Icherisheher and Regensburg: Training on Visitor Engagement and Storytelling

Visitor Engagement and Storytelling Training
12-13 February 2020
Baku, Azerbaijan

On 12-13 of February, the Administration of Icherisheher (Walled City of Baku) hosted a two-day training on Visitor Engagement and Storytelling, organized within the OWHC Grants program. The goal of the training was to improve the capacities of the museum and tourism services staff of Icherisheher regarding visitor engagement and storytelling. The training was provided by Mr. Matthias Ripp, OWHC Regional Coordinator for Northwest Europe and North America, whose expertise in this area, thanks to the World Heritage Visitor Center established and opened in 2011 in Regensburg (Germany), was greatly welcomed.

The training was designed to increase skills of the Icherisheher staff on the following three areas:

  1. Creative tourist routes to better communicate the value of Icherisheher to visitors
  2. Visitor monitoring
  3. Applying creative methods to promote less-visited attractions in addition to the key landmarks of the city

The training was attended by around 20 employees from Icherisheher visitor centre, museums, back-office staff and guides with different disciplinary backgrounds. With active and interactive learning methods, the training participants worked in subgroups to identify the sites, the existing gaps in the knowledge of the visitors (qualitative and quantitative) and the ways to address these gaps.

The group acquired knowledge on creative tourist routes and how the narratives and stories of the Icherisheher World Heritage Site and the related products can be included and connected to these tourist routes. The trainer gave a presentation focusing on the following key elements:

  • Heritage Interpretation
  • Business Canvas Modelling

At the end of the presentation, the participants were divided into groups and were given tasks related to the topic, in order to identify a set of key narratives including the less-visited attractions. There were several facilitation techniques used by the trainer, which included question and answer, brainstorming, group discussions, case study discussions and practical implementation by the trainees of some of the topics on flip charts and paper sheets. In response to the presentation, the participants engaged in group work, discussing the questions:

  • What key resources does their value proposition require?
  • What resources are important the most in distribution channels, customer relationships, revenue stream?

They managed to develop 4 different narratives for Icherisheher and on the last day, they developed 4 related touristic products with the Business Canvas Model. At the end of the training the city had:

  • Four different narratives including a theme and a short text (60 words) to describe the narratives
  • Visualizations of the narratives
  • Four touristic products related to the narratives
  • Four identified persons among the participants that feel ready to further develop and implement the products.

The training program was conducted successfully and all the participants took active part in the two-days training. Their feedback was very positive and the participants especially enjoyed the way the collaboration was organized and that they have learned about the basics of Heritage Interpretation – to differ between topic and theme and the relevance of Universals. Certificates of completion were distributed among the participants at the end of training.

The organizers even identified a further need for:

  • Training personal skills in communication to transport the narratives to the visitors
  • Learn on case studies and translate them into feasible local products

Maybe we’ll learn more about it in a future training…

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