Visitor Ambassadors in front of the Royal Crescent in Bath

Hello Great West Way Ambassadors! Please introduce yourself: 
There are two of us – Emily and Christine – and we are the Welcome Ambassador Volunteer Coordinators for Bath. We manage a team of Welcome Ambassador volunteers.

Emily has lived in Bath all her life and Christine has worked here for over 30 years.  We both love the city and really enjoy helping visitors get the best from their time here. Emily likes shopping and enjoying the beautiful parks in the city with her son and dogs, while Christine loves to cycle, hike, eat, drink and soak up the amazing festivals in Bath!

Tell us a little more about what you do on the Great West Way:
Our team is the friendly face of Bath, here to provide all visitors with a warm and informed welcome to the city. Dressed in our bright blue tops, emblazoned with ‘Welcome to Bath’ and ‘Ask me!’ the team is on hand around the city from Thursday to Sunday each week. 

What do you love most about your job? 
Christine:  For me it’s all about the people I meet: visitors, local business people, residents and our wonderful volunteers. I’ve learnt so much from them all and really enjoy chatting to and helping them.

Emily: I love helping people! I go home every day feeling like I’ve really made a real difference to someone’s day.

How did you get started? Has it been a long journey, getting to where you are today? 
The project was started by the Bath Business Improvement District (BID) last year and we got involved when we were the successful applicants for the Volunteer Coordinator roles in November. We initially started with a small team of 5 volunteers and we hit the streets at the start of the Christmas Markets in Bath. We now have 12 volunteers; visitors and locals alike now recognise our distinctive uniform and what we do.

What achievements are you most proud of?
We are very proud of how much our volunteers are enjoying being Welcome Ambassadors. They are all so enthusiastic about the city and the difference they can have on a visitors experience here. 
We’ve also had some lovely compliments from people we’ve helped and from local residents:
•    “What a welcome; maps straight from the train station! Well done Bath!”
•    “Thank you so much for your cocktail bar recommendations last night, we had an amazing evening!”
•    “I’m in town often, and see you guys. I just wanted to say what a fab job you’re all doing.”
An unexpected bonus is that we are extra eyes and ears on the streets and are able to give feedback to help keep the city clean and safe.

Visitors exploring Bath

What’s a typical day like for you?
We meet at the office, put on our uniform and check our events calendar to remind ourselves of what’s happening in the city today – is there a home rugby game? Or perhaps there’s a festival or the carnival? Or university graduations? Then rain or shine (or snow!) we head out – we’ve found we can be most useful outside the train station in the morning as visitors arrive, then gradually wandering around the centre of town in the afternoons. We spend the day answering questions, handing out maps and generally helping people. 

We also want to keep our team of volunteers happy and informed, so spend some time each week working out rotas, updating our events calendar and organising training sessions for our volunteers. There are always things happening in the city, like the Comedy Festival or Jane Austen Festival, so we like to be briefed to share the key information with the visiting public.

Do you work with a wider team? If so, tell us a bit about them: 
We work for The Bath Business Improvement District, which is an independent, not-for-profit company working to enable the businesses in Bath to succeed. The BID was tasked by its members, the city centre businesses, to provide a professional meet and greet service for all city users, giving a lasting impression of friendliness and vibrancy, and so the Welcome Ambassadors were born!

Our team of Welcome Ambassadors is a team of 12 volunteers (but we would love more!). We have a diverse mix of people who all share our love of Bath and who want to help visitors. Between them they give us over 150 hours a month to help us welcome people to Bath. They have a wealth of knowledge, from the shops and restaurants to the tourist attractions and the history of Bath. Most importantly, our team is the friendliest team around!

What do you find inspiring day-to-day? What keeps the enthusiasm going?
We both love how grateful people are when we help them. It gives us a great sense of satisfaction to help visitors make the most of their time in Bath and to make them feel welcome.  We also love how enthusiastic our volunteers are! They are an amazing team and we are very lucky to have them.

Any interesting or funny anecdotes related to your role or your experiences with visitors that you can share?
A couple from Mexico arrived in Bath, asking us to help them find their AirBnB but they had no address, no contact number and no working phone! Helping them find where they were staying was probably the hardest encounter we’ve had – we managed it though, and they were so grateful for the time we took assisting them.

We never know what we can expect to be asked; aside from helping visitors have a lovely stay here, we’ve dealt with lost property and lost children. Our role is really varied and interesting. 

What does slow travel mean to you? 
It’s all about having enough time to really explore and to soak up the atmosphere in the places you visit. It’s also about sampling the best of what’s on offer in each destination – food and drink, tourist attractions, retail therapy, accommodation and relaxation.
Pointing a visitor in the right directionWhat do you think makes the Great West Way special?
The idea of self-guided travel is fab, and the way you can personal your Great West Way adventure depending on your interests, be it shopping, history or food, is so appealing. The website is full of so much information, and is such a great tool for people looking to explore the route. 

Do you have any insider tips or advice for travellers who want to experience the touring route ‘like a local’? 
Take slow travel seriously and make sure you have enough time in each destination to do it justice! Also do some research before you arrive to make the most of your time and finally seek out experts to get the best experience – for example in Bath there are the Mayor’s Guides who offer free walking tours of the city.

What’s your favourite thing to eat or drink along the touring route? 
Bath is famous for the Sally Lunn Bun, the Bath Bun, and the Bath Oliver Biscuit so we often recommend visitors try those. We’re lucky that we have so many great eateries that serve local produce so really are spoilt for choice. 

Are you a city, town or country person? 
Christine: I was born and spent my childhood in Windsor and I’ve worked most of my adult life in Bath. I’ve also lived out in the Chew Valley for over 30 years. So I guess you could say I’m a bit of each! I love the buzz of town and small city life and I always look forward to retreating to the countryside for rest and relaxation.

Emily: One of the reasons I love Bath is because you have the best of both worlds. I live in Larkhall, where I’m within walking distance to the city and all it has to offer, but also a 2 minute walk to beautiful countryside. 

Pick a place along the Great West Way that best represents you and what you do, with a short explanation: 
We’re all about Bath and its surrounding areas. Having both lived here for over 30 years we love both the city and the amazing countryside on our doorstep. It’s great to share this with visitors.  We love the wonderful architecture in Bath and the vibrancy in the city with buskers and street entertainers. The city is full of wonderful shops, cafes and restaurants too, from the big chains to local independents. And finally there are quiet spots – parks, the riverside, canal and walks so there’s something for everyone.

If you could choose one must-visit attraction along the Great West Way, what would it be and why?
The most popular question we are asked by visitors is “Where are the Roman Baths?”. The Roman Baths are the one thing everyone who visits Bath should see while here. The city’s unique thermal springs rise in the site and the Baths still flow with natural hot water.

The Thermae Spa is really popular too. Visitors can swim here, in two baths which are fed by the same warm, minerally-rich waters.
Helping out visitors in Bath

What do you think will surprise first-time visitors about the Great West Way? Any secret, lesser-visited spots you’d like to recommend?
The Great West Way has a huge variety of things to see and do along its whole length. There are amazing cities, including London, Bath and Bristol, together with historic towns such as Windsor, Hungerford and Marlborough. There are also historic sites out in the countryside such as Avebury and Stonehenge and finally the wonderful countryside itself – riverside walks, canals and locks, beautiful hills including the Mendips and the Chilterns and long distance paths such as the Ridgeway.

For visitors to Bath who want to see some of the lesser-visited spots, we’d recommend both Alexandra Park and the Bath Skyline Walk for spectacular views of the city. If it’s museums you’re after, we’d recommend the Herschel Museum – as astronomy museum in the house where William Herschel, using a telescope of his own design, discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. Also, the American Museum, which is the only museum of Americana outside of the United States. We also advise everyone to explore the little side streets of the city, where you can find cafes and shops away from the main drag. 

What’s your preferred mode of transport: train, car, bus or boat? Why?
Christine: I love boats – it’s a lovely slow way to travel and see the classic sights from a different angle – whether it’s a trip to Greenwich in London or from Bath to Bathampton.

Emily: Train for me. I have an 8 year old son who still gets super excited about travelling via train and the adventures that wait at the other end. 

Any exciting plans for the future you’d like to share?
We are actively recruiting more volunteers for our team of Welcome Ambassadors, and are hoping that by the Bath Christmas Market we are able to extend the amount of days we can cover helping visitors to the city.
 

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