Ambassador course instils local knowledge

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A new ‘Queenstown Ambas-sador’ programme to help local people improve visitor experiences of the resort is being launched. 

The programme, run by Queenstown Resort College, consists of a three-hour course covering basic knowledge about the Wakatipu, including history, geography and essential information. 

Those who do the course, which includes a fun quiz, receive a black diamond badge branding them as a Queenstown ‘ambassador’. 

The programme was devised by an advocacy group comprising about 20 local businesses and representatives from Destination Queenstown, the council and Chamber of Commerce. 

“The visitor experience is already fantastic but we’ve got an opportunity to make it world-class and complement the location,” QRC boss Charlie Phillips explains. 

“It’s about recognising the things that cost you nothing – knowing that Walter Peak is a mountain, not a bloke, that it’s a 45-minute drive to Glenorchy, not an hour-and-a-half. 

“If you’ve got consistent stories and good consistent information, then the overall customer experience is better. 

“It’s about ensuring the Queenstowner, no matter who it is, knows where the post office and the public toilets are, and just knows the basic facts of how to contribute to somebody’s holi-day,” he says. 

Phillips says the other part of the course is understanding customer expectations. 

“Last winter, for example, when the snow was average, a person would come off a plane and he’d come in contact with two or three people and there were some bad messages. 

“But the reality is it could have been their first experience in the snow – they don’t need knee-deep powder, they just want to be in the snow and rolling around in it or having a coffee up there.” 

QRC’s Fiona Boyer, who delivers the programme, says it will give people confidence to help visitors out. 

Those who attended this month’s soft launch at a Chamber of Commerce function “came up and said, ‘this is like the glue for the town’”, Boyer says. 

Companies like skifield operator NZSki, Wilkinsons Pharmacy and local banks have already committed to 
putting all their staff through the course. 

“People have said it would be a great recruitment tool – if you have gone through the ambassador programme, it might give you a little bit of a look-in ahead of someone else.” 

Following a pilot course, the programme – at $30 a head – will be on every Monday morning at QRC. 

It will also be taken off-site if employers request it. 

Queenstown Airport is also keen to be involved in an ‘ambassador of the month’ initiative, Boyer says. 

Before flying out, visitors could nominate an ambassador who’d made a difference to their holiday and providing exceptional service.