See the sights, smell the roses… and catch the Pokémon?



Trends, fashions and fads come and go, and it is clear which one is here to stay for summer 2016 – Pokémon Go. Yes, unless you have somehow managed to miss the numerous social media postings dedicated to the latest trend (borderline phenomenon) seizing not only a nation, but the whole world, or have been spared the incident of bumping into someone actively engaging in a little Pokémon hunting on the street, it is clear that there is nothing more all the rage this summer. Normally mobile phone apps and games are associated as taking the human population to whole new levels of anti-socialness; however Pokéman Go seems to be having a miracle effect which is counteracting this magnetic force. Yes, we are still besotted with man’s new best friend, the mobile phone, but now it is encouraging us to voluntarily enter into the light and freshness of the great outdoors and explore. Such is the power of the Pokémon Go because with the augmented virtual reality app projecting images of everyone’s favourite childhood anime onto city landmarks so it looks like they are really there on your mobile screen, people are going out in their droves to partake in a nostalgic game of Pokémon hunting because the only way to catch them all, is to actively explore the surrounding environment – sitting on the couch will get you nowhere. Of course you also have the assistance of GPS technology on your smart phone to help lead the way also.  Pokémon Go is a truly global craze with it having captivated the eyes of citizens spanning 35 countries and becoming more addictive than those little known apps of Facebook and Whatsapp.

With the UK basking in the glorious freedom of the summer holidays and even enjoying a little bit of tropical summer sunshine, Pokémon Go has come at the best possible time. It is the optimum season to explore a new city and what better way to see it than with a fun interactive activity which will keep all members of the family, whether it is the young or the young at heart, engaged and excited. Already players have remarked how it has taken them to parts of the city they had never thought they would venture; likewise it is helping them to connect with other players and to forge social bonds. Fortunately, with apartments in four major UK cities, wherever you stay with us you are right in the heart of some of the UK’s best Pokémon hunting grounds. Therefore, discover all about the Pokémon Go hype in some of our favourite UK vacation spots and be inspired to come visit us and explore our new cities from a new perspective.


A legion of unique Pokémon characters have finally invaded the Silver City with even some rare ones also to be found. Of course, it is irrefutable that Pokémon would be hiding in the most dynamic and buzzing part of the city – the city centre. Therefore, when you are hitting up Union Street, make sure to take an extra few moments outside the prime shopping area of St. Nicholas Centre as three “Pokestops” are rumoured to be found there. Likewise, if you wanting to view some of the amazing talent on stage at the Music Hall or His Majesty’s Theatre, you might be able to see more than real famous faces, but also some virtual Pokémon ones too. The beauty of Pokémon Go is also that you do not necessary know where you will find the Pokémon, this is why you can venture all across the city in the hopes of finding one and engaging in a little bit of sightseeing and social interaction along the way. Therefore, the app has had people exploring the beautiful length of Aberdeen’s stunning sandy beach; various churches and it has even seen them take day trips to Stonehaven because those little Pokémon sure get everywhere! With Pokémon being rumoured to be located at all kinds of Aberdeen attraction hot spots from the beach to the fishing community of Fittie to tranquil public areas like Seaton Park, it is clear that Pokémon Go could be the perfect activity that will allow you to become acquainted with the sparkling silver exterior of the renowned Granite City.


Known as Britain’s “Second City”, it is of little surprise that the exciting metropolis of Birmingham is absolutely teeming with Pokémon waiting to be discovered. Pokémon mania has even swept the citizens of Birmingham so much that an organised mass Pokémon Go walk was devised that was held on Saturday 23rd July, reflecting the comradery that the virtual app is creating – up to 1,000 walkers were expected. Rumoured Pokémon hotspots include the Jewellery Quarter, St. Paul’s Square and of course along the sides of Birmingham’s vast canal system. They can even be hunted down within the walls of iconic Birmingham attractions including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, so it is not just art that can be found and admired! Likewise, if you are hitting up the bargains and the temptation of Grand Central shopping centre, you may find more than just good deals. Therefore, from sightseeing to shopping and even to eating, Pokémon Go may be the perfect addictive activity that will allow you to fully explore one of Britain’s most famous metropolises.


pokemon glasgow

Priding itself for the warmth and friendliness of its citizens, it is no wonder that Pokémon would feel welcome along the dynamic and effervescent streets of Glasgow. With its renowned reputation for its nature scene and its abundance of parks, it is no surprise that many Pokémon have been rumoured to be hiding among the shrubbery such as at Glasgow Green. However, while hiding in parks or even by the Clydeside, they are also of course hitting up popular city central locations from the likes of the Duke of Wellington statue (the one famous for having an ever-present traffic cone residing on its head), George Square, Kelvingrove Museum and even within the haunting beauty of the Victorian cemetery; the Necropolis. Likewise, other rumoured hotspots include the Finnieston Crane as well as the Armadillo and the Hydro which means you may get a dual batch of entertainment if you are stopping by the check out the latest musical talent on stage.


pokemon go aberdeen

Of course there is no city in Scotland that Pokémon could desire to infiltrate more than the cobbled historic streets of Scotland’s stunning and animated capital. With some of the most iconic attractions and streets in the nation, it is irrefutable that a couple of Pokémon would want to pop up at these stops. Therefore, it may be of no surprise that if you want to engage in a little bit of Pokémon hunting, than prime locations such as the Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens, Leith Docks, Edinburgh Zoo and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art certainly pave the way for victory. These are attractions that you would want to visit anyway but doing it under the guise of Pokémon hunting, also gives it that added extra bit of fun. Likewise, it may also bring you to attractions you had never considered previously such as Lochend Park or St. Margaret’s Well which is a well that has been in existence since 1362 and therefore possesses its own unique level of historical value. The hype of Pokémon Go mania in Edinburgh has even reached such a level that local taxi drivers are offering Pokémon Go tours, so if you are feeling a little tired and want a crafty (albeit pricy!) way of viewing the city, this could be the alternative as the route set out claims to stop at 50 “Pokestops” in 20 minutes.

So there you have it, if are really getting swept up in the phenomenon that has captured the nation and their phones, how about a Pokémon Go tour with The Spires? With apartments right in the city centre of these 4 active Pokémon spots, you could not be any closer to all the excitement and hype. While we cannot guarantee that the little monsters will be found under the beds in our apartments, you are bound to find some lurking not too far away whether they are in attractions, parks, restaurants or even transport spots. Therefore, let us know how many you catch and share with us any top tips – maybe we will try and engage in some Pokémon hunting of our own!


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 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 🙂


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


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?



Business and Leisure Travellers of the Future


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):


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 ( 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….



Leaving Behind a Legacy

website design

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,


Travel Apps: Your New Travel BFFs

Whether you are travelling alone or in groups, for business or leisure, travelling will always be an experience that you simultaneously get excited for, and immensely stress over. However, gone are the days of manically remembering to pack paperback travels guides & maps and writing packing lists, nowadays all the information we need can be found in our handheld technological miracle sidekicks: mobile phones and tablets. Arguably, they are making us somewhat less self-reliant but if they can help reduce the stress of finding our ways in new destinations, it means we can have ultimately more efficient and productive business journeys or can enable us to fully bask in the glory of our holidays. These travel apps will become your favourite companions whether you are travelling for business or leisure and can help you from every stage of your journey; from planning to packing to even finding the best pizza in town when you arrive!

  • WiFi Finder

When I am travelling, one of my initial concerns is always how fast I can get to a WiFi spot; which probably speaks volumes about my priorities. However, I am sure I am not the only one. The WiFi Finder App spots includes over 500,000 free and paid WiFi areas in over 144 countries and means you will never be at a loss for spotting your nearest WiFi location on your travels. The App will help you to filter the locations so you can find the perfect place to go and it will even provide directions so you do not have to use a separate navigation app to track down your newly found WiFi supply. Available for IOS and Android


  • WorldMate

Some people enjoy the challenge of planning their business trip or holiday, most of us loathe it. However WorldMate takes the suffering out of it and has aided over 10, 000 million users in organizing and planning their jaunts away for free. All you need to do is forward confirmations for your booked travel arrangements, such as flights or car rentals, to the email address provided and it will manage and hold all details: even compose an itinerary which you can share with family and friends. Extra functions it offers are in relation to Flight Alerts and real-time Flight Status so you know what is happening with your flights and can prepare for the unexpected. TripIt is a similar popular app to consider. Available for IOS and Android

  • PackPoint

Keeping on board with the planning stages, is Packpoint: a free app that acts as your personal packing organizer. All you need to do is submit your location and your duration of your stay and the app will help you determine what items you need to pack based on your level of stay; your purposes for travelling; the activities you will be getting up to and even the forecasted weather. PackPoint will help to erase the many hours of deliberation and debate spent over deciding what items to pack and potentially to avoid the charges associated with over-packing. Available for Ios and Android


  • Around Me

Once you have found yourself on the move and at the inevitable loss for your surroundings, use Around Me to compensate for your lack of local geographical knowledge. Selecting from a range of defined categories, you can use this helpful app to locate how far away you from the nearest *insert your option here e.g. ATM, bank, supermarket* Available for Ios and Android

  • Waze

A particular useful free app for when you are commuting to a business meeting or even just trying to reach a popular tourist attraction, Waze is the world’s largest community based navigation expert. Using real-time advice and information from fellow drivers on the road, you can keep up-to-date with the best routes to take to dodge the traffic and accidents and arrive at your destination with plenty of time. It provides another gift in that you can find the cheapest gas stations based on the prices posted by fellow drivers. It is a team effort out on those roads! Available for Ios and Android


  • Get Taxi

Alternatively, if you are on holiday and do not have a car to hand to travel by, make use of the free Get Taxi where you can order a licensed Black taxi/cab to beat waiting in queue or having to flag one down. This app, which is rumoured to be number one globally for corporate rides, can be used to pre-book taxis or book one on the spur of the moment if the weather takes a disagreeable turn! Available for Ios and Android

  • Feeling Hungry?

No, this is not an app in itself but as we all know, sampling the local delicacies is the best bit of travelling and these apps will help you in your mission to unearth the best food your destination has to offer. Use Urbanspoon; a free app which compiles rating and reviews for over a million restaurants and cafes so you can see where fellow travellers recommend. Foodspotting takes a differing angle to the “eating like a local” by recommending dishes, not restaurants. If you are in a very specific mind or want to try particular local dishes, you can use this app to view images and see what people recommend. Finally, there is the incredibly popular Hungry House app which can be used when you do not want to face the world and do not have the energy to cook. It enables access to over 10,000 takeaways and over 60 cuisine types so you cannot complain it does meet your every hunger need!


  • Expensify

This is one for all you business travellers who do not like managing their expenses! Expensify is a free app which is reputably backed as being the best app for expense reporting which allows you to simply take a photo of a receipt and then select which report you want the expense to go on. Easy peasy! Available for Ios and Android

  • Welcome to Scotland

If you are happening to be staying at our Scottish apartments, the Welcome to Scotland and VisitScotland Explore apps are the perfect way to introduce you the tartan land. The VisitScotland app helps you to discover attractions, events and activities as well as provides itineraries so you will never be bored! The Welcome to Scotland App offers similar functions as well as exclusive offers and deals. Definite essentials for a first-time visit to Scotland. Available for Ios and Android

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!