Exceptional i-Site service recognised

Helen Scoles.
Helen Scoles.
What colour are the keys on the inside of a grand piano?

''I'm travelling around New Zealand with my rabbit, do you know where I can pick some green grass to feed it?''

Do you know Bob's phone number, can I book the train from Queenstown to Christchurch, and where do I get my American phone fixed?

Cromwell i-Site manager Helen Scoles may have just received an award for 20-plus years of service to the visitor information network, but there are some questions she just cannot answer.

But in her job, people expect her to know everything.

''Information' seems to stretch to the answer to any question that anyone does not know the answer to,'' Mrs Scoles said.

After working at the Cromwell i-Site since 1991, Mrs Scoles received the recognition of her service at the annual i-Site Conference Awards function, held at Larnach Castle in Dunedin recently, in front of about 150 people.

''I'm not sure who nominated me for the award but since I have been here since 1991, I'm not sure if it's a recognition of services or hint to retire,'' Mrs Scoles joked.

''I won't be here for another 20 years, rest assured of that.''

Central Otago District Council visitor information centres manager Greta Mason said Mrs Scoles was a ''very deserving recipient''of the award.

''I have known Helen as her manager for seven months and during this time I have gained a great respect for her excellent sales skills.

"She is a fountain of knowledge on the region, and is well respected in the local community and throughout the i-Site New Zealand network.''

Mrs Scoles, raised in Cromwell, said good local knowledge, and New Zealand general knowledge were prerequisites for the job.

''You have to be tolerant, patient, and a sense of humour is a must,'' she said.

''It's not a boring job, because everyone wants something different.''

Employees also underwent training on nationally recognised courses.

During more than two decades in the job, Mrs Scoles had seen Cromwell change from the old town area to the new, and had noted a shift in visitor demands.

''The biggest questions were: 'Is there a public toilet?', and, 'Do you have a money machine?'. Now people expect us to know everything.''

Users of the i-Site were mainly domestic and international visitors, with the local market the smallest user group, she said.

leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz

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