Unit 2: Organisation of Travel and Accommodation in Business
Note: This information is to help you with the Level 2 Diploma in Business and Administration. Please do not copy.
Different Types of Meetings
Types of meetings depend on the size of an organisation, the issues that need to be discussed and the number of people that will possibly be attending.
- A standing meeting is exactly what it sounds like: a meeting standing up. These meetings are often held on a day-to-day basis by the manager for short periods of time. They are typically used when the manager has to inform employees of simple changes or tasks that need beginning and completing.
- A conference is a highly planned and organised meeting, and conferences are vastly based on discussion and opinion. They are held by a chairperson to discuss one or several topics and often have a high attendance of different people within the organisation. Sometimes conference calls take place. These can involve one or more people.
- A presentation is a meeting that is held to inform employees about changes to routine, rules and procedures. The planning of a presentation is often very time consuming as it is vital that all information is precise and detailed. In a presentation there are often one or two presenters and attendees usually have a chance to discuss any queries at the end.
- A topical meeting is a meeting that is held to discuss one individual topic.
- Emergency meetings are held suddenly, often without much planning and notice. They usually involve discussions about a crisis either internal or external to the organisation. An emergency meeting will need to be attended by all members of a team which may cause disruption to a day's work, yet it's very important. An agenda is not necessary for an emergency meeting due to the short notice; however, minutes should still be noted either during or after the meeting.
Administrative Support for Meetings
It is vital that administrative support is provided for meetings. Before a meeting is held, a list should be made of all the attendees and brief information should be gathered about the purpose of the meeting. As people enter for the meeting it is important that somebody takes a note of who arrives.
There should always be a minute taker; these are people who record the discussions and agreements that take place during a meeting, enabling people to refer back to them. As people enter the area for the meeting, it is important that somebody writes down the names of the people there in case a second meeting needs to be held with the same attendees. Also this enables the manager etc to know who has been given the new objectives or who is aware of the new outcomes.
Administrative support is also needed whilst planning and organising a meeting (refer to question 3 for what they help with).
When organising a meeting, consider the purpose of it and who will be the 'head' of the meeting. A suitable time should be arranged so that the meeting does not conflict with any important appointments of the people involved in the meeting. The length of the meeting should be planned as well as a list of who will be attending and a suitable venue should be chosen (one that all attendees will be able to get too). An agenda should be created; this is a list of items outlining the topics to be discussed at the meeting.
If any refreshments are to be provided, the amount should be thought about and depending on how far/close the meeting is, the refreshments should be bought and stored correctly. Special diets should be considered.
Disability access should be considered to support attendees. If necessary, the location of the meeting should be checked to ensure it is suitable for wheelchair access etc. Sign language interpreters could be hired or invited to attend to help with communication.
When travelling for business purposes the area could be local or international. It is important that all of the different travel options are researched before booking to compare the suitability and reliability as well as the different types of accommodation.
- Different travel options: Car, taxi, bus, coach, train, boat/ferry, plane
- Different types of accommodation: Hotel, bed and breakfast.
It is very important within the business sector to confirm instructions and requirements for business travel and accommodation. When arranging business travel with accommodation, the planning process is very important. The amount of people travelling and the budget will need to be discovered to move forward with the planning process.
Firstly the different types of business travel should be known; is the travel going to be local or international? Once the location is confirmed careful consideration should be used to choose accommodation.
- Hotels often provide three square meals a day (which can include a packed lunch) yet can be quite expensive. However they provide visitors with lots of different facilities including public rooms in the hotel and may also provide free WiFi which will enable business workers to keep up-to-date with their tasks whilst in their room and will enable them to communicate with fellow workers.
- Bed and Breakfasts always provide breakfast in the morning which is inclusive in the cost of somebody's stay. The facilities in some bed and breakfasts are limited, which should not be too much of a concern as when on business travel it is likely that the worker will not often be in their allocated room.
When booking travel it is important that extra research is done. If the hotel/bed and breakfast has a curfew time for booking in it is vital that the business worker arrives there before. In some cases it is easier to travel the day before to settle into a room and to relax until work begins. Expenses will need to be checked carefully so that the cost is within budget.
Tickets for travel and the hotel/bed and breakfast rooms(s) should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment and stress. In some cases, business travellers may be provided with a certain amount of money to buy food, to travel by bus or taxi and to provide for other needs.
When the planning is complete all staff members to participate for the business travel should be given the details about the travel and accommodation so that they are able to prepare and know the exact details of what they are doing.
It is important to keep records of business travel and accommodation to keep track of cash flows and company profits as the money used for a business travel is often set to a budget. If details are kept about travel and accommodation, for example how much money they cost and their suitability, the record may be referred back to in the future to save money and/or find better accommodation.
It is also helpful to keep records as it enables communication to employees about possible changes during their travels.
Types of Office Equipment
Stationery: Stationery is largely used within the office. Examples of stationery: Pens, pencils, staplers, paper-clips, post-it notes, rulers.
Security System: Within my workplace, all office doors are kept shut and have coded locks. This is to ensure that the public and unauthorised people cannot gain access to patients files as well as petty cash. There are also CCTV cameras within reception and outside the building to ensure safety of both internal and external customers. All staff computers have a special 'panic' button which when pressed, pops up as an alert on other staffs computers. This warns them that you are under distress and it is our policy that if this happens whilst we are not dealing with the patient, we are to go to the staff member who activated the panic button to see what is wrong.
Computer: A computer is one of the main pieces of equipment used in the office. They contain different software, for example Microsoft word, which allows members of staff to create letters etc. Computers are usually connected to the internet which enables online communication and research. Special anti-virus software should be installed on all computers for safe use when using the internet. It is also important that all work is backed up to avoid losing work. Most software on computers can be password encrypted to only allow authorised access and to protect confidentiality.
Printer/Photocopier: Photocopiers are used to make copies of documents that are on paper. It is always useful to have copies of information especially if it concerns a customer.
Scanner: Scanners are connected to computers and are used to transfer something from paper onto the computer. My job in my workplace is to use the scanner to put patient notes and hospital letters onto the system for allocating.
Desks and Chairs: Most employees within an office organisation are assigned to their own desks. In some organisations employees 'hot desk'. This means that they do not have their own area, they just take wherever is available.
Fax Machine: Fax machines are used to copy documents to an external business. Each fax machine has an individual number, much like a telephone number, which makes it available for other businesses to forward you information straight away.
Franking Machine: Franking machines are used to weigh and 'print' on envelopes (letters/parcels) so that they can be posted. Credit is bought for and input into the machine to pay for the stamp costs which can be changed to either 1st or 2nd class. (refer to unit 12 for more information about franking machines)
Laminator: Paper or card is inserted into a laminator which then gets 'sealed' in a plastic covering to protect them from water damage and tear. Documents are often laminated if they are to be put on display for example posters or instructions.
Landline Phone: Phones are nearly always used in the office. They can be used to give/receive external as well as internal calls. Within my workplace telephones are used to communicate with other employees and are used to call other health businesses and patients. We also receive incoming calls from patients who may have a query or who wish to book an appointment. Each telephone also has a 'mail box' where people calling can leave a message if you are unable to answer it. They can be also be put onto a 'do not disturb' setting.
Filing Cabinet: A filing cabinet is used to organise and store documents. They often have multiple drawers and sections which can be labelled to help with organisation. Within my work place we have filing cabinets especially for patients personal data which are arranged in alphabetical order by surname and can be locked. An advantage of many of these is that they are fireproof so vital information will not be destroyed if a fire occurs.
Shredder: Shredders may be used in the office to dispose of private and confidential information about another member of staff or a customer/patient. This is to ensure that no unauthorised people can obtain the information. The Data Protection Act states that personal information should be 'kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary'. Within my work place we shred any confidential information that is no longer needed.
Safe: A safe is a piece of vital 'equipment' for an office if the storage of money takes place. A safe will securely store the money and only authorised people should know how to access it either by a key or a code. The key(s) to a safe should also be kept in a secure place to avoid loss or theft.
Using Office Equipment
When selecting office equipment to complete a task, it needs to be considered what the task requires you to do. If you have to write a letter, you may choose to use Microsoft Word on a computer and then use a printer. (Consider available resources: there may not be enough paper to print.)
It is also important to consider the amount of time you have to complete a task. For example if you are required to make a chart, it will take more time drawing it free-hand than if you are using software on a computer.
If the task involves providing other people with information, does this need to be done quickly or is speed not very important? Faxing and the use of telephone communication are almost instant whereas e-mailing depends on how long it takes somebody to access and read it.
Expense and quality will also need to be considered when undertaking a task. Some office equipment can produce higher quality documents but at a high expense, this will need to be carefully planned.
It is important to keep waste to a minimum in the working environment as performance will be more efficient and customers/patients will feel more at ease. Correct training should be provided to all employees including how to identify and minimise waste.
- The use of e-mail helps to reduce paper waste as meeting minutes, newsletters etc can be sent to staff e-mails instead of being given to them on paper.
- If an employee is using a printer, they should only print the amount of pages that they need and if possible, duplex them. This can also apply when using a photocopier.
- 'Electric waste' is also highly important to reduce: bills will be lower and the building and environment will be more economic. When the working day has ended all lights should be switched off as well as computers and their components (scanners, printers, photocopiers). Central heating or air conditioning should only be used if necessary.
A hard copy, or a manual diary system, is often in the form of a bound or ring-bound book. They come in many different day/month formats so it will need to be considered how many entries will be going into the diary before selecting. The disadvantages of this system is the possibility of loss and the use of paper. Space may be limited in a bound diary which could lead to un-clear entries. This could result in entries being mis-read. Within my organisation there are one or more wall planners in each staff maintained room which are updated regularly. These are useful as they are always within sight. It is a personal decision as to whether we use a 'book-style' diary or not.
Electronic diary systems can be created on a computer, a phone or an electric organiser. On a computer there are many different programmes you can use to make a diary system, so it is down to personal preference. If diary systems are electronic there is always the possibility of password encrypting them to ensure only people with authorised access can view and edit them.
Benefits of a Diary System
Using diary systems enables you to efficiently plan and organise your own time as well as others. If diary systems are accessible to other members of staff this lets them know your general availability for meetings, training days and within my workplace when their admin days are. Diary systems help when planning meetings and events as you will be able to ensure that nothing is going to overlap with them.
When ordering resources, it is often a good idea to keep a diary of what was ordered, when and the quantity of what was ordered. This helps the manager and the petty cash head keep on track of how often resources are being used up and could possibly help solve problems for the reduce waste of resources.
It is vital to include dates and times within a diary system. These should be followed up with names if necessary and information about the appointment or event being noted. Diary systems should always be accurate and correct and should contain every detail necessary.
Example of a System in Use
Obtaining correct information when making diary entries is vital. Within my workplace, we use a software called 'SystmOne'. This contains a type of electronic diary system for booking appointments and telephone consultations. It is important that the information on this is correct to avoid clashing appointments, to help with the safeguarding of patients, to ensure the correct patient is entered and so that the doctor or prescribing clerk knows a small summary regarding the patients symptoms/needs.
We also have the option to keep our own diary systems to enter dates of team meetings and training days. Keeping track of these dates helps us to keep free time available. Attending meetings and training days enables us to communicate with other colleagues, improve any problems we may have within the surgery and helps us to expand our knowledge.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2015 Tasha Fox