Ways to be a better Community Partner

Central Iowa Tourism Region partners learn together (photo courtesy Leslie McLellan)

Is your organization a true community partner?

You work hard to build your community….business by business, person by person. Now that you’ve gathered this group, are you being a good partner to them?

For the past several years, we have been hunkered down working on our own organizations and businesses, just trying to get by. With all the economic ups and downs, many of us have had blinders on, making sure we stay focused (and not much else.)

With a somewhat improved outlook, it’s time to start looking around and being a better partner to your partners. They are the ones who make your destination special and your organization successful.

It’s not hard to be a better partner. Here are three easy ways to do just that. (We’ve also included one uncomfortable tip at the end of the post; if you’re willing to try it, your community can be much stronger.)

The Sharing Economy

This heading gives you an idea of what we mean, but in 2017, Wikipedia’s definition of the “sharing economy” is the following:

“Sharing economy is an umbrella term with a range of meanings, often used to describe economic and social activity involving online transactions.”

Of course, many would say that since money does change hands through sharing economy powerhouses like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, etc., then nobody is truly “sharing” anything, but maybe we can take the word back to its original meaning.

How can you take part in a real sharing economy?  Start with this….

You spend time reading all sorts of online posts and articles about marketing, restaurants, hospitality, sales, customer service, etc.

SHARE them with your partners.

Why not email them a short weekly roundup of article links that you’ve found helpful? It’s likely that your partners don’t have time to keep up with the online news deluge on their own. If you send a roundup or even a single pertinent link over to them now and then, they can stay on top of things, and you get a win since they know you are thinking of them.

Tip – segment your email list so you can easily forward items of interest to various groups like restaurants, attractions, mom and pop stores, and so on. You only have to do that once and the payoff for you will be terrific.

Experiential Marketing

We all know that experiential marketing is key to our visitors, but what about to your partners? How often do you let them truly experience what happens within your organization?

Bring them in to the office, and show them what each person does. Share your “behind the scenes” work with them. You can bet most don’t know all that you do to promote the destination, the community, and the region.

Share with them more than just an overview of the departments and the duties of each person. Be transparent and let them know your challenges. Show them what’s fun about marketing the destination, and let them experience your daily work life.

This is so easy to do, and creates a stronger bond between you and your partners, as well as helping them gain a deeper understanding of your efforts.

Community Partner Opportunities

In years past, the phrase “community partner opportunities” would immediately conjure up thoughts about co-op advertising and another chance to spend money.

It’s time to change that thought process.

The phrase should now also pertain to opportunities you are offering to enhance the benefits of being one of your community partners.

This includes giving your partners chances to develop their skills. Bring in outside people to do regular trainings, workshops, (you know this is one of the things we do, don’t you?) and provide updates on a variety of topics like digital marketing, customer service, and retail trends.

There are so many benefits to your partners from this, and they often don’t have the time to go find educational resources themselves, let alone foot the entire bill for a specialized class. If you want to build a stronger partnership with your community, plus help strengthen your attractions, businesses, and hotels so that they are with you for the long haul, you must offer these types of opportunities.

Make this a line item in your budget. While it is your job to get visitors to your area, it is also your job to make sure your community has the resources to be successful partners in the destination’s marketing efforts. Their success is your success. 

One Uncomfortable Tip

 How willing are you to step out of your comfort zone to make sure you are being a good partner to your partners?

Are you willing to take their temperature?

If so, survey your partners to see how effective they think you are. Don’t offer up just a few “yes or no” or “on a scale of one to five” questions. Include options for them to really tell you how they perceive your efforts with regard to how effective you are at being a good partner to them.

Yes, this definitely can be uncomfortable, but the payoff is immeasurable if you pay attention to the answers you receive, and take action on the ones that you can.

The time is NOW to either become a better community partner to your partners, or to strengthen the bond you already have with them. They are the life of your community and it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to be strong and informed!

Need help with this topic? Let us know how we can support you and/or your partners.

Have thoughts, feedback, or a suggestion? Leave a comment down below!

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What's around the corner or through the tunnel on a scenic byway

 

Protecting your scenic byway or heritage highway assets

Join us next Tuesday, January 31 at 1 p.m. Eastern/12 noon Central/11 a.m. Mountain/10 a.m. Pacific to learn more about how to successfully leverage limited funding to protect those important byway resources.

Our presenters have over 25 years of experience between them. In this webinar, they will share some background on Colorado State Byway’s Resource protection policy and planning, the forming of the Colorado Scenic Byway Conservation Coalition and what they have accomplished, general funding sources options for byways, how to partner with Land Trusts, and how local Land Trusts have used byway money/resources to leverage the bigger money needed for true conservation efforts.

We love partnering with the NSBF (National Scenic Byway Foundation) to bring you online educational opportunities like this how-to webinar, with speakers Sally Pearce, former Colorado State Byway Coordinator, and Charlotte Bumgarner, Gold Belt Byway Leader and Resource Protection Grant Coordinator.

Yes, the webinar will be recorded, if you can’t make the live event.

Go here to learn more and register; hope we see you there!

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