Human capital: academic training for tourism guides
- In 2018, we created the Reserva Cerro Paine Training Academy with the goal of teaching tourism guides about regional history and patrimony, conservation, flora and fauna, glaciology, geology, and first aid. At the academy, many guides also became specialized in rock climbing, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Through these achievements, the commitment and the identity of our human resources was strengthened.
With the objective of improving visitors’ experiences, Reserva Cerro Paine Academy debuted in 2018 as a project that sought to strengthen the knowledge, skills, and technical capacity of tourism guides, teaching them a variety of topics, such as flora and fauna, history, geology, glaciology, and first aid. After the debut, workers and visitors were left with satisfactory and successful results.
Boris Gutiérrez, Deputy Manager of Organizational Development in Reserva Cerro Paine, highlighted the progress of the initial efforts and confirmed a year-long commitment to analyzing work done in the past and perfecting the content of the activities. The leader of the initiative emphasized the experience as “an innovation of high human valor that reinforces the identity of guides and the potency of the training.” The results of Reserva Cerro Paine’s efforts designated its human resources as an influencer for the region.
“We began by focusing on organizing and structuring the training, as well as forming a permanent academy that incorporates our service guidelines and strengthens our connection to the guides, season after season,” said Gutiérrez. Management supports this training model through updating information, procedures, and management plans, as well as promoting better standards and intervention protocols.
María José Marchant, Head of Excursion Center and experienced in tourism, lead the academy, planned a series of chats, and worked on methods to improve English language proficiency for all guides. This year, the Training Academy also established specialized objectives according to distinct areas of work.
“We are setting a milestone in the reserve’s history and evolution, and we will surely be a model for the tourism sector, forming workers that are skilled and knowledgeable about the history and biodiversity of Patagonia,” Gutiérrez concluded.
Each season, the reserve has 450 rotating workers throughout the year and a fixed staff of 100 people. The team is made up of professionals, technicians, and experts by trade.
For Alejandra Covacevich, Product and Experience Manager of Reserva Cerro Paine, the rush to train guides obliges us to improve our services, considering that visitor surveys show 90% satisfaction.
“We wanted to standardize our ascription and recognize guides that specialized in mountain biking, horseback riding, and climbing, since they add value to our services and deliver greater reliability to tourists,” he says.
Our workers’ sources of pride for the reserve are the link between the environment and the visitors’ experience. Covacevich explains that at the start of the program, guides are classified as juniors. After a year, they are proficient, and after another three years, advanced. Beyond three years, students typically receive opportunities to form valuable communities, collaborative networks, and coaching relationships between experts and beginners. “Our aim is for guides to perceive a tangible commitment to building long-term alliances and to install training benefits with a 360 degree reach, so that everyone wins,” he concludes.
The Reserva Cerro Paine Training Academy is an innovative project that undoubtedly sets a precedent in the region for highly qualified tourism guides.