5% Cashback for New Customers
Corporate Travel Specialists LateRooms.com Business has announced the launch of a cost effective new payment facility. In collaboration with Diners Club, the LateRooms.com Business Statement Account aims to bring more speed and transparency, with new customers enjoying 5% cashback during their first three months of business.
Available from September 2018, it offers a single online way to book and pay, with a single monthly statement. Customers can now enjoy better cash flow, flexibility and reduced travel costs. The new service allows up to 52 days interest free credit on bookings. Travellers also benefit from a simple, express hotel check-in with no company credit cards required, offering greater fraud prevention and convenience. With the new system all transactions can be viewed online thereby saving both time and costs.
Graeme Descoteaux, Head of Corporate at LateRooms.com Business, said: “We are delighted to be introducing this new Statement Account facility which guarantees business travellers a cost effective and efficient method of payment. It has been many months in the planning but with the assistance of the Diners Club partnership, we now have a seamless accounts procedure that will bring ease and savings to both our valued corporate clients and new clients alike.”
Lee Jackson, UK Business Development Director at Diners Club said: “We are delighted to be providing an interest free credit programme so that businesses can benefit from the superb range of accommodation available through the Laterooms.com Business solution”.
Businesses can register an account with LateRooms.com Business and enjoy the new Statement Account. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The arrival of the paperless office has been predicted for more than three decades, yet global consumption of paper has increased by almost half since 1980. The average UK office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, or 4 boxes of paper in total, at an estimated £10 per box. Needless to say, there are some businesses by their very nature are especially paper heavy, including firms of lawyers and accountants.
Why go paperless?
Most office workers including myself, have a preference for physical copies and like the way paper feels (psychologists call this 'haptic perception'). More often than not, information stored within the cloud or inside a computer doesn't appear as real as a physical copy. However there are some tangible benefits from going (nearly) paperless:
1) Reduce costs
Decreasing or eliminating paper usage within an office, will usually be accompanied by a reduction in printer toner and energy costs. Additionally replacing the storage of paper documents with their electronic counterparts could deliver further savings. A reduction in paper storage could free up valuable office space which in turn could be used for desks, effectively unlocking savings in rent and rates.
2) Help the environment / reduce carbon footprint
The paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world, and the over-use of paper has a significant impact on a company's carbon footprint. Making just one piece of A4 paper requires 10 litres of water. One tree makes approximately 16.67 reams of copy paper, or 8,333.3 sheets. As the average UK office worker consumes 10,000 sheets per year, that's over 1 tree lost per employee per annum! Then there is the impact of fossil fuel power used for printing to consider...
3) Digital storage is more effective than physical storage
Digital documents are becoming simpler, and easier to send and store. One of the major benefits of digital documents is that they can be retrieved, indexed and searched much faster than paper ones. The storage of digital documents is also beneficial from a disaster recovery standpoint. It is an unfortunate fact that many organisations have never addressed how their business would recover key documentation in the event of a fire or flood.
4) Improve the office environment
Paperwork often appears untidy, and is inefficient when compared with digital documents. An entire company's documents could be stored on a single computer, instead of rooms of shelving. A tidier workplace is good for morale, and is likely to improve clients' perception of the business.
5) Reduce audit fees!
Companies which rely heavily on paper usually face far higher audit fees due to: (i) the manual aspect of the audit, (ii) higher compliance risk associated with missing documentation. SMEs are spending on average £23k on audit fees, hence any steps that can be taken to minimise these costs are worth considering.
I am yet to encounter an office where paper usage is nil, hence I still feel that the paperless office is an urban myth. That being said, I am an advocate of the "nearly paperless office" and believe where there is supporting technology, this could be a workable solution. For practical purposes, the term "paperless" is a bit of a misnomer; it's difficult to completely eliminate paper from a workflow. Contracts, government documents and employment forms are examples of business materials that often need to be printed on paper even when stored electronically. Having worked in the Finance department of a law firm, I am absolutely certain there is scope to significantly reduce paper usage in a typical office. The challenge is getting everyone on-board with the initiative.
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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May 2018, across all EU member states including the UK. The new rules encompass the “right to be forgotten", "72-hour breach reporting", stronger consumer consent around personal data, and the prospect of substantial fines. The UK currently relies on the Data Protection Act 1998, which will be superseded by the new legislation. The GDPR will apply to UK companies despite Brexit looming, and is the first global data protection law as it relates to any company processing the information of EU citizens.
How prepared are businesses?
A survey by Ipsos MORI published in January 2018, found that only 38 per cent of businesses have heard of the GDPR. The results varied significantly between organisations; with there being a positive correlation between the size of an organisation, and overall awareness of the upcoming regulation.
Research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in February 2018, indicates that a staggering ninety percent of small companies are still not prepared for the new data regulation. A third (33 percent) of small businesses have not yet started preparing for the introduction of the GDPR, with a further third (35 percent) conceding they are only in the early stages of preparations. Only eight per cent of small businesses have completed their preparations for the regulation.
Impact of non-compliance
Not all infringements will lead to serious fines. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a range of corrective powers including; issuing warnings; imposing bans on data processing, and ordering erasure of data. However severe infringement could lead to fines of up to €20 or 4% of annual turnover. Small companies with fewer than 250 employees are to be granted some exceptions, but the overriding principles still apply.
Preparing for the GDPR
With less than 3 months to go, here are several steps which will reduce the likelihood of non-compliance with the upcoming regulation, and their associated fines:
1) Conduct a data audit – Identify all customer data held by the business, including where it is stored, how the data is being used, and what consents you’ve asked for. The new legislation widens the scope of what constitutes 'personal data', and for example includes the logging of 'IP addresses'.
2) Consider hiring a data protection officer (DPO) - Small business are not legally required to hire a data protection officer, however it may be beneficial to businesses to allocate ownership of business data obligations. The role should encompass advising on data protection laws, monitoring compliance through internal audits, and ensuring the communication of prospective breaches to relevant authorities, and in a timely manner.
3) Train your staff - Ensuring that employees have clarity on their obligations is a key aspect of the GDPR. The ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) indicates that staff training demonstrates compliance. Staff training also has the added benefit of lessening the possibility of a data breach.
4) Design a data policy – Implementing simple policies and procedures around the handling of all data should be documented and covered as part of staff training.
5) Implement a 'data breach notification process' - Once an organisation is aware of a personal data breach, it is going to have to act very quickly indeed. The GDPR introduces a duty on all organisations to report certain types of personal data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours.
6) Consider the 'right to be forgotten' - Individuals can ask an organisation to delete or remove their personal data. Ensuring that processes are in place to facilitate this requirement is a key component of the GDPR. There is currently an interesting test case in which a businessman has taken Google to the High Court in London, in what is being seen as a landmark case over the 'right to be forgotten'.
The Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland have announced a new "cashback" scheme to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) tackle rising energy costs. For a limited time, eligible businesses can apply for an unsecured interest-free loan from the Scottish Government, and receive 30% cashback on the value of the loan, or up to £10,000 in cashback.
Zero Waste Scotland estimate that the average Scottish business could save around £8,000. Businesses will need to demonstrate that they have implemented energy efficiency improvements which not only reduce energy costs, but also lower their overall carbon footprint. Eligible energy efficiency projects include;
Applicants will each receive a dedicated advisor from Zero Waste Scotland at no cost, to help identify energy efficiency improvements, illustrating how the scheme is essentially beneficial to all participating Scottish small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, said:
“Improving energy efficiency is one of the smartest ways that businesses in Scotland can hold onto their hard-earned profits and make a real difference to the bottom line. In addition to benefits for individual businesses, reducing the environmental impact of Scotland’s energy needs will bring us closer to the low carbon energy future set out in Scotland’s Energy Strategy – generating benefits for Scotland’s economy as well as the environment.”
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On Monday 29th January 2018, T-Mobile announced that they will move to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2021. The telecoms company confirmed that have finalised a contract to source wind power from the Solomon Forks Wind Project in Kansas. T-Mobile already utilise energy from the Red Dirt Wind Power Project in Oklahoma. The two wind farms will generate 60 per cent of T-Mobile's electricity needs. To reach 100% renewable energy, T-Mobile intends to purchase more wind power with the aim of accounting for every "unit of electricity the company consumes".
John Legere, T-Mobile's CEO and President stated that the move to renewable energy will "cut T-Mobile's energy costs by around $100 million in the next 15 years". There will also be corresponding reduction in T-Mobile's carbon footprint. The telecoms group also pledged to donate $500,000 to clean energy non-profit, and also confirmed that the investment in clean energy would increase to $1.5 million, if both the larger U.S rivals Verizon and AT&T match its renewable energy commitment.
T-Mobile have also taken the formal step of joining the RE100, a global initiative comprised of more than 100 influential businesses including Google, Apple, Facebook and Bloomberg, all of which are committed to 100% renewable electricity. Legere said in a statement: “We’re going to drag the other guys kicking and screaming into the clean power future”. This coupled with recent speculation that the U.S may stay in the Paris climate accord, opens the possibility of larger businesses pursuing green energy whilst also making significant savings on energy costs.
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