The ECHOCAST Project 2003–2006 (European Cultural Heritage Organisations Customer Aware Staff Training)
ECHOCAST was a three-year project financed by the European Union LEONARDO programme. Its main result is a training programme for the staff of cultural heritage institutions whose work involves direct contact with visitors. Apart from the International Cultural Centre, the other partners of the project, which was finalised in November 2006, were: • Lancaster University Department of Continuing Education (leader); • Historic Royal Palaces Agency, Hampton Court; • Historic Scotland, Edinburgh; • Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges GmbH, Wien; • Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz; • Associazione Civita, Roma; • PIN Servizi Didattici e Scientifici per l'Universita di Firenze; • The Malbork Castle Museum.

This selection of partners from both the “old” and the “new” EU, as well as representatives of museums and academic institutions on the one hand and cultural heritage experts on the other allowed for a particularly broad and multifaceted treatment of the problem of changing the philosophy behind the working of cultural heritage institutions (i.e. museums, castles, palaces, heritage sites) - which hitherto had been perceived mainly through the prism of their mission, namely safeguarding and documentation of historic substance. One of the aspects of the intended change is to create a positive image of museums. The assumption behind the project was that those largely responsible for a friendly atmosphere in museums are the so-called floor staff, i.e. guides, security staff, etc., who tend to have rare access to professional training. Importantly, there is a direct correlation between a friendly atmosphere and higher attendance as well as profit from ticket sales. This economic aspect additionally highlights the paradoxically low professional position of this group of employees, which manifests itself in lack of prestige and low wages.

The idea and the initiative for the undertaking came from Annelies Haider of the Schönbrunn Palace Museum, who had previously realised comprehensive training for the staff in direct contact with customers. She drew attention to the need for devising a European standard in this field, which, while taking into account cultural differences and traditions of individual countries, would still ensure consistent quantity and quality of training.
The goals of the project were: enhancing the professional qualifications of heritage institutions’ personnel, increasing the quality of and accessability to training, devising training modules that would meet European standards, and, finally, exchanging experiences in the area of professional training in cultural heritage institutions in Europe.

The over three-year-long cooperation and analysis of the needs for training among the floor staff of heritage institutions led to the accomplishment of the following results: job descriptions and definitions of required competences in the international context,  training framework, training materials, initiated international accreditation process for  ECHOCAST programmes, a publication with case studies, a website and an evaluation report.

However, the most important achievement of the project consists in the following, selected training modules:
  1. Safety, first aid and fire safety;
  2. Introduction to customer service;
  3. Various needs of visitors;
  4. Excellent customer service;
  5. Solving difficult situations;
  6. Competent guiding 1, 2 and 3.
Each module comprises a conspectus for the training instructor (describing every minute of the training), a handbook for trainees, a set of slides and boards, as well as exercise materials. The effectiveness of these materials had been tested during pilot training sessions in the institutions participating in the project. Special thanks are here due to Marek Stokowski from the Malbork Castle Museum for his preparation and implementation of the Polish version of the training modules.

If you are interested in reciveing project's guidebooks, please fill in the declaration and send it to the ICC.

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