Let’s Get Blogging

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I feel I am somewhat falling into the dark world of addiction with an obsession for measuring how many clicks, likes, shares and retweets I am able to generate from my posts, tweets and pins. The worst and best inventions have been all the analysis tools that have been invented to enable you to monitor your social media footprint. Good, because they help you to determine whether you are succeeding or not; bad, because they are what enable you to cultivate an addiction towards monitoring your progress and checking them at any spare minute. My new found addiction can probably be reflected in the fact that at any given time if you ask me to report on how many followers or responses we have for a particular site, I can probably recite the exact figures. The fact that my personal Facebook links to The Spires’ corporate one does mean it can permeate to me when I am home, but thankfully, I have found I have some resilience and boundaries. Therefore, I have not reached a level where I reach for my phone at midnight to check if that post has reached a further 100 people (yet).

I am definitely enjoying being responsible for the company’s corporate presence and it is really rewarding when I see a big response to something I posted (#TheDress was amazing, and by the way, it was most definitely black and blue). Similarly, sometimes it can be a bit disheartening when a post is not received as well I thought it could, but then that always helps you to determine what is working and what is not and how to progress. It can be a bit tricky social networking from a corporate perspective as I have to be wary that what I post fits with the value and ethos of the firm. This particularly relates to blogging where you always want to post something that blends in with the business’s interests but at the same time want to take a unique stance to the topic so that it is interesting. Consequently, not only are my social networking skills being improved but so are my researching skills as it takes so much time and detective work to find topics worth pursuing and elaborating on. However, it is a challenge that I embrace and am ultimately thoroughly enjoying. Not many people can say they get paid to be on social media after all!

In other news, I have successfully finished all my phone calls although I am sure that there will be a few more hiding around the corner…For an activity that demands essentially no movement, it is surprisingly energy zapping at times. However, I really feel it has gone to improve my phone etiquette as well as my data reporting skills. It is somewhat disconcerting however how many people misinterpreted my pronunciation of The Spires as “The Squires”, “The Fire Department”, “Serviced Department” and my personal favourite; “The Sewars”. Something to watch for the future I think. Similarly, it would be prefarable if I could avoid accidentally phoning police stations about accommodation….

Moving forward, my aim is to start positing more original content on The Spires’ social media in order to aid with search engine optimization so make sure to watch this space (and to like, share, comment and retweet anything I happen to share 😉 ). Thank you to anyone who is taking the time to read this blog or follow The Spires on any social networking site, it means a lot and I am more than eager to hear what you think.

Till next time,

Alex

Photo: http://scienceofblogging.com/why-scientists-should-blog-a-case-study/

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Serviced Apartments: The Cost Effective Alternative

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When thinking of serviced apartments the common benefits that tend to be associated with them are the additional space and comfort they provide. Although this is all perfectly true, there is more to be considered; namely the cost savings they can enable. At this time where we understand why corporate customers are aiming to reduce costs more than ever and to tighten the purse strings, we at The Spires Serviced Apartments want to offer a solution that helps them achieve this task whilst keeping the standards they are used to high. As the old adage goes, cutting on costs does not mean having to shrimp on quality.

In recent weeks The Apartment Service released the 2015-2016 edition of The Global Serviced Apartments Industry Report which revealed how 72.7% of companies now utilise serviced apartments in order to accommodate employees working on corporate projects out with their home location. It was discovered how 81.48% of respondents favoured serviced apartments over hotels and in particular regards to corporate buyers, this preference stems from the competitive rate that serviced apartments offer with 75.4% of corporate customers noting how the rate was the most critical purchasing influence.

Consequently, it can begin to be seen how serviced apartments are the affordable alternative that corporate bookers are increasingly considering, and here at The Spires we have the evidence to attest to this:

  • As well as one-bedroom apartments, we can offer two-bedroom apartments where two people can stay in one apartment and share facilities like the kitchen and lounge but have their own room and bathroom. Clearly, this is considerably cheaper than booking two separate hotels room, particularly for a long-stay basis.
  • At The Spires, we offer fully fitted kitchens including fridge/freezer, microwaves, hobs and ovens and everyone’s favourite appliance: the dishwasher. This will make meal allowances that employees are provided with stretch much further because as a result they do not have to pay the high prices associated with restaurant dining.
  • As well as kitchen appliances, we also offer washing machines and dryers in all our apartments meaning customers can save on the hefty laundry charges associated with hotels. Similarly, employees can be crafty and save on airplane baggage charges because instead of needing to check in a bag in hold, they can simply check in a cabin bag with the knowledge they can wash all their clothes in their own time.
  • A misconception with serviced apartments is the idea that a lease has to be taken out, however at The Spires we operate as a hotel and therefore we book rooms per night (although not per person per night)-although you can stay as long or as short as you like! Therefore, guests only pay the competitive rate we offer and are not subject to paying for utilities.
  • In comparison with hotels, our rates are lower because while we do offer hotel services such as check-in and housekeeping and are always there to meet guest needs, we do not offer them to the same full-service degree. Therefore, we can pass on savings in labour costs.
  • Similarly, we appreciate that things are always changing in business and to expect the unexpected. Therefore, we offer great flexibility in terms of our cancellation policy as well as when it comes to extending guest stays; the longer you stay, the cheaper it may be!
  • Free parking (in Aberdeen). Need we say more?

In doubt? According to the Apartment Service Global Report 2012, cost savings between 15% and 20% can be reached through the use of serviced accommodation due to the savings made on accommodation, dining and laundry. A real-life case reflects the accuracy of this statement as a serviced apartment agent managed to reduce DAC Beachcroft’s accommodation costs by a fifth through the provision of serviced apartments with savings of 17% per night in comparison to a hotel.

Ultimately with The Spires you get the best of both worlds; you receive the key services provided by hotels such as housekeeping and breakfast on request, but at a much more affordable price with the added value of extra space, security and privacy. Not only is it the best of both worlds, but it is the best for both parties because not only do the employers cut costs, but the employees can also be happy with the extra flexibility and freedom the apartment provides; potentially leading to increased productivity and morale. Everyone wins!

Photo courtesy of www.e-interpreters.com

Bollywood Meets Glasgow

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After acting as a backdrop to the action depicted in Hollywood blockbusters like Cloud Atlas and World War Z, it is no surprise that Glasgow has snuck its way into the Bollywood movie scene too. For instance, whilst Glaswegian streets have been burnt up by the fast-paced car stunts featured in the likes of Fast & Furious 6, they have also witnessed exhilarating motorbike races and bus chases as seen in Tezz and Kick.  In fact, Kick was filmed last year (2013) in Glasgow reflecting how Glasgow is definitely on the hot list in terms of filming locations for both Hollywood and Bollywood.

Two of the biggest Bollywood movies that have heavily featured Glasgow are “Kyo Kii…Main Jhuth Nahin Bolt” and “Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi”. Kyo Kii…Main Jhuth Nahin Bolt” is a 2001 movie directed by Dawid Dhawan which in English translates as “Because I Don’t Lie”. Therefore, if you liked Jim Carey’s “Liar, Liar”, make sure to check out “Kyo Kii…Main Jhuth Nahin Bolt” because not only is it a Bollywood classic that will have you chuckling away, but it also was indeed inspired by the Hollywood classic with similarities between the two.  Seen the movie and want to see in person the sites filmed in them? Well, “Kyo Kii…Main Jhuth Nahin Bolt” heavily featured Glasgow as a backdrop with filming taking place at many an iconic Glaswegian attraction, including the Gallery of Modern Art & Royal Exchange Square; Argyle Street; Buchanan Street; Princes Square; People’s Palace and Winter Gardens; Clyde Auditorium; Crowne Plaza Glasgow; Kelingrove Park and Bells Bridge.

Another Hollywood classic that was the inspiration for a Bollywood hit was everyone’s favourite childhood film, “The Parent Trap” which fuelled the creation of “Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi”, or in English translation, “Something Sour, Something Sweet”; a 2001 movie directed by Rahul Rawail. In Glasgow, the lead characters found sanctuary at the Glasgow Cathedral & Glasgow Necropolis as well as met at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. In a very iconic moment, Buchanan Street was also featured in a sequence which entailed the lead characters dancing with kilted musicians (of course!).

The renowned Glaswegian shopping locations of Buchanan Street, Princes Square and George Square also can be spotted in the likes of “Pyaar Ishq aur Mohabbat” (2001) and “Yeh Hai Jalwa” (2002). In “Yeh Hai Jalwa”, a bhangra routine was even filmed in George Square which included none other than the famous Bollywood actor Salmon Khan!

Therefore, it can be clearly evident how Glasgow is a prime location to live out your own personal Bollywood adventure. The Spires has a convenient city centre location meaning you are never far from the sites and attractions; enabling a safe and efficient trip. Glasgow is only a three-hour journey from Aberdeen making the continuance of a Bollywood journey between the two even easier and quicker.  Like Aberdeen, Glasgow is well-stocked with high-quality Indian cuisine if you want to add to the authenticity of your trip with Cafe India Tapas, Himalaya Restuarant, Koolba and Charcoals Cafe all featuring in the Top 20 restaurants out of Glasgow’s 1,800!

So what are you waiting for? Watch the movies and go live out the action with the help of The Spires this summer! Do as Sunil Shetty and Kajol did in “Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi” and explore Glasgow from the best viewpoint; from the deck of an open top bus!

Photo courtesy of http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-30878983

Bollywood Meets the North-East

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Seeing as The Spires Serviced Apartments is based in Aberdeen, we thought it made a rather fitting start to begin our Bollywood series by focusing on the connection between our favourite Granite City and Bollywood.

It was a rather surprising fact to us here at The Spires that not only have numerous Bollywood movies been filmed in Scotland, but one was actually filmed in our very own city of Aberdeen. We tell no lies, Aberdeen city centre briefly featured in Main Solah Baras Ki, a 1998 film directed by Dev Anand about a director looking for the perfect star for his feature movie leading him to embark on a romantic adventure that takes him all the way to Scotland; and Aberdeen! Sites featured in the movie include everyone’s favourite high street, Union Street (points if you recognised it in the photo posted below!), as well as Back Wynd Stairs, Union Bridge and St. Nicholas Centre.

Main Solah Baras Ki also was filmed at Loch Ness; Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit: Nessieland. Further filming also took place at the Inverness castle/esplanade where famous Bollywood actress Sabrina, the leading lady, sang on a bench and on the high street. Another Bollywood movie to feature Inverness and Loch Ness was the contemporary thriller Three: Love Lies Betrayal which filmed at similar sites as Main Solah Baras Ki well as Inverness Town House. Jacobite cruises also made an appearance with the main characters sailing across the lake.

If you fancy living some of the action and romance from Main Solah Baras Ki, why not make a trip out of it! Stay with us, The Spires Serviced Apartments, for the Aberdeen venture of the journey and we can help you source accommodation while you carry out the Inverness leg. While you are here in Aberdeen, why not take a one-hour daytrip to Montrose and its coast which was featured in Cape Karma, a 2007 Bollywood thriller focused on the turmoil of a men who fell in love with a married woman? The Indian Cottage and the George hotel, as well as some of the Dunninald Estate, acted as backdrops to the thrills.

Similarly, take day-trips to Dundee where further action in Cape Karma unfolded. Alternatively, venture out to Edzell, where Aarzoo, a 1999 movie, used The Glenesk Lodge and Inglis Memorial Hall as the setting for the lead character’s home, played by no other than acclaimed Bollywood star; Madhuri Dixit.

Whilst in Aberdeen, why not add to the Bollywood experience by sampling some of the Indian cuisine that Aberdeen has to offer? Shri Beemas Indian Restaurant Bridge of Don is rated #3 out of 517 restaurants in Aberdeen and two other Indian offerings in the top ten are Monsoona Healthy Indian cuisine (#8) and Cumin Tandoori (#10). With 40 different restaurants, there is no shortage of options!

Get started on your Bollywood 2015 adventure now with The Spires Serviced Apartment.

Travelling with teens can be fun!

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We are still stuck in the dreary dark winter months – so it’s often the time when thoughts turn to booking the family summer holiday. As a mother of teenagers I listen enviously to the newer parents in the office discussing their plans with babies and younger children. Yes toddlers can be a handful but I’d swap travelling with a tot for travelling with a disgruntled teenager any day!

Making the right choices for your holiday can make all the difference though – get it right and a successful holiday with your teenagers is fantastic. There’s nothing better than discovering that away from the daily pressures of school, work, friends etc. that you do still really enjoy each other’s company. My boys wouldn’t be seen dead shopping with me in our home town but put us in another city and it’s a guaranteed success!

So what makes for the perfect break with teens? – Obviously it will depend to an extent on the individual preferences and interests of everyone on the trip. There always needs to be a little give and take on all sides. But generally one of the fundamentals is Wifi. If you’ve ever been stuck without Wifi on a cruise ship with a 16 year old you’ll know where I’m coming from with this one! Make sure that not only is Wifi available but that it’s going to be reliable. Lots of hotels offer free wifi but this may be patchy at best. Generally those imposing a small charge offer a more guaranteed level of service.

Most teens prefer physical activities to more passive sightseeing. Trailing round city landmarks wouldn’t normally get a teenagers vote but done on a Segway this can become one of the highlights of your holiday. Best to plan ahead as much as possible – this doesn’t mean that every minute of each day needs to be scheduled but if a Segway trip in Aberdeen was a great success then find a Segway operator for your next trip to Birmingham, Edinburgh or wherever.

One of the most important decisions on any holiday is where to stay. Your choice of accommodation can make or break the trip and that’s where serviced apartments really hit the mark. Teenagers love privacy so having their own bedroom and possibly even their own bathroom will make all the difference. Hotel breakfasts are normally only served until 10am – insisting your teen makes it down for this is a sure fire way of getting the day off on the wrong foot! Having the convenience of your own kitchen means breakfast can be at any time of day and not having to dress for breakfast is more relaxing for everyone. Keeping a fridge full of drinks and snacks will save you a fortune too.

Writing this I’m realising that I only travel with one teen now – the elder son now being 21. He still chooses to come on holiday with us whenever he can albeit usually with his girlfriend in tow now too. Think that means we’ve done something right?

Have a Bollywood Adventure….In Scotland!

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Did you know that the featuring of UK locations and landmarks in films and television will lead to 20% of viewers being encouraged to discover the destination themselves? When you think of films set in Scotland that fully highlight its beautiful and unique landscape, the films that would normally come to mind may be Disney’s Brave, or some of those iconic scenes in Skyfall. However, Sunshine in Leith is not the only film to feature colourful musical and dance numbers on the streets of Scotland. It is not a connection that many are aware of, but it is true, many a Bollywood film has been set and filmed in Scotland. In fact, over 23 Bollywood films during the past two decades have utilised and captured the landmarks and landscape of Scotland to help weave their story. This has entailed many a famous Bollywood cast and crew creating iconic moments against some of Scotland’s most famous sights. For all you know, you may have bumped into famous Bollywood actors such as Salmon Khan and Shah Rukh Khan when they were in Scotland filming or you may have been an unwitting extra!

It is a pertinent time to consider this connection because this year VisitScotland is capitalising on the 34,000 Indian tourists who are expected to visit Scotland this year. VisitScotland has done this by creating a campaign that will promote Scotland as the Bollywood destination; where Indian visitors can see in person the sights from their famous Bollywood films filmed in Scotland and to live their favourite character’s stories themselves. This has been achieved through the creation of a Bollywood Map which details and documents all the cities and landmarks where Bollywood films were set as well as provides helpful itineraries to help Bollywood fans make the most of their Scottish adventure.

In this series of blog posts, we will look be looking at the Bollywood connection with our respective serviced apartment locations of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh. We will consider the films that have used these locations as part of their story-telling and look at all the landmarks that were featured so you, our blog followers, can go watch the films if you had not already seen them, and check out the locations yourselves and put yourself in the place of the heroes and heroines. Remember to bring your selfie sticks!

It will be a fascinating journey and nothing can beat seeing the movies, quite like living them.

Check out the VisitScotland map here: http://www.visitscotland.com/bollywood.

Taking the Social Media Revolution Global

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When I said I was beginning a social media revolution, I could never anticipate how far I would take it. Initially, I tested the waters on a regional/national basis, but now the power has gone to my head and I attempting to break the international markets too when it comes to social networks.

This week has been a very exciting, and culturally enlightening, experience because I have attempted (emphasis on the word attempted) to put The Spires Serviced Apartments on the international social networking map. This has entailed me trying to register The Spires on foreign social networks, such as those frequented in the emerging economies of China, India and Russia, and create profile pages. As exciting as this is, it actually is very challenging when taking into account the small issue of language barriers. A lot of it is the case of randomly clicking icons and hoping for the best; I think most communication will have to be done via graphics. However, as they say, a picture says a thousand words! Consequently, it is quite a time consuming issue and requires a bit of determination although hopefully I will conquer it eventually. If I get as much as one view from China or India, I will consider that a job well done. Overall, international social networking is definitely a very engrossing task and it is intriguing to learn how there is more to social networks than just Twitter and Facebook; each country in fact tends to have their own social network site.

Consequently, it has been quite a busy social-media week overall which also entailed me trying to develop a social media strategy as well as utilise new social networks such as Pinterest. It is weird when I think I am getting paid to pin pretty pictures on boards; I still feel guilty when people walk past my desk and I am sitting on Twitter or Facebook-I swear it is all work-orientated! Other tasks this week have been the continuance of phone calls with the finish line hopefully in site; it must have been quite a phone bill I have racked up by now.

However, next week is a new week; the start of a new month and hopefully a new season; Spring! I look forward to seeing what March holds for me at The Spires Serviced Apartments and what new tasks I can sink my teeth into.

Till next time,

Alex