spot or head out to a place of interest in your spare time.

Top Business Cities

CEO World recently released an article featuring the World’s Top 15 Best Cities For Business And Careers based on a number of factors. We have featured the top 10 here for your interest. To view CEO World Magazines full article please click here.

1) London (Aggregate Score- 75.32, Ease of Doing Business- 87.36, Business Center- 62.13, Career opportunities- 55.94)- London, the capital of England and the UK, is the world’s ninth-largest city. Its history spans nearly 2,000 years, beginning with the arrival of the Romans soon after their invasion of Britain in AD43. London is situated on the banks of the river Thames, in southeast England.

It is the premier city in Europe in terms of size, population and per-capita wealth. What strikes visitors more than anything about London is the sheer size of this city, spreading across a huge area from its core on the River Thames, which meanders through the city centre, dividing it into northern and southern halves.

2) New York (Aggregate Score- 72.57, Ease of Doing Business- 85.52, Business Center- 59.54, Career opportunities- 50.71)- New York City, arguably the world’s most vibrant and sprawling metropolis, occupies five boroughs, each with its own distinct identity. After all, before the historic 1898 consolidation, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island were each independent municipalities. Manhattan Manhattan, home to the most recognizable sites, dominates popular perception of New York City. Its most famous districts are listed below: Wall Street & the Financial District New York’s first district remains its most historic. Wall Street investment banks coexist with landmarks like Trinity Church .

3) Tokyo (Aggregate Score- 70.84, Ease of Doing Business- 86.08, Business Center- 53.88, Career opportunities- 86.60)- Tokyo is the governmental, financial and administrative centre of Japan. Quick to embrace modern developments and fashions following the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Tokyo has continued to be at the forefront of trends and technology and remains the country`s most cosmopolitan city. Japan`s current drive towards economic reform and deregulation was initiated here, and it is here that these measures are having their most immediate effect.

While Tokyoites are generally the most cosmopolitan of Japanese, many will be reserved in the company of foreigners, particularly when called upon to speak English. Whereas almost everyone under fifty has some basic knowledge of English, very few are able to speak fluently.

4) Chicago (Aggregate Score- 70.12, Ease of Doing Business- 87.07, Business Center- 71.89, Career opportunities- 83.88)- Chicago, for much of its history, has been known informally as America’s “Second City.” It is currently ranked as the third-most populous city in the United States after New York and Los Angeles. Chicago is located in northern Illinois and curves around Lake Michigan, with the Chicago River snaking through its center. The name “Chicago” is the French rendering of the Miami-Illinois name shikaakwa, meaning “wild leek”. Etymologically, the sound /shikaakwa/ in Miami-Illinois literally means ’striped skunk’, and was a reference to wild leek, or the smell of onions.The name was initially applied to the river, but later came to denote what is presently the site of the city.

5) Hong Kong (Aggregate Score- 68.98, Ease of Doing Business- 88.24, Business Center- 66.16, Career opportunities- 86.60)- Hong Kong is one of the world’s reliable and efficient financial centers. The advantages of no exchange control, sound legal system and efficient transport/communication networks make the incorporation in Hong Kong attractive for international traders. Hong Kong is ranked the freest economy in the world.

6) Singapore (Aggregate Score- 67.57, Ease of Doing Business- 82.64, Business Center- 50.91, Career opportunities- 77.57)- The Republic of Singapore consists of the main island of Singapore and some 63 offshore islands. Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races are commonly seen. The pattern of Singapore stems from the inherent cultural diversity of the island. The immigrants of the past have given the place a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences, all of which have intermingled.

The official languages in Singapore are Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), Tamil and English. Malay is the national language and English is the language of administration. The Constitution allows every person the right to profess and practise his religion and to propagate it. The main religions in Singapore are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism.

7) Frankfurt (Aggregate Score- 65.69, Ease of Doing Business- 82.15, Business Center- 55.21, Career opportunities- 88.12)- Frankfurt is the most international city in Germany, the largest financial centre on the European continent, a historical city of coronations and the city of Goethe. In brief, the smallest metropolis in the world – often referred to as “Mainhattan”.

8) Paris (Aggregate Score- 65.23, Ease of Doing Business- 73.83, Business Center- 51.37, Career opportunities- 84.68)- Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is – with 2.2 million people living in the dense central city and almost 12 million people living in the whole metropolitan area – one of the largest agglomerations in Europe. Paris is one of Europe’s culinary centers. The restaurant trade began here just over 220 years ago and continues to thrive. It may however come as a surprise that Paris isn’t considered the culinary capital of France, rather some people prefer the French cooking found in small rural restaurants, outside of the city, closer to the farms and with their focus on freshness and regional specialties.

9) Seoul (Aggregate Score- 64.25, Ease of Doing Business- 87.30, Business Center- 56.19, Career opportunities- 74.43)- Seoul, the capital city of the Republic of Korea, has been the center of the country in its long history from the prehistoric era to the present day.

Seoul emerged as the capital city before the Common Era. Its emergence occurred during the early days of Baekje, one of the three kingdoms that existed in the peninsula for over a millennium. Baekje’s rich and brilliant culture became the basis for cultivating Korea’s cultural history. During the Three Kingdoms Era, it was the strategic region all those three rival countries competed for, which illustrates the substantial significance of Seoul during that era.

The political, commercial, industrial, and cultural center of the nation, Seoul is by far the most important city in the country, containing almost one quarter of its citizens. In the 15 years between 1970 and 1985 the population grew by over 4,000,000 and Seoul modernized dramatically, becoming one of the world’s major cities.

10) Mumbai (Aggregate Score- 64.12, Ease of Doing Business- 82.45, Business Center- 53.03, Career opportunities- 86.60)- Mumbai, which was previously known as Bombay is a major metropolitan city of India. It is the state capital of Maharashtra . Mumbai city is known as the business capital of India, it being the country’s principal financial and communications centre. The city has the largest and the busiest port handling India’s foreign trade and a major Intentional airport. India’s largest Stock Exchange which ranks as the third largest in the world, is situated in Mumbai. Here, trading of stocks is carried out in billions of rupees everyday.

Go Native Comments

With an exciting array of very different cities where business is conducted Business travellers will look at a variety of accommodation options depending on their length of stay and depending on whether they are going by themself or taking their entire family.  Go Native Serviced Apartments are a popular option for business travel accommodation.  You can read our article on the benefits of a Serviced Apartment here.

Go Native provides access to Serviced Apartments across the UK, EMEA & India.

10 Great Travel Gadgets

10 Great Travel Gadgets (for the geeky business traveller!)

So, you’ve booked your luxury serviced apartment with our expert team of Go Native reservationists.  Your bags are packed and your presentation is memorised to the point where you can happily wash your biro-laden palms without a care in the world; but what do you do to bide the time between relaxing in your comfy, temporary city abode and the big meeting?

Well, we have very kindly put together a list of the latest and smartest innovations to assist you in your travel needs. In no particular order:

  1. Livescribe Pulse Smartpen (£139.00 for the 4GB version) can aid with travel phrases in, say, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German or French. After downloading a language app to the pen, ink a phrase in English on the special paper and you’ll clearly hear (from its speaker) and see (on its little screen) the translation! Or use this little high-tech wonder to keep a multimedia journal. Simply write notes while recording what you say, then upload the audio-synched scrawlings to your computer.
  2. The ultra-mobile Tunebug Vibe (£59.99) transforms any flat surface into a speaker. Just hook it up to your favorite portable audio source, put it down—boxes and other hollow surfaces work best—and rock out. There’s also the Bluetooth version made specifically for affixing to snowboard, skate or bike helmets.
  3. Sanyo’s eneloop pedal-assist hybrid electric bicycle (£1,699) could quite literally change the way you travel. You can pedal it just as a normal bike. Or, allow this synergetic three-speed regenerative bicycle to sense when you need help on tougher terrain and give you a boost of power. Since it recharges along the way, it’s definitely a greener, healthier alternative to consider for any short distance trip up to 46 miles.
  4. In a similarly green vein, Scosche’s solCHAT II solar Bluetooth speakerphone (£44.99) initially charges directly via USB or car adapter. But then, suctioned to your windshield or clipped to your visor, sunlight continually recharges the unit. With one-touch voice dialing and voice announce caller ID, it’s a great, environmentally friendly way to stay hands-free without having something clunky stuck in your ear.
  5. Avoiding clunkiness is part of the thinking behind Hybra Advance Technology’s amazing O.R.B. (from around £80). In one position, it’s a ring that can worn on a thumb or finger and display incoming caller IDs, text messages and pre-programmed reminders. Twisted open, it’s a wireless headset that fits comfortably over the ear. It’s certainly more fashionable and functional than the average Bluetooth earpiece. But it also uses advanced technology to create a more discrete, natural listening and speaking experience that doesn’t isolate you from the outside world.
  6. Nikon’s pocket-sized COOLPIX S1000pj (£169.99) allows you to project the 12-megapixel stills and 30-frame-per-second videos you just shot onto a nearby surface with an image size from 5 to 40 inches. The 5X wide-angle zoom and myriad other smart features allow you to capture great shots. But that projection clearly adds another dimension to sharing them on the spot.
  7. When you really don’t want to share, it’s time to strap on a set of lightweight ITG-Vidix goggles ($279.99). Just like other multimedia goggles, you can plug into an outside video source for a big virtual screen with instant privacy from Nosey Nellie in the next seat over. But what makes these babies great is that they have 2 GB of internal memory and a micro SD card slot. So you can also load your movies, photos, music and e-books right into the goggles for easy viewing, without having to lug around a separate DVD or other media player.
  8. iLuv’s i1166 portable multimedia player (£199.99) boasts a similarly economical architecture. Open up the device and pop in any standard CD or DVD—or best of all, your whole iPod! While docked inside the i1166, your iPod can charge and you have full control with a user-friendly graphical interface. You can also slide in an external memory card or USB drive to experience TV or movie files through its stereo speakers and bright 8.9-inch widescreen display.
  9. Should your travels take you underwater, you’ll definitely want one of Liquid Image’s video masks (from £80 to £299.99). Even casual snorkelers can shoot decent video hands-free and 5-megapixel stills. (No more shelling out for subpar disposables!) And serious recreational divers can get all the wide angles, filters, lights and high definition they can handle. At whatever your preferred depth, no trip to the Great Barrier Reef (or your backyard pool) is complete without one of these fun masks.
  10. Lastly, you’ve probably wondered at some point in your travels what’s going on back at home. Avaak’s Vue personal video network ($299.99) can help you find out, with zero technological intimidation. Easily positioned little low-power wireless cameras send signals to a gateway connected to your router. So from any Internet browser—even on your iPhone—you’ll be able to view, save and share live video clips indicating what shape the house is in, if the cats are still alive and what the kids are up to.

Serviced Apartments

Why Choose a Serviced Apartment?

1.  More space to live and work comfortably: On average apartments offer at least 30% more space than a comparable hotel room – with a separate kitchen area and a properly-equipped living/work space to ensure you can live and work as you want to.

2.  Cost-effective: With travel budgets under pressure, Serviced Apartments offer excellent value for money and give you the ability to keep within your travel expense budget more easily.  For instance, you can avoid expensive hotel breakfasts, bar bills and room service and opt to cook for yourself using the apartments kitchen and dining facilities.

3.  Flexibility: Offering a comfortable living and working space means you can properly relax in a home-from-home environment with the choice of eating and socialising in your apartment. For business travellers, you can choose to entertain clients or host meetings in the comfort of your Serviced Apartment.

4.  Quality: Most developments are modern, contemporary and stylish and offer the very latest in-room technology, fully-equipped kitchens and high quality bed linen and furnishings.

5.  Privacy: Our guests greatly appreciate the increased privacy which Serviced Apartments offer.

Go Native provides companies with an outsourced corporate housing management service and individual travellers with access to a comprehensive network of over 25,000 Serviced Apartments, all available on a flexible basis.

Serviced Apartment Supply and Demand

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The Serviced Apartment Industry is experiencing an incredibly busy year.  The fantastic value offered to both the business traveller and the leisure traveller has seen the popularity of Serviced Apartments soar during the first six months of 2010.  Go Native are reporting the busiest year in bookings in it’s history and has seen many new clients come on board to enjoy the benefits of this type of rented accommodation. Shaun Prime COO at Go Native comments ‘We have spent valuable time listening to the needs of our clients and have built our portfolios of property in line with the results of this research from both a location and facilities perspective. We’re running at very high occupancies which is a strong indication of the desire for our product and the wider industry appears to be experiencing similar demand.’

Current supply is at an all time low with Serviced Apartment booking agencies struggling to find enough supply to satisfy demand particularly in London.  Operators are taking advantage of the demand on their apartments by raising prices and managing their revenues closely.  Go Native believes this is partially due to the economic downturn over the last 18 months where larger operators contracted their stocks to maintain stability whilst UK businesses tightened there belts to curb the effects of the recession.  At the same time Businesses also realised the cost saving value. For example, city serviced apartments for rent are generally cheaper than hotels of a similar specification, and the guest can also enjoy the Kitchen facilities and prepare meals,  even entertain clients in the comfort of their apartment. This has  lead to a reduction in the per diem spend often offered when staying in hotels.  This coupled with the benefits of extra space, a home from home experience and the privacy that comes with a rented apartment has also seen Employee’s shifting their preference towards staying in this type of accommodation.

As we begin to climb out of recession, rental demand from businesses appears to have returned. In general operators are trying to bring on more and more stock to take advantage of the current market conditions.  Go Native is happy to share that it has a number of developments in the pipeline going live in the coming months continuing the growth of its Portfolio and furthering its commitment to growing client demand for serviced apartments.

Why are Brits becoming Expats?

Why are Brits becoming Expats? (part 1)

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, published in November 2009, show that 427,000 people emigrated from the UK in 2008. This was an increase of over 100,000 from the year before.  One of the reasons behind this migration can be attributed to the poor financial status of the UK.   According to a survey of over 1,500 people by Primelocation International their research shows that

  • 33% said they had a desire to relocate abroad permanently and that was the reason behind their search for overseas property
  • overall interest in international property is at record levels,
  • 23.7% of those questioned were looking for an overseas holiday home and 12.4% were searching for an investment property
  • just over 20% of respondents said that the UK’s difficult economic climate has affected their intention to buy abroad and only 9.8% agreed that they had to be realistic and search for property in locations that fitted affordability constraints.

The organisation’s international development manager, Ann Wright said that ‘The fact that one fifth of those searching for international property agreed that the difficult economic climate has affected their intention to buy abroad suggests that poor financial prospects for the future are a driving factor behind Brits’ desire to emigrate’.  She also added that property buyers in the UK recognise that prices in many popular countries such as Spain and France are such that they can make a good investment.

Julia Whittle, Head of International at Punter Southall Financial Management  says that “It seems there will be a lot of people moving back and forth across the globe this year.”

Go Native Comments

Relocating anywhere is a big deal. Go Native is experienced in dealing with relocations as we handle this on a daily basis placing employees and entire families relocating into our Serviced Apartments.  Some intitatives we have implemented to make the transition as smooth as possible include:

Familiarisation Program - this was developed specifically for the large number of inbound assignee’s that come from India.  Our familiarisation program provides practical advice and information regarding accommodation for overseas assignees.  Given the cultural differences, this often helps assignee’s feel more comfortable in their unfamiliar surroundings when first arriving in the UK or Europe and helps employers carry out their duty of care to assist in the familiarisation of their employees into the UK.

This service has proved to be so popular that we now run this service in the UK to many of our corporate clients.

VIP and Domestic Re-locationour team offer a full range of support services for assignees who require assistance with sourcing their new home. From negotiating leases, setting up utilities to purchasing a mobile  phone  our ‘settling in service’ will take the hassle out of the process .

Go Native Summer Party 2010

We let our hair down at our Summer Party this year – the photos speak for themselves!

The entire team got on a big yellow bus outside our London HQ and headed off to Windsor where we boarded a boat and had a civilised Pimms or 2 whilst travelling up and down the river.  Next it was off to the Windsor Races for some light gambling and more drinking. We finished up back on the boat to enjoy a fantasitc BBQ, more drink and a disco.  Some of the team even got to stay in one of our Serviced Apartments that night.

It was a great day.  Thanks to Debbie & Ceire for organising it all.

Business Travel Tips

Business Travel Tips – airline seat planner website

Whether you are a business traveller travelling business class or economy you may find it useful to use a seat planning website such as  www.seatguru.com to choose the best spot on the plane for you.  Or if you have very specific requirements you can use the website to get various statistics – size of seat, angle of recline, leg room and so on which can be particularly useful if you are travelling long haul.  Features of the website include:

  • Detailed seatmap graphics
  • In-depth comments about seats with limited recline, reduced legroom, and misaligned windows
  • Color-coding to help identify superior and substandard seats
  • In-seat power port locations
  • Galley, lavatory, exit row, and closet locations

In Flight Amenities

On every plane page, there is an In-Flight Amenity box. The amenity icons pictured in the box represent the services that are available on a particular aircraft.  You can click on the individual icons for more details and links to additional information. If an icon is not pictured, that service is not offered on the aircraft.

Airline Information

When you select an airline from the left-hand menu, you’ll be taken to that airline’s General Information page which provides quick links and contact information. From the General page, you can navigate the airline’s information pages for tips on Check-in, Baggage, Unaccompanied Minors and Traveling with Infants and Pets.

About SeatGuru.com

In October 2001, frequent flyer Matthew Daimler launched SeatGuru.com with a single color-coded interactive airplane seating chart. Having experienced firsthand the vast differences between airline seats, he was determined to collect this useful information and share it with other travelers. Over ten million visitors later, SeatGuru has enjoyed incredible success and has expanded to include more than 700 airplane seatmaps from nearly 100 different airlines.

Go Native Comments

Go Native keeps at the forefront of the latest business travel developments and trends so we can share them with our readers and clients to ensure that every aspect of business travel is made as easy and pleasureable as possible.   We lead the way in the world of Serviced Apartments and Coporate Housing Solutions but believe it is necessary to have a great understanding about all the other aspects of business travel.