There are certain actions every destination marketer or DMO already knows and follows when starting every tourism marketing campaign; email marketing, social media, SEO, etc. But, even though the above mentioned are effective and have been proven don’t you want just a little bit more? Don't you still need a positive visitor experience and to wow each visitor who arrives for a site inspection or their first visit?
Believe it or not, when it comes to marketing, first impressions and their word of mouth is still king (or queen, if you'd like.) Many convention & visitors bureaus (CVB) and destinations small and large still rely on this form of advertising and marketing to grow. What if there was a way to pool your resources and mix the more traditional marketing practices with ongoing web accessibility and word-of-mouth marketing so that you build truly authentic experiences and a personal relationship with your visitors in the process? What I mean by this is having a solid brand tourism ambassador program.
But, before you begin inviting everyone you know to become a tourism ambassador it is important to create a solid guideline for what you want your certified program to be. Let’s break it down so that you can get the most out of your new Tourism Ambassador Program.
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#1 They will be your # 1 fan
Tourism ambassadors are not just ordinary fans, they are willing to go an extra mile in pushing your destination and local experiences. They will save you the trouble of doing all that sharing yourself and amplify your content in ways which you never could. Whenever a new update is released by your destination marketing organization, your ambassadors will help make it go viral.
#2 You need to give content machine your best shot
Nothing excites tourism and welcome ambassadors more than being able to openly contribute to a destination that they love. Destination ambassadors will be able to write content, create memorable experiences as well as turn visitor attention to your targeted content. By highlighting some of your most prolific tourism ambassadors on your blog or website through a piece of content, you will be able to both effectively drive traffic to your website and continue to further engage and reward your tourism ambassadors by actively making them a part of your brand.
#3 You can only be one place at a time
One of the biggest hurdles you are likely to scale is convention & meeting marketing. One sure way of reaching your targeted audience is hosting fam trips, site visits, shows, networking, and being at every conference or event. You should be ready to spend money and time if you are planning on attending these events yourself and giving each potential client a 100% guided experience, but with tourism ambassador program, you don’t have to.
One of the benefits of a tourism ambassador program is the buzz generated from your ambassadors, the positive impressions they make on visitors and the publicity they provide. If the visitor loves your product and love to talk about it then they will bring it up in conversations at events.
#4 You are sure of receiving continuous feedback from them
Your convention & visitors bureau or CVB will need consistent change to stay competitive if you are launching a rebranding or improving on the previous one. Running a destination marketing organization DMO takes a lot of time, and you don’t always have the time to notice changes that need to be made to your area's products & services. This is why you sometimes need an outside perspective. Tourism ambassadors are often just as knowledgeable about your destination as your employees and just as willing to offer their opinion on any changes to improve the in destination visitor experience.
Whenever launching a new initiative or campaign you can reward your most loyal tourism ambassadors by inviting them to test the experience or product early. Getting their opinion early allows you to make some small tweaks before officially launching and welcoming more tourists. This allows you to release a better tourism promotion product and reward your ambassadors.
Starting Your Own Program
If you have read this far, you will likely be wondering how to go about starting a tourism ambassador program.
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Every tourism ambassador program is different and we’ve seen many different types be successful. Just remember to treat your tourism ambassadors like your most important customers and you will continue to be surprised by what an effective and well planned out brand ambassador program will be able to do for you.
Align stakeholders and define your destination marketing organization relevance to support tourism.
Tourism Ambassadors from all possible market sectors come together to create a full visitor experience. Destinations, both big and small, can align these sectors successfully because each benefits from a positive visitor experience! Here are just a few of those who are positively impacted by your credentialed tourism ambassadors (CTA).
- Transportation hubs like Airports, Rail Stations, Bus Depots, etc.
- Activities, Attractions & Events - arts, culture, heritage, casinos, sports
- Government - City, State, Federal - elected officials like mayors and city council, government employees like police and community outreach
- Community Members - Passionate Volunteers & Local Citizens
- Conference Hotels, Convention Centers & Meeting Places
- Local Mom & Pop Shops and Downtown Merchants
- Community & Workforce Development / Economic Development
- Schools & Higher Education - colleges, universities, community colleges
- Medical Facilities - Urgent Care Centers & Hospitals
- Lodging & Hotels - home rentals, beds & breakfast, RV parks, hotels, etc.
- Bars, Clubs, Lounges & Nightlife
- Real Estate and Reinvestment Firms
- Places to Dine - coffee shops, restaurants, classy joints and local favorites
- Commercial Real Estate - malls, downtown alliances, retailers, districts, etc.
- Event Facilities - convention center, arena, theaters, concert halls, sporting events
- Modes of Transport - Uber, Lyft, taxi, cab, shuttle, public transit, local trolly, limo, motorcoach
- Tourism Promoters - Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO), Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), Chambers of Commerce & Community Economic Development Groups
- Everyone else - Tourism Spending benefits every local person and entity through reduced taxes and economic development, including local banks, corporations, etc.