Me, My Selfie & I

Of course no blog on selfies is complete without one or two illustrative examples and so all selfies used in this blog are courtesy of our globetrotting selfie-fanatic National Sales Manager 

Selfies at work and at play!
Selfies at work and at play!

It all started innocently enough. A few of them taken were here and there, then it began to spread and then it became a craze that took over the world. Now it is no longer a “trend” or a “fad”, it is simply a behavioural norm that we are so accustomed to we longer notice. Any guesses as to what I am referring to? The odds are you will shamelessly have taken one (or maybe an abundance) yourself and they will most likely be in your possession right now. They are the latest entry in the pop culture archive and they are commonly referred to by a mere sole word that is always rising in the ranks of power: “selfie”.

Yes, despite starting off as an innocuous niche twitter hash tag even as potentially far back as 2004, “selfies” have since risen to global dominance and are both a standard part of our vocabulary and behaviour. Nothing quite exemplifies the now new-found normality and acceptance of “selfies” quite like the fact that since 2013, “selfie” has cemented itself a position in the online Oxford Dictionary. Therefore, for those who are selfie ignorant,  a “selfie” can be defined as A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media”.

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Although I am not a personal avid fan of selfies (going through my phone’s gallery can play testament to this), I am particularly intrigued to see their impact on the travel industry and how they influence the way in which people travel. Indeed, it is undeniable the correlation between “selfies” and vacations because ultimately, social media has totally revolutionised how travel photos are taken. I am sure most of us still remember the days when the digital camera was the latest sought after technological development when it came to photography, however long gone are those days. Now, it is all the aforementioned selfies and Instagram filters so we can post and boast to the world right there and then the adventures we are engaging in. Nothing quite epitomises the social media revolution quite like the fact that apparently holidays are no longer the personal experience taken just for us, in helping us to explore and escape, but are in fact made for sharing. This trend has led to a whole new brand of travellers, now recognized by the Future Foundation report as “social-capital seekers”, who travel with the over-riding ambition of documenting their adventure and therefore designing it to be Facebook, Twitter, etc. post friendly. Even already the bond between holiday snaps and social media can be reflected in that a survey for Hotels.com revealed that twenty-five per cent of British travellers share a photo within an hour of arriving at their holiday haven, although the average time people wait is almost three hours.

Going on holiday and the taking of photos are synonymous activities because photos are that way of documenting the happy memories and preserving them so you can look back at them and reminisce. However, the development of selfies is beginning to question whether this remains the true primary motive. More often than not, it is likely that on your social media you will spot someone posing with *insert iconic landmark”. From the Empire State Building to the Colosseum to the Eiffel Travel; they have all played the scenic backdrop for someone’s mobile phone selfie portrait. If anything, the development of the selfie stick has exacerbated this trend as it is now even easier to get the perfect angle and pose for that ultimate selfie which will trigger a plethora of likes and retweets. Therefore, narcissism and selfies are beginning to become quite inter-linked with people believing that all these self-portraits taken in cultural and heritage rich locations are more a means of boasting about the locations we have been. It can be debated how truly interested someone is in the attraction itself and the meaning and values it holds. Potentially, we are no longer living in the moment and taking in the time to truly bask in the beauty of attractions because we are all just superficially about taking the “ultimate selfie” to show the world that we were there.

Craig with the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
With the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Linking on to this notion of cultural admiration, and just general health & safety, is that further debate is igniting in the travel industry when it comes to selfies, or at least selfie sticks, with increasing numbers of attractions banning the admittance of selfie sticks. For instance, Disney World has been the latest attraction to post physical signs forbidding the use of selfie sticks and therefore joins the ever growing list of anti-selfie stick locations which also includes the prestigious likes of the Colosseum, the Guggenheim Museum, The National Gallery in London as well as a variety of stadiums.

Craig with the Hollywood Hills
With the Hollywood Hills

Ultimately, selfies will remain a divisive topic. Potentially they are the epitome of the shallowness and narcissism of our generation in terms of how we feel our self-worth and popularity is all linked to the followers we have and the number of retweets. If it cannot be documented to the world on social media to be admired, then what is the point? Alternatively, selfies are just a fun way of us leaving our mark on the world and showing that we were here on this Earth at one point and as a reminder of the magnificent sights and wonders we have witnessed.  As I have been told, anyone can go on Google and get a photo of Big Ben or the Grand Canyon, but you will never be able to find one that was clearly yours if you are not starring in it also. Likewise, they also are just fundamentally practical, particularly for solo travellers, because they prevent you from having to awkwardly walk up to someone red-faced and embarrassed asking them to take your photo for you (and then again, if you invariably do not like it). Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with a good selfie or two but the most critical thing is that if we are taking them with, or in, cultural attractions like museums or historical landmarks, yes it is good to take a moment to document our time there, but also to take a minute to fully understand the true value of the attraction and what it stands for and represents.

P.S. The Spires is not on the anti-Selfie Stick list and so we fully embrace and enjoy seeing selfies or just old-school photos of our guests in our apartments. Post to our Instagram using #TheSpiresApts or simply tweet us @TheSpiresSuites so we can see how you are enjoying your stay 🙂

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24992393

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10465199/Forget-the-selfie-holidaymakers-go-for-braggie-photos.html

http://skift.com/2015/04/24/selfies-are-changing-the-fundamental-reasons-why-we-travel/

2015: The Year a Watch May Become Your Favourite Travel Sidekick

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If I were to ask you what the core function of a watch is, undoubtedly your response would be that it is to keep you informed of the time. Whenever you see someone glance at their watch it is inevitably due to them checking the time or perhaps they are just admiring it if it happens to be a particularly stylish, desired watch brand. However, this may be set to change. As powerful as it is to dictate the time, and therefore people’s schedules, watches are set to become even more influential this year as they too are “smartified”; opening them up to a whole range of new potential functions. Yes, as you may be aware, one of the most hotly anticipated products of the year has to be a certain Apple Watch which is to be released near the end of April (there may be a queue beginning already; sleeping bags and coffee flasks at the ready!) and it is set to revolutionize the travel industry.

You may wonder how the travel industry and a watch fit together? Well unfortunately, technology still has not progressed to a level where time travel has become reality and so the ability of the smart watch to transport you to another time, past or present, is sadly not the case. However, what is true is that even though the Apple Watch has not been released yet, already many an app from major firms has been designed for it. The likes of Uber, Evernote, Expedia, Trip Advisor, KLM and easyJet have all invested in designing an app and consequently, this is where the impact of the watch on the travel industry can begin to be inferred.

So, what changes can we expect? There is the potential that room key cards are set to become old-school as giant hotel brands like Starwood design apps that allow guests to use their watches to check-in and to even let them into their room. Similarly, if you happen to be following a person who may be radiating tourist signals and who is happening to be glancing down at their watch every other street, it is quite likely that they are using a navigation feature on their watch to help them find their way.  Likewise, you may walk into an airport to see everyone looking down, not at their phone, but at their watch as they look at flight apps which will be reflecting live-time departure and arrival times; delays and the length of the line in security. Inevitably, watches will even become the new form of boarding passes and checking-in to flights as apps are already in progress regarding this. The watch could even become a real gift for business travellers as apps like Evernote will allow them to dictate all their notes, thoughts and plans into the watch so it can be transferred to that renowned Cloud and then be accessed later on a different device.

Above all, the watch could revolutionise the industry due to the way it will totally transform the customer experience and how travel companies deliver their service. As was reported by TNOOZ, Air New Zealand has already designed an app which allows guests in their airport lounges to order drinks, just reflecting the potential the watch could have in keeping companies in touch with consumer’s movements and needs.

It is crazy already to think of the potential power that a mere watch could hold over our lives although it has been reported by the Telegraph that only 25% of British citizens think that wearable technology will enhance the quality of their life. It will definitely be an exciting development to watch unfold (no pun intended) and to see the impact it will have on the serviced apartment industry. Even though I am really intrigued to see just how far the watch’s power could stretch, it is a little sad to see another piece of technology that will be added to people’s digital portfolios alongside Kindles, Phones, Laptops, Tablets etc. It feels like everything is getting “smartified” and that there is already an abundance of devices that consumers are hooked into without adding a classic staple like a watch in the mix; particularly as watches tend to be bought for significant relations on special occasions or are passed on as heirlooms-they can have sentimental value.

Consequently, being one of those classed as a technology “laggard” when it comes to product innovation, I am sure it will take a few years for me to be persuaded otherwise to invest in a smart watch. Personally, my regular average watch seems to be doing a pretty good job at getting me on time to places as it is, and at a mere fraction of the price. Conversely, my manager is eagerly awaiting the great unveil of the Apple Watch; reflecting the diverse range of opinions regarding technology’s latest baby. Therefore, we are intrigued to hear what all our followers and readers think; will you be fighting your way towards the front of that queue on Apple Watch launch day?

Sources

http://clapway.com/2015/03/27/travel-apps-apple-watch123/

http://www.tnooz.com/article/Apple-Watch-travel-personalised/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11483729/Apple-Watch-Britons-still-not-convinced-by-wearable-tech.html

http://www.travolution.co.uk/articles/2014/12/18/9540/wearable-tech-set-to-take-travel-to-the-next-level.html

 Image: http://blog.worldmate.com/2015/03/what-do-you-need-to-know-before-developing-apple-watch-app.html?utm_content=buffer724c2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=plus.google.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Business and Leisure Travellers of the Future

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The old adage goes: “the children are our future”. However, in the travel world, Millennials are the future. While sounding like a futuristic robot or alien race that has been sent to take over the world, or even just a scientific experiment, Millennials are actually normal beings that walk amongst us; they may even be unaware of their “Millennial” status. This is because Millennial, or Generation Y, is simply another term for the generation that was born in the 1980s to early 1990s and is used to classify them seeing as like previous generations, they have characteristics that commonly typify them. For instance, having been brought up in the technological era of the nineties and the noughties, Millennials are predominantly known for their tech-savviness and how they have a constant need to be connected.  How do I know this? Well apart from numerous studies to back this, I myself am a Broadband Baby (that is as close as you will get to discovering my age!) and am well aware of the desire to be consistently connected online. Social media forms a major part of my internship after all, only testifying to my Millennial status.

Why are Millennials so important to the travel industry? Well, as illustrated by STA Travel forming a Travel Management Company and creating a specific brand for Millennial business travellers, it is clear that they are becoming a lucrative travel market with increasing numbers of younger persons engaging in business travel and having a unique set of wants and needs that businesses have to cater for. According to the Harvard Business Review, Millennials will account for 50% of the world’s working population by 2020, and already they may comprise the majority in certain firms. Consequently, it is clear that Millennial business travel will only be on an increasing surge and so it is pivotal to satisfy their requirements to capitalise on their market potential. In the US, it has been reported that Millennials are set to become the most populated generation in the nation as well as having $226 billion to spend on travel in 2015; making them desirable in terms of both market size and disposable income.

As can be seen, Skift (a Travel Marketing Intelligence firm) and SACO have both done some investigation into Millennials and the characteristics that tend to differentiate them from other generations (which can be viewed here):

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Considering the range of characteristics that tend to be reflected by Millennials, serviced apartments such as The Spires (not to name drop ourselves or anything!) are the perfect accommodation choice to satisfy them whether they travel for business or leisure.  Obviously, top of many a Millennial’s Accommodation Wish list is that all-important accessory that we need like air; Wi-Fi. Thankfully, here at The Spires we can accommodate this with the provision of high-speed Wifi.

Likewise, many Millennials are all about cost-effectiveness and saving money so that they can spend them on experiences instead, something which serviced apartments can greatly help with as we highlighted in a previous blog (https://thespiressuites.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/serviced-apartments-the-cost-effective-alternative/). Through cooking their own food and sharing the apartment with other co-workers or friends, not only can they cut on costs, but they can simultaneously satisfy their desire to stay in a “social” location and to fuel their healthy diets. Linking to the social aspect, Millennials are really eager to participate in networking and have a preference for “blended” living areas such as having their own bedroom but with shared areas such as open-plan kitchens and lounges. This can be accounted for when it is considered how Millennials are twice more likely than preceding generations to consider serviced apartments as being a “social” accommodation choice.

Moreover, Millennials are always on the go and are looking to stay in locations that are conveniently located near all major attractions and business hubs. This is a need that The Spires can particularly help with due to our extremely city-central locations in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh alike. When travellers stay with us, they are not more than a minutes’ walk from all the entertainment and action that these busy cities have to offer. A particular trend that STA noticed and is trying to cater for by creating a specific brand for Millennial business travellers is how 69% of 18-35 year old mix up their business trip by adding a leisure component to it. This fits with how Millennials tend to be characterised by their passion for travelling and having experiences. Consequently, serviced apartments like The Spires are an even more perfect match for their requirements. The likes of our Birmingham, Aberdeen and Glasgow apartments are perfectly situated in business hubs which also boast a wide array of attractions and scenery as well as the bustling city life associated with such historic but modern, dynamic and cosmopolitan cities.

However, no matter how old we are and what generation we happen to be classified under, a comfy, warm bed is always our main priority and here at The Spires, you can always trust us to provide that!

A fellow Millennial signing off….

 Sources:

http://www.sacoapartments.com/blog/redefining_the_term_social_network

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-millennials-hotels-20150329-story.html

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/business-travel/sta-travel-launches-new-business-travel-brand-aimed-at-millennials.html

https://hbr.org/2010/05/mentoring-millennials

http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Trends-Reports/Infographic-How-Millennials-are-shaping-the-future-of-business-travel?utm_source=AddThis_twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=SocialMedia#.VRq1CHVQQek.twitter.

Image: www.cnbc.com