how to create a certified tourism ambassador program

How to Create a Tourism Ambassador Program

What does it take? Creating a successful tourism ambassador program may seem complicated from the outlook. But if take a step-by-step approach, it’s not as difficult as you expect. Here’s The Tourism Academy's proven and certified formula:

Step #1. Set your goals and key performance indicators, KPIs

What do you aim to accomplish from the program? Here, you should list or determine the following:

  • The budget you can afford to dedicate to the program
  • The number of tourism ambassadors you want to certify
  • The kinds of destination marketing organization (DMO) or convention and visitors bureau (CVB) to ambassador engagements
  • The volume of posts required for you to hit your goals
  • The volume and quality of content you want your ambassadors and visitors to share
  • The increase in new visitors, contracts and sales that you expect to gain

Step #2. Draft an incentive strategy

How do you plan to deliver incentives to the tourism ambassadors certified? The three most common strategies for incentivizing your certified ambassadors include:

  • Upfront reoccurring incentives – where you reward them on a regular basis in advance using experiences, cash, gift cards, and/or products. This is the best option when you want your ambassadors to create original content about your brand and products and feel like they are an extension of your team.
  • Incentives after post or activity – this is where you give your ambassadors experiential direction and a program (volunteer or employee) schedule then reward them on a per-activity or social post basis. This option is usually recommended for long-term collaborations where you’re still feeling out the ambassador's value.
  • After activity + bonus payment – this involves giving your ambassadors a goal (hours volunteered, people served, experiences had) to hit over a certain time period (like the holidays) and then monitoring their participation and performance. This option can be a win/win partnership for a influencer that converts and a destination with popular products. 

RELATED: Get Certified Training For Tourism Ambassadors

Step #3. Identify ambassador unique strongholds

Every destination has unique experiences, goals and objectives, making it challenging to find a one-fits-it-all tourism ambassador model. However, you can decide whether an ambassador under consideration is the right fit if:

  • They've volunteered to participate
  • They’ve used your brand’s hashtags or shown love for your destination repeatedly
  • They’ve engaged in similar campaigns previously and performed impeccably
  • They have a large and active online audience
  • Their engagement rate is above average for their following

Step #4. Find and invite your ambassadors

The next step is announcing the opening program and/or position and finding potential candidates. If you’re already running an influencer, volunteer or staffed front-line program, we suggest asking your high-impact, top-performing influencers first since they’ve already been exposed to your destination marketing organization, its culture and objectives. After selecting your preferred destination ambassadors, the on-boarding process begins. This involves sharing your:

  • Brand needs and expectations
  • What your ambassadors will receive in return
    • Compensation, rewards and/or incentives
    • Shout outs on your brand pages
    • Free experiences
  • Consumer insights and research
  • Marketing campaign calendar

Step #5. Launch the Program

certified ambassador tourism certification front-line alignment destinationBelow are our recommended best practices for communicating with your ambassadors after launch:

  • Brief them regularly
  • Notify them of new products and offers first
  • Give them the liberty of creating social content and visitor interactions their way
  • Make them feel like an extension of your in-house team
  • Ask for their feedback on your destination and its products/initiatives
  • Send them curated gift packages with items like:
    • Product samples
    • Destination swag
    • Seasonable items

Step #6. Track Success

After getting your tourism ambassador certification program up and running, the next step is measuring its success by revisiting your KPIs and comparing them with real-time performance.

Watch indicators such as:

  • Your brand’s following and other social metrics like engagement
  • Your website or e-commerce traffic
  • Visitor, meeting and convention volume year over year for the period

You can leverage performance analysis tools like Brandwatch to gauge the overall impact of your certified ambassadors’ and visitors' posts and comments. What’s more, you can conduct tourism ambassador surveys to gain feedback regarding crucial factors like incentives, communication, program execution, etc. This can give you ideas of what adjustments you want to make to the program going forward.

Get the hype and buzz your brand needs

Ambassador programs are all about creating long-term relationships with your community. When your influencer’s audience sees your brand’s content repeatedly over the long-term, your company begins to grow exponentially, both in sales and awareness. Isn’t that every business owner’s dream?

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Bonus: Who are your stakeholders?

Bring destination stakeholders into alignment 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.

Need help aligning your community, finding tourism ambassadors or designing your tourism ambassador program? Contact us today and our expert team will be happy to help you get the results you’re looking for. Cheers!

 

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