Since 2012, passengers and visitors to Melbourne Airport have been greeted with a warm smile, and a friendly face ready to welcome them and assist with information and practical needs.
These are the friendly faces of the Customer Care Volunteer Program (CCVP), a dedicated team of volunteers who help to create a sense of welcome, as well as provide accurate and courteous information about the airport’s services and facilities.
Destination Melbourne now manages the operations of the CCVP on behalf of Melbourne Airport, working to enhance the visitor experience from the very moment people land in the World’s Most Liveable City. Our team of passionate volunteers work throughout the airport across the morning, afternoon and evening, every day of the year.
Renee Brkovic has been co-ordinating the volunteers in the program for the past year.
“We are able to give travellers a personal welcome when they arrive at the airport and we are a friendly face when they return and their plane lands after a long journey.
“We assist in lots of ways whether it be personally escorting a passenger to their departure gate or helping them scan their passports at the Smartgate. We provide up to date information about transport options to and from the airport, and help travellers with navigating their way around the airport.”
Renee Brkovic, Volunteer Co-ordinator with Volunteer, Graham Muir
The CCVP volunteers provide more than just and friendly and welcoming face. They are there to help visitors with tourism information about Melbourne’s key events and attractions, as well as assisting with way finding and the practical needs of those new to Melbourne.
The uniformed volunteers also provide a friendly and reassuring presence in times of need. If passengers have lost their luggage, need help exchanging foreign currency, or require a chaplain or medical assistance, our volunteers are only too happy to accompany them and make sure they reach the services they need.
Volunteers also help to keep the airport safe, by reporting safety and security issues and helping to manage queues and movement of passengers.
Long term volunteer Graham Muir joined the program 4 years ago, looking for a way to contribute to the community. He told us what he loves most about being part of the program.
“The opportunity to meet and help people from all over and introduce them to Melbourne and Victoria appealed to me. Knowing that the assistance I give is of benefit - whether it's to do with transport, accommodation, tourism, purchasing and using a MYKI or using the phone.”
Graham provides more than just information and directions, he also provides many anxious visitors with a sense of reassurance.
“Many are anxious that their passengers haven't appeared after 30-60 minutes. ‘Patience not panic’, is my advice. This seems to work with most people and usually draws a relieved smile or a laugh. I find that most people are appreciative of the assistance given and respond with a smile, handshake or a thank you”, he said.
Volunteers: Graham Muir, Jane Callaghan and Terry Hearne
Graham and his fellow volunteers are also local heroes to many of the people who work in businesses and services at the airport. Renee said that their services would be sorely missed, were they not there.
“Our volunteers are highly valued members of the airport community. We help airline staff streamline their check in processes when its busy. Border Force enjoy having an extra pair of hands on deck when the passengers are moving through the Smartgate processes. We also work closely with the Airport Chaplaincy to find the best outcomes for passengers that have more detailed needs.”
Helping people with these needs was what initially drew Graham in, but it was also the sense of fun and mateship that the team has. Friends of his were already volunteering and suggested he join. He enthusiastically encourages others to do the same.
“Join in - it's a fun and worthwhile experience, and in the process, you get to meet many interesting people - and that's just in the volunteer group! You’ll also be promoting your city and state. Meeting and talking with people from Victoria, interstate and overseas is exciting - and along the way you may see a celebrity or two”, he enthused.
While that may be the case, the program does have a strict leave-the-celebrities-alone policy, unless of course they ask for help. Celebrities however, are not the only diverse group of people to frequent the airport. Volunteer Co-ordinator, Renee, tells us that the volunteers themselves come from all walks of life.
“We have young students, retired seniors, busy mums, people that already have full time jobs - but love to volunteer at the airport at night and on weekends. People that have just moved to Australia and would like to practice their language skills and meet new people, aviation enthusiast and those that just love the busy, bustling airport vibe.”
A group of volunteers assembling for their shift
The airport vibe and making a difference in such a dynamic and changing environment have been one of the strong draw cards of the program, says Renee.
“The airport environment has a real buzz to it and it's always changing which makes each day here different. Our fantastic team of volunteers also look forward to doing shifts together and catching up with friends in the volunteer program each week. But, I think that the main reason is that we all like to help others. It feels good to make a difference in someone’s day.”
This is certainly true for the people who have been helped by the program, their feedback shows that having people around, like Graham, who simply want to make a difference, goes a long way for a tired traveller far from home.
“The feedback from passengers is that our volunteers are very helpful, they take the time to assist and follow right through to the end. Passengers and visitors to the airport are very grateful to be able to rely on the CCVP team to assist with their airport visit”, says Renee.
Do you know someone who would make a great Customer Care Volunteer, or would you like to find out more about volunteering with the Customer Care Volunteer Program yourself?