The benefits are pretty clear. Tourism Ambassador training is the best way to inspire, engage and educate your stakeholders. It's the destination marketer's most effective tool to upskill front line workers, turn civic leaders into tourism advocates, build community support for tourism development, nurture new volunteers, and improve the overall visitor experience.
Implementing a program of this magnitude comes with some risk. Your time, money, and organizational credibility are on the line. If you get it right, it's smooth sailing and everyone is happy. If it's not done well, you've spent a lot of money (and time) on a program that your community just can't get behind. This is why it is so important to get it right the first time.
Here are the biggest roadblocks to delivering a successful tourism ambassador program and how to overcome them.
Fees And (Hidden) Expenses To Your Destination
You've got a budget and you need to stick to it. You've got to know the full cost to build, run and maintain your program before you sign on with any particular provider. Here's what you need to look out for:
Annual Fees - does the provider clearly state what the annual licensing or subscription fee may be?
Development Fees - how much is it going to cost to build your course and the related content? Is there an additional cost if you need to modify or update this content later on? If so, how much?
Variable Costs - how much will you need to pay the provider for each individual who participates in the program?
Delivery Expense - on top of what you've paid the provider, what will it cost your destination each time you teach the course? Do you need to pay a trainer or budget 5-8 hours of staff time each month? Will you need a meeting room, refreshments, a/v, printed materials, etc.?
Train the Trainer - who's going to lead your training and how much time will it take your staff to learn the program, train others to teach the program, and account for trainer turnover? What happens if your "lead trainer" leaves? How much would it cost to train a new trainer?
Is Your Training Available When, Where and How Your Potential Tourism Ambassadors Need It?
Unless your training is delivered online and on demand, your pool of potential ambassadors is limited to those can attend class on a certain day, at a certain time and in a certain place. How are you going to train those who work a varying shifts, may only be available to take the course on their day off, or who are so excited that they want to learn now?
Let's face it, we've all been subjected to webinars that suck. You start a video, get up to make some coffee, grab a snack, take a phone call, check our email, anything but pay attention to the screen. You're not alone. Science tells us that the typical adult learner loses focus right around the four minute mark. Without transformation, engagement and accessibility(TM), your videos and webinars are for nothing. Expertise and information without instructional design leads to unengaged, uninvolved and uninterested audiences and instructors who talk AT the learner.
Do those who are developing your program understand business psychology, adult education, principles of online learning and instructional design? Are they a passionate topical expert, educator or both?
This is a question of equity. Can every person in your community, regardless of their income, location, access to transportation or current level of employment afford to take your program? Can the person who wants to be more involved and advance their tourism career but can't afford a movie ticket or extra loaf of bread still take your program? If the answer is no, you're at risk of alienating those who could benefit most from participating.
How Long Will It Take to Launch? And Onboard Your Staff?
Time is money, right? From the date you sign until your first tourism ambassador is certified, how much time will you have invested? Can a new instructor learn to deliver your course in less than 5 minutes?
The Tourism Academy takes pride in offering a 12-week build and new instructors can learn to manage, modify, add to and report on your course in under 5 minutes.
It's in the fine print. You've paid all this money for consultants to build a course, shouldn't your organization own it, the contents of your lessons and the materials to go along with it? We at the nonprofit Tourism Academy think so but not all providers do. With tourismacademy.org, we build your course, populate lessons with your content, echo your voice and branding. You own it and provide license to us to deliver your course on our state of the art proprietary learning management system. Don't believe us, read the Legal Stuff.