Time for a Catch-Up

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Going through my recent blog entries, I have noticed a distinctive lack of my own personal student work placement blogs. When I first began at The Spires the plan was initially to do a blog each week (hopefully!) chartering my rise from an inexperienced yet energised university student to a full-fledged sale administrator extraordinaire, however clearly somewhere along the way that plan went awry! The last time I had a post dedicated to my own personal development was at the three month mark so somehow the fact that I am now blogging about myself with slightly less than a month to go, is rather fitting.

Considering my blogging absence you may be wondering what havoc I must have been causing, and it has certainly been a busy few months here at The Spires! Particular news of note for The Spires itself is the continued rolling out of The Apartment Collection – By The Spires, the serviced apartment finding service element of the firm which enables us to source accommodation out with The Spires’ home locations so we can meet guest’s wider needs. As of late, I am attempting to start a “Featured Destination” of the week to get the ball rolling and to provide some travel inspiration for our social media followers so they can see all the locations we can take them. I am also doing this in conjunction with my recently discovered addiction in Infographics as even though they may be a bit old school now, I still find them to be a very attractive means of communicating information which gets the point across while being eye-catching: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/6737572-the-apartment-collection-milton-keynes. 

Similarly, other very exciting news is that the opening for the Edinburgh location keeps growing closer and closer, and as a result, we can now happily show some sneak-peeks of our newest apartments which can be found at the dedicated Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiresEdinburgh. Having been working at The Spires as the plans have increasingly unfolded for Edinburgh, it has definitely been intriguing to witness all the hard work that goes into opening a new location. Of course, I never imagined that it would be an easy venture but looking at how the smallest details need to be thought of, from cushions to toiletries, you realise how every decision is ultimately important as everything goes to create an image of the brand in the customer’s mind.

In terms of the personal chaos I have been causing, as well as my usual social media management and email marketing campaigns, a particular task of note is my introduction into the world of segmentation. Recently me and my fellow Sales Administrator, have been tasked with the rather daunting task of going through our databases to segment all entries into groups which share particular common characteristics as this should be indicative of their unique requirements. When first bestowed with this task, my unsuspecting colleague and I were aware that this would be a somewhat timely task although we were quietly confident that we would manage it in three-weeks tops. However, 1.5 months later and still sifting through it, we recognise that we possibly underestimated the magnitude of the challenge that awaited us… Fortunately, it is a challenge that I am enjoying because there is something oddly addictive about it, and from an academic perspective, it is really beneficial to put something in to practise that I have learnt so much about from both high school and university. Sometimes it can feel like all the endless models and theories you encounter at university have no workplace value as no one actually implements them in practise, and that is why it is so satisfying to see them being used in action because it reinforces the value of what you are studying and that those theories do exist for a reason (other than to play mind-torture on students!).

Other things I have been getting up to have included an insight into the world of taking reservations (and therefore the use of a PMS); the scanning of business cards and the creation of promotional materials such as posters for the apartment blocks. These may not sound like the most glamorous of tasks, however I am always really eager to try new things; it is always beneficial to have new tasks to add to that repertoire! The scanning of business cards was a particularly interesting endeavour because it was quite enjoyable to learn all about the possible career options on the tourism stage as well as to gain an insight into some of the international firms that exist. Even though the smallest and most innocuous tasks like scanning business cards can seem quite inconsequential, when you consider them in relation to the sales process and how that prospect’s details could enable them to be converted into a potential lucrative business source, you do realise how it is all the small things that build up the bigger picture. Similarly, even from a learning perspective, so much can be gained. For instance, as a young university student anxiously holding on to the sides of that career ladder, teetering precariously on the first rung, it is really insightful to see all the different formatting of business cards and how an effective business card means that not only is it memorable and conveys all that it needs to, but it is also capable of being easily scanned so that the details can be stored. The same goes for the development of the promotional materials I created, because even though it does not necessarily require a high level of skill, a poster is something that will be viewed by the public and every single touch-point from a poster to a direct customer interaction communicates something about the brand and you want it to be consistent with the values upheld by the firm.

Therefore, with five months up and one month to go, you might be able to see how contemplative and reflective I have become. The university report I have to write may also have something to do with why my mind has reached the point of micro-analyzing the importance of tasks like scanning business cards. It is akin to the days back in high school when you had to explain everything down to the symbolic importance of why the author made the curtains blue; there has to be a reason behind everything. In a sense however, that is what my placement has taught me, that there is a reason for every task you complete-particularly in the hospitality industry where even the smallest of actions influences the customer journey and therefore the over-riding success of the firm.

Ultimately, unless I manage to do something utterly catastrophic in my remaining 4 weeks (I still have time to delete all the contacts in the CRM by accident or potentially sell a room for £1…), I can already say with confidence that I am exceptionally happy I signed the second semester of my third year away to The Spires. With a month of full-time work left to go, there are still so many things I want to try such as video tours of the apartments, blogging from our Birmingham & Glasgow locations and even attempting more team-related blogs. Therefore, watch this space for all the fun that is still to come!

Till next time,

Alex (Intern Sales Administrator)

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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

Leaving Behind a Legacy

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As fast as time is flying, my Spires expiration date has not been reached yet and so yes the title is a bit dramatically deceptive. Recently, I have been engaging more in the website content side of the business and that is why I am talking about leaving a legacy; all the content I am putting out there, be it on the website or in the form of my blogs, should outlive my Spires shelf-life so everyone will know I was here. This is all dependent on management being pleased with what I am doing so if I leave and everything changes, I can take that as a subtle hint…

In terms of the website, apart from uploading all my blogs, I am also helping to write and design for the special offers page and the brand new Edinburgh section. This includes choosing what photographs to display and writing about all the attractions and restaurants that should be headlining an Edinburgh “Must Do” travel list. I am really enjoying having the chance to engage in such activities as it is positive to have somewhat tangible evidence of the work I am doing and to know I am doing work that is of benefit to The Spires and will hopefully last for a considerable amount of time. It is also useful to have evidence to show my university that I have indeed been working and not been getting up to too much trouble!

One thing I did not expect was the use of coding that sometimes comes in handy with embedding social media content. Although it is by no means complex coding, it is still quite satisfying to see if I can manage to input a new widget onto the website or on the WordPress blog. Looks like my Higher Computing has proven to be a bit handy!

Having reached my two month mark, I am really happy The Spires chose me to be an intern. Although it is a challenging time for the North-East, there are so many important developments happening here that it is really exciting to be even playing a minor part in facilitating that. It is always beneficial experience to be working in such a dynamic environment and with such a lovely, enthusiastic team as well. Even though I am a Sales Administrator intern, I swear I am not trying a selling plug here!

Till next time,

Alex

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 🙂

Weeks 2 and 3: Let the Social Media Revolution Begin

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It is immensely crazy to think that I am somehow nearing the end of my third week at The Spires Serviced Apartments. It only just goes to validate that old saying of how time really does fly when you are having fun…and making lots of phone calls!

For the past two weeks, I have mainly been focusing on creating a database of contacts for an email marketing campaign; sourcing potential contacts in Edinburgh and up-dating Aberdeen account contact details. Therefore, if you happen to be working on reception in Oil & Gas related firms in Aberdeen, the odds are at some point this week you will have heard from me over the phone you lucky things.

Amongst all the spreadsheets and databases, I have also been keeping on top of The Spires Serviced Apartments’s company Facebook and Twitter and have somewhat been bombarding followers with posts; which I hope are being enjoyed. If you want to boost my ego and show your support, please feel free to like or retweet anything The Spire’s happens to post to share the love. Likewise, if you are reading this and have not followed us on any of our social media platforms, go do it now! I am hoping to expand out and start maximising the use of LinkedIn and Pinterest/Instagram so watch this space; I am slowly attempting my social media revolution. The worrying thing is how addictive monitoring social media gets, especially when you are able to analyse how many viewings your posts get; only I could get competitive with myself!

I am definitely learning a lot working at The Spires Serviced Apartments and enjoying the variety of tasks I have to complete. Already I can feel my skills set growing and hopefully this is a development that will endure. I am definitely feeling a lot more comfortable here and getting in to my routine; the shell-shock of working the 9-5 life has abated. It has also been enjoyable getting to know all my colleagues, they really all are very lovely and I do not think I could have asked for more supportive workmates.

Hope everyone has a lovely week and an even lovelier Valentine’s Day ❤

Till next time,

Alex