A business case for the Assist Conference 2017

Next year’s Assist Conference kicks off on Friday 24th February in London and I am just putting the final touches to the programme. I must say I am really looking forward to the day. We have fantastic speakers and so far the programme is packed full of thought-provoking, relevant and informative content. We have great networking opportunities for all of the delegates and we are adding a few creative details to make the conference fun and engaging.

I have had great feedback from the Practically Perfect PA readers and so far we have 40 assistants booked onto the conference. With limited spaces I don’t want anyone to miss out, particularly assistants who do really want to come along, but believe their boss will not finance the training. For those of you in this situation I have put together a business case document which will help you persuade your boss that you need to attend training courses throughout the year.

If you would like a copy of the business case document, please do get in touch using the contact form. I will email you a copy straight away.

Assist Conference 2017

During the conference, we will be discussing all of the important tools, including effective communication, that assistants need to succeed in the role – now and in the next 5 years. Taking place on the 24th February in London for only £300+VAT. If you would like to book your place on the conference, check out the programme or the speakers, please do make your way over to the website.


The Launch of PA Insiders – for PA to PA Recommendations

Merryl Futerman PA Access All Areas


Hi, I’m Merryl Futerman and I am one of the founders of PA Insiders.  Having worked as a celebrity PA for nearly 20 years, one of the things I love most about the job ihttp://www.pa-insiders.com/s never knowing what task is coming my way next. One of these unusual requests formed what would become the seed of PA Insiders. Let me explain. My boss bought an antique grand piano at auction for his country house. I needed to arrange delivery, but also for the baby grand that was there to be moved to the London property to make space. This in turn meant moving the art deco ship’s piano from the London home to a friend’s house in another part of the country. And so it was I spent several days researching, getting quotes, insurance, booking etc so that on one fateful day I had 3 pianos in simultaneous motion around the country. I was now an expert in piano removals. And yet would probably never need those contacts again.

This is often the way with us PAs – we have banks of knowledge which sometimes we only need to use once – a big office move, a one-off international conference. I was chatting about this with my colleague, Josephine Green, and she also pointed out how collaborative PAs usually are, happy to share their contacts and knowledge with other PAs. So together we came up with the concept of creating a place where PAs could share information with each other, and more to the point understand instantly the requirements – PA to PA recommendations. Better still, if it was online it would mean that PAs from anywhere in the country and even beyond could access it – and so the idea started to take shape.

It has taken over a year and been through many stages but we are delighted to be launching www.PA-Insiders.com – a website where PAs from anywhere can search the database to find a supplier suggested by another PA, with their reason for recommending and relevant contact info etc. We are also great believers in networking, so there is a Conversation Wall where PAs can ask a question, share a great tip or post a picture, an e-card feature to send to someone to ask for advice about their city, or say ‘thanks for the help’, or just ‘I think our paths have crossed’. We have thrown in a competition and a regular poll for PAs to get involved in and tried to include everything we ourselves would find useful in our day to day working lives.

Our dream is a PA in Exeter having to plan a business trip to Glasgow for their boss, and simply by asking for help on the Conversation Wall and searching the database by city, being able to set the whole thing up in a few clicks – from travel to hotel to a great restaurant for dinner. Or needing a specialist piece of tech for a board meeting and having someone who knows exactly what to use and how to source it.

One of our key requirements was that the site be free to use for PAs and we’re very proud to have achieved this, but its success is now down to our members – by uploading their great suppliers, engaging in the conversation wall or responding to a poll. Do go and have a look – you can download the brochure on the home page before signing up. As all communication takes place via the website you can rest assured that only your name, company and city will be displayed on the member database.

There are approximately 65,000 PAs working in the UK, imagine the shared knowledge available to access.

Visit the website www.PA-Insiders.com

Follow us on Twitter @PA_Insiders

The Future of Business Travel and the Millennial Traveller

At the recent Assist Travel event we were lucky to have Tae Lee, the founder and CEO of Travo talk to our delegates about the future of business travel and the millennial traveller. He covered a lot of interesting points and I thought it would be useful to share his video with you today. I just want to give you a bit more of an introduction to the video.. .here is what Tae covered in his session:

A new generation of business travellers are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. The Millennials, the generation of tech savvy digital natives currently in their twenties and early thirties, will account for nearly half of the workforce by 2020. In this session a true Millennial will look at how the travel industry is already gearing up for this new cohort. Tae will also look at how individual Assistants can prepare as increasingly their Executives travel habits and expectations start to change. So how should Assistants react to their Executives:

  • Travelling more often
  • Loving gadgets
  • Increasing their expenses
  • Spontaneous nature and
  • Ease in voicing dissatisfaction

A bit more about Travo

Our Motto: “TIME IS MONEY”

We believe that time is money. Time can be exchanged for money by working, but it can also be spent curing a disease or spending time with your nine-month old son. Admins and travel planners spend way too much time planning and booking trips. Travellers dread planning their trips until the very last minute because it’s time consuming to not only find flights, hotels, and ground transport, but also to figure out if all the arrangements are timed correctly. It’s hard. TRAVO makes it easy.

Go play, invent, study, love. Let TRAVO do the hard work.


This post is sponsored by Travo. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

So, Assist Travel happened… again!

On Friday 9th September we held our second Assist Travel event at The Grange Tower Bridge and from the feedback we received it looks like everyone had a thoroughly good day. After spending quite a bit of time shaping the programme and finding the right speakers I was really pleased with the content which gave lots of practical support for assistants booking business travel. I thought the exhibition space worked well with lots of great suppliers who all contributed to the sessions during the day. The speakers were great and really informative. For those of you that couldn’t make it, here are some of the slides from the morning sessions… I will post the slides from the afternoon later this week!

Stress Free Speedy Travel

Lara Morgan, Serial Entrepreneur and extensive business traveller

How to get the most out of your Travel Management Company

Lyndsey Atkins, Marketing Director, Reed & Mackay

Peter Navickas, Team Leader, Flight Centre Business Travel

We are looking at our event programme for next year and I will keep you up to date on all of the developments. In the meantime, we do have the Assist Conference taking place on Friday 24th February 2017. The conference programme, speakers and registration details can be found on the website.


8 Easy Contract Changes to Make for More Sustainable Events

8 Easy Contract Changes to Make for More Sustainable Events

It is our responsibility to make the changes we can to be more sustainable but naturally we cannot all chain ourselves to an oil rig and declare to stop flying places. We can however use the events industry to make small but significant changes. We can review our venue contracts and make conscious decisions to ask the questions about waste and sustainable resources.

Here are 5 easy changes that can be made today.

1. Food wastage

Think of the amount of food waste during any one event. Whether it is a corporate dinner, a lunch buffet or a mass participation sporting event.

Catering is greatly wasted and not only is it environmentally really bad it is ethically heartbreaking.

Ensure your venue has special measures in place for its food waste. Healthy and safety laws make it much more difficult now with food leaving premises but with the right disclaimers and pre planning you can have local food kitchens collect the unused food or at the very least packaged up for crew to take home.

2. Buy local

Wherever you are planning your event ask your venue to ensure they buy local food and drink product and wherever possible use local suppliers. We are able to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by reducing our import levels and more importantly we are supporting our local workers. This notion is true of whatever city you are in.
If you are buying wine in France, buy French wine.

3. Recycle

I’m not saying you have to go paperless. Sometimes we just need things written down and all we really want is an agenda on a piece of paper! But make sure the venue has suitable recycling facilities available and put confidential recycling bins all around your event.

It is not the use of paper that causes the problems, it is the lack of correct disposal facilities meaning paper goes into the regular bin, then to the regular dump and then into good old regular landfill.

4. Reduce washing

Ask your venue what its policy is on towel and bedding washing. Then also explain to your delegates that this is the case. Most people know that a towel in the bath means wash me, but if people thought about the frivolous waste of detergents and water that washing towels and bedding once a day creates they might think twice. After all, do you wash your towels every day at home? Unlikely.

5. Utilise Students

Developing our future event professionals is key to ethical sustainability. Ask your venue what their policy is on work experience and graduates and if they don’t have something in place bring in your own! The University of Greenwich run a great placement programme for corporates and agencies looking for interns and event students. They may also be your most enthusiastic and dynamic employees and are perfect for registration and hospitality support.

6. Arrange arrival and departure transfers

Commuting accounts for a third of all car travel and events are a great opportunity to reduce that. Make sure you have provided in advance adequate group transport instructions and also utilise coaches to reduce individual cars. Organise arrival transfers from the station, from the office, from a convenient location. Just don’t leave it up to all attendees to “hop in a taxi.” It affects both carbon emissions and the amount of expense receipts coming through!

7. Save energy

Have your venue put in writing that they will turn off all lights and air conditioning when meeting spaces are not in use and make sure they stick to it. Have your event manager walk around the venue an hour after the meeting and turn off all switches and electricity outputs. If you are at an offsite dinner you do not need the air conditioning on in your meeting room!

8. Communicate

Let your delegates know that you are making these changes. Do not just call your event “green” and hope that does the job. It is not enough and it will not resonate with people. Outline the exact changes you have made and what they can do. It also reduces resistance if they are prepared in advance that towels are not being washed daily!

Sustainability is not just about being “paperless” but it is easier than you think to bring sustainable measures into your programme. No event manager really wants to see food go to waste when someone is in need and every successful event professional was given their break by someone, so pay it forward and get event students on board!

Chances are your venue and suppliers are willing to make all these changes, they just need to be asked the right questions!

Hannah Luffman

Hannah very kindly spoke at Assist Travel which took place in London on 9th September.

AT 2016 logo

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller’s guide to New York City

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller's guide to New York City

Affectionately known as the Big Apple, New York is also known as the city that never sleeps. It’s edgy, vibrant, sexy, a city rich with rich cultural activity; the place where dreamers come to fulfil their destinies.  This city attracts the brightest, the best, and the biggest. Yep, that’s New York!

Getting from the Airport to the City Centre

New York City (NYC) is serviced by three major airports:

JF Kennedy (KEN). This is New York’s major airport. The most economical public transportation option is the Airtrain to the subway, and the subway to your hotel and costs only $7.25 per person. Word of warning: There are a lot of stairs and ground to cover and no one to help with baggage, so only consider this option if you are travelling light. The flat taxi fare one way from JFK to the city centre is $52., plus any tolls and tips.

La Guardia (LGA), La Guardia is also in Queens and like JFK, public transportation from the La Guardia involves a lot of stairs and walking, but is only $2.75 per person after you pay $1.00 for a Metrocard. For a detailed subway map, visit the MTA’s page. A taxi transfer is metered and will set you back at least $50., plus tolls and tip.

Newark International (EWR), is in Newark, New Jersey and you can travel by train between Newark International Airport and Manhattan for as little as $12.50 per person. Catch the Airtrain from your arrival terminal to Airtrain Station where you then can catch a New Jersey Transit train to New York’s Penn Station. A taxi will cost you between $50-$70., plus tolls and tip.

For shuttle service to all 3 airports, check out NYC Airporter and Super Shuttle, and compare their schedules and prices. They often offer online specials, making it even more affordable.

Getting Around New York

This modern metropolis has excellent, efficient public transportation. The city’s rail and bus system are operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). For all you need to know, including maps, routes, and fares, visit their web site.

Taxis are generally easily available and inexpensive compared to other cities and you can flag them down curbside. However, walking is beloved by most New Yorkers who by their very nature tend to have an inherent get up and go gumption and nothing lends itself to that better than a pedestrian-friendly city, like New York. A word of warning: This is not a city for strolling; people walk fast, like they have somewhere to go because yep, they usually have somewhere to go!

If you’d like to leave the pedaling to someone else, try a pedicab! These are also widely available within the city and also known as a “bike taxi” or “bicycle rickshaw”.


Uber and Lyft are car services operated by New Yorkers. You generally need to download the app first, so if you are interested in ride sharing, check out their web sites: Uber and Lyft.

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller's guide to New York City

Local Eateries and Bar Hotspots

The city that never sleeps is a foodanistas extravaganza and you will not only be overwhelmed, but likely feel hungry for everything. Live octopus? Grasshopper tacos? Check. Check. If you can imagine it, New York City serves it, so you can have your pick of how to best impress the client and create the perfect scenario for a lunch/dinner meeting. Nouveau, traditional, ethnic, organic, vegan, you can find it here. But before your mouth starts to water, you need to understand a few things about the food scene in this fabulous city.

Avoid embarrassment when treating clients or colleagues by planning ahead! If an eatery is popular, expect a wait. Unlike many American cities, you can’t just walk in and get a table. Check OpenTable or call the restaurant to see if you can get a reservation. If the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, find out the opening hours and days of operation. If they open at 5pm, consider an early dinner; if you’re in town on a Tuesday or Wednesday, getting that table will be an awful lot easier than on a Friday or Saturday.

Despite there being no foodie rules, you cannot leave NY without eating pizza. I believe there may even be a law stating as such. The choices in pizza are simply staggering. How about a sit-down coal oven spot like John’s of Bleecke? Or the quintessential classic slice joint – Joe’s in Greenwich Village?

For stunning, delectable Mexican food with a celebrity (or two) on the side, try La Esquina on Kenmare Street. Alongside George Clooney and Julia Roberts, indulge in the breathtaking Costillas de Puerco, a charred Chipotle-Guava Glazed Pork Spare Ribs with sweet plantains and escabeche.

Simply because there are so many choices, from stunning up-scale Michelin-rated dining establishments, to fantastic pizza slices out of a truck, you should do your homework and ask your New York City colleagues for their recommendations. Eateries go in and out of business quickly in this city so what’s hot today may be not and done and dead by the time you hit town. Some of the best sites to familiarize yourself with the eats in this city include: Refinery 29; the eponymous Zagat’s; Epicurious.

After a night of clubbing, try L’Express, a French bistro on Park Avenue South that serves all night hearty fare, or Minetta Tavern on MacDougal, serving a buzzy vibe and scrumptious late night desserts.

For that VIP client, Eater NY features the latest (July 2016), hippest, hottest eateries in the city that never sleeps. This is the site you consult when you have someone you need to impress.

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller's guide to New York City

Evening Entertainment

New York presents a big problem for evening activities – you are seriously spoilt for choice: What to do? A Broadway play? An opera? The ballet? A concert? A symphony? A comedy club? How about some sultry, soothing jazz? Where to begin your evening? A better question might be: Where will your evening end? Remember that New York is called the city that never sleeps.

Generally speaking, the Lower East Side and East Village are famous for its hip scene and vibe that includes cosy live music clubs and buzzy bars that stay open until the wee hours. Soho is the epicentre of cool, with its upscale bars that attract models, poseurs, media types, celebrities and wannabes. In the 20s, on the east side, Gramercy has a unique selection of sultry, velvet-rope cocktail lounges. The city’s hippest nightclubs are in and around the Meatpacking District.

For the Health and Fitness Conscious

If you can’t start your work day without a run, or need it to unwind after a busy day, mapmyrun.com offers hundreds of running routes with maps, elevations and distances, so you can plan, track, analyse and share your journey. Download the free app today because it covers just about anywhere your trainers will take you!

You can hit a gym in any town and while most might look the same inside, New York definitely features some world-class facilities and fortunately, some offer day passes and discounts to visitors:

Crunch offers a guest pass for 1 visit to any Crunch location for any first time visitors. Sign up on their website.

YMCA will email you a free day pass and has locations in all five boroughs. These gyms offer the full package as well as classes and other activities.

BFX Chelsea is new, hip and high-end club best known for its spinning classes. A daypass is $29.95 but does not include classes. However, the club features a state-of-the-art training area specifically for those exercising solo. This is the place to go for more than your average workout experience.

Retail Therapy

The shopping in New York City will actually cause physical pain. Here’s why: You can shop till you drop and you won’t even come close to experiencing all the retail therapy this shopping meccas has to offer. You will also experience physical angst because no matter how deep your pockets, you will never, never ever have enough money to even put a dent in your shopping desires. Remember Sex in the City? An $800 pair of shoes? Yes, that was shot in Manhattan! You will love it; you will hate it. Bring credit cards. Bring cash. And bring tissues, for both your tears of anguish and your bleeding blisters.

Here you’ll find many of the best department stores in the world, including Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s NYC, endless Fifth Avenue boutique shops, such as Gucci, Tiffany’s, and Apple, among many more. Discover lively open air markets like the Green Flea Market.

Vintage and consignment shopping is both art and sport in New York. Chic and upscale is hard to manage when rents are equivalent to what many families pay for a monthly home mortgage, so the trendy gals shop with élan in the city’s myriad vintage and consignment shops. Refinery 29 offers this superb guide.

Fancy Something a Bit Different?

Vintage and consignment shopping is both art and sport in New York. Chic and upscale is hard to manage when rents are equivalent to what many families pay for a monthly home mortgage, so the trendy gals shop with élan in the city’s myriad vintage and consignment shops. Refinery 29 offers this superb guide.

As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.

Pearl S. Buck

Right, that’s your itinerary covered. Now for all your business hotel booking needs, Roomex has you covered. No costs, no fees, no contracts, it’s a no-brainer. Request a demo to see why it’s so popular with Office Managers and Personal Assistants.

Looking for the inside track on all of US highlights? Download our Ultimate US City Guide for Business Travellers. We’ve covered all the main business capitals and we’re adding a new city every week. If you know someone who travels a lot on business, download it below for free and share it with them!

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller's guide to New York City

This post is sponsored by Roomex.com. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

Tech of the week: Seat Guru

What is Seat Guru

In October 2001, frequent flyer Matthew Daimler launched SeatGuru.com with a single colour-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 travellers.  In 2007, SeatGuru was purchased by TripAdvisor, and they now have seating charts for practically every airline. Seat Guru is a website and you can also download their app.

Tech of the week: Seat Guru

What does it do?

Basically, Seat Guru is a database which allows travellers to check which is the best seat on the plane. The database is made up of recommendations from frequent flyers.

Why does it benefit assistants?

This is great if your manager is fussy with their airline seat! You can type the airline, the flight number and the date and the app will tell you which is the best seat on the plane.

Why is it Practically Perfect PA’s tech of the week?

I’ve been using this app for a few years now. I had a particularly fussy Executive who liked to have a specific seat. If he travelled anything other than British Airways he would get a bit panicky. Seat Guru helped me reassure him that he still had a good seat!

Assist Travel

For more tips on business travel please do take a look at our Assist Travel Conference. Taking place on Friday 9th September in London. This is the only business travel event exclusively for assistants. If you book complex trips this is a must attend!

Tech of the week: Seat Guru

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