Winning Grassroots Support for Tourism

It sounds so simple, yet it is often overlooked.

The individual voice that swells into a roar of support.  Certainly during this digital age of social causes and instant action the fabled grassroots campaign has come into its own.

Tourism = Investment Advocacy SeriesBut we did not need Facebook or Twitter to launch a great community campaign.  Those platforms have helped amplify the message, but they are not the cause of this freshly reinvented battle tactic for support.

At the heart of every memorable grassroots campaign lies two elements: passion and communication.

One only needs a group of passionate advocates, communicating effectively to create that roar of support.

For the tourism industry, the development of the passionate advocate begins at U.S. Travel Association’s Grassroots Boot Camp.

In our ongoing effort to promote and call attention to tourism advocacy issues, we sat down with Candice Knezevic, Director of Grassroots and Industry Relations for the U.S. Travel Association, to talk about the upcoming Grassroots Boot Camp.

5 Questions on Grassroots Boot Camp

Give us the :30 second pitch on the Grassroots Boot Camp, why is it so important for DMOs?

Given the challenges that DMOs face on the local and national level as government increasingly injects itself in our business, organizing the travel community to defend and promote ourselves has never been more important. As many DMOs find themselves defending their budget and seeking to lure more visitors to their destinations, the Grassroots Boot Camp offers an opportunity to sharpen their skills and develop their ability to respond to these challenges.

At the Boot Camp, you’ll hear from Washington insiders, political campaigners and industry leaders on the best ways to advocate your cause and enable your business to be more successful.

How will lessons from the Boot Camp translate to daily work and government relations for the attending DMO?

Some of Washington’s most successful campaign strategists will share their tips for recruiting and engaging employees and community members in advocacy campaigns, and Capitol Hill veterans will give the inside scoop on what kinds of communications actually break through the clutter and influence legislative offices. These are skills and tactics that DMOs can utilize as they interact with local and national policymakers and work to protect and promote their business.

What is the reaction from the other side of the equation, the legislators and presenters who also attend this event?

Legislators want to hear from their constituents, and so they benefit from a well-organized industry that communicates with their office. They don’t just want to hear from the lobbyists in Washington. What captures their attention are the personal stories of the employees in our industry, the impact that we have in communities, and the jobs we create in a struggling economy.

It sounds like social and digital engagement is a large part of the Boot Camp, give us a preview of what we can expect.

More and more congressional offices report that they not only communicate their priorities via social media channels, but that they also monitor them to get a pulse on what their constituents are thinking.

Whereas a few years ago, our main communication tools consisted of phone calls and hand-written letters, today, the internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc…have significantly increased constituents’ ability to connect with their legislators and influence their behavior.

The Boot Camp will offer strategies for employing these social media channels to communicate with legislators and ensure that your voice isn’t drowned out.

For those who might not be able to attend, how can they adopt the grassroots idea to their local community or tourism destination?

It’s simple – sign up for the Power of Travel Coalition. They’ll receive action alerts and updates on issues impacting our industry, and invitations to participate in conference calls and webinars that will keep them up to speed on new developments within the industry.

Our thanks to Candice and Michael from the U.S. Travel Association for their time and insight.

U.S. Travel Association’s Grassroots Boot Camp runs from September 13-14 in Washington DC.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.