#TeamHable Customer Stories: Parliament’s Virtual Tours on Microsoft Teams

During lockdown, Hable were working with the Houses of Parliament as they rolled out Microsoft Teams. This partnership was a continuation of previous work we had done, helping them to roll out Office 365 email, SharePoint and more. We held a myriad of sessions tailored to the diverse group of people employed by Parliament, from select committees to Lords!

A unique aspect of this Teams rollout was our work with one particular group of people, the tour guides responsible for visitor services at Parliament. This is a group of people who are usually giving face-to-face tours around the Palace of Westminster, imparting their knowledge about this iconic building – a role normally far removed from technology.

Due to the lockdown, people were not allowed into the palace physically, so Parliament decided to offer an online version of their tour. This actually span a negative into a positive – rather than nobody being able to visit the palace due to lockdown, they now had access to a global audience.

The palace did already offer a version of this online, a click-through tour which you can find here. This tour offers lots of information and gives access to areas that you might not see on the face-to-face tour. However, with this, you loose the personality and energy of the tour guides – and of course the opportunity for interaction! Hable were able to help the tour guides continue delivering this experience as much as possible via Teams Live Events, getting them comfortable enough using the technology so they can focus on providing a fantastic, interactive experience. Initially, this was just a replacement for the people who would physically be going there. But what they realised after we started this, was that this could actually expand their audience a huge amount.

Hable ran two different kinds of sessions for this part of the project – one for the Teams Live producers, those doing the backstage management of the tours, and the other for the tour guides, whose job it is to tell stories as they virtually guide people through the click-through tour.

In this instance, the training was done by our Founder Mark Reynolds and our Head of Content & Change, Nicki Harman.

“It’s a little inception, getting people into a live event to teach them live events. So it takes a lot of planning to deliver training through a combination of teams meetings and live events themselves. However, myself and Nicki worked really well as a Team and we got some brilliant feedback.”

– Mark Reynolds, Founder @ Hable

One of Parliament’s brilliant tour guides, next to the live event Q&A. You can still ask your tour guide questions throughout the tour, and even virtually visit the gift shop at the end!

It is not the modus operandi of a tour guide to be comfortable using tech – this just isn’t what they’ve been hired for. Tour guides are hired to talk to people face-to-face and share their knowledge and passion in an amazing historical building. The tour guides really threw themselves into the training however, and although there were some nerves around the transition at first, they are now delivering multiple tours a week, bringing their energy and enthusiasm to a worldwide audience. When Parliament launched this initiative, they had over 2,000 people signing up for the first tour – which is why they chose Teams Live over Teams meetings, the former of which has a maximum capacity of 10,000 people.

Sign up for a free guided tour of Parliament here. We took one ourselves to see the end results, and here are some of our highlights!

Shown here is the Churchill arch, which separates the Members Lobby from the Chamber itself. Churchill ordered for the arch to be re-built from the same stones which were damaged during the bombing of London in World War Two. By the arch are two statues, to the right is David Lloyd George and to the left is Winston Churchill, the two Prime Ministers who led Britain through the first and second world wars. This archway serves as a stark reminder of the hard times the country has gone through and the strength of the leadership required to take the country through these times.

The House of Lord’s Chamber, designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, is where the three elements of Parliament come together – the sovereign, the Lords and the Commons. At the State Opening of Parliament each year, it is tradition that the Sovereign makes a speech addressing both Houses. 

The highly decorative Prince’s Chamber, which was also design by Augustus Welby Pugin. The Chamber is home to 28 portraits of members of the Tudor Royal family – in this corner here you can see King Henry VIII and his wives!

It has been a pleasure working with Houses of Parliament, helping them transition to Microsoft 365 and keep doing their important work during these challenging times – and of course, helping them to showcase the incredible history of the Palace to a global audience through Microsoft Teams!

Do check it out if you have the chance – sign up here.

Get in touch with our government sector lead Nathan Rhodes to discuss how #TeamHable can help your government organisation make the most of Microsoft Technology.


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