Zenos's blog posts for January 2017

To book or not to book?

Jan

24

With all of the holiday booking going on lately I’ve been on a lot of hotel and apartment rental websites.  This got me thinking: what elements make a booking system easy to use? What information am I looking for when booking and how do various companies present it?

Let’s jump right into this one with some small London-based short term accommodation providers before looking at one of the industry giants:

Flying Butler Serviced Apartments

Flying Butler offers its clients a number of locations in and around London.  The site gives consumers a view of the product instantly through rotating images on the front page advertising their lavish residences.  Right below this is the search function, which leads to property listings.  The first issue can be found in the listing section where there is no map, so location becomes difficult to determine.  To access a map you have to go back to the homepage thereby annulling your search.  The map feature is also not obvious as it lies below the fold – overall this site is not making booking accommodation very easy.

The Apartment Network

This site offers accommodation globally, first asking customers for the location they would like to stay at London and the dates of their stay.  Thankfully this leads straight to a map that makes it easy to decide where you would like to stay.  Below this is a filtering option to narrow your search and refine any specific requests you might have e.g a pet policy!  Clicking on the properties leads to a full list of the features and pictures.  There is a lot of information but also a clear customer journey: from the homepage, to refining the search, to the finer details of the stay.  This is much easier to use than the previous example.

Expedia

We are now all experienced with the format of hotel booking websites.  Think about Expedia: You choose dates for your stay and the number of people staying before you’re presented with a sortable list that matches your parameters.  Next to this list you’ll find a map with all of the properties’ locations detailed for those who are looking to stay in a certain area.  Furthermore, if you were to click on a listing that caught your eye you’d then get to have a look at some photos and more room options. 

This careful segmentation of all of the aspects of booking a hotel presents the user with all of the information they need as they look for it.  This is crucial, consumers can be overwhelmed by lists of features or seemingly arbitrarily ranked results pages.  What the goal of such websites should be then is to present the information in a way that is easily digestible – after all the user must feel informed to get their wallet out!

Gaining work experience as a first year

Jan

06

As a first-year student, you’re relatively new to your course, never mind the world of work, which can make landing an internship difficult. In order to guarantee your future success in your second or third year, especially if you want to get a paid internship, you have to do some preliminary work.  And yes, it will most likely have to be for free.

Think about it this way: as a first year, you have a lot more time than you will later on in your studies, so sacrifice some of this extra time.  I knew that over the Easter period I’d most likely be sat at home not doing much, so instead, I started reaching out to companies.  In-between all of your (assumedly) hard studying, you will also get long Summer breaks to fill your time with potential internships which will help you further your education, CV and skill-set.

Below you’ll find the steps I took to secure two weeks’ work experience with a London digital marketing agency.

1.    Do your research

Find out what any given company in the sector you’re interested in does and offer your skills.  For example, Social Media Ltd performs online marketing which often requires the help of a web developer – I can do that! It’s also worth taking the time to do some extensive research into the company history to give you an advantage against the other potential interns.

2.    Plan your approach and build a relationship

This means thinking about what you’re going to say before calling or emailing.  Explain who you are and what you have to offer – I’m a first-year Computing for Digital Media student and I can code in Java and HTML, two of the most commonly used web languages. 

I called them up offering to help them with some of their projects over the Easter break.  They kindly said they would let me know, I took down the name of the person I was talking to and decided to call them every week or so to see if they had followed up on my request.

3.    Persistence is key

You will likely have to do this for many companies but even if they reject you, you’re building connections!  Maybe they will have something over the summer, maybe they will consider you for next year. Either way, persistence will always get you results. You will be part of the team before you know it.

4.    Enjoy the rewards

People I spoke to had lots of advice for me on my hunt and as I contacted companies I got a better feel for what they wanted to hear from me.  After just over a month of phone calls, I got two weeks work experience at a top agency and a first step onto the career ladder!

Taking the time to pursue a relevant internship whilst in your first year of University is massively worthwhile. You will be one step ahead of other prospective employees when you are released into the competitive world of work after graduation and can begin your career without any hiccups!

 

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