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Here at The Spires we are extremely excited for the opening of our new property in Edinburgh because as Scotland’s capital, it tends to be the Scottish destination that everyone tends to think of first. Aided by all the history, beauty and entertainment that it has to offer, it is no surprise that Edinburgh is frequently seen as a top European Destination and as it holds the world’s largest arts festival in August, it is also no surprise that Edinburgh holds a rather prominent position on the cultural arts stage. Therefore, it is only to be expected that of all the places in Scotland, Edinburgh would most certainly aim to be an extra in many a Bollywood film. Consequently, Edinburgh should be a major stop on your Bollywood journey because not only has it been showcased in many a Bollywood film, but it was the first location where the VisitScotland Bollywood map was even unveiled in Scotland!
Edinburgh did not just help to put the VisitScotland Bollywood map on the well, map, but it also was a critical location in Bollywood’s breakout into Scotland itself. One of the films that really began the Bollywood movement to Scotland was Main Solah Baras Ki (Sweet Sixteen) where Edinburgh really managed to score itself a role.
In Main Solah Baras Ki (1998), an Indian director is looking for a female actress to play the leading role in his new role. After failing to find anyone in India, he comes to the UK which ultimately results in a love story between a young actress and the director. Many an iconic Edinburgh location was showcased in Main Solah Baras Ki from Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, Calton Hill, The Mound, The Royal Mile, Holyrood Park, Princes Mall, Waverley Station, Scott Monument and Princes Garden. The film in itself was pretty much a walking tour of Edinburgh, thus reflecting how it is a good movie to generate some Scottish travelling inspiration! Some particular movie moments to reflect on and live out is when Sabrina played the tambourine and Scotland’s favourite instrument, the bagpipe, on the Royal Mile and at St. Giles’ Cathedral as well as when Sabrina bought some flowers on the roof-top plaza of Princes Mall. Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi (2001), afforded the featuring of many similar sites but a particular special moment was where famous Bollywood actor, Kajol, performed a salsa by the Scott Monument!
Aarzoo (1999), directed by Lawrence D’Souza, was a Bollywood movie prominently filmed in the UK and was a film that revolved around a doctor’s daughter becoming entangled romantically with a man whom he does not like and how he conspires to get her together with a childhood friend of hers. As is the norm, it is a film heavily about love! Many a site that was featured in Main Solah Baras Ki is also featured in Aarzoo from the infamous Edinburgh castle to Princes Street. However, some new sites such as Edinburgh Zoo, Gladstone Memorial and the Scottish National Gallery also make their Bollywood debut.
Bollywood movie moments involving Edinburgh could also be found in Yeh Hai Jalwa; a 2002 Bollywood comedy translating as ‘This is Magic’ which focused on a young man, played by the renowned Salman Khan, seeking out his long-lost father in the UK. Yeh Hai Jalwa included a romantic scene on Princes Street; a saxophone being played outside the Scottish National Gallery and a rooftop dance near The Balmoral Hotel. Just a normal day in Edinburgh!
Even in recent years Edinburgh has still managed to be a critical setting for Bollywood movies as can be seen in Mausam (2011), a romantic drama where an air pilot falls in love with a younger woman. It was made by iconic Bollywood star Pankaj Kapoor showing how Edinburgh can still draw in the big names. Special moments included a night-time carriage ride in the Anchor Close area and many a unique Edinburgh location, from the Grassmarket to Usher Hall where the lead character and his friends went to see a Mozart recital, were showcased amongst all the standard (but always beautiful) shots of Scott Monument and The Mound. Melville Street and Newhaven Main Street even were used as exteriors for where the lead character lived. If you are a really eager fan and want to stop by and eat where the characters did, the Beehive Inn is the place to go! The formidable Forth Rail Bridge also made a sneaky appearance as it did in Yeh Dil Aashiqanaa (2002) and Main Solah Baras Ki.
The connection between the VisitScotland Bollywood campaign and Edinburgh is particularly strong because it is being sponsored by Quantas, the airline that from May 1st, are running daily flights from Edinburgh to Doha making a Bollywood adventure out to Scotland even more accessible. In particular, make sure to come to Edinburgh about August-September time when the Edinburgh Mela Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo are holding a massive Bollywood Dance Extravaganza which will see 60 dancers from India and Scotland come together in celebration-it is not to be missed!
Consequently, it is clear that there is no shortage of Bollywood movie nostalgia to be lived out in Edinburgh and that no Bollywood adventure would be complete without a stop-off in Edinburgh. Coupled with Edinburgh’s Airport and the transport links to Aberdeen and Glasgow, it may even be the perfect place to begin a summer of Bollywood.
(Information and Image: VisitScotland, http://www.visitscotland.com/bollywood)
It is undeniable that sometimes the world can be a bit of a dreary and dark place, however, you need to experience the dark to see the light. Therefore, whilst it is important to focus on the serious things in life that are burdening us, we also have to focus on the things that bring us joy and a smile to our faces. That is why, we need to do as Google says and join the party for a happy planet because today is the third official International Day of Happiness as designated by the UN. Initially created by the UN in 2012 to encourage member states to prioritise happiness as a fundamental “human goal”, the International Day of Happiness is now held annually on March 20th and means if at least for one day of the year, we should consider the things that make us rejoice.
Consequently, I present to you our lovely readers, the ten reasons as to why The Spires is happy on this International Day of Happiness (warning: cheese alert for what is to follow!):
1. Customer Satisfaction
-being in the hospitality industry, one of things that makes us smile the brightest is going as far as we can to deliver the ultimate guest experience and to know that we have succeeded in making our guests smile in return. That is why Trip Advisor reviews are such a key reason for our happiness as it is great to hear first-hand how our guests stay was and what made their stay (hopefully!) enjoyable. It helps us to determine what to keep on doing and what to improve upon.
2. The Apartment Collection
-this is the latest development at The Spires and sees us become a serviced apartment agent as well as a serviced apartment operator. As a result, we are now a one-stop-shop for all our customer’s serviced apartments needs and so whether they want to stay in the UK or even in far-flung locations like Asia or Australia, we can make it happen. Therefore, we are happy to be expanding our business in such a new way and to be in a better position to satisfy our guests.
3. The Spires in Edinburgh
-a fellow exciting new development for The Spires is the upcoming summer opening of our Edinburgh location. Getting to be located in the city centre of Scotland’s stunning capital which is frequently awarded with accolades for things like being Europe’s Leading Destination, is definitely a reason to smile as we can accommodate an even wider pool of guests.
4. New Arrivals
-whether they are new guests or loyal customers, happiness always stems from the arrival of guests to The Spires. It is a new chance to make another positive impression and to hopefully make another happy guest.
5. Social Media Interaction
-every ‘Follow’, ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ makes us happy because it gives us a chance to successfully engage with our guests. That is why we try to cover as many social media channels as possible so that whatever our guests are into, whether it is being a Twitter mastermind or a prolific Pinterest pinner or even a passionate blogger, we can reach out and talk to them. It may be misplaced vanity, but every new follower we get makes us feel like we have done a job well done and that we are appreciated (hint: follow us please, it helps spread the happiness!)
6. Snack Table
-it is the foundation of every office across the nation: the snack table. No office is complete without one and no office productive. Whenever we are feeling down, tired or just plain ravenous, it is our never-ending stashes of biscuits and tea/coffee that we turn to so as to restore our joy. As they say, there is nothing that a good cup of tea and a Kit-Kat cannot solve!Click here to read more about everyone’s favourite table: https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/the-snack-table-2/
-being under the umbrella of the tourism industry, travelling is something that we all love to engage in. Whether it is going to exotic locations like Dubai to liaise with potential suppliers on a business trip or even just taking mini-breaks to one of our respective locations like Birmingham, there is always happiness in escaping from reality and getting to experience new places and faces.
-today is not just the International Day of Happiness but also the first day of spring. What can bring more smiles to your faces quite like warmer weather, beautiful daffodils, lighter mornings & nights and of course; the mighty generous Easter Bunny. When chocolate eggs are on the horizon, there is always a reason to be happy.
9. Friday Afternoon
-it is the universal holiday around the world; Friday afternoon. Whether it is simply a relaxing weekend spent at home or an activity intensive mini break, the weekend is a time to detox and de-stress from the week and re-charge our batteries. Now there is no one who can say the weekend does not make them happy!
10. Working at The Spires
-I warned you that the cheese was coming and here it has arrived in all its cheesy glory! I cannot speak for everyone, but working at The Spires definitely makes me happy because I have the chance to work with some of the loveliest people who are passionate about what they do and I have the chance to learn things which should hopefully serve me well for the future.
We told you what makes us happy, now tell us what makes you happy!
Remember to spread the happiness :)Follow @TheSpiresSuites
Name: Lynne Shepherd
Job Title: Finance & Administration Manager
How long worked for the company: 3 ½ years
What your job entails:
I manage the finance department, process payroll for all locations and also do some HR Administration.
Any funny or interesting stories that have happened to you while at work:
I got a new Golden Labrador puppy that was just 9 weeks old at the time. I took him into work to meet everyone, and as he was wondering around the office getting lots of attention he decided to leave a little present right outside our Managing Directors door!! Let’s just say the poop bags I got for part of my Secret Santa would have been handy that day.
I also have a habit of walking out the office to my car to go home with my cup still in my hand.
What do you like most about serviced apartments?: The space
Favourite flavour of ice cream? Toffee
Favourite actor/actress? There are so many but I like Julie Walters, Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage, Will Smith, Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp but to mention a few.
What can’t you leave home without? Handbag
Serviced apartment or hotel? Serviced Apartment
Whether you are travelling alone or in groups, for business or leisure, travelling will always be an experience that you simultaneously get excited for, and immensely stress over. However, gone are the days of manically remembering to pack paperback travels guides & maps and writing packing lists, nowadays all the information we need can be found in our handheld technological miracle sidekicks: mobile phones and tablets. Arguably, they are making us somewhat less self-reliant but if they can help reduce the stress of finding our ways in new destinations, it means we can have ultimately more efficient and productive business journeys or can enable us to fully bask in the glory of our holidays. These travel apps will become your favourite companions whether you are travelling for business or leisure and can help you from every stage of your journey; from planning to packing to even finding the best pizza in town when you arrive!
- WiFi Finder
When I am travelling, one of my initial concerns is always how fast I can get to a WiFi spot; which probably speaks volumes about my priorities. However, I am sure I am not the only one. The WiFi Finder App spots includes over 500,000 free and paid WiFi areas in over 144 countries and means you will never be at a loss for spotting your nearest WiFi location on your travels. The App will help you to filter the locations so you can find the perfect place to go and it will even provide directions so you do not have to use a separate navigation app to track down your newly found WiFi supply. Available for IOS and Android
Some people enjoy the challenge of planning their business trip or holiday, most of us loathe it. However WorldMate takes the suffering out of it and has aided over 10, 000 million users in organizing and planning their jaunts away for free. All you need to do is forward confirmations for your booked travel arrangements, such as flights or car rentals, to the email address provided and it will manage and hold all details: even compose an itinerary which you can share with family and friends. Extra functions it offers are in relation to Flight Alerts and real-time Flight Status so you know what is happening with your flights and can prepare for the unexpected. TripIt is a similar popular app to consider. Available for IOS and Android
Keeping on board with the planning stages, is Packpoint: a free app that acts as your personal packing organizer. All you need to do is submit your location and your duration of your stay and the app will help you determine what items you need to pack based on your level of stay; your purposes for travelling; the activities you will be getting up to and even the forecasted weather. PackPoint will help to erase the many hours of deliberation and debate spent over deciding what items to pack and potentially to avoid the charges associated with over-packing. Available for Ios and Android
- Around Me
Once you have found yourself on the move and at the inevitable loss for your surroundings, use Around Me to compensate for your lack of local geographical knowledge. Selecting from a range of defined categories, you can use this helpful app to locate how far away you from the nearest *insert your option here e.g. ATM, bank, supermarket* Available for Ios and Android
A particular useful free app for when you are commuting to a business meeting or even just trying to reach a popular tourist attraction, Waze is the world’s largest community based navigation expert. Using real-time advice and information from fellow drivers on the road, you can keep up-to-date with the best routes to take to dodge the traffic and accidents and arrive at your destination with plenty of time. It provides another gift in that you can find the cheapest gas stations based on the prices posted by fellow drivers. It is a team effort out on those roads! Available for Ios and Android
- Get Taxi
Alternatively, if you are on holiday and do not have a car to hand to travel by, make use of the free Get Taxi where you can order a licensed Black taxi/cab to beat waiting in queue or having to flag one down. This app, which is rumoured to be number one globally for corporate rides, can be used to pre-book taxis or book one on the spur of the moment if the weather takes a disagreeable turn! Available for Ios and Android
- Feeling Hungry?
No, this is not an app in itself but as we all know, sampling the local delicacies is the best bit of travelling and these apps will help you in your mission to unearth the best food your destination has to offer. Use Urbanspoon; a free app which compiles rating and reviews for over a million restaurants and cafes so you can see where fellow travellers recommend. Foodspotting takes a differing angle to the “eating like a local” by recommending dishes, not restaurants. If you are in a very specific mind or want to try particular local dishes, you can use this app to view images and see what people recommend. Finally, there is the incredibly popular Hungry House app which can be used when you do not want to face the world and do not have the energy to cook. It enables access to over 10,000 takeaways and over 60 cuisine types so you cannot complain it does meet your every hunger need!
This is one for all you business travellers who do not like managing their expenses! Expensify is a free app which is reputably backed as being the best app for expense reporting which allows you to simply take a photo of a receipt and then select which report you want the expense to go on. Easy peasy! Available for Ios and Android
- Welcome to Scotland
If you are happening to be staying at our Scottish apartments, the Welcome to Scotland and VisitScotland Explore apps are the perfect way to introduce you the tartan land. The VisitScotland app helps you to discover attractions, events and activities as well as provides itineraries so you will never be bored! The Welcome to Scotland App offers similar functions as well as exclusive offers and deals. Definite essentials for a first-time visit to Scotland. Available for Ios and Android
When we think Facebook, we think of it as an online tool that keeps us connected with our social circle: we follow people who are friends; we post photos to show where we have been, and we write statuses to detail what is going on in our worlds. Up till now, any connection Facebook has had with people’s professional lives has probably tended to be in relation to being berated for inappropriate use of it at work or posting things that do not align with company values i.e. those infamous dodgy work nights out photos! Effectively, Facebook is where we live our out-of-office lives: no work allowed. However, in January, a new Facebook initiative was piloted which has the potential turn this on its head: “Facebook at Work”.
As was reported by Buying Business Travel in their March/April 2015 edition, not a lot has been released on “FB@ Work” due to it only being piloted with a few select organisations. However, as can be inferred from the name, the concept is very much to integrate corporate life into Facebook so that it is almost a rival to existing “enterprise social network” platforms such as Yammer and Slack. These existing networks enable business teams to collaborate and communicate online so as to improve productivity; and this is effectively the aim of FB@Work. As detailed by Tech Crunch, it will enable corporate customers to create their own business social networks, where only company members can view information shared, under the familiar interface of Facebook’s existing website.
The reason why the travel sector has been brought up in particular relation with “FB@Work”, is that as it is highlighted by Buyer Business Travel, it could be a potentially interesting development to see Travel Management Companies (TMCs) form joint social networks with their clients for travel consultation purposes. This would be particularly striking if the TMCs created specific accounts for each client to fully personalise the experience. In particular regards to the knowledge sharing and collaboration aspect of “FB@Work”, it could enable there to be more communication in relation to critical corporate travel aspects such as travel policies. This links to how it would really help to bridge the gap between employees working in large multinational companies with similar roles as they can share advice and expertise regarding all issues, including travel. It has the potential to even allow employees to be welcomed into the homes of their colleagues located in other countries!
“FB@Work”s creation has generated considerable debate. As was highlighted by Buying Business Travel, one of the greatest advantages of “FB@Work” is that it is a social network that is familiar to so many; enabling a quick adoption which can only benefit productivity as well as lower training and switch-over costs. This argument I do understand because dependent on how similar the interface is in reality, as an employee I personally would feel quite comfortable using it and I would not be daunted by its introduction. However, it is its familiarity which also works against it, because of its well-established reputation as a personal social network. It is hard to deny that many of us will succumb to temptation and use it to also access our personal Facebooks; or even just go off-topic.
At the moment, “FB@Work” is a project still in the testing stage with many barriers to overcome, but it will be interesting to see if it will revolutionise the workplace and the corporate travel sector in quite the same way that it has shaped our personal social networking lives. Being a part-time social media intern and a full-time Facebook enthusiast, I am very intrigued to see the outcome…
Make sure to comment to give your opinion regarding the feasibility of “FB@Work”; we would love to hear them!
This week I was in a weird post-phone call limbo, but thankfully email marketing helped to fill the void and keep me occupied; particularly due to the unexpected nature of some old email addresses (a personal favourite being one that expressed a love for blue tartan trousers!). I am starting to become one with the lingo of email marketing and feel quite proud to understand what things like bounces are. I spent most of my week trying to go through all our email contacts and filter them so that those who had never opened our emails were taken off the list. Unfortunately I am one of those people who like to hoard under the belief that you never know what might happen, and therefore I was at times hesitant to delete contacts just on the off chance someone might change their ways and open their mail. Similarly, I have a tendency to over-analyse and needlessly worry meaning I was scared I may unknowingly delete an ultra important contact that all The Spires’ future revenue may rely on. Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little but there was a slight reluctance to use that scary ‘delete’ button as once you delete, there is no going back. However, as that slightly well-known song from Frozen goes, I just had to let it go and ended up on a deleting spree.
I also played a part in helping with the design of the The Spires March E-Letter (I shall subtlety leave a link here…http://dmtrk.com/160B-38WBJ-4/sv.aspx. Once again this was a task that I really enjoyed as it was a chance to use my creativity as well as to learn how to use email marketing software from a design aspect. It also gave me a new-found appreciation for just how long it must take people to design all those emails we get bombarded with on a daily basis. Similarly, it provided a really beneficial insight into the tough world of marketing and how I have a lot to learn in terms of design & innovation. I have a tendency to end up on cheesy tangents and rely on alliteration, puns and rhymes but now I am realising that sometimes there is nothing wrong with a bit of simplicity and stating things as they are. I feel I may have to start watching Mad Men to enlighten myself further, who says television cannot be educational?
I had a slight scare at the end of the week when I went to check Facebook ‘Likes’ and there had been a significant decrease from 716 followers to 699 followers and numerous refreshes were not changing that. Thinking that my efforts to help The Spires online presence were actually sabotaging it, I was quite relieved to discover that it had happened to all companies and that Facebook had erased ‘likes’ from any inactive pages. With the heart-attack over, it did make me realise that maybe there is still reason to change up my social media strategy and so that is something I am focusing on currently.
Hope all the mothers out there have an enjoyable Mother’s Day where they are thoroughly spoilt with pampering and hand-made cards and that everyone parties hard in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
Till next time,