A chat with Janis Priede, Director of Sales Radisson Blu Latvija Conference & Spa Hotel
Janis, how is the present situation for the largest conference hotel in Riga with 600 rooms and conference space for up to 3000 people?
Well, as we are in state of emergency again since November 9th, our spa and restaurants are closed but the hotel remains open. It presently runs at very low occupancy, as you can imagine. We try to get over the pandemic as good as possible.
The Radisson group has adapted to the needs for virtual and digital events and offers long time ago – much before the pandemic set in. We have the infrastructure, the teams and the expertise for any kind of virtual events in the hotel and we work with local partners on top, to be able to provide the best possible range of services. Before the pandemic it only was a small amount of virtual events requested by clients, by now it has become the majority of requests.
Radisson Hotels can provide events across all Baltic states, in phygital formate, meaning mixing crowds in real life and virtual. For example, we had request for an event for a Pharmaceutical company recently, with 50 attendees from Latvia, 30 from Lithuania and 20 from Estonia attending, with the Radisson Hotels across the Baltics working together. I believe we will face more and more these types of the events and our ability to offer facilities in multiple countries will support us and will make competitive in eyes of client.
For the pandemic the hotel group has adapted very consequently – we offer a range of amended products, for example:
- Hybrid Rooms, equipped to serve as office for online meetings – these can be used by individuals but also for speakers. The Hybrid rooms are completely isolated, no attendees or even the technical teams working from other spaces in the hotels.
- Selected spaces can be turned into on-spot Studios, for on-site productions.
- RB hotels as a group have partnered with Zoom to offer a unified approach in platform service across all properties, but we can provide and service any other platform the clients want to use – youtube, skype etc,
- The technical teams are not limited to our own versions and systems.
Will you adapt also the new platform based on mitto.me. which was developed for launch at the 5G Techritory Forum in Riga recently?
No, it is not planned offering the new platform as our own service in the hotels at this point. However, as Radisson Blu Conference Hotel in Riga, we work closely also with 3K Management, one of the development partners in the project, so the platform can for sure be commissioned through their services. For international markets we join teams and services in collaborating among our service stakeholders and are open for all collaborations.
What is your general view on the development of digital and virtual elements of meetings?
Hotels can sometimes be slow in implementing new technologies, but now obviously everyone needs to catch up quickly – and this refers to a range of services and provisions for e. g. stage, screen, cameras etc. – the virtual platform is only one element in the overall production of events.
Safety protocols – here the Radisson Blu Hotels have adapted very consequently to implementing such procedures. Can you tell more about this?
Yes, we have earned a certification with SGS safety protocols, a leading brand in the market. They do not only provide certification but also do physical checks if everything is correctly handled in the hotels. They even take samples from touch points and in the rooms. To get the certificate the hotel has to accept the physical tests – only then the “stamp” is given.
The safety protocols are no rocket science, but it is a very considerate and well thought 20-step protocol for hotel guests and 10 step safety protocol for meetings & events. It is very concise in what measures are to be taken and is appreciated widely because it is serious. It creates trust and confidence, that is what we need now to encourage travelers and event organizers not to stop with their plans.
RB conference hotel as a property has passed the SGS audit in August 20 so it was newly taken up because of the pandemic, but all hotels take this audit, it is across the brand.
Hotels are in the process of building their brand as a leading destination for hybrid and virtual service in flexible combinations with real life events. We are all preparing for the future. Innovation is claimed to be part of the meetings industry core values, so everyone needs to adapt now.
This article is part of the MEETRiGA story-telling month about Riga – capital of #phygitalevents in November 2020