The Simple Art of Smiling

We use them each and every day. In fact, I am 99% sure you will have used one today, if not even in the last few hours since lunch. It is a symbol universally known that can be understood in every language and by people of essentially any age: the smiley emoji. Of course, one cannot mention the smiley emoji without using a visual example…..

🙂

We all use this useful little guy countless times throughout our life but where did it come from? Well, as part of today’s history lesson, I am going to take you back to Massachusetts in 1963 where a gentleman by the name of Harvey Ball, who was a commercial artist, first coined the image that was going to become renowned around the world as part of a task to boost employee morale at a local firm through the design of an happy face…and it only took him 10 minutes (your piece of trivia for the day!). It may have only taken 10 minutes to create, but it is an image that has become iconic and will undoubtedly be passed through a plethora of generations; reflecting how simplicity and a smile can be the quickest and most effective solutions to any issue.

However, as a response to the fear that the smiley face was becoming over-commercialised, and so it was not an act being reproduced genuinely between person to person, Mr. Ball made the executive decision to create “World Smile Day”. This beautiful day is dedicated to the simple art of smiling and to ensure that on at least one day in every year, we take the time out of our day to put a smile on someone’s face and to therefore restore happiness across the world.

Being in the hospitality industry, there is almost no symbol more synonymous with our offering than the smiley face because our ultimate goal is to create lasting memories for our guests that leave them walking out of reception with you guessed it, a smile. If our customers leave without a smile, then we have not done our job right. Therefore, we present to you our lovely readers, the 10 things that have us smiling this season at The Spires and hopefully our smiles will in turn put one on your face too so as to spread the cheer.

  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 guest’s stay was and what made their stay (hopefully!) enjoyable. It helps us to determine what to keep on doing and what to improve upon. Having worked in the Front of House, I can personally attest to how there was nothing that brightened my day quite like knowing I had put a smile on one of my customer’s faces whether it had been through the simple act of giving them directions; generating a WiFi pin (something which never fails to raise a smile!) or merely giving them the key to their apartment. There is no feeling quite as potent or as powerful as knowing you have impacted someone’s day in a positive way, and it is amazing how it is the smallest things that can have someone flashing those pearls.

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  1. The Apartment Collection

-This is the latest development at The Spires and has seen us moving up in the world by 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 smiling as we have expanded our business and are therefore in a position which enables us to better meet and serve the rapidly evolving needs of our customers. It is great to know that wherever our customers choose to go, we can play a part in creating the ultimate vacation for them. To learn more and understand why we are smiling, check out our dedicated website to “The Apartment Collection – By The Spires” – www.theapartmentcollection.co.uk.

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  1. The Spires in Edinburgh

-If there is anything that has had us smiling this season it has been the much anticipated opening of our newest location: The Spires Edinburgh. With a mix of Studio, One-Bedroom, Two-Bedroom and Two-Bedroom Plus apartments, we can cater to a wide range of accommodation requirements and whichever style of apartment you stay in, you are guaranteed a luxury experience due to the tasteful, refined surroundings of our modern and beautifully designed apartments. Conveniently located only minutes away from the action of some of Edinburgh’s most renowned streets, a certain Princes Street is only a hop and skip away, The Spires Edinburgh offers an oasis of calm from all the hustle and excitement emanating through the historic, stunning streets. In particular, the amazing top floor views of the Firth of the Forth have us smiling due to the stunning blend of city and nature. To learn more, visit our dedicated Edinburgh page: www.thespires.co.uk/edinburgh-serviced-apartments-and-suites.

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  1. New Arrivals

-Whether they are new guests or loyal customers, happiness and big grins 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.

  1. Social Media Interaction

-Every ‘Follow’, ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ has us grinning like a Cheshire Cat because it gives us a chance to successfully engage with our guests and to feel like we are building a relationship with them – even when they are not staying with us. 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 Master Tweeter 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 has been “scientifically proven” how increased likes leads to smiling ;))

  1. 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 gluttonous, it is our never-ending stashes of biscuits and tea/coffee that we turn to so as to restore our joy and to turn that frown upside down in rapid speed time – particularly when cake glorious cake is involved. 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/

  1. Travelling

-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 or India to liaise with potential suppliers on a business trip or even just taking mini-breaks to one of our respective locations like Birmingham, the chance to make new connections, to see new places and to experience new cultures always has us smiling because the world was made to be seen and explored and these are memories that will last a lifetime.

  1. Fall

-Get the warm mugs of cocoa out and that favourite scarf your grandma knitted because the fall/winter season is here! Between the sugary sweet yet spectacularly spooky mystery of Halloween and the breath-taking allure and magic of Bonfire Night, there is so much to look forward to. Whether it is the colourful array of crisp leaves that line the streets, the new selection of clothes in the shops or the temptation of seasonal products such as Pumpkin Spiced Latter, there is nothing quite like the Autumn atmosphere to put a warm smile on our faces to defend ourselves against the increasing chill.

  1. Friday Afternoon

-Some of us may have the October holidays to look forward to and some of us may not, but there is one holiday around the world that never gets ignored; Friday afternoon. Whether you have an action filled weekend that sees you take an exhilarating and much anticipated mini-break or merely a relaxing weekend which sees you become best friends with your couch and Netflix, we know you are lying if you say that the corners of your mouth do not turn up into a smile as that much-watched clock hand hits 5pm. Let’s be honest, it is not so much just a smile but also a Hallelujah!

  1. Working at The Spires

-*Cheese Alert* and it has arrived in all its cheesy glory! I cannot speak for everyone, but coming into The Spires always makes me smile as I am yet to work with a lovelier, more welcoming array of people. Whenever there is a tough moment, there is always someone there to support you or make you laugh (normally with a biscuit or cup of tea in tow) and it makes for a really positive working environment.

Remember, even the simplest, smallest act of putting a smile on someone else’s face can change that person’s day as well as your own. Sometimes we think we are not capable of making a change in the world but that mere power of making someone forget all the stress and sadness that maybe currently inhabits their life is a mighty skill that we should never forget. They say that money makes the world go round, but maybe so does smiling.

We told you what makes us smile, now tell us what makes you smile!

🙂

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/amy-packham/world-smile-day_b_8226728.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Ball

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Travel with Confidence: Quality Assessment Programmes

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Recent years have seen the introduction of new online accommodation platforms such as Air B&B where individuals can put up any property they own and travellers can choose to rent it out as part of their holiday experience. The surge in popularity for Air B&B probably stems from how it helps to cut costs as well as offers a unique accommodation experience which cannot be found by going down traditional accommodation routes e.g. treehouses can be rented; you cannot get more unique than that. It is even starting to make waves into the business travel arena although the BridgeStreet IQ report: Business Travel Insights 2015 reflects how only approximately 30% of Business Travel policies allow it as an accommodation source. This could potentially link to the pertinent issue of Air B&B in that there is no guarantee of quality. As owners put up their local properties for rent, there is no inspection for them to make sure that the facilities and experience they will be offering will be of an acceptable standard. To surmise, there is no essence of quality assurance.

If you are travelling, either for leisure or corporate, undoubtedly you will have invested some money as well as stress and you will want your stay to go as smoothly as possible in order to have the optimum travel experience. In effect, you will want to travel with confidence and know that wherever you are staying has your welfare in mind as the priority. Quality Assurance plays a pivotal role in developing that confidence because it entails the inspection of accommodation properties to make sure they are meeting the defined standards and benchmarks of the industry.

If you happen to scroll down to the depths of the bottom of our rather beautiful web pages, you will find a logo that you will probably be unfamiliar with. This logo represents how The Spires is part of a Quality Assessment Programme which is implemented by the serviced apartment’s key industry body: The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP). So, what does this mean?

Quality Assurance ASAP

Under ASAP’s Quality Assessment Programme, we receive an internet review analysis, a mystery shopping initiative and an annual quality assessment visit. Most critically is the annual assessment which includes the assessor staying overnight so they can fully experience the service standards on offer and see just how comfy the beds are (in all seriousness, the comfort of the bed is genuinely graded!). When grading, assessors take into account core scheme requirements which covers essential legislative compliance, such as in regard to health and safety (electricity, fire risks, heating and lighting) and accessibility, as well as critical features which although may not deter bookings in their absence, are held highly in regards to guest expectations e.g. emergency contact details and an adequate ratio of bathrooms to guests. After the basics and essentials are covered, the Quality Scoring Mechanism is taken into account which considers the quality not just of the apartment offering itself, but also of the firm and its members. Therefore, grading begins to be generated based on everything from location to lighting to furnishing & fixtures to cleanliness. The whole guest experience from the booking and arrival processes are all taken into account and compared against ASAP’s high standards in regards to quality and security so no stone is left unturned; online guest satisfaction reviews are even considered.

Therefore, it is clear that the assessment is a rather rigorous process but it is one that is most definitely worthwhile because we can vouch to our guests that the experience we advertise, is the one they will receive. The only surprises they should get should be good ones! Service, integrity, efficiency and smiles are all part of The Spires’ values and consequently we wear our ASAP Quality Assessment badge with pride as testament that we abide by these values.

There is so much stress associated with holidays at it is, why make it worse by travelling with that niggling anxiety in the back of your mind that maybe that hotel or serviced apartment you booked might be a little bit sketchy? Trip Advisor is a great source for obtaining objective perspectives of a particular accommodation; however, nothing can quite determine the quality of a property like an official Quality Assessment Programme.

Moreover, Quality Assurance should be part of your purchasing decision-making process because it is only set to become increasingly pertinent with it being expanded globally (the US Corporate Housing  and Providers Association are interested in grading) and with the consideration of differentiating apartment firms by quality banding underneath the Quality Programme. Numerous reports discuss the rapid growth of the serviced apartment industry, particularly in recent years, and through quality assessment programmes such as ASAP’s, it is hoped that a benchmark of quality can be set for the industry so as to keep standards high and guests happy. As published in the March/April issue of Buying Business Travel, ASAP is really hoping this year to publicize the importance of accreditation to business and leisure tourists alike; something that we hope this blog will help with.

Sources

ASAP: http://theasap.site-ym.com/page/V2_qualityassess/? 

http://www.relocatemagazine.com/articles/fiona-murchie-03-d3-2015-shaking-it-up-changes-in-the-serviced-apartments-sector

http://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/0523497-serviced-apartment-body-unveils-accreditation-logo

Spread the Happiness: 10 Things Making us Smile at The Spires

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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

7. Travelling

-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.

8. Spring

-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 🙂