During the 2017 fall semester, full- and part-time interns studying abroad in Rome had the unique opportunity to visit the Colosseum as part of their Internship Seminar. Interns participate in the seminar to explore the local business climate, as well as reflect on their experiences in the workplace. The goal of the field-study tour of the Colosseum was not only to appreciate the beauty of famous amphitheater, itself, but to learn how a very large and skillful group of people can manage and make the site a considerable source of revenue for the city of Rome.
During the tour, the interns had a very special guide, Jonathan, a staff member of Coop Culture, which is a cooperative that operates in the heritage management sector in Italy. While walking through the Colosseum and the “staff only areas”, Jonathan explained how Coop Culture has modernized and, in a certain way, revolutionized tours and accessibility to the Colosseum. Handling nearly nine million visitors every year—with fewer than three million visitors in low season and up to six million in high season—is not easy. To help manage this, Coop Culture started online ticket sales, through which visitors can both book guided tours and rent audio guides. Services like this have made the monument’s management easier and more effective than ever before.
Jonathan explained how the concept of “hospitality” is central in his organizations’s mission. In Italy, and particularly in Rome, customer care is, generally speaking, not as emphasized as in the U.S. Coop Culture tries to follow the U.S. model in order to make a visit to the Colosseum as pleasant as possible. For example, each employee speaks at least four languages fluently and is willing to help visitors from the moment they step into the Colosseum to the moment they leave.
IES Abroad Rome interns discussed their questions, how the Coop Culture cooperative invests all revenue from ticket and tour sales, as well as learned about the monument’s ongoing restoration project.
This visit allowed interns to see what an incredible effort it takes to run this invaluable cultural site, with all of the bureaucratic and logistical intricacies it entails. It was an eye-opening experience that opened their eyes to one of the largest monuments in the world! This Colosseum visit is just one of the unique experiences afforded to students who intern abroad in Rome with IES Abroad and IES Internships.