Memoirs of a Placement Sales Administrator

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It is exceptionally weird to think that about approximately this time last year, I had absolutely no awareness of the serviced apartment industry. Flashforward to today and I could probably whittle off a general definition of the industry as well as a list of all the major operators, agents and associations in the field like snap. This is the power of working for a serviced apartments firm like “The Spires” and wherever I go now, whether it is a national or international destination, my eyes are attuned to looking for such accommodation firms – my travel habits have quite clearly been altered.

Throughout the year you may have read some of my sporadic blogs on what life was like as a Sales Admin and this is to be my swan song; the ultimate recap of my placement life. Of course I started the year with good intentions of blogging weekly but as happens with all New Year resolutions, this started to fade out pretty quickly as the months passed. As stated, this time last year I was completely oblivious to the service apartment concept but due to my internship I have been in far many than I count; I have tweeted about them; blogged about them, researched them and I kid not when I say that I have indeed dreamt about them. I have also not just worked behind-the-scenes in terms of promoting them, but have also ventured into the front line and been one of the faces for the Aberdeen Front of House. Therefore, bar finance and actual management, there is not a lot of the serviced apartments world I have not witnessed and learned from!

Over the course of the first six months, I was predominantly responsible for the online promotion of the firm in terms of social media management, website content and email marketing as well as for the administrative element such as updating booker contact details and classifying customers. These were tasks that I thoroughly enjoyed because they allowed me to use my initiative, be autonomous, use my creativity and as the world moves increasingly online, I know this can only benefit me. Moreover, I am not sure many can take the pleasure of saying they are being paid to be on Facebook! It is particularly surreal that it was a part of my job description and it did take a while for me not to feel the need to justify my internet habits if anyone happened to pass by my monitor – I was working I swear it. However, with that privilege came a lot of responsibility because you want to ensure you present the firm in the best light and to make sure what you post is synonymous with the values of the company. Similarly, as I have learnt, the aim of attracting new followers is not an easy one to achieve and it took a lot of work. Something that was quite surprising was how much researching is involved in terms of material to post and things to blog about, I never realised how difficult it is to come up with a fresh angle and to balance promoting the firm while not out-right selling it because that does not really work on social media. It is all about building that relationship and getting to interact with customers on a personal level, something which I realised in that my most popular postings tended to be in relation to things like team birthdays or accomplishments. I imagine that is because everyone likes to see the faces behind the firm.

Therefore, while being very active with the back-of-house team and phoning many a travel booker, my Sales Administrator position was quite independent and relatively laid-back in that I did not have a lot of contact with external stakeholders nor had strict deadlines to meet. This was epitomised by the fact that throughout the whole six months, I never had someone phone or email me. Conversely, Front of House was the complete flip-side of this. Between customers, agencies and companies, I made and received countless phone calls/emails a day and felt immensely popular – post-it notes became my best friends. I can honestly say that time has never passed as quickly before, while as a Sales Admin I was free to work at my own pace, in Front Of House it felt like I was juggling many balls all at once and so the sand-timer was always ticking down! However, while undeniably challenging, it was ultimately very rewarding in terms of testing my ability to think on my feet, multi-task and be responsible. Of course having the chance to interact with our guests, especially from international destinations like Japan and Singapore, was thoroughly enjoyable especially as you were playing a part in making their holiday to Scotland special. It was particularly gratifying getting to know the regulars to the extent where you already knew their name as soon as they walked through the door and they already had their ID at the ready.

Overall, I do not think there could have been a better time to work in the firm because with the opening of the Edinburgh location and the development of “The Apartment Collection – By The Spires”, it was such a dynamic atmosphere with a lot of excitement, as well as drama aplenty of course! Therefore, through the highs and through the lows, there was not a single moment I regretted working at The Spires because the people were some of the loveliest I have ever worked with and I loved the camaraderie of the office; it was always a joy to go in (particularly on the days where there was cake – which was a lot of them). I certainly feel I have developed personally and professionally and so I am immensely grateful I was chosen to work for the firm and that they have even allowed me to stay on. If there is one thing that is particularly surreal it is that when I make that 15 minute journey to The Spires from my home once a week, it never feels like I ever worked here full-time, not least for eight months. Thankfully, I have all those tweets, posts, blogs and databases to prove otherwise and as I continue on, even if for only a few hours a week, it is nice to know I am leaving my own kind of legacy.

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The Sands of Time

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Where does the time go? I swear it was January 26th only a few days ago  when I hesitantly  approached The Spires, a quaking bag of nerves that was daunted yet exhilarated by the thought of encroaching ever so closer into the real adult world of work. However, somehow my calendar is informing me that it is the 27th of April which means I must have been working for 3 months and am therefore at the half-way point through my placement. Consequently, I feel it is a very fitting time to start blogging again and to reflect on what has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience thus far.

So much has been going on at the firm in recent weeks and I expect the action is only set to heighten as important developments like the launching of the new location and “The Apartment Collection-By The Spires” get increasingly underway. One of the things I have enjoyed the most at The Spires is how I get to carry out tasks that are in relation to these projects, such as helping to design the web content for the new website or looking for potential business prospects, as it makes me feel like I am playing even the smallest of parts in helping these important tasks come to fruition. I am really pleased that I joined an organisation that is so focused on expansion, and in such diverse ways, because it is really beneficial to be in a fast-paced dynamic environment that is pro-active and embraces change. I definitely feel there is a lot I can take away from being a witness to this, even if it is just realising the smallest details that have to be considered when opening a new business location.

In the past few weeks, my main tasks have consisted of helping to design the new website, from a content perspective, as well as creating new dedicated social media channels for “The Apartment Collection-By The Spires”. As a result, my social media workload has increased as I have to post as two different accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I am genuinely worried there is a chance I may get a split-personality disorder! I am really excited getting to start the social media from scratch, as opposed to building on to the established channels that existed when I started, because it gives me a chance to see how strong I really am at social media. This makes this endeavour equally daunting because obviously if the follower numbers are not what I hoped, I may have to take a subtle hint from that! I do have to remember that it will be a struggle for the first few months as it will take a while for awareness and interest to grow, but that is what makes the challenge exciting and it will be really engrossing to see how things progress.

Overall, I do feel I have grown a lot from Day 1 in terms of skill and confidence. It really does feel like I have worked here longer than 3 months so when the day comes in 3 months that I no longer walk here bleary eyed and yawning at 8.30am, it will be a weird day. Let’s not get ahead however, 3 months complete still means 3 months to go and I am exceptionally excited to see what they bring.

Till next time,

 Alex

P.S. Help a desperate intern out by liking and following us on Facebook  and Twitter. Thank you 🙂

Image: www.siddarthwrites.com

An Education in Email Marketing

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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,

Alex

(Image: netamatix.co.uk)

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/