This stunning National Trust property in Wales had been doing things the same way for the past thirty-five years. It was proving quite a challenge to get the over 100 volunteers, who kept Erddig afloat, into a more storytelling frame of mind and practice. We were asked to create and deliver training to develop how the volunteers interacted and communicated with visitors, which would result in an improvement in Visitor Experience scores, especially within the ‘warm and friendly’ category.
We created two workshops, the first trained up a number of pop up storytellers who could appear anywhere across the property, gather some visitors, and tell them an impromptu, site specific (to that spot) story. The second workshop would improve how all room guides communicated with visitors, so as to become more engaging and conversational with visitors. A number of volunteers were trained up to continue delivering the training after our week-long residency came to an end, ensuring all volunteers current and future had these extra skills available to them.
The volunteers appreciated the freedom they had to create their own stories, incorporating their interests and specialist knowledge. And the visitors appreciated that this freedom was set within specific parameters: being visitor led/focussed, adapting to their interests, and sharing information within engaging conversations. Erddig staff were also pleased. Their Visitor Experience scores rose and there was a waiting list of volunteers to get on to future delivery of the course.
“The Whole Story made a daunting task simple – retraining a cohort of experienced volunteers in a way that had them chomping to try new things and let their inner storyteller loose! Josh was great at establishing the experience of a diverse audience of trainees, then channelling their enthusiasm and historical knowledge of the property into communicating in a new way. In training some volunteers to be trainers themselves, Josh showed patience, understanding and great encouragement. We had laughs, smiles, a few questions, a good dose of living outside our comfort zone and plenty of cake – all the ingredients for a successful transition from ‘Room Guide’ to ‘Storyteller’! Thank you Josh and Lily, go forth, spread The Whole Story!”
House and Collections Manager – Erddig The National Trust