ATS Heritage’s film production team have been able to give the guides an exciting feel with shots of the cathedral from vantage points never before seen by the public, and these have been blended with animation, photography, interactives and audio, including interviews with clergy, archivists and the collections team.
The easy to use interface allows visitors to choose a tour according to how much time they have available, and their particular interest. For the family tour, a Phoenix will be the main character, and will take children and their guardians on a ‘flying visit’ around St Paul’s with lots of games and interactives.
The Cathedral is a major visitor attraction, as well as a working ecclesiastical building, and in 2014 welcomed 1,782,741 visitors through its doors. Having up-to-date multimedia guides is an important part of St Paul’s offer as it caters for a wide range of visitors with differing abilities, and a large number of international sightseers.
“St Paul’s had come to the end of its contract and was keen to test the market to ensure that its new guide would be able to take advantage of the latest multimedia techniques and of the best creative ideas,” said Anne Fletcher, Interpretation Consultant at St Paul’s Cathedral. “In selecting a partner we were looking for a company that could help us to develop a large amount of content that would tell our story creatively. We also needed a team that could run the guiding operation (the biggest price inclusive operation in the country) to ensure that every visitor receives a guide and understands quickly how to use it.”
The new guide is accessible to blind and partially sighted visitors through an audio-described tour and to deaf visitors with a subtitled and British Sign Language tour. There are nine languages available: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
Fletcher said they had been delighted with the ideas and creative solutions that ATS had given and their willingness to listen to their requirements, feedback and visitors’ opinions. “In both the development of content and the staffing of the operation, ATS has demonstrated an excellent understanding of our visitors and their needs and we look forward to working with them to develop both further over the course of the contract.”
As part of the tour, visitors get to climb to the top of the building to the viewing galleries and descend to the crypt below the nave, looking at aspects of faith and architecture as they go.
“Building on our expertise of interpreting churches and cathedrals in recent years, ATS has created a guide that does more than simply show visitors around,” said ATS Managing Director Mike Howie. “We believe passionately in working in creative collaboration with clients, so have spent plenty of time in conversation and planning with the St Paul’s interpretation team to create a tour aimed at visitors and their expectations and needs when visiting an historic place of worship in 2015 and onward.” Howie said the new tour fits in with the company’s desire to create interpretations that engage, educate and entertain. “Our onsite team has been taking feedback from visitors, which has been exceptionally positive.”