This year’s Great Ambassador Networking (GANG) event, hosted by ConferenceLeeds and the city’s Well Met Conferencing, put a spotlight on utilising knowledge hubs throughout a destination in order to win more association conference business.
Delegates from Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Harrogate, Aberdeen, Brighton, London, Torquay and Bristol came together recently to highlight the expertise on offer in their cities and share best practice from their own ambassador programmes.
There were sessions on how a city’s knowledge hubs and ambassadors are as important as the meetings infrastructure itself, in terms of winning both corporate and association business.
Delegates delivered five-minute sales pitches on their destinations and, during his update, Anthony Cassidy, senior sales manager at Marketing Manchester, said there was an 80% conversion rate on bids for association conferences with an ambassador, compared to just 15% without.
Cassidy also presented to the group Marketing Manchester’s recently launched Global Ambassador Programme which now has 17 Global Ambassadors, all of which are well-connected leaders in target sectors and international markets, who promote positive national and international perceptions of Manchester, and support aspirations to attract talent and investment.
Sam Johnston, manager at the Dublin Convention Bureau emphasised the importance of completing the relationship cycle when working with ambassadors, and the significance of upholding the relationship post conference.
To assist in their relationship cycle, Dublin Convention Bureau this year launched a Conference Ambassador Awards scheme, to help show appreciation and recognition to their ambassadors, as well as maintaining their motivation and aiding in the recruitment of new ambassadors.
Emma France, marketing manager of business tourism and trade at marketing Sheffield, discussed the importance of developing a programme that works for your own destination and utilising the resources available. A lot of the work in Sheffield could not be done without the support of the Sheffield Hoteliers Association, she noted.
Sheffield is looking forward to celebrating its ambassador programme’s 10th year in 2017.
The final ambassador programme update from Emma Gough, conference and events officer for Well Met Conferencing, discussed the benefits of a personal approach in recruiting ambassadors and stressed that trust is essential when working with key representatives.
Other topics discussed on the day included funding for ambassador programmes and the benefits of destinations and universities working together.
Jennifer Young, associate director of visitor economy for Visit and ConferenceLeeds, said: “It is a huge testament to Leeds that the city was selected to host this year’s annual GANG conference and we were delighted to welcome the delegates to the Rose Bowl. Ambassador programmes are vital to generating conference business; our ambassador programme here at the University continues to grow as we work with more and more colleagues and staff to facilitate their conferences. The event was a fantastic opportunity to hear how other cities are developing their ambassador programmes and provided a platform to discuss how they can be improved.”
Caption: Jennifer Young, associate director of visitor economy for Conference Leeds and VisitLeeds