Ideas for building a strong team of tourism partners

Tourism partners are golden assets like this one in Boonville MO covered wagon and greeter (courtesy Missouri State Archives on Flickr Commons)

Boonville MO covered wagon and greeter (courtesy Missouri State Archives on Flickr Commons)

How can you build a stronger team with your tourism partners?

Tourism partners can include attractions and hotels, of course, but also parks, retailers, restaurants, Main Street/downtown development organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, local media, your Board of Directors, the City Council, cultural districts, and even the schools.

That’s certainly a varied group.

If you are a CVB, DMO, or Tourist Board, how can you be a more helpful partner to your partners?

We shared a few ideas already in 3 ways to be a better community partner, including more information-sharing, really showing partners the nuts and bolts of your destination marketing work, and giving them chances to improve their skills and knowledge.

When Leslie spoke at a breakout session about this at the TACVB Annual Conference in Fort Worth, the audience had lots of ideas, too, so we thought we would share some of them with you.

(Pssst. You can grab a PDF of Leslie’s presentation slides right here.)

Have a Sharing Mindset. Ask Yourself, “What Do I Know & Who Else in Town Needs to Know, Too?”

Share what you read, share what you learn, share what you know. Ideas:

  • Holiday marketing tips
  • Examples of effective advertising
  • Examples of good customer service
  • Lists of relevant suggested hashtags
  • Trends in digital media, like Facebook Live (one DMO did this and her partner said, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” so the DMO went to the partner and shot live video on the spot to demonstrate.)
  • Share stats from your social channels. Share DMO website analytics; show what is popular on the site and draws a lot of traffic. Explain what this means and why it matters.
  • Segment your partner email list so you can quickly send out info just to the restaurants, or just to the hotels. Make sure that emails are more shareable by including social sharing buttons (look to the bottom of this post for ours, to see what we mean.)

Show Partners Exactly What You Do & How Your Work Can Help Them

Many of your partners are not familiar with destination marketing, or how they fit into your goals and communications. Ideas:

  • Bring them into your office for some “back of house” behind-the-scenes sessions. Example: when you’re setting up a Facebook ad, making a sales call, editing a simple video, or doing keyword research.
  • Set up a private Facebook Group for partners. Use it, among other things, to show partners how to best take advantage of what the DMO offers.
  • One DMO set up a private Facebook Group for hotel front desk staff, so they could discuss issues, give each other a heads up about events, and share relevant crime stats.
  • Connect them with visitor activities that might be new to them. One DMO took some partners on their Baytown TX Geocaching Tour to show them what geocaching is all about and how it engages visitors.
  • Take some partners to local professional development events that you frequent. You learn, they learn. The Visit Plano DMO makes sure that everyone knows about the regional Social Media Breakfast Dallas, for example.

Arrange Partner Opportunities for Learning & Growth

We are all about this, of course, since we often do social media training and education for tourism partners. More ideas:

  • Teach them basic photography skills, especially using their phone. Incorporate some Instagram training, including how to re-post.
  • Shoot some video for them, and explain what you’re doing while you’re shooting.
  • Partner with your local Main Street or downtown development organization. One person suggested sharing an intern on a combined schedule.
  • Don’t forget more advanced partners. Maybe they could use a little help with high-level content marketing, for example.

Bonus – Celebrate Them!

Ideas for partner recognition:

  • Give some awards to partners during annual tourism celebrations, like National Travel & Tourism Week in the U.S.
  • How about giving out local swag like special hats or T-shirts?
  • Recognize the people who fill those hotel rooms. Visit Abilene hosts a luncheon for local meeting planners who bring in 100+ room nights, giving them special pottery gifts that are handmade by local artists. You can’t buy the items in stores, either. 3 planners have all 16 pieces awarded so far (wow!)

Even if you pick only one idea from each category above to try over the next 6-12 months, you will have done a lot to be a better partner for your partners.

To keep you on track, here’s another item: Leslie’s handy PDF checklist for building a stronger tourism partner team.

Thanks for the insights, fellow TACVB members!

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