Airport ambassadors boost Bay
The first 33-strong team of Hawke’s Bay Airport ambassadors are all smiles in their new volunteer roles welcoming international and domestic passengers to the region.
The Airport received an overwhelming response since putting the call out for locals to fill volunteer ambassador roles — all you needed was a welcoming smile and a passion for everything Hawke’s Bay.
Made up of mainly retirees, the ambassadors come from all walks of life and live across Hawke’s Bay. Those who have jobs are giving their time around their work commitments and over the weekends.
The Airport’s customer service assistant Sara Cartwright said they’re an absolutely awesome team with a very positive outlook and who are all thrilled with the opportunity to promote the region and interact with people.
“It’s been a pleasure taking them through the induction and orientation programme.
“It’s also great to see the relationships develop within the group, and how happy they are to just be here and help make a positive difference.
“They’re really enjoying themselves and giving their all, which is great as the summer tourist season is in full swing.”
For “people person” Paki Hutley, who moved to Napier with husband Clive 12 years ago, becoming an airport ambassador has fulfilled a lifelong dream.
“I’ve ticked it off my bucket list.
“When I lived in Auckland I wanted to be one, so soon as I saw the story in Hawke’s Bay Today I was so excited and applied straight away,” she said.
Mrs Hutley, who works on nightshift at Hohepa Homes, says being an ambassador fits perfectly into her lifestyle and she’s having lots of fun meeting people and other volunteers.
“I like keeping busy and there’s so much activity at the airport.
“You’ll never know who you’ll meet,” she said.
“The other day my old hairdresser from Auckland came through the doors and recognised me straight away.
“It was great to say hi and welcome her to our region.”
Along with getting a special ambassador uniform, the ambassadors are provided with free parking and petrol vouchers to help cover travel costs.
Ms Cartwright said the airport is extremely grateful for their volunteer help and is greatly appreciative of their feedback and ideas.
“Throughout the year as the terminal expansion work progresses we will be hosting quarterly catch up briefings. This means that everyone can get together and we’ll be able to hear their suggestions, which will help us continually improve in our role as the gateway to Hawke’s Bay.”
Airport chief executive Stuart Ainslie said the airport is getting busier by the day, with over 700,000 passengers flying in and out of the airport annually, and forecasted passenger numbers are likely to reach 1 million by 2025.
With the increase in domestic and international visitors the airport wanted to introduce a team of voluntary airport ambassadors, an initiative that is hugely successful in airports around the world.
“There’s nothing like getting a warm welcome by a local when you arrive somewhere new. They can provide information on everything within the airport such as baggage claim, lost property and vehicle hire locations as well as giving them some tips about what to see and do while in our stunning region,” Mr Ainslie said.
Hawke’s Bay Airport’s new ambassadors with customer service assistant Sara Cartwright, chief executive Stuart Ainslie (middle) and operations manager Gareth Mentzer.