Visitor & Friends Experience Host Apprenticeship

Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
Annual wage: £17,065
24 Oct 2018
24 Nov 2018
Royal Academy of Arts
Start Date
12-18 months

About the employer

The RA was founded in 1768 by a group of 40 artists and architects who became the first Royal Academicians. The Royal Academy of Arts is one of the UK’s foremost arts institutions and our vision is to be a clear, strong voice for art and artists. It is a particularly exciting time in our history. 

Our Visitor and Friends Experience Team provides the vital front door for the RA. We are a passionate, respected and committed team, who are dedicated to providing a world-class experience for our visitors, which include nearly 100,000 members (or ‘Friends’).  The RA receives no public funding, so providing brilliant customer experience to loyal and new audiences is particularly important for us.  We host London’s most popular art exhibitions, a huge range of top-class events, courses and lectures and an award-winning access programme - so your work will be varied, fast-paced and exciting. Our VFE Team work hard and brilliantly, and we have a culture of support, fun and respect for one another.

Job summary

This apprenticeship offers invaluable experience of working in an art gallery and learning about customer services within the cultural sector.  In a supportive environment, the trainees will learn about the planning, delivery and continuous improvement of the Friends and visitor experience. The Apprentices will have the opportunity to gain skills in a wide range of areas:

  • On the job training to deliver an excellent visitor experience
  • Developing analytical skills to review our operation and seek ways to improve it (we will work with each Apprentice to select a project where suggested improvements can be tested)
  • Learning our ticketing software Tessitura including managing ticket allocations and reporting. Tessitura is widely used across the heritage, arts and theatre industries
  • Meeting with team members across the organisation to understand how every element of the business connects together to create not only a great experience but one that is also safe and sustainable
  • To gain experience in managing crowds, in making dynamic risk assessments and understanding how visitor experience connects with both Security and H&S
  • Building knowledge of how the experience on site unites with the digital experience both before and after a visit
  •  Understanding the importance of generating income within the team and how an excellent visitor experience can contribute to upselling and cross-selling

Key Responsibilities:

The Visitor Experience Host will rotate through a variety of front of house roles including working on the ticket desk, welcoming visitors in the entrance hall, checking tickets at the entrance to the exhibition, and working on cloakroom and the switchboard. This post is fully flexible; including weekends, bank holidays and public holidays. Duties include:

  • Provide a friendly, helpful and knowledgeable first point of contact both in person and over the phone, responding to a wide variety of queries and requests
  • Sell tickets – whether face to face or over the phone - for exhibitions and other events/activities taking cash and card payments, upselling where appropriate including Gift Aid and donations
  • Deal proactively with any issues that may arise during the course of your duties, escalating issues when appropriate
  • Answering general queries and redirecting calls received on the Royal Academy’s main switchboard in a warm and helpful manner
  • Ability to communicate enthusiastically with visitors about the RA, its artists, collections and exhibitions
  • Welcome visitors to the exhibition, providing information as necessary, and check tickets and scan membership cards
  • Encourage interest in joining the Friends’ membership programme, highlighting benefits and offers. Selling membership packages
  • Ensure safety of visitors and other staff in accordance with policies and procedures
  • Adopt a flexible attitude to undertaking any other duty that may reasonably be allocated by the duty manager

Working week


  • 5 days a week on a rota Monday-Sunday (1 hour lunch). Total hours per week: 37.50


Desired Skills

  • A clear and confident communicator with good numerical ability
  • Demonstrate a clear interest working with people; experience could include volunteering, caring responsibilities within the home or paid employment. We are looking for candidates who are warm, empathetic and kind
  • Effective time management and multi-tasking
  • Building successful relationships and leading by example; being an ambassador for our visitors
  • A passionate and enthusiastic attitude, combined with a pragmatic and proactive outlook
  • Use of standard MS office software packages e.g. Word, Excel and a willingness to learn ticketing software
  • Polished and presentable
  • You will have first-class customer-facing skills, and the ability to deal with a wide range of people. You will be friendly, helpful, patient, quick-thinking and provide a warm welcome, proactive assistance and clear information to all those visiting or working at the Academy
  • You will work collaboratively alongside other colleagues and volunteers, assisting and supporting them as required

Personal Qualities

  • Organised
  • Confident
  • Able to deal with people- queue management etc
  • Team player
  • Willing to work hard

Desired Qualifications

  • If you do not have Maths and English GCSE grades A*-C (or equivalent) we will support you to achieve Functional Skills in those subjects. 

Future Prospects

  • Potential permanent role available at the end of the Apprenticeship providing the successful candidate continues to impress throughout the Course

Training to be provided

  • Level 3 qualification in Customer Service
  • Functional skills in maths and English (if needed)

Apprenticeship Standard

  • Customer Service Specialist