. Hotels experiment with virtual site inspections with mixed results | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Hotels experiment with virtual site inspections with mixed results

M&C Asia attends a virtual site inspection in Seoul, and a hybrid inspection in Kuala Lumpur, to understand how the pandemic is changing MICE marketing.

Andaz Seoul Gangnam showcased its event spaces during a recent virtual site inspection.
Andaz Seoul Gangnam showcased its event spaces during a recent virtual site inspection. Photo Credit:Andaz Seoul Gangnam

Amid ongoing travel restrictions, hotels are getting creative when it comes to marketing themselves to the business events and incentive sector.

Andaz Seoul Gangnam, a five-star hotel which opened a year ago in the South Korean capital, recently joined hands with the Korean Tourism Organization Singapore office to host a virtual inspection tour of its premises as well as safety measures.

The virtual tour was conducted on YouTube Live, while a live text chat option was provided for interaction. Viewers were welcomed by the hotel's general manager Juan Mercadante and director of sales Kim Seung Mo, who swiftly whisked us off from outside the hotel to kick off the virtual tour.

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Live stream... participants of the Andaz Seoul Gangnam virtual site inspection were taken through the hotel in real-time.

At the lobby, we were taken through all the Covid-19 scans and checks, which seem to be standard protocols across most parts of Asia. As the hotel is part of the Hyatt group, one can pre-check-in through the Hyatt app or do it the traditional way.

An almost seamless journey awaited us as we were shown the lobby, spa, pool and gym and F&B options like Jogakbo, which interprets Korean streetside dining across five different sections that flow into adjacent spaces. We were also given a tour of the actual event spaces available, which are designed with an open pillarless concept.

The three accommodation categories at this 241-room property offer stylish modern interior adaptations of traditional concepts. The lights and fixtures in the rooms can be voice-controlled (in Korean/English). The penthouse suite was left to the last, and the stunning room also worked as an event space.

As part of the Malaysian Business Events Week 2020, Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur recently organised a hybrid event.

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Shangri-La hosted a hybrid inspection, however only in-person attendees were treated to a team-building experience.

A by-invite session saw 93 corporate sales and events and MICE professionals physical attending the tour in person, while the virtual attendee list comprised 53 hotel clients and partners as well as Shangri-La group staff across Malaysia and its global office.

The hybrid session gave participants a look at how each Shangri-La and its sister brands’ properties in Malaysia have implemented the SOPs in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Attendees were taken on an experiential journey that included a mixology challenge, learning how to organise a hybrid event, and the use of an app for a team-building exercise and beyond the boardroom programme. All this while observing all the SOPs.

The Shangri-La group team would then conduct follow-ups with videos/decks to both physical and virtual participants.

Verdict

Virtual inspections might be more time- and cost-effective for travel agents as they can have quickly tour the hotel and its offerings remotely without having to travel to the destination. It will also help clients and the media as not everyone would have the time or opportunity to do so, if it was a physical inspection.

That said, virtual inspections have their drawbacks though. For Andaz Seoul Gangnam, for instance, I was not able to get a full sense of where the hotel was sited within its locality. While the views were touted, all that virtual participants could see was the view from within the middle of the space looking through the windows. It felt a bit claustrophobic and the sense of the space, especially for the event spaces, was simply not there.

Virtual inspections can never replicate the experience of being physically present in a space, using all your senses