Curating a custom concierge experience for voco Hotel

On February 2​​​​​​​, just one day after the official opening of Rosebank’s new voco Hotel The Bank, our Johannesburg In Your Pocket team designed and led our first custom concierge experience and workshop of 2022.

The aim of this interactive walk and workshop experience is to help hotel teams get better acquainted with the many attractions within their immediate neighbourhood, and to enjoy some fun team-building too. With Covid having disrupted the hospitality industry, and workplaces everywhere, our challenge was to bring together the new voco team in a way that would make them feel welcome in a new neighbourhood, and give each person an opportunity to get to know their colleagues outside of meetings and tasks.

We launched these custom experiences in 2019 with the aim to tackle what we believe is often an obstacle to tourism growth in Joburg – lack of knowledge about the destination. The only way to change a visitor’s experience is to make the frontline of tourism representatives – feel welcome in, and a part of, the neighbourhoods in which they work. “We want their contact to shift visitor perception – to make people recommend Joburg as a destination, return or extend their stay,” says In Your Pocket’s Laurice Taitz-Buntman.

Making this first concierge experience of 2022 particularly exciting was the opportunity to work with a brand new team of staff from a brand new venue.

voco Hotel The Bank is the first hotel from IHG’s boutique voco brand to launch in South Africa. The signature approach of the brand is to be “charming, unstuffy and playful”. With this in mind we designed an informal and interactive experience that encompassed Rosebank’s most vibrant attractions, from art to food and shopping.

Franck Leya from Honest Travel Experience leads the voco team on an e-scooter test drive

On foot through Rosebank

Starting the morning with a bit of an extra adrenaline kick we invited Franck Leya of Honest Travel Experience to surprise the group with a test drive of the brand new e-scooters that his company has now made available to rent from the new Honest Travel Experience store in The Zone@Rosebank.

Leya launched the Rosebank Honest Travel Experience Store in January 2022 (just around the corner from voco Hotel The Bank you can find it in The Zone next to Clicks), and in addition to e-scooter rental, the store is also a hub for promoting city tours to visiting tourists. He was on hand to introduce the team to the e-scooters and to share insights into local travel experiences, such as city walking tours.

From here we kicked off our exploration of the neighbourhood on foot. Rosebank is one of Joburg’s most walkable districts and we believe it is vital that hotel teams staff have a good understanding of the spaces in which their guests will travel.

We pointed out key retail attractions, and the neighbourhood’s tourism offerings before making our way to Keyes Art Mile in lower Rosebank.

Just a 10 minute walk from the shopping malls, Keyes Art Mile is the heart of Rosebank’s gallery district, that extends into Parkwood. Despite its close distance we have found that walking between these two areas is something that visitors are often not encouraged to do, and we were determined to show the team how easily accessible the Keyes Art Mile attractions are for their guests.

Fine art and dining at Keyes Art Mile

The first stop at Keyes Art Mile was Everard Read Gallery and its sister gallery Circa. Joburg’s oldest art gallery and one of its most beautiful art spaces, combining a heritage home with a modern extension to create a space of tranquility on a busy street, the gallery represents many of South Africa’s most established artists.

The voco team explore the latest exhibitions at Everard Read Gallery

From here we then made a beeline for star chef David Higgs’ celebrated rooftop restaurant Marble. Many staff noted that they had often been asked in their jobs at previous hotels to secure tables for guests at this famous restaurant. Most remarked that despite this they had never been inside the venue themselves. Helping the team to gain deeper insights into the offerings, we were fortunate to have David Higgs himself on hand to share what Marble has to offer, and to introduce the new Pantry by Marble scheduled to open soon on the ground floor.

Chef David Higgs talks to the voco team about his acclaimed restaurant Marble

Introducing the OxfordParks Precinct

From Keyes Art Mile, we set off on foot again to visit Rosebank’s newest addition, the Oxford Parks Precinct at the corner of Jellicoe Avenue and Oxford Road. Home to the headquarters of several major corporations such as BP, Sony and Life Healthcare, the precinct is also the location of The Shortmarket Club, by the award-winning Cape Town chef Luke Dale Roberts.

We took the voco team to enjoy a taster of Luke Dale Roberts’ The Shortmarket Club

We were privileged to experience the generosity of The Shortmarket team who provided delicious tastes of the restaurant’s appetisers (paired with a celebratory glass of MCC). There was also an opportunity to meet and greet the restaurant team (including Luke Dale Roberts himself) and gain some assurances on how to secure the coveted tables at this restaurant for their guests.

Some of the incredible dishes enjoyed by the team courtesy of The Shortmarket Club

Back on the street we looped back to The Firs for a walkabout of one of Rosebank’s oldest and most highly regarded steakhouses The Grillhouse. The tour included the opportunity to scout out the restaurant’s many exclusive private dining and VIP areas and to get some insights into what’s behind the bar at the popular adjoining jazz club Katzy’s.

Back in the classroom

voco Hotel concierges share their feelings about the artworks viewed during the walk which they felt spoke to them most personally

After a quick breather, we sat down for a feedback session and workshop. This was an opportunity for staff to talk through their thoughts on the neighbourhood, the places they would like to recommend and indeed those places they would like to return to themselves. After the trauma that has faced the hotel industry during the past two years, the workshop was also an opportunity to again rekindle the feelings of joy and excitement about returning to the practice of hospitality.

Tourists are now at last returning to South Africa and we couldn’t be more excited. Armed with boundless enthusiasm and a new deeper connection to the Rosebank neighbourhood, plus our custom neighbourhood information packs designed specifically for voco The Bank, we’re excited to see the voco team ready tackle the tourism boom ahead.

What the hotel staff said – some feedback from the day

“My favourite thing about the experience was being able to see all of the hidden gems that are within Rosebank, and being able to communicate this back to my team and guests.”

“My view of Rosebank has changed completely. Before I thought Rosebank was just a fairly dodgy place, but having been able to experience the tour today was mind blowing and very informative”.

“The organisers and guides are absolutely amazing people, who are very informative and very funny, kind and sweet people. I would definitely do this again :)”

“Now I know Rosebank and can easily share information to colleagues and guests. Thank you so much for such an amazing experience!”

“My view of Rosebank has really changed. I wasn’t really sure if there were so many attractions before”

“The experience was phenomenal, went beyond expectations”

Want to run a custom experience for your team?

Our concierge experiences and workshops are bespoke experiences that can be customised to suit different neighbourhoods. To enquire about arranging an experience for your team contact

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