Apart from the specific strategies to engage each type of target, consider generic strategies and tactics to foster engagement throughout the whole stakeholder community:
- Polls asking the stakeholders’ opinion, thanking them with rewards, and letting them know how their opinion is useful to improve the destination. Furthermore, it also spurs discussion.
- Reward top content sharers as well as those who bring in new followers and engage them to register for contests or workshops, to become contributors or for volunteering programs.
- Asking each target about what types of reward they appreciate and designing an incentive system considering many kinds of rewards to satisfy them all.
- Letting contest participants invite their friends to vote for their content as a way to expand brand awareness, and the network of followers and potential contributors.
- Building an emotional connection with tourists through the life-changing experiences and showing how their contribution powered the destination towards the mission accomplishment.
- Offering something valuable to users when they leave their personal contact data in the landing page is to further encourage them in registering for certain activities.
To engage new brand ambassadors consider some guidelines for an advocacy strategy:
- Formulate specific goals for the advocacy program
- Maintain transparency to prove integrity
- Develop tools to track and measure success
- Consider that blogs, forums and networks are the most valued information sources
- Ask their opinion in the initial stages and let them know how valuable their contribution has been in order to build a sense of ownership and emotional connection.
- The way to cultivate influential advocates is to interact, listen and respond in conversations
- Using customer feedback to improve the destination’s services also strengthens the potential for advocacy as long as you tell them how useful their feedback has been.
- Consider that there are five types of advocates when drafting the advocacy strategy:
- Connectors are active participants in broad social networks
- Communities are groups of people with a common interest
- Mavens are enthusiasts who rate and review products and services in a specific category
- Experts are people with credentials and technical knowledge in a specific field.
- Endorsers are celebrities whose charisma enhances the brand reputation and awareness
Beyond the strategies to engage new stakeholders, it is necessary to manage the network members who are already engaged. For this purpose it is convenient to collect the network members’ contact data as soon as possible in the engagement process, either by asking for their email when downloading a piece of content or the mobile number to send information to their cell phone. Once the data is collected, there are many ways to keep them engaged:
- Ask them about their preferred types of content, so as to send them only what they are interested in. Ask them to update their preferences regularly.
- Ask them about their opinions and assessment about destination content, activities and various issues, encourage them to give suggestions and give them feedback on their ideas.
- Ask them about the frequency and preferred means of communication (email, SMS, etc.)
- Send them Christmas and birthday gifts depending on their contributions or other variables
- Try to identify disengaged individuals and ask them about why they have disengaged
- Give them daily visible gadgets or content materials such as calendars so as to make them keep the destination brand and the mission purpose at their top of mind
This article is from the White Paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in Destinations”, available for download in www.envisioningtourism.com/whitepapers