2020 has been a year of reflection, learning, positive change and innovation. Going back might not be an option anymore, so let’s moving forward together in the new normal. The new normal will require everyone to rethink how they live, work and play, as well as innovative solutions that combine design, technology, business and most importantly humanity.
The Covid-19 outbreak has placed MICE industry in a critical stage due to the limitations on international business travels and group gatherings, as well as the face-to-face activities have become difficult due to COVID-19 quarantine measure. According to the Seoul Tourism Organisation, 90% of MICE events that were scheduled to take place in Seoul were canceled in the first half of 2020.
As many other global MICE destinations, Seoul went through a challenging year with few expected events even though they were hosted successfully under quarantine safety measures after the initial wave of the outbreak had passed. Just a few months later, the MICE industry faced another interruption of in-person events due to the second upsurge in infected cases. In order to stay safe, people will still try to keep distance from each other and moving towards event technologies that help remove physical obstacles between people. Hence, the rise of digital solutions has seen a transformation of many delayed events into a virtual or hybrid format, combining them with digital marketing options like social media, virtual reality (VR) and Internet of Things (IoT), in order to boost and advance the MICE industry.
South Korea has pivoted to virtual or digital or video methods of destination marketing quickly as it has the fastest average internet speeds in the world. At the same time, Seoul Tourism Organisation has announced measures from subvention funding to technology support for MICE industry to enhance its global competitive power in the “new normal” era of the pandemic.
In year 2020, Seoul Convention Bureau offered financial and technical supports to online or hybrid events and many MICE industry players have benefited from it. In particular, up to 100 million won will be offered for events that show a high potential to be developed into global events or with highly innovative ideas or concepts, which to be used towards enhancing innovation, putting together the crisis management or marketing strategies along with consultation services, disinfection operations and human resource supports.
Exclusive Virtual Seoul Platform
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seoul was the first city that extended its innovative destination marketing to offer event planners a virtual meetings platform named Virtual Seoul Platform, which portrays the actual city of Seoul with meeting-hosting platform (Virtual Seoul) or virtual promotional booth with K-cultural experience (MICE World) or a virtual team building programme (Virtual Seoul Playground).
Where It All Begin
The arrangement and preparation for the on-site roundtable had already been in places as Seoul was elected as a host city for the roundtable in March 2019. However, Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) made a pivot and decided to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At that moment, there was only about 3 months left to the UIA roundtable but the whole project had to restart from scratch once again. Hence, the three-month-long journey of developing a virtual Seoul as a host city and invite worldwide audience started with worries and excitement.
Based on the analysis of various available digital platform, STO set the standard that the virtual meeting should be easily accessed and convenient to use, as well as enable city marketing and allow networking and gamification. In this sense, Web GL (Graphic Library) was chosen to be used in the virtual platform, as it does not allow users to be presented as avatars and have real-time conversations. In fact, it shows 360-degree graphic images in the first-person point of view and users can access the platform by simply providing URL addresses as it is a web-based system. It can be accessed via mobile or tablet PC, making the platform less influenced by the internet connection or the performance of PCs. STO in charged of the overall management, fulfilling its tasks to search and select relevant developers, make plans for space and functions within the platforms, plan virtual events, promote the event in Korea and globally, produce 360 VR videos (16 videos) and communicating with hosting institutions.
With UIA Round Table Asia-Pacific 2020 being the grand opening of the Virtual Seoul Platform, it proved to the audience across the world that destination marketing is also doable on the virtual platform, raising hope of virtual MICE in the tourism and exhibition industries. In a cooperative manner, collaborative efforts by all parties involved brought successful hosting of the UIA Roundtable on the Virtual Seoul Platform.
Functionality of Virtual Seoul Platform
STO adjusted the Virtual Seoul Platform to make it available to be presented on the website for everyone to access and use it. A demo version of the Virtual Seoul, a 3D graphic source and a utilisation guide also released so that event planners who intend to have virtual events can refer to it.
The Virtual Seoul is designed to accommodate various types of MICE event in the virtual Seoul city, while showcasing the beauty of the capital of South Korea through its five representative venues of historical buildings and iconic landmarks that created in simple and realistic 3D graphics.
On the other hand, the Seoul MICE World could support your MICE event with a virtual promotional booth where participants can learn about the Seoul city and its PLUS SEOUL support programme, as well as experiencing interesting K-cultural activities of online Seoul.
The attractiveness of Seoul’s MICE industry is carefully extracted into well-made 360 degree VR videos, including Seoul’s iconic landmarks, unique venues, team building at the VR theatre that filmed in the first-person point of view to introduce them. There are five 3D venues that were carefully selected to represent the unique charms of Seoul, namely Changdeokgung Palace, Some Sevit, N Seoul Tower, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) and Seoul Botanic Park. Each of the venue can be transformed into a conference hall, workshop rooms, a promotional booth, a virtual theatre or a lounge area, as well as can be customised for different functions according to the specific needs of your event.
The online contents created with themes to represent each array of what MICE participants would have done in Seoul, as well as supported by co-marketing cities such as Gangwon and Gwangju to put their stories together, making Seoul be one of your choices in selection of MICE destination for future events. The live city tours with 360 degree VR videos and an interactive 3D platform make a difference between Virtual Seoul Platform with other online based platforms, which offer delegates a sense of place in the virtual world in addition to the ordinary networking event.
In addition, the Virtual Seoul Playground is a non-face-to-face teambuilding programme that can be used as content for gamification in the MICE industry while providing an experience similar to the actual experience by building a metaverse in the background of Seoul.
The Virtual Seoul Platform is versatile and it has endless possibilities and rooms to be improved in the coming years by adding more venues or teambuilding programmes and become a universal source for organising and hosting any MICE events.
Utilisation of the Virtual Seoul Platform
The Virtual Seoul Platform has been remodified and utilised in several local and international virtual and hybrid events such as
2020 Seoul International Travel Mart for Medical Tourism (SITMMT 2020)
Date: 6th-19th November 2020
Size: 27 countries, 140 companies, 160 Korean medical institutes
Main Contents: online business meetings, Seoul Tourism promotions, job fair and more
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, SITMMT 2020 was moved to a contact-free virtual space for safety purposes, and the scale of the event has boldly expanded, offering an excellent opportunity for domestic and foreign medical tourism companies to find diverse business opportunities and strengthen their networks.
In the virtual platform, international attendees can have business-to-business (B2B) meetings with Korean sellers over a two-week period, as well as attending the Seoul Medical Tourism Presentation and Online Medical Tourism Forum which provide new insights into the rapidly changing environment under the impact of Covid-19.
Seoul is a popular destination for health and medical tourism, welcoming tourists from more than 180 countries across the world. While the tourism industry worldwide is experiencing an unprecedented downturn due to COVID-19, Seoul’s medical Toursim sector has been showing its prominence, and regarded as one of the best medical tourism cities in the post-COVID-19 era.
Seoul-Tourism Startup Demoday
Date: 26th November 2020
Size: 12 tourism startup companies, 252 participants
Main Contents: steaming IR presentations, promotional zone, 1:1 business meeting
Seoul Tourism Cooperation Start-Up Demo Day was held as a hybrid event on the Virtual Seoul Platform by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Tourism Foundation. Seoul tourism start-ups as cooperative projects are leading the change with creative ideas and technology despite the difficulties of Covid-19.
Due to tier 2 social distancing restrictions, only start-up representatives were able to enter the Demo Day site, while judges, venture capitalists and other general visitors could access presentations, announcements and the main event online. Additionally, 1:1 investment matching consultations were held between venture investment companies and start-ups that participated in the event.
2020 Asia TEFL International Conference
Date: 27th-29th November 2020
Size: 800 participants, including 400 international participants
Main Contents: e-conference, e-poster sessions, promotional booth, lounge
The 18th AsiaTEFL International Conference’s theme is “Interweaving Theory and Practice in ELT in Asia: Creating New Prospects for the Future,” which stresses the importance of applying theory to the classroom. Setting a new norm and adopting new approaches in the context of COVID-19, the AsiaTEFL 2020 International Conference was held in a hybrid format, where the in-person event was hosted at KINTEX Convention Center, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.
Cost Estimation & Procedures
Currently, STO provides the platform with 3D graphic source at no charge, but you will need to pay for server connection, programme customisation and meeting programme connection like Zoom, MS Teams or Google Meets, which depends on the types of events and number of participants. It will take about 1 to 2 months to be adjusted based on your event’s requirement. In addition, the platform is web-based format so it could take high volume of traffic and easy to access without any downloading or programme installation, and it also works on mobile devices via Chrome, Edge and Safari.
If you interested on the Virtual Seoul Platform, please email the details of your event to firstname.lastname@example.org for more detailed information and cost estimation. Let’s plan your event on exclusive Virtual Seoul Platform!
More information available at www.miceseoul.com.