People's Stories | Tony Kuepfer
Around half of the international travellers who visit New Zealand each year visit a museum or art gallery during their holiday. For those passing through the Wellington region, Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum – will be near the top of their ‘must do’ list.
With such an important role to play in hosting visitors, both from out of town and overseas, Te Papa is committed to ensuring it has a capable and customer focussed ‘front of house’ hosting team.
Tony Kuepfer, Te Papa’s in-house Workplace Training Coordinator, works closely with ATTTO to upskill the museum’s 25 tour hosts. He is also a guide himself, working two of his five days a week on the floor alongside his trainees.
Tony says the host training programme benefits Te Papa by setting expectations and maintaining high levels of customer service, and by building the knowledge of staff. But he recognises that one of the most important things he can do in his role is to help hosting staff understand they are part of a bigger tourism picture.
“Often it’s not just a matter of answering questions about what’s in the museum. If you get international people or other people who are travelling through, the other aspects of programmes like the National Certificate in Tourism (Core Skills) are invaluable.
“Core Skills helps explain a position in the tourism industry and our role in a museum as a tourism attraction, and then how important our role is and the significance of us doing a good job with visitors.”
He says having that base knowledge of how the tourism industry operates gives hosts the confidence to recommend other places to visit as they travel around New Zealand, or other things to do in Wellington.
“It’s about providing them with a well-rounded pool of knowledge.”
As well as supporting trainees working towards *ServiceIQ National Certificates, Tony also runs weekly training sessions updating the team on museum exhibitions and regular induction programmes.
“We do in-house tour training when it comes to providing tours within the museum, but it doesn’t go quite as in-depth as the National Certificate in Tour Guiding. We encourage people, especially if they are permanent staff, to do the Certificate because it gives a bit more hands on training into developing tours.
He says the training makes a noticeable difference in staff, giving them a lot more confidence.
"A qualification signifies that you’ve done the learning, you’ve made the effort and you’ve enhanced your knowledge at those levels, so it’s recognition of that.”
*1 January 2013 the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO), the Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI) and Retail Institute (RI) merged, transforming into ServiceIQ - the service-based Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the aviation, tourism, travel, retail, wholesale and hospitality industries.