Facebook: A Workplace Friend or Foe?

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.

Personally, having used Facebook and its ‘group’ function as a means of carrying out team work at university,  I understand how the product would be beneficial in the dissemination of information in real time; particularly when members are located in all parts of the world. Therefore, I can see the value in it. However, if I was to look at it from a company perspective, I am not too sure how professional it would look when there are alternative enterprise social networks available out there; particularly considering how Facebook’s initial purpose was to connect college students in their social lives. Its association as a personal social network tool is probably too strong for it to make a transition into the corporate arena. Similarly, I am not too sure how stakeholders such as customers would feel if they knew the company was sharing information over Facebook with its notoriously sketchy privacy policy. Above all, data privacy will be one of the biggest obstacles to widespread use as there will be concern about confidential data being able to be accessed by third parties, as will the management and control of such corporate social networks by management.

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!

(Image: www.society30.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/

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

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

One Month Old

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The fact that this week marks the completion of my first month at The Spires Serviced Apartments is exceptionally crazy; where has the time gone?! Fortunately, I am still really enjoying myself and feel quite at home now in the office; it is almost hard to imagine not working here.

Last week, I continued with my email marketing databases (I now know the names of more oil & gas firms than I ever thought possible) as well as my phone calls to update the company database; I am rather worried about the phone bills I will have been accumulating. Last week was also a rather busy learning experience as I was educated in the use of Google Analytics and email marketing tools like Dotmailer. I also learnt how to alter the design of the company webpage and so am slowly accumulating even more power over the company’s online presence which can be a bit daunting, but is ultimately very fun.

A task that has been particularly engaging has been the development of our new Bollywood blog series that is running in association with the VisitScotland campaign. The campaign aims to encourage people to visit Scotland to live out their own personal Bollywood adventure by visiting all the landmarks that played as backdrops to iconic Bollywood movie moments. It has been really enjoyable getting to help write the blog because I get to use a bit of creativity, and it is also really interesting seeing just how many Bollywood movies have been filmed here: including in Aberdeen! I had never even suspected a single Bollywood movie had been filmed in Scotland, let alone over 20; a little bit of trivia for you all. Consequently make sure to check out the blog here: http://www.thespires.co.uk/the-spires-blog-when-bollywood-meets-scotland.html.

Hope you all enjoy the last week of February!

Till next time,

Alex 🙂