• ‘Tis the Season: Small Business Gift Giving

    • Giving holiday gifts is a great way to build relationships with employees, vendors, and customers. But it can be stressful to determine who should be on the gift list, how much to give, and what is appropriate to give. Let’s think through these criteria.

      Decide Whom to Gift 

      On average, 65% of a company’s business comes from existing clients, so gifting these individuals is essential. Equally important are your long-term employees and vendors. For some small companies, that could mean giving presents to dozens of individuals, which isn’t always financially possible. Determine who should receive a gift by considering a few things. Consider the time you’ve spent working with the individual, how easy or difficult they are to work with, if you’re currently working on a big project with them, and if they have sent client or employee referrals your way.

      Determine Your Budget

      As you plan who will receive a Christmas gift, you’ll determine how much money you can afford to spend. Although research varies, a familiar holiday spending formula is to reserve 1.5% of your revenue for gifting. You can then decide how much money to spend on each person based on the preceding considerations. Avoid Christmas gift giving pressure by not spending more than you can afford.

      gift your employees in 2022
      Gift your employees before 2023

      Five Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Small Business

      As a small business owner, you appreciate when your peers employ your services. Holiday gift-giving time is a great way to reciprocate and show gratitude to other small businesses. Many offer easy online ordering and delivery. Here are five to check out:

      – Cocoon Corporate – Choose any of your favourite hamper that suits your employees needs. The company has a huge range of items: completely personalised or you can pick one of their pre-made ones. Perfect for those employees working from home, too. 

      – Babbel: Skill classes are a great gift that benefits the company and your employees. Babbel offers language courses specifically designed to give employees a lasting holiday gift. 

      – Cakehead: Whether it’s to treat your team or to spread some joy to your customers, food can get you guaranteed brownie points with the gift of Cakehead’s delicious bakes and cakes. Their hand crafted and hand finished brownies & bakes can be delivered straight to employees’ doors perfectly packaged and with a personalised gift note inside. 

      Walk-in backrub: A Backrub is a wonderful style of deeply relaxing Japanese massage which helps release stress and promotes health and well-being. It can be a great way to reward your employees after a year of hard work, and it can be something you could commit to on a monthly basis into 2023. 

      – Loop & Tie: Purchase unique gifts from small businesses giving back to craft makers and artisans in local communities and diverse suppliers. Collections are categorized by price and interest to make finding the perfect gift a cinch.

      The festive season is a time for giving, so take some time to think about the people who have helped your business flourish. A Christmas gift doesn’t need to be extravagant or expensive. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

      Want to learn more? Head to our website, or drop us an email

  • Employees: How to find and keep them

    • Always be on the lookout for great employees

      We’ve all heard the sales phrase: “Always be closing.” When it comes to finding good people, the adage is similar: “Always be looking.” As the previous two and a half years have proven, employee turnover can happen when you least expect it. In addition to finding good employees, keeping them is also a challenge. The key to overcoming these problems is to be proactive. Start adopting new routines in how you actively look for and retain great help right now.

      Employees working
      Employees work better when there is a sense of community

      Here are three (3) great ways to find good people:

      • Network with local schools
      • Ask existing employees for referrals
      • Write a job description that attracts the right candidate

      Network with local schools and universities

      Many educational institutions have job placement programs or an online job board. By networking with local schools and building relationships with the school and staff, you can get to the top of their list as a referred and great place to work. Start by calling your local university or high school district and asking which schools offer job placement programs and where you can post opportunities for multiple locations at once. Most schools also have Facebook pages that you can follow and engage with in order to build rapport.

      Ask existing employees for referrals

      Asking your current staff for employee recommendations could be a fast and cost-effective way to find new candidates. It could turn out to be a good fit since your current employee is already familiar with your company and can quickly determine if their referral is qualified for the role. Simply begin by inquiring among your employees if they know of a candidate who meets the job criteria. Try incorporating a hiring incentive program. Keep these programs easy to understand and manage. It can be as simple as offering the referring employee a cash reward or gift card if you hire their recommended candidate. 

      Write an effective job description

      Most job descriptions start by listing out tasks and responsibilities. Instead, start the job description by introducing your company. Continue with why your small business is such a great place to work or what your company mission and team motto are. For example, “We’re a tight-knit team of hard workers who love helping customers get what they need.” It’s a subtle difference that can provide improved results.

      Hanging on to great employees

      Once you find great employees, how do you keep them? According to CNBC online, record turnover is mostly attributed to low pay, poor working conditions, and/or better benefits. The competition to retain great people can be intense. Here are a few ideas for keeping outstanding employees:

      • Make employees feel like part of the big picture
      • Reward stellar performance 
      • Communicate and be a good listener

      Make employees feel like part of the bigger picture

      Including your employees in your company’s goals is arguably one of the most overlooked tactics in retaining great people. Every person has a natural human desire to be part of something bigger. Fill your employees in on both your short- and long-term business goals. If the plan is to expand your team, create new products/services, or even sell, talk about your strategy, ask for input, and listen to suggestions. You might be surprised at the feedback you receive, and how positively influential that conversation can be.

      Reward stellar performance

      Create an incentive program to show employee appreciation that not only incentivizes but also builds a sense of team. If you have a few employees working together on one project, challenge them to beat deadlines, and reward them when they do. If you have multiple locations, have each location try to outwit the other in sales or a specific metric that makes sense for your business. Keep the programs easy to understand and challenging, but also fun to win!

      Communicate and be a good listener

      Being an effective communicator goes beyond simple chatting. It’s important to communicate your expectations early on and often so the employee knows exactly what to do and where they stand. Equally as important is listening. When a situation arises that needs to be addressed, give your employee a chance to talk through their process and their results. The root of the problem could ironically be miscommunication. Remain unwavering in always making time to communicate.

      To alleviate the challenges of finding and keeping great employees, start laying down a solid foundation using the above practices. You will reap the rewards for years to come.

      Let us know how we’re doing by sending an email to support@aircourieruk.com, and check out or website at www.aircourieruk.com. Our socials are constantly updated too @aircourieruk #itsbetterbyair #always

  • Your Guide to preparing for a successful Christmas Period

    • The festive season is fast approaching, and for small businesses, this is a great time to attract new customers. Our nation’s 5.5 million small businesses can expect a notable increase in sales for the Christmas season. According to a Finder research survey, they predicted that in the UK, we will spend approximately £25.6 billion. Each year provides one of the biggest opportunities for small businesses to earn sales and expand their client network. Here are a few quick tips to help prepare for a successful holiday season.

      Check Your Digital Presence

      If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, one of the best ways to prepare for the holidays is to build an online store. According to a recent study, 65% of consumers who shifted from in-person shopping to e-commerce will continue shopping more online. Building an online presence may sound daunting, but don’t panic. Easy-to-use platforms like Shopify and Wix provide step-by-step instructions for launching an e-commerce site.

      If you already have a website, take some time to review your digital assets. Confirm that all of your verbiage and graphics are still accurate, links are correct, and prices and inventory are updated. Consider adding pop-up or banner ads to your website announcing any special offers you’ll have for the season.

      Create a Special Incentive for Shoppers

      The Christmas break is a big deal for local shoppers because, in addition to shopping for loved ones and showing support to their community, consumers often reap the benefits of scoring truly unique gifts while receiving special offers for shopping at local small businesses. Make sure your offer is easy to understand and enticing for your customers. Also, confirm you can deliver what you’re promising.

      Here are a few ideas:

      • 15% off discount
      • Buy one, get one free
      • 10% off gift cards
      • 20% off your next purchase for returning customers
      • Free gift wrapping

      Prepare Your Staff and Your Store

      The festive season is a powerful time for small business owners because it can expose your company to new shoppers. Store appearance and customer service will play a large role in whether or not new customers become repeat buyers.

      Take some time to tidy up. Make sure your floors, windows, and shelves are clean. Next, check your register area, if you have one, for anything that’s not needed and clear it away. You’ll also want to double-check your inventory to ensure you’re organized for the big day.

      Talk to your staff and get them excited about the festivities by incorporating a fun team incentive. Assess their strengths and position them where they’re most comfortable. Recognising their strengths will make them more productive. For example, if you have someone who is excels on the phone, place that person primarily answering phones. Is one of your team members an expert in dealing with complaints? Put them on email complaints.

      Reach Out to Surrounding Businesses

      Connect with leaders in your community. They are likely already planning for a successful holiday season, so get involved. Learn how to partner with other businesses to promote your special offer(s) and increase traffic to your store. General Christmas marketing will encourage consumers to support businesses, but you can also help other businesses simultaneously.

      As a business owner and consumer, the Christmas Season is a time for you to show your local community that you care about its small businesses. It’s a great time to connect with customers and strengthen your business relationships. Start planning new so you can celebrate the season with new customers and a holiday-season business network for the coming year.

      Make sure you keep up with our socials HERE.
      If you want to learn more, drop us an email, or check out our website. #itsbetterbyair #always

  • How to get your Small Business up and running

    • Starting a small business requires time, effort, and commitment. To make your small business dream a reality, arm yourself with a viable business plan, the right support, and resources. Here’s how to get started.

      Decide on the Purpose of Your Company

      You may already have a skill or expertise that could turn into a business. Take some time to think about what you want to do and how you can use your expertise to provide a service or product that solves a problem. It should be sustainable and exciting for both you and your potential clients. 

      Create a Business Plan for Your Small Business

      Once you have decided on an idea for your business, it’s time to devise a plan. A business plan is a blueprint outlining how your company will operate over time. Design your business plan knowing that you may have to adjust certain strategies and goals once you start.

      The best way to do this is by starting with these simple steps:

      • Write your mission statement that describes what your company stands for and why it exists in the first place. This will help you create a business identity, attract potential employees, and develop culture and purpose that clients may notice.
      • Create a company description that includes its objective, size, location, and industry sector.
      • Perform market research that describes how the competitive landscape looks in your market.
      • Design a marketing strategy that explains how you’ll advertise your products or services (e.g., social media). Think about what you’ll need to pay for and, better yet, how you may be able to advertise for free.
      • Set measurable targets that are specific, attainable, and relevant before a specified time period ends. For example: By December 31st of this year, I will have 100 customers signed up for my monthly subscription service at $19 per month each (that would be a total of $1900).
      • Include a timeline that includes goals and milestones, such as when you want to open your doors, how much capital it will take to get there, and what additional expenses you’ll need to consider before opening up shop.
      • Create a budget. No matter how large or small it is. Your budget will help you keep track of all the money coming in and going out so that nothing falls through the cracks (and you don’t lose sight of what’s important). Creating this document ahead of time can also help prevent unnecessary stress later on down the road once everything gets moving.
      Thank-you for supporting our small business.

      Gather Feedback on Your Business Plan

      You will most likely start gathering feedback from others as you write your business plan, but if you do not, at this point, you’ll want to lean into a set of trusted peers and friends to solicit their input. Pitching your business plan to a personal advisory board or friends and family can help determine if it will resonate with potential investors.

      Make Your Vision a Reality

      You’ve worked hard to start your business and put together a solid plan. Now it’s time to implement the plan and make your vision a reality. The best way to do this is by breaking out each section into actionable steps. You may want to enlist the help of other qualified individuals or, depending on your circumstances, choose to tackle it yourself. Regardless, stick to the plan; over time, you will chip away at each project.

      Do Just One Thing: Take Action

      The best way to ensure your business’ progress is to take action. Never let fear stop you from pursuing your dreams and goals. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but starting a small business can be rewarding with the right approach, plan and mindset.

      Want to book or just know more? Drop us an email on – support@aircourieruk.com or check out our website here.
      Make sure to keep an eye on our socials too – @aircourier

  • Why Small Businesses Give Back in 2022

    • Owning a small business gives owners a unique opportunity to give back to their communities. In fact, charitable giving from companies has increased 2.7% over unprecedented 2020 levels. Post pandemic philanthropy is growing due to high interest in corporate responsibility as well as a social desire to support causes companies believe in. It’s an exciting trend for small business owners to explore if they are looking to make a difference in their community.

      Give Back to your community
      Give back to your community!

      When You Give, You Receive

      Small business owners might be apprehensive about donating to charity, not because they don’t want to help but because they are worried it will negatively affect the bottom line. However, you might be surprised to learn that it can have the reverse effect. Contributing to a charitable cause will help your business more than you think.

      The Benefits of Giving Back

      The number one benefit to giving back is opportunity. First and foremost, by giving back, you will receive the opportunity to make an impact on a cause that’s important to you and your community. Contributions may go beyond influencing your local area to affect a global issue. Others in your community will also receive the chance to contribute through your company when they may not have had the opportunity without it. 

      The option to give back to your community will organically grow your network. You will meet new local leaders, neighbors, and business owners, and with that, you will attract new customers. Building relationships may lead to increasing the number of advocates for your business. The growth of your network will lead to increased profits.

      Expanding your heart and bottom line are just two of the many benefits of giving back. Research shows that employees who volunteer are happier. Aligning your small business with a charity can boost employee morale and improve company culture. Leveling up morale and culture often leads to attracting top talent. 

      How Do I Choose Where to Donate?

      It makes sense for small business owners to find a local organization tied to the community. You may also want to choose a smaller charity as those can sometimes get lost in the shuffle when larger corporations are looking to donate. You could opt for a national charity but make sure it has a local program that you can connect and work with. 

      Choose a cause based on your company values, and be thoughtful when making a choice. Spend time researching organizations and talking to other small business owners about how they give back. Remember, your contribution will affect you and your business, so the cause should be one that you understand and are passionate about.  

      Ways to Give Back

      There are plenty of options in how your business can give back. As with choosing a charity, you will want to spend a little time thinking about the best way for your company to give back. This could vary from getting your employees involved to donating products and services. You could also offer discounts to people within the organization or even host an event to raise funds.

      What we’re doing

      For example, here at Air Courier International we are committed to giving back to the community. Over the years we have supported a number of charities and we will continue year on year. We found different ways to raise money, with our staff often getting involved. We also run giveaways across our socials to say thank-you to our followers and customers. These have included incredible hampers, hotel spa and dining vouchers, luxury food goods amongst other fantastic gifts. 

      The British Heart foundation is very close to all of us and we have supported them intermittently throughout the years. Most recently one of our team ran a 10km in which they raised over £1200 for the worthy charity. Every few years we donate the money for Christmas gifts to our customers to a worthy charity and most recently we donated a large sum to Age UK. We also support smaller charities by getting involved in different ways.

      Air Courier donated food parcels to ‘Driven Forward’, whose original purpose was to provide food and transport for the extremely vulnerable. Since the start of the pandemic the need for their support has increased dramatically. Another member of staff has been volunteering at Bracknell Foodbank which is nationwide concept to help the local community. We also featured an interview with the team there in our newsletter to help bring in donations.

      Our aim is to continue to donate to charities all around the country that are trying to tackle the real issues that we face. We will keep you informed across our socials, and if you have any questions regarding any of our charities, please drop us an email charities@aircourieruk.com.

      There’s No Wrong Way to Give Back

      When you choose a charity and a method that aligns with your small business assets and values, there is no wrong way to give back. Investing in a local charity is an investment in your community and your business. You will create an impact, build connections and feel gratitude with those around you.

      Want to make a booking or learn more? Click HERE.
      @aircourierint

  • An SEO Cheat Sheet for Small Businesses

    • According to recent research, three-quarters of small business owners know what search engine optimization (SEO) best practices are despite the lack of SEO use for many small businesses. The pandemic reinforced the need for companies to maintain an online presence and incorporating an SEO strategy into your marketing plans will help your business get more attention. Solid SEO plans allow small businesses to gain visibility, bring in new customers and make their products and services more accessible.

      SEO blocks
      SEO

      Building an SEO strategy is relatively no to low cost. While you can hire an external company to research and implement your SEO, you can also instill good SEO practices on your own. It will take a little “sweat equity” but the reward is well worth it. 

      What is SEO?

      SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and simply stated, it is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when users search for products or services related to your business via a search engine like Google.

      Think of search engine optimization as the process of placing little red flags on the internet to alert Google (and other search engines) of your business. Once you have its attention, Google will push those flagged areas through its algorithm to determine if you meet three (3) specific requirements. Whether or not your site meets the criteria will influence if and where your small business ends up in the search query. Let’s discover the three (3) requirements.

      Crawlability

      The first key area of SEO is “crawlability.” Search engines are all about user experience because they want people who perform online searches to use their search engine loyally. Your website needs to make it easy on Google to find and “crawl” it. Crawlability describes how easy it is for a search engine to find and crawl the content on a web page. If a website is free from slow-loading files and broken links, then search engines can crawl it quickly and easily to assess how relevant it is to a specific search.

      Crawlability Checklist:

      • Check your site’s speed using a free tool like PageSpeed Insights
      • Regularly check your site’s internal link structure to ensure there are no broken links
      • Internally link your web pages to one another 

      Relevancy

      Secondly, your website should be relevant to the search terms. You can increase your relevance by using keywords and keyword phrases. The process of researching keywords involves searching for popular terms your potential customers search for on search engines. Keyword research can not only optimize your website, but it can also enhance your content strategy and larger marketing strategies.

      Relevancy Checklist:

      • Make a list of relevant and important topics based on your business
      • Use tools like SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool or Ubersuggest to see ranking and choose your keywords
      • Include your keywords strategically throughout your site’s content

      Credibility

      The final key area to consider to improve your SEO is credibility. Search engines want to see that your business is legitimate and reputable. The best way to do this is with customer reviews and testimonials. Another way to boost your authority is to be referred by other businesses on their websites. Take that one step further with inbound links, which are references to your company that include a link to your website. Inbound links are powerful because they build credibility and are the primary way that Google discovers new companies and web pages.

      Credibility Checklist:

      Maintain and gain momentum

      Utilize the above checklists to kick off your SEO strategy. Once you’ve made the initial optimizations, you’ll start to see changes in search results. It can take a few weeks or sometimes longer for the algorithms to catch up to your improvements, but once they do, you will notice an uptick in online traffic and new customer acquisition. Good luck! 

      If you want any info on our services or what to book a shipment, check out our website, email us or check out or socials @aircourieruk

  • Queen Elizabeth II: Tributes from around the world

    • As the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death spreads, tributes, commemorations and homages to her Majesty are happening around the world. We know the Queen was a travel icon, having visited 117 different countries throughout her reign, so it comes as no surprise to see an outpouring of love come in from every corner of the world. As the country waits for details of the Queen’s funeral, we take a look at 20 tributes to the Queen around the world.

      Buckingham Palace tribute to the queen

      Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace the day after the Queen’s death, as well-wishers and mourners leave floral tributes and take photographs.

      Gunfire for the Queen

      At dusk on 9 September 2022, soldiers fire a 96-gun salute to honour the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II in Canberra, Australia. 

      Queen in Tokyo

      In the Akihabara district of Tokyo, giant screens broadcast the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

      Mourners lay flowers outside of Buckingham Palace following the announcement.

      Dubai to the queen

      On the South Beach in Durban, South Africa, a sand sculptor finishes a commemorative carving dedicated to the Queen.

      The queen in Leicester Square

      On the large TV screens in London’s Piccadilly Circus, a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II is displayed on the first day of national mourning.

      Screens of the queen in Balmoral

      Images of the late Queen are being shown on screens at bus stops around the UK. This one is on Princes Street in Edinburgh in front of The Balmoral Hotel. 

      The queen in Zimbabwe

      At the Zimbabwe National Art Gallery in Harare, a commemorative portrait of Queen Elizabeth is mounted on the wall.

      New Zealand pay their respects

      In Wellington, New Zealand, gun salutes are fired to mark the news.

      Wales shows the queen's face

      A digital advertisement board shows a picture of the Queen, broadcasting the news to people in Cardiff, Wales. 

      Leicester Square cinema

      In London’s Leicester Square, The Prince Charles Cinema displays a “Thank You For Last 70 Years” tribute notice on the first day of public mourning.

      NFL pays tribute

      During the AFL Second Semi-Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions players observe a minute’s silence in memory of the Queen, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia.

      Far and wide

      Memorials and commemorations such as this one in Manila, Philippines, are being set up around the world.

      Balmoral

      Outside Balmoral Castle, where the Queen passed away on 8 September 2022, people gather to pay their respects and lay flowers.

      Windsor castle stand for the queen

      On the first day of national mourning, wardens stand outside the gates of Windsor Castle.

      Sydney hears the news of the passing of the queen

      As the news reaches Australia, an image of the Queen is projected onto the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House.

      France mourns

      In Paris, a portrait of the Queen hangs outside the British embassy. 

      queen flys the flag half mast

      The national flag is being flown at half-mast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to commemorate the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

      We thank the Queen for her service.

      #itsbetterbyair

  • Five Ways to Advertise Your Business For Free

    • With the rising costs of goods and services, marketing and advertising have been forced to the bottom of your budget. However, getting the word out about your business is paramount to being successful. So how do you manage to advertise your business?

      Advertise online reviews
      Phone advertisement

      1. Google Business Profile 

      Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is one of the easiest and most effective ways to advertise your small business. Having a GBP means that when potential customers search your industry or niche, Google will provide your profile based on how relevant it is to their search. For example, if you search for “party balloons,” Google will serve you a list of retailers that have used “party balloons” in their profiles. The potential customer can contact the business directly or view them on a map. Setting up a profile is quick and easy, but the more thorough you are when you fill out your profile, the more credibility Google will give your business and serve it to the public.

      Best of all, you can use Google’s analytics to see how your business listing performs. This information will show you various data points such as how customers find your listing, their actions, and much more.

      2.Advertise via Social Media

       Social media should be a key part of your marketing strategy. Social media channels include LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and Twitter. First, do a little research and decide which platform is best for you. Facebook and LinkedIn are generally suitable for businesses, but your consumer may spend most of their time on Instagram and TikTok. 

      Start by choosing one platform and regularly creating high-quality, unique, and engaging content. Use hashtags and include social proof like testimonials in your posts. Experiment with different content to see what resonates most with your audience. And be sure to engage with your audience as well. All social media platforms favor accounts that post and engage regularly are the best way to advertise.

      3.SEO 

      Optimizing your website to include SEO-rich content is highly effective but often overlooked. You can increase your rank and searchability with Google by implementing SEO or Search Engine Optimization. In short, SEO is using keywords that pertain to your small business in your website’s architecture and content. Keywords alert Google so when a user searches for those keywords, your website is included in their search results. 

      SEO may sound overwhelming, but it is easy to implement and 100% effective once understood. The only caveat is that SEO is a long game. Given the sheer number of websites, ranking in your industry could take months. However, your business could be ranking within a few weeks with an informed and solid SEO strategy; the perfect way to advertise your company. 

      4. Advertise through Referrals 

      Referrals are one of the best ways to grow your business organically because they help you build trust and credibility among your community. People influence people, so when a current customer shares their experience with your business with a friend, that friend is influenced and more likely to become your customer. 

      Begin by making it part of your regular practice to ask customers to refer your product or service to their friends and family. You can take it a step further by incentivizing them with an organized referral program that would offer a discount or reward for helping acquire new business. 

      5. Reach Out to Smaller Reviewers & “Influencers”

      Like referrals, you can build credibility by creating partnerships with like-minded businesses. Work with companies that offer services that compliment your offerings. For example, if you sell party balloons, you might consider partnering with a local events company. You would refer your customers to their company and vice versa. This type of interchange among business owners is valuable because it allows both businesses to benefit from a loyal customer base. Customers are more likely to go with a referral from a company they already know and trust. It also saves them the legwork it might take to do the research themselves.

      Explore Free Ways to Grow Your Business

      Not all of these tips are quick ways to grow your small business–some will take time to develop. But they are worth the effort. Whether you are building your business from scratch or have been in business for a while, these strategies will help it be stronger without having to spend any money.

      Want to book a shipment with us or just learn more? Check out our website or drop us an email on support@aircourieruk.com. #Itsbetterbyair @aircourierint

  • All you need to know about Rishi & Liz and their race to win

    • The Pair went head to head on Monday night

      In this political race, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have until the end of August to explain to around 160,000 Tory members why they should be prime minister.

      The pair saw off competition from senior Tories including Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – as well as Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, who has just been eliminated – in order to reach the contest’s final two.

      They’ll tour the country and attend various hustings events where they will be grilled by Tory members still trying to make up their mind as to who they want their leader to be.

      Key dates in the race:

      A head-to-head debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss took place on July 26. Conservative Central Office will organised a series of hustings events where the hopefuls were be grilled by Tory party members.

      The first hustings were held in Leeds and hustings and continued across the country and in all four nations of the UK. 

      Conservative Party members will their receive postal ballots by August 5, with the ballot shutting at 5pm on September 2. 

      The winner of the race will be announced on September 5.

      There are at least two televised scheduled debates and further events could be confirmed, however organisers will be concerned about the damage caused to the party by the previous debate.

      Sky News will also host a live debate between the final two candidates at 8pm on Thursday August 4. 

      What do the candidates stand for?

      Here’s a rundown of what Mr Sunak and Ms Truss have indicated about their stance on policy areas important to Tory members.

      Tax and spending

      Rishi Sunak: The former chancellor has pitched himself as the fiscally conservative candidate and criticised his rivals’ plans to raise borrowing to pay for tax cuts as “comforting fairy tales”.

      He has promised to “deliver tax cuts that drive growth”, but to do so in a “way that’s responsible” and only “after we’ve got a grip of inflation”.

      Liz Truss: The foreign secretary has pledged to “start cutting taxes from day one” with a new Budget and Spending Review that would reverse April’s rise in National Insurance and next year’s corporation tax hike from 19% to 25%.

      Immigration

      Rishi Sunak: Supports the current government’s controversial Rwanda asylum policy, saying it will stop “an illegal set of criminal gangs who were causing people to die in pursuit of coming here”.

      Liz Truss: Also supports the policy and said she has worked closely with the home secretary on it.

      Identity Politics

      Rishi Sunak: Has criticised “trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language”. 

      He has pledged a “manifesto for women’s right”, including opposing biological men being allowed to compete against women in sport and guidance for schools on how they teach issues of sex and gender.

      Liz Truss: Has previously shelved plans for an overhaul of gender recognition rules to make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender.

      Brexit and Europe

      Rishi Sunak: The Leave-voter has promised to scrap or reform all EU law or bureaucracy still on the statute book by the time of the next general election, and have initial recommendations on whether each law stays or goes within 100 days.

      Liz Truss: Voted Remain but has since embraced Brexit and scooped up the backing of staunch Brexiteers. Helped push through the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which critics say breaks international law.

      Climate Change and Net Zero

      Rishi Sunak: Committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 – a race against time. 

      He has pledged to keep the ban on building new onshore wind farms, but wants to introduce a legal target to make Britain energy self-sufficient by 2045 by overseeing a massive expansion in offshore turbines.

      Liz Truss: Backs the net zero push, but would pause green levies on domestic energy bills, which could damage the target.

      She says there is a strong case for lifting the ban on fracking and wants to move away from the EU’s habitat directive in favour of a stronger British biodiversity target.

      Defence

      Rishi Sunak: Views the Nato target of 2% of GDP as a “floor and not a ceiling” and notes it is set to rise to 2.5% “over time” but refuses to set “arbitrary targets”.

      Liz Truss: Has pledged to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 and strengthen the intelligence services. She said the government’s current plan to cut the size of the Army to 72,500 in 2025 is “up for review”.

      Who are you supporting?

      Remember, we’re here for you no matter what. Book a shipment with us here. #itsbetterbyair @aircourieruk

  • Where and how to Picnic in London this Summer

    • As it’s National Picnic month (and the weather could not be more ideal) we have compiled a list of the where to get the most fabulous picnic in London, and the best spots to eat them. Need help getting your picnic where it needs to be on time? Check out our website.

      Where to get your picnic?

      1. Sette by Scarpetta

      Where: 4 Knightsbridge Grn, London SW1X 7QA

      Knightsbridge’s Bvlgari Hotel restaurant has a very chichi selection of Italian-inspired picnic hampers, perfect for garden picnics or a trip to the park. The signature picnic (£95 for two) includes foccacia, chargilled vegetables and Italian cakes among others while the Limited Edition version (£250 for two which comes in a very nice reusable picnic bag) also includes a bottle of Petale de Rose.

      Delivery area: Collection or delivery in London.

      How to orderOrder online

      sette by scarpetta picnic london
      Sette by Scarpetta

      2. 144 On The Hill

      Where: 149-150 Richmond Hill, Richmond, London TW10 6RW

      With so much glorious open space on its doorstep, Richmond restaurant 144 On The Hill must make a killing with its picnic offering. At £40 for two the menu includes Severn & Wye smoked salmon bagels, Middlewhite pork sausage rolls and almond financiers.

      Delivery area: Collection only

      How to orderOrder online

      3. Gail’s

      Where: Gail’s bakeries across town

      Gail’s have launched a Picnic on the Green picnic hamper (£57) for Summer – with enough for four people. In the hamper, you’ll find beetroot salad, summer greens salad, olive sourdough, baguette, Quicke’s whey butter, CB salami, Quicke’s cheddar, a bag of madeleines, four Wildpress drinks & four borekitas. 

      Delivery area: Collection only

      How to orderOrder online

      4. Umbrella Project Garden Hamper

      Umbrella Project (the people behind bars The Sun Tavern and Discount Suit Co) have a lovely garden hamper this summer which includes Prosecco, rosé, strawberry kir cocktail, cans of Umbrella London rhubarb cider and lots of snacks to go with it and glassware along with cutlery.  

      Delivery area: Nationwide

      How to orderOrder online

      5. Panzer’s

      13-19 Circus Rd, St John’s Wood, London NW8 6PB

      Panzer’s is a famous St John’s Wood deli that’s been running since 1944. Along with a Panzer’s cool bag, eco-friendly plates, cutlery and napkins there are a number of hampers to choose from, packed with Panzer’s goods. Options include challah bread rolls, beef sausage rolls, Panzer’s hand-sliced smoked salmon, an artisan cheese plate, brownies and more. Vegetarian options are available too. 

      Delivery area: Collection or local delivery

      How to orderOrder online

      Panzer's Picnic
      Panzer’s Picnic

      6. Chrissy’s Kitchen

      Ballymaloe Cookery School alumnus Chrissy of Chrissy’s Kitchen has a range of three delicious picnic hampers to choose from. There are Jubilee-inspired offerings, a picnic specially for children and a vegan offering too. Most include brownies, sausage rolls (or falafel bites) spiced nuts and more.

      Delivery area: Within the M25

      How to orderOrder online

      7. Provisions

      167 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX

      The Provisions picnic offering this season includes gorgeous cheeses – like their top drawer Comte and Crotting de Chaignol along with ham olives, crackers and a bottle of wine. It’s £50 for three to four people and there are vegetarian options on offer too.

      Delivery area: Nationwide delivery or collection from Holloway Road. 

      How to orderOrder online

      8. Melrose & Morgan

      Where: Primrose Hill & Hampstead

      North London deli Melrose & Morgan has a new range of picnics on offer this summer including various options for vegetarians and vegans like their Meadow Vegan Picnic. If you’re thinking of grabbing one of their London specials to enjoy on nearby Hampstead Heath or Primrose Hill then the Heath & Hill option (£90 for two) sounds good with its range of salads, empanadas and frittatas.

      Delivery area: Depending on the picnic either London for delivery/collection or Nationwide delivery

      How to orderOrder online

      9. Pique

      Where: Unit 7, Battersea heliport estate, SW11 3SS

      This delivery company organises nationwide delivery of its picnics. This summer we’re particularly taken by their Pub In a Box (£42.50) which comes with crisps, beers and a curated Ploughman’s board.

      Delivery: Nationwide

      How to orderOrder online

      Pique provence picnic London
      Pique’s Picnic

      Where to eat it?

      1. Kew Gardens

      Some of the coolest picnic pitches in the city are within the floral borders of famous Kew Gardens. You have to pay to have a look around but it’s totally worth it – especially to have a nosy inside the newly reopened Temperate House, which is stuffed full of impressive rare plants. Once you’ve splurged on entry (£16.50), bringing a picnic will definitely save you some pennies.

      Best spot: If you want to nibble au naturel, hunt down the picnic benches in Kew’s woodland areas – they’re lovely.

      Anything else I should know? Kew have gone super green and banned single-use plastic from itscafés and restaurants, and offer discounts if you bring a reusable coffee cup.

      2. Primrose Hill

      It’s easy to see why Primrose Hill is so popular during long and sleepy summer afternoons, thanks to those incredible views across the city. But it’s not just the skyline that makes this a popular dining destination. 

      The peak of Primrose Hill is also a short walk from Camden, Regent’s Canal, Abbey Road (hello Beatles fans) and all the adorable animal antics at London Zoo. Plus, when you’ve had your fill of picnic fodder, it’s a pretty great place to fly a kite.

      Best spot: As high up as you dare. The most breathtaking of views are undoubtedly from the top of the hill.

      Anything else I should know? The beloved ‘Paddington’ movie was filmed in Primrose Hill, so if you’re up to a post-picnic stroll do check out the beautiful colours of Chalcot Square and Chalcot Crescent nearby. 

      Primrose Hill picnic
      Primrose hill

      3. Soho Square

      Good things come in small packages, or so this pocket-sized patch of grass in central would have you believe. Despite Soho’s sometimes rowdy reputation, a picnic at the square is a lusher experience than you might imagine, with flora packed into the perimeters and a quaint Tudor-style hut in the middle. 

      Best spot: When the temperatures rise it’s not always easy to find somewhere to sit, but if you can bag a spot in the shade it’s blissful.

      Anything else I should know? The hut in the middle of the park is the fanciest garden shed you’ve ever seen (no really, it’s full of the groundskeeper’s kit).

      4. Hampstead Heath

      The Heath is the first port of call for many Londoners when the weather starts heating up and, luckily, there’s room enough for everyone. The wild green space is the apple of North London’s eye, with spectacular city views, rolling meadows, ancient woodland and lush plant life. Want a pre-picnic dip to work up an appetite? Set up camp near the public swimming ponds and make sure you’ve brought your cozzie.

      Best spot: The Heath is huge and has plenty of stellar spots for picnics. But for the best views head to the summit of Parliament Hill, where you can munch sandwiches with a backdrop of the London skyline. The hill can get busy, especially on sunny days, so for a quieter spot, try the surrounding Parliament Hill Fields.

      Anything else I should know? The park is free and always open. Barbecues and campfires aren’t allowed, so leave your baps and frozen bangers at home.

      5. Alexandra Palace Park

      Much more than just a hall on a hill, the People’s Palace is an instantly recognisable London landmark. Though the palace itself is often a larger-than-life music venue, you can find a much more serenity in the seven acres of parkland that surround it, thanks to lush fields, a boating lake and oodles of plants. Climb up the hill for panoramic views of the city skyline to accompany your picnic.

      Best spot: Lay out your blanket on the grass at top of the hill with your back to Ally Pally. 

      Anything else I should know? Once you’ve had your fill of the lush London views, you can scale heights with Go Ape, try your hand at the Pitch & Putt or shop for plants at the garden centre. 

      Alexandra Palace Park Picnic
      Alexandra Palace

      6. Holland Park

      Holland Park is often overshadowed by its regal neighbour Kensington Palace Gardens, but it’s an undeniably picturesque picnic spot. There’s a lot to see, from woodland and wildlife to sculpture and the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens, plus there are tennis courts, football pitches and spots to play golf, cricket and netball, so you can have a side of sport with your sausage rolls. It’s a serene spot that really comes to life in the summer. Get hamper happy at Holland Park and you’ll soon forget about the sweaty bus ride that got you there.

      Best spot? If you have kids, set up near the new Holland Park Adventure Playground (reopening early summer 2019), complete with zip wire and a ten-person seesaw. In the summer months, Opera Holland Park pops up underneath a temporary white canopy. If you’re there to see a show, you can reserve a table near the venue and bring your own picnic beforehand. 

      Anything else I should know? The park is open daily from 7.30am until 30 minutes before dusk. Cycling isn’t allowed in the park.

      7. Furnival Gardens

      Cosied up next to the Thames, Furnival Gardens is a little slice of grassy heaven in Hammersmith, where you can wriggle your shoes off, bask in the sunshine and watch boats bobbing along in the water. 

      Best spot? Grab one of the benches along the Lower Mall for the best views over the Thames.

      Anything else I should know? The petite green stretch is home to the Furnivall Sculling Club – this is the midway point of the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race – but for less athletic pursuits,  pimp up your picnic with a plastic pint from one of the many pubs along the riverfront and lounge in the grass.

      8. Victoria Park

      Visit this vast open space known as the ‘people’s park’ and you’ll encounter crowds of stylish Londoners in all their high-waisted-denim glory. It’s one of east London’s most spacious alfresco-eating spots, with two lakes, a Chinese pagoda, a boating pond, a playground, and a scattering of other Instagram-worthy delights. When it’s not peppered with hipster picnics, Vicky Park is also the stomping ground for urban festivals – last year it was home to All Points East, a music and community events fest.

      Best spot? The Old English Garden is a pretty spot for a bench-bound picnic, or for waterside views, set up next to one of the park’s three lakes.

      Anything else I should know? The park opens at 7am and closes at dusk. Last year, Victoria Park kept its Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards for the fifth year. Blue-badge holders are allowed vehicle access.

      9. Greenwich Park

      Greenwich boasts one of the city’s largest green spaces, so you can usually enjoy your sarnies in peace without being squeezed up too close to other lunching Londoners. Once you’ve had your fill, head to The Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum or the Deer Park, to get up close and personal with mother nature.

      Best spot? Brace your calves and head to the top of the hill. The iconic views of London from just outside the observatory are pretty spectacular.

      Anything else I should know? The park is open from 6am every day, but closing times vary depending on the time of year, so check ahead.

      10. Green Park

      Enjoying a picnic in Green Park is guaranteed to be a lively affair. Visitors and locals alike flock here thanks to the park’s rather famous neighbour. The Queen’s gaff aside, Green Park has its own rather spectacular vista, with statues, water fountains and, in spring, daffodils as far as the eye can see. Yes, the Royal Park may be popular, but it’s a buzzy suntrap for feasting on M&S salad pots after work.

      Best spot? The path between Green Park station and Buckingham Palace is a highway for tourists, so head off the beaten track for a slightly quieter spot.

      Anything else I should know? The park is open all day every day. If you want to upgrade from a blanket or your jacket tossed on the ground, from April to October, you can hire a striped deckchair from £1.80 an hour. For the committed deckchair enthusiast, season tickets are available too.

      Green Park picnic
      Green Park

      11. Clapham Common

      Chilling in Clapham is a piece of cake. This triangle of tranquility doesn’t have much decoration, but that doesn’t make it dull. The Common gets a lotta love from dog (and child) walking locals, and it’s used for events throughout the year, like live concerts from the bandstand. Stock up, pick your own little patch of greenery and stay put until the sun goes down.

      Best spot? Set yourself up with a view of the bandstand.

      Anything else I should know? The park is always open. If you’re feeling active, there’s free access to a basketball court, athletic sprints track, cricket nets and skateboard park. Other sports facilities are available at a charge.

      12. Brockwell Park

      Brockwell Park is most definitely a looker, and it’s perfect for keeping your mates who can’t sit still entertained. It’s home to grade II listed Brockwell Hall, a kids’ playground and the beaut that is Brockwell Lido. If you fancy dusting off your picnic basket and heading here, expect to veg out alongside sun-worshipping locals and loads of ducks (the latter of whom would be more than interested in your leftover sandwich crusts).

      Best spot? The whole place is lovely, so park your blanket wherever take your fancy.

      Anything else I should know? Brockwell park has a Green Flag Award as well as being a Green Heritage Site. It’s open from 7.30am until 15 minutes before sunset.

      13. London Fields

      When you fancy a field day, this Hackney oasis is a sweet spot to embrace the great outdoors. Come warm weather it’s inundated with grazing east-enders hoping to kick back and taste the ketchup. London Fields Lido is also on the park’s periphery if you need to cool off. Just let your food go down first, okay?

      Best spot? Set up in the north of the park and you can picnic while watching a game of cricket at London Fields Cricket Club.

      Anything else I should know? BBQs used to be popular here, although they’re currently suspended as a result of damage to the park. It’s a good thing it’s perfect for picnics too (and they are much lower maintenance, right?)

      14. Lincoln’s Inn Fields

      When overloaded Londoners need some time out, a long and lazy post-work picnic at Lincoln’s Inn Fields is an ace antidote. As the city’s largest public square, no buns are too big, and you’ll find grassy spots as well as lounge-worthy benches to feast on. 

      Best spot? When the grass is too damp, perch around the edges of the bandstand-like structure in the centre of the square instead. 

      Anything else I should know? This sun-dappled stretch is only a short stomp away from other points of interest too, like the eclectic aesthetic extravaganza of Sir John Soane’s Museum and some imposing Victorian architecture at the Royal Courts of Justice.

      15. Battersea Park

      With pedalos, a landscaped boating lake and walled gardens, this South London haunt is the perfect patch for stuffing yourself silly. Once you’re done with mini pork pies, there are plenty of things to do too. The word ‘Battersea’ conjures up images of the famous dogs and cats home, but if you fancy yourself more of a pygmy goat-whisperer, visit Battersea Park Children’s Zoo to pet away the stresses of adult life and coo over all things small and fluffy.

      Best spot? Set up at the north of the park near the London peace pagoda for uninterrupted views of the Thames. The lush patches of grass just west of the boating lake are a popular spot for picnics.

      Anything else I should know? Open from 8am until dusk.

      Battersea Park Picnic
      Battersea Park Picnic spot

      So that’s it! Our list of our favourite picnic spots (we couldn’t chose, hence the extensive list) and our most perfect picnics. Remember, we are around 24/7 to answer your calls, need any last minute picnic bits? Get in touch!

      #itsbetterbyair #always

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