Winning By Working Together

Winning By Working Together
On both a personal and professional level, I am aware of the huge benefits that come from working together as a team, and so, as Hotel General Manager, I am involved with a number of external organisations, including chairing both the Lanarkshire Tourism Association and the Lanarkshire Area Tourism Partnership. These two organisations make an integral contribution to the work of Visit Lanarkshire, which is supported ably by both North and South Lanarkshire Councils through the work of their Tourism Development Officers and Marketing Managers.
So it was that last week, I attended the Visit Scotland Scottish Thistle Awards in New Lanark Mill and Visitor Centre, as we, Visit Lanarkshire, had been shortlisted in the Partnership in Tourism Award as Regional Finalists for the Central and South West Region, an area which includes Greater Glasgow, Argyll and the Isles, Dumfries & Galloway and Ayrshire within its boundaries. The competition was strong, as Argyll and The Isles Tourism Partnership worked with around 150 businesses and have done a fantastic job in driving tourism in their area. However, the title of this piece is “Winning By Working Together” and I was delighted to have to go on stage and collect the award as Visit Lanarkshire was chosen as the Regional Winners. We now go through to the National Finals in November, where we will be judged with the three other Regional winners – so fingers crossed for then.
The theme of partnership working is not new to the hotel and I am delighted that we have recently been able to launch some new packages as well as making some other discounted offers available for our guests to make use of the wide range of facilities and attractions that are located beside the hotel, be it dining at Frankie & Bennys, going to the Vue Cinema next door, or even a family day out at M&D’s, there is a something for everyone as it shows in our Local Attractions page.
So, here’s to more good news in November, and more benefits for everyone from working together!

PICTURE SHOWS: Mark Calpin, General Manager, Holiday Inn Express, Hamilton, David Carroll, Marketing and Promotions Manager, North Lanarkshire Council, Stephen Balfour, Senior Economic Development Officer (Tourism), South Lanarkshire Council, with the Visit Scotland Scottish Thistle Regional Award for Partnership in Tourism.

Visit Lanarkshire's Winning Team

Visit Lanarkshire’s Winning Team

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Can something be good but over in a flash?

Now, I am sure all you lady readers will be smiling and saying “Absolutely NOT!” but I wasn’t talking about that. I am just wondering if I can make some good blog posts, but not make them too long to create or read, as time presses down on us all! Given that there appears to be a bit of a time related theme to many of my posts nowadays, I will aim to avoid discussion on it for a while.

So, we are into a new season (Spring apparently though it looks and feels like Autumn) and there is much discussion on the changing climate that many appear to feel has happened. Is it not ironic that the more we feel we have advanced in technology and knowledge, the more Nature decides to remind us who exactly is in charge!

Recently I have been impressed with the photos which Commander Chris Hadfield, a Canadian Astronaut, currently living in space aboard ISS (International Space Station) as Commander of Expedition 35, has posted on his Twitter account,

Commander Hadfield's photo of a not so rushed river1

Commander Hadfield’s photo of a not so rushed river!

and you can follow him, his account is @Cmdr_Hadfield

This is always a very emotional time of the year for myself, and this track seems to sum up my mood, moving as it does from low points through reflection up to an uplifting end. I also love the movie Gladiator, which featured it, and it must be in my top ten films of all time, were I ever to compile such a list – that is for another blog I feel.

Well, must keep it brief as intended, so as always, take care of yourself and your loved ones – don’t be afraid to show it!

Mark

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Time – the most precious resource of all.

As the clock ticks down on another year, with everyone’s hopes and expectations heightened by the potential of the New Year, it seems appropriate to consider just how precious a resource time is.

At present, a lot of articles I see (but don’t always read because of lack of time!) tell me that it’s so important to have really good content, no matter where it is for, internal or external customer. This relates to the fact that despite all the new technology and time saving gadgets we are meant to have, everyone seems to be always short of time!

Perhaps something we can focus on in the New Year is to stop and focus on those things that are really important us, giving them the due care and attention that they merit, and letting all the other distractions drift away in time. This way, we are able to be true to ourselves and those that matter to us, and not spread ourselves too thinly, which is something that many people are worried about. It may mean that somewhere, amongst the thousands of other emails and articles, you will miss something that brings a smile for a second, but hey, at least you will be in a better place anyway, with a higher sense of self esteem and happiness.

Before you do avoid all distractions, have a little look at this compilation, laugh when you wish, and try not to be surprised at how crazy people can be.

It is the end of one year, and instead of leaving you with a traditional lament, try this video for size, with two pipers dueling, still the sounds of the pipes, but a bit different from the norm.

Until the next time, I hope you have a great start to the New Year,

Mark

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So many things to do, but reminded to get back here!

Those sands of time just keep on shifting, but thanks to some work with a very good friend, I have been reminded of the joys of blogging on WordPress! (Had to be careful how I typed that!)

Well, what has been happening? As usual, the hotel keeps me very busy, and when not dealing with that, the land of online interactions ( or social media as it’s better known) takes a few seconds every day.

So, given that I’ve been away from this place for so long, so a small recap is in order.

For me, the Olympics and Paralympics were great spectacles and made us all very proud, and as timing has it, this Sunday sees one of my favourite tv programmes of the year, BBC Sports Personality of the Year – good luck squeezing all of this year’s sport into one year, perhaps they should start the programme on Friday night?

My song from the summer is One Day Like This, by Elbow, which of course, I will share with you all,

This year, I was able to present as part of Social Media Week Glasgow, along with once again being on the Advisory Board which was good fun.

The week was a great success and was once well curated by Tim and Daniella from @TwinTangibles with a wide range of events across the city, and the theme was Empowering Change through Collaboration. The site is now in hibernation, but you can still get a flavour from

http://socialmediaweek.org/glasgow/

and Social Media Week returns in February 2013 to the other cities, with fingers crossed for the September sessions and Scotland’s best city!

There is a lot more to share from this year, but I’ve got presents to buy, and you’ve got some great tv to watch, so I will keep this one brief and aim to post again very soon.

If I don’t post before Christmas, my favourite festive tune is

Happy Christmas!

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want…..

Well, having missed out on winning an award this week, I felt that this seemed an appropriate title for the blog – and it is also the title of a GREAT song by the Rolling Stones, which I will get to you in a little while.

Everything is relative, and whilst I will talk about the feeling of not winning, there are other things in life that are more important, as I personally have found out in recent days! Thankfully, all should be fine in time, as long as I keep taking the medicine, and it always helps with getting in shape.

Whilst the famous quote of Vince Lombardi – “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser!” – is perhaps a little too harsh, it is a useful one to stoke the fires of enthusiasm and drive you on to try yet again and win the next time. If not winning doesn’t bother you that much, perhaps you needed to care a bit more for it! For myself, it does not please me to come up short, however, I will store the emotion to improve our efforts for when I try again, and then hopefully I will be successful.

I mentioned about the fantastic song and here it is for you – the video is nothing to look at, so click play and keep on reading. The choir that you can hear is the London Bach Choir, and it was released in 1969 on the album – and irony of ironies for me this week – “Let It Bleed” ! You must believe that I picked the song at random and only found out about the blood connection when looking for some words about the tune. Anyway, enough babbling on, here it is:

Perhaps if I was more attuned to the philosophical side of things, I could talk about how not getting what you want all the time is a good thing, as you don’t become spoilt and learn to accept that “some you win, some you lose”. But the nearest I got to philosophy was drinking with students of the subject in the Glasgow Uni bars when I was there. And good times that they were, the most philosophical the debates got was whether to stay in the Extension Bar or go round to the Beer Bar! Not exactly the stuff to make Plato rise up from his grave I accept. However, it is good to remain grounded and accept that some times, you have to work more that you expect in order to get the rewards that you seek.

This has been a busy week and included the inaugural meeting of the Lanarkshire Tourism Association, (LTA)  where my megalomania tendencies subdued long enough for me to be voted as Chairman of the Association. The LTA came about as the result of a merger between both the Lanarkshire Accommodation and Visitor Attraction Associations, in order that we could provide a more cohesive, effective and powerful organisation that will allow us to improve the overall tourism product offerings in Lanarkshire and hence be of value to our guests and ourselves. As chair, it is my intention to always be open to dialogue and I am happy to hear suggestions from any source as to what can be done to improve ourselves.

The second tune comes from George Michael, and is from 1988. I had a look at the top tunes of 1994 in order to bring something more recent that the Stones tune, but it really wasn’t a great year for music – if you don’t believe me, here is the top five from 1994:

1. The Sign, Ace Of Base
2. I Swear, All-4-One
3. I’ll Make Love to You, Boyz II Men
4. The Power of Love, Celine Dion
5. Hero, Mariah Carey

So, I went back a wee but further, and came up with this, which is much more agreeable to my ears.

And if I was trying to be clever, I could think that it is a good tie in to mention “Faith” when dealing with disappointment and not getting what you want.

Even with the injury I sustained, I have still been able to make some of my milestones that I set at the turn of the year, so having had to be med-evac’d off of the hotel’s Everest attempt for just now, it is good to know that progress is still being made by the team and myself. So this week, I think our aim is to have fun and enjoy yourselves, and wear a big smile on your face – if nothing else it will make people wonder what you are smiling about!

As always, and especially this week, take care of yourselves and the ones you love,

Mark

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Off On Our Journey…

This blog site is part of our Healthy Working Lives initiative, http://www.healthyworkinglives.com/ within the Holiday Inn Express, Hamilton. We welcome your thoughts and assistance as we progress with this.

Healthy Working Lives Logo

Where will it take us to, nobody knows, but hopefully it will be to a healthier and happier team in the hotel – which is the Holiday Inn Express, Hamilton, Scotland.

We are using this platform as one of a variety of methods of communication, to improve our overall wellbeing, and share with our colleagues, and interested others, some things that may help!

So who are we…..

Well, the team driving the Healthy Working Lives initiative at the hotel is spearheaded by Lynsey, who amongst other things, is our Fire, Life, Safety representative, and she is assisted by Kate, Louise, Lisa and Mark C (the boss guy, who lets us spend the money, sometimes! ). We shall introduce the rest of the hotel team in future posts, as we know you cannot remember too many names on a first date!

Healthy Working Lives, what does that mean to us? Well, it is about making adjustments and changes within our personal and working lives that will make a positive impact on our overall health. Some of these changes may be small – walking to the top floor of the hotel rather than taking the lift, eating a healthier lunch, eating fruit rather than chocolates sometimes – and some of these changes can be significant – quit smoking, reducing your weight, exercising twice a week for 30 minutes.

The picture is of Mount Everest, and we are trying to “climb” this amongst our team! How so, well each time we walk up to the fourth floor, it is 41 feet up, so we need 688 ascents of the stairs to reach 29,029 feet – the height of Everest. So far, we have “climbed” Ben Nevis twice but have a long way to go.

Mount Everest - our first big challenge

Ben Nevis, at 4,370 feet high!

Music gives us a lot of pleasure, and one of the tracks we want to share with you today comes from a “localish” guy, Paolo Nutini, with Candy, ironic as we are trying to stay off the sweets!

The hotel, well, given that it has brought us all together, and pays the rent (or some of it) we feel that it is only fair to mention it every so often. The hotel looks awfully like this photo below, but hopefully you don’t think we look AWFUL!

Holiday Inn Express, Hamilton, Scotland

A wee bit about hotel – opened in May 2007 (so coming up for our Fifth birthday!) but still looking bright, fresh and clean. Although we don’t have our own car park, guests can park for free in the adjacent car park, just have to input your details on a touch screen at reception.

To see more about the hotel, check out http://www.hiexpresshamilton.co.uk and come & stay!

Our last tune to leave you with today is from M People, “Search for the Hero” which we find inspiring and hope it ticks your box too!

If you have any ideas that you wish to share with us, do post a comment at the bottom or drop us an email, hamilton@holidayinnexpress.org.uk.

Speak to you all soon, Lynsey & Mark.

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#ScotlandHour – Great. Expectations.

#ScotlandHour,

Our open tweet chat to promote Scotland is back again this coming Wednesday, 30th November, St. Andrew’s day, between 9-10pm GMT (4-5pm EST) and we hope as many people will join in as possible.

In the words of a well known meerkat, participating is really “Simples!“, all you have to do is go to Twitter and in the search bar, type in #ScotlandHour and then all those tweets which are using the hashtag will show up. The hashtag is a great way of allowing you to see posts from people whom you do not follow, and then you can ask questions of us all, or ReTweet posts you find of interest. Whatever you do, get involved, as this is just us promoting Scotland for the greater good, no hidden agendas at all.

If you wish to participate great, just post your tweet and include #ScotlandHour somewhere in it so that others can easily find your post.

There are lots of us out there who are willing to help, so any questions before  or during, do just let us know using the hashtag and we will help.

GREAT

What would be great would be if we can have a wide range of people involved and sharing their news, views, videos and pictures from around this wonderful country of ours.

The song below is one of those associated with Scotland and worth reminding you of – it was brought back into public prominence by a tv advert, as with many of the good songs from long ago, often the best things about adverts are the tunes that they use. The fact that it is by Dougie MacLean and that #ScotlandHour was the idea of Dougie Baird makes a nice link as well!

EXPECTATIONS

What are our expectations for this night you may ask? Well, speaking personally, my expectations are that we shall have more participation in #ScotlandHour than ever before, that there will be an increased level of awareness both, amongst those posting and also, critically, amongst the viewing audience, and that we can all have a bit of fun! All too often in life today, there are many things which take our energy away and sadden us. We can all use #ScotlandHour to remind ourselves, and others, about all that there is to offer in Scotland, and that is without you eating some of the great foods we have, or drinking some of the whisky (did you know there is even wine made in Scotland?)

Whatever your expectations of #ScotlandHour are, I hope that collectively, or individually, we are able to meet them.

The second film this week is possibly the greatest song to have been made by a Scot, Gerry Rafferty, Baker Street.

As always, take care of each other,

Mark

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Where does the time go to?

Well folks, I have managed to return to the keyboard and hope to be able to get a more regular series of posts coming up for you – if you want them that is! May try to limit the size of the blogs to make it easier to keep up the frequency.

A little bit of music to wash over you whilst you continue to read the blog, this is Alexi Murdoch signing “Orange Sky” and a real current favourite of mine just now,

Despite all of the techy things that I come across on my surfing, not many ever create time for you, some DO save you some time but haven’t recently created enough of a gap for me to get here and post out to you.

So, what has been happening since the last time, well, we’ve had lots of things, the biggest event would of course be Social Media Week, Glasgow, which was a real blast. Met some great local folk as well as some great international folk like Jeremy Gilley @PeaceOneDay and  Don Tapscott @dtapscott . Jeremy’s story is an amazing testimony to what one person can do, and he is making a real difference, to have him present in person really was an amazing privilege. Check out http://www.peaceoneday.org and see what they are doing, well worth a click.

Obviously I have already signed up myself and can share with you this link to their campaign, http://bit.ly/JU28 .

Do pass it along and get further momentum behind this very worthwhile cause. I will refer to some of the other good stuff that I got out of SMW Glasgow in the coming weeks,  don’t think I would have got over it in just one blog!

“QR code”  are something which have recently come on to my radar and have a lot of possibilities in this digital age, especially as mobile web use is anticipated to overtake desktop use by 2014! I will gladly share my notes from recent presentations with those who ask, and I look to develop and use them appropriately within the hotel, and maybe even in home life.

#ScotlandHour –

A small group of us have developed what we think is a really powerful way of joining up the voices of Scottish tourism businesses – the idea is called #ScotlandHour – and the more businesses who get involved the more effective our choir of voices becomes.

#ScotlandHour is – a 1 hour Twitter based chat, on the last Wednesday of each month between 9-10pm GMT.

We are encouraging everyone involved in Scottish tourism to get online at this time, and really talk up our amazing country. Answer questions from visitors and let customers into some of our best kept secrets – use Twitter to encourage more visitors to enjoy Scotland. To help keep track of all the questions and answers we use a #ScotlandHour (a hash-tag).

This month, #ScotlandHour falls on St Andrews Day – what an opportunity to promote Scotland to the world, and @VisitStAndrews is our co-host for the evening.

We’d like as many businesses as possible to get involved – come online and have some really great tourism chat. Encourage your guests and visitors to get involved too.

Talk to any of us on twitter – this is a simple way to increase the conversation about Scotland @Bairdstravel @2edinburgh @aileenlamb @HIEHamilton

If you are able to join us, let us know now, either tweet us or sign up at

http://twtvite.com/ScotlandHour

Even if you don’t want to tweet on the night, do feel free to get in touch with us to let us know who we should be talking with and what secrets of Scotland you wish us to share with the whole wide world!

Yes you can!

Lastly, Emma (aka @BubsyBarr ) shared this clip recently online and I felt it worthwhile to pass along and hopefully, bring a bit of inspiration to you,

As always, take care of your loved ones and yourselves, and hopefully speak soon!

Mark

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CONFESSION: Social Media Really is Magic.

This blog was originally posted on the Social Media Glasgow Website as a guest blog by myself. See http://socialmediaweek.org/glasgow/ for more information as it runs from 19th to 23rd September.

Magic in the Glasgow vernacular that is, not smoke and mirrors!  

Social Media – What is it all about? Is it any good? Why bother with it because it is all geeks and spotty kids isn’t it?

Well, for me, on the most basic of terms, Social Media is about using technology to connect with people.

Nice and easy.

“Simples!” as those loveable / annoying meercats say (delete as appropriate).

Okay, if that is the case then who can you connect with? Well, just about anyone you want to, who also uses Social Media, or is “on” social media as people will refer to it, as if it were a plane or a bus. For starters, you can keep in touch with your family & loved ones when you are separated from them for whatever reason. And distance is no object to the communication, it’s as easy to connect with them if they are a few feet away as it is if they are thousands of miles away on the other side of the world! What style your connection takes is up to you. To see and talk with your kids is straightforward enough, through products such as Skype and Hangouts on Google +, and the only cost is the internet connection, which could well be free anyway! If you are in a meeting say, and not able to talk with them, you can send instant messages of course, sometimes with a bit extra added on, be it a photo, video or song or whatever. Again, there is a wide choice of products available that will allow you to keep in touch, but just don’t get caught dropping out of the meeting!

Whoever else you wish to connect with is up to you. Social media opens up the chance for you to follow your interests and hobbies, and through the internet, it doesn’t restrict your circle of study to the local, geographic area that you are in. No, distance is now no object to where you can go in an electronic world – emails, posts, tweets, photos, videos, can all travel around the world at no cost, in a matter of seconds, so it is a great vehicle to let you explore topics and places you wouldn’t normally get to in the physical world. Our educated desire is to learn more from the cultures around the world, becoming more cosmopolitan through the influences of other countries and peoples, something which social media is able to assist and help with.

Another key feature is the ability to broadcast to a wide audience, often of unknown size! Like any audience, they may, or may not, be paying attention. How much will often depend upon how good your message is. The key to being successful is to have great content, and that can come about in a vast number of ways – a sharp video, a great song, a moving story, whatever, just as long as it is of interest to an audience.  Often there is a lot of content put onto social media that it is not great to say the least, and then others will see this and then decide that the whole of social media is full of rubbish! The importance of having good, relevant and interesting content is not something that everyone using social media follows, but then again, social media should be about inclusion and celebrating differences, so each to his own.

Sure, the digital age has accelerated many, many things in our lives today, and often gets the blame for removing all of our “me” time with its constant communications and interruptions, but if you use the technology correctly it can be a tremendous asset, which creates space and time for yourself.  It should be viewed as a tool, and like any tool, it only works correctly if you use it in the right way, so let it do the things that you want it to do for you, rather than you being a slave to it.

So social media is growing out there, and showing no signs of slowing down, so why not get on board the bus with the rest of us and see where it takes you, you never know what you’ll come across!

And what does it mean in Glasgow when we say something is “Magic” – well that it is really really good, Great with a capital G, much better than expected. Hence the reason that I think that social media is magic, but without the sleight of hand.

 

Naturally, being a social kinda guy, I am more than happy to hear from you if I can assist with your social media experience.

Good to be in touch with you again, and as always, take care of yourself and your loved one,

Mark

 

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Why the delay in posting? Solar Powered Laptops No Good In Scotland!

Well, if you are my employers reading this, you will have been delighted by my absence, as I have been too busy with work to get a blog post updated.

If you are not my employers reading this, you will have been delighted by my absence, as you got some rest, but in the words of the song by The Contours

“And now I’m back, to let you know
I can really shake ’em down”

So what’s been happening, well, busy times at the hotel in Hamilton, which is great. The hot, Holiday Inn Express, Hamilton, continues to be well received and enjoyed by our guests. I myself had a break recently and I would like to record that the team at the hotel did a fantastic job, especially given how busy the hotel was. If you are sitting there thinking why did I take time off during a busy time, then the answer is that we are always busy, and sometimes you do need to give people the space to perform in!  But anyway, well done to all and thank you.

I am really delighted to have been asked to sit on the Advisory Board for Social Media Week Glasgow, which takes place from 19th to 23rd September. Glasgow is one of twelve cities around the World taking part, and this is an excellent week of wide ranging activities taking place across the city. See the website at http://socialmediaweek.org/glasgow/ and do join in! You can also follow them on Twitter at @SMWGlasgow

Otherwise, check out this GREAT video

Still on a local theme, had a great lunch at my local Beanscene in Clarkston last week. Tremendous value meal deal of a drink, sandwich, packet of good crisps and a copy of The Guardian to take away, all for £5. It’s been newly decorated, and looks great,  so I for one will be back soon.

As regular readers will know, I do like to keep an eye on the latest technology and software and since my last post, I have come across the much vaunted Google + and also Last.fm. Now,  my knowledge of Google + is minimal, I have an account and if you yourself need an invite, then use this

https://plus.google.com/_/notifications/ngemlink?path=%2F%3Fgpinv%3DjPpF_Qy0t6Y%3AlKJLPCFK6sE

In the past few days I have attended my first Google + “hangout” as part of Social Media Week, and it was great fun. The hangout is like a video conference call, which apparently you can also now do on Skype. What aspect I really liked is that the main picture image seemed to move to the person who is talking – cool! If you want to

The other bit I have found is Last.fm which is like your own library of music. You type in the artistes or genres that you like and it plays these and similar artistes. Great and the variety gave me more than I got from my own library of music on my pc. Again, well worth a look, and like Google+ both are free.

This past week there has been a lot written about the troubles in cities in England and also about the part that Social Media has played in this. Like any tool, Social Media can be used for negative and positive means. I would like to share the latter, with a picture that caught my eye at lunchtime on Tuesday, showing the good people of Clapham working together to restore their area. The photo was posted on Twitter by @Lawcol888 and I liked it so much I sent it on via Twitter to @RiotCleanUp which had only been created that morning and by lunchtime had around 72,000 followers. They were good enough to ReTweet my post and as a result I received a lot of positive tweets from people, which was nice, but even more significantly, I had literally hundreds of Retweets of my post. As a result of all this activity, my @Klout score rose by 6 points overnight,  and now sits at the lofty score of 66, which is great and no doubt will head south very soon! The work that the likes of @RiotCleanUp have done this week has been highly commendable, and I wish them well.

If you wonder what this @Klout stuff is all about, then login in using this link, http://klout.com/perk/Klout/Topicpagespreview?passalong=ODUvMzA5NzI4LzI&passalongSig=8edc2db8dbef62b7bbdca6609eded8a21ce73f7915fda703fbf2e6a1842dd58b and get some ideal of what your social media presence is like online.

Anyway, good to have been back in touch with you, if you wish to get in touch, you will find me on Twitter under @HIEHamilton for the hotel, or @markcalpin for my own, personal account (albeit I don’t post often enough) or perhaps I might bump into you at own of the Social Media Week Glasgow events.

Take care folks,

Mark

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