As more tier 2 and 3 destinations grow in popularity and interest from meeting planners, and decision-makers increases, developing a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) becomes a key tool to ensure your marketing and sales truly resonate.
Digital Edge just returned from Branson, Missouri, where we helped the Explore Branson team develop their first CAB and moderated two days of incredible sessions. Branson knew that if they wanted to continue to grow and develop the destination, they would greatly benefit from hearing directly from meeting planners.
Digital Edge Worked With Branson To:
- Identify a cross-section of planners to invite to the CAB and a timeline for both teams to follow to manage the CAB.
- Develop email marketing and surveys to gain valuable information to plan their visit.
- Develop two to three-hour sessions to engage the board and hear directly from them on challenges in the industry, where the industry is headed, what they are looking for in a destination, what marketing resonates with them and their input on the Branson marketing and messaging.
- Follow up from the first in-person session with suggested next steps to keep the CAB engaged.
- Provide suggestions and recommendations for future in-person sessions from our agency and the CAB members.
“The wealth of expertise and insights shared during this event was truly remarkable and above and beyond my expectations. We delved into the future of event planning, explored innovative strategies, and built bridges for lasting collaborations…Thank you to Mya Surrency and Kim Ritten of Digital Edge for moderating and sharing valuable industry knowledge. We are excited for the future and can’t wait to see the impact of these discussions on the meetings and conventions industry in Branson.”Samantha Gutting, Sr. Vice President/Chief Sales Officer for Explore Branson.
While a Customer Advisory Board may sound a little like a focus group or hosting a FAM trip, there are key differences.
Differences Between a CAB
& Focus Group
- A CAB represents a selection of current customers, past customers and prospects.
- The goal of a CAB is to develop an ongoing relationship with the members for continual input, feedback and direction that can be utilized for marketing and sales.
- The CAB is engaged and committed to the destination’s development.
- Often, the research firm hosting the focus group selects the planners from a mutually agreed upon list, and those planners may not know which destination they are talking about until later in the session. The focus group participants are usually hosted in a research firm in another city where a CAB gets to come to the destination.
Tips When Developing and
Moderating Your CAB
- Focus the experiential component on offerings the destination may not be known for or new offerings or opportunities for the group segment.
- Spend time in sessions gaining input from the CAB members.
- Keep the same members of the CAB for a period of time to gain continuity in their insights and knowledge of the destination.
Our agency has been a part of several of our clients’ CABs; however, this was the first time we worked with a destination to develop their first CAB and moderate the sessions. While the planners knew of Branson, only a few had been to the destination before, and the three days in the market had an incredible impact on their perceptions.
We were so impressed with the Branson CAB members who were fully committed to providing value to the Branson community. They each felt truly invested in the destination and sharing information that will help elevate Branson for long-term success. We learned so much about the messaging and marketing strategies that we can now refine to further enhance the opportunities for this extraordinary destination.
Developing a CAB is a powerful tool to give your destination an advantage, truly understand your unique selling proposition and help differentiate your sales and marketing strategies. For additional sales services and tools