When visitor service is done right, many people are eager to share their enthusiasm. From social media posts to traditional word of mouth, happy visitors can quickly turn into destination advocates who are willing to boast about the cities they love. Needless to say, these customers are vital to destination marketing success and, when engaged properly, can play a key role in future growth and creating great visitor experiences. But like any customer, these fans need recognition and ongoing engagement to cultivate their advocacy. Here are seven creative ways your DMO or CVB can engage ambassadors and advocates for ongoing satisfaction and success.
Identify and acknowledge your brand advocates
First and foremost, your destination needs to find out who your ambassadors and advocates are and acknowledge them. Look closely at your social media channels, analyze customer emails, listen to call samples, and analyze visitor feedback to determine which stakeholders are saying great things about your area. Then begin to engage them by taking the time to thank them and acknowledge their comments.
Take an omnichannel approach
Embracing an omnichannel approach is important to reaching out to your tourism advocates and ambassadors on a global scale. Never underestimate the channels they may be present on, and strive to make contact with them on their preferred channels. Understanding the key channels your visitors use is essential to delivering great experiences and engaging regularly with your advocates.
Reach out to key influencers
Among your destination advocates and tourism ambassadors are a few people who truly promote your area above the rest. These influencers are often highly active on social media, and millennials are frequently key influencers, as they tend to be most active on social platforms. Reach out to these advocates who have a strong following, ask them for their overall feedback, and offer to let them review new products, experiences or services. The more good things they say about your destination, the more their followers will take notice.
Get them involved in destination development
Your stakeholders know better than anyone else just which products or services work well (and which don’t). Go a step further than merely asking for feedback and ask your advocates & tourism ambassadors to get involved in brand development. Ask them for their opinions on how products can be improved, or contact a select group of influencers about a specific product in development and ask them for their participation in reviewing and previewing the product.
Engage them with fun contests and exclusive content
An ideal way to engage your tourism ambassadors & advocates is to turn their advocacy into a fun game. Run “fan favorite” contests that encourage your stakeholder advocates to vote for a favorite product, and offer rewards for their participation. Social media channels are, once again, ideal platforms for generating fun competition and promoting your destination. In addition, offer advocates exclusive content such as sneak previews of upcoming openings, experiences, products and behind-the-scenes views of product development.
Take a personalized approach to engaging advocates
Always remember the human touch! Addressing tourism advocates by name is a must, and taking the time to make personal contact is important. Send handwritten notes thanking them for their advocacy, offer them special discounts, and, whenever possible, send them a free product to enjoy.
Offer loyalty and referral programs
Your tourism ambassadors and advocates are loyal to your destination, so show them your appreciation with a loyalty program. For example, offer your ambassadors & advocates upgrades, discounts, and free products based on points they have earned through purchases or volunteer contributions. Offering additional bonuses such as extra points after a first volunteer shift or purchase, on a birthday, or during major holidays are also great ways to keep them engaged. Lastly, honor their goodwill to your brand by offering a referral program as well. Help them gain extra points and rewards whenever they refer family and friends, and be sure to reward these new tourism supporters, too!
Brand advocates and ambassadors are the embodiment of great tourist experience. They are the champions of your destination & brand and therefore key players in helping your brand improve continuously. With a personal touch, ongoing engagement, and acts of appreciation, your destination can delight these stakeholder advocates for long-term loyalty. To deliver the very best in customer service, learn about The Tourism Academy, a global leader in developing efficient & effective tourism ambassador training programs for great customer experiences.