Travel agents are a vital direct-to-consumer channel in the destination marketing ecosystem, personally influencing everything about their clients' travel plans — from vacation destination choices and itineraries within to the specific hotels and attractions booked.
Now, Visit California’s latest evolution in the travel trade space is helping agents around the globe tap into all-new resources to better serve the Golden State travel industry on a whole new scale.
Introducing California STAR, the next evolution of Visit California’s California Expert online training program. This new B2B platform helps drive sales and expand agent knowledge regarding the diversity of California experiences through dynamic training and sales companion components.
The program allows Visit California to take agent relationships to the next level, making them true ambassadors of the program and of the California brand.
Over the years, Visit California has built a database of more than 26,000 travel agents around the world through travel trade marketing activities over the past decade, which include trade shows, sales missions, on-site seminars and workshops, incentive offerings and familiarization tours. For California destinations, businesses and attractions, this extensive agent database has grown more robust and valuable than ever. This new resource allows agents around the globe to dive deeper into the California experience through interactive features that deepen knowledge and enrich understanding.
Key features include:
New program features allow industry to manage their message and control content about their destination and product. California STAR partnerships provide for opportunities to engage agents through the incentive offerings, dedicated training modules and enhanced listings.
All co-op packages provide partners with access to their unique agent database, which will update as it expands with Visit California’s efforts. Co-ops utilize a tiered approach: For example, if one purchases Package 2, he or she would also receive the benefits from Package 1.
California STAR’s three tiers are:
Package 1: Showcase Microsite
A custom enhanced listing within the new searchable directory for agents, with interactive filters for agents to find, discover and connect with the private sector.
Package 2: Specialist Training
Offers a stand-alone, custom training module allowing agents to become certified experts on a product or destination from within the California STAR program.
Package 3: Deeper Training & Dedicated Sales Companion App
A custom-built, hybrid solution with deep, extended training content embedded within Visit California program, as well as a stand-alone training and sales companion app. This includes a multi-chapter certified training course with the dedicated web version, as well as the custom mobile app.
Since Visit California’s first market launch in late October, California STAR has received numerous awards and widespread acclaim, including an HSMAI Silver Adrian Award for Digital Innovation. Press headlines included "California has STARs in its Eyes;" global feedback includes praise along the lines of, "It's not just a training program — it's a California information Bible."
Over the past six months, Visit California has launched the program in 14 global markets, with launch activities including webinars and loyalty program takeovers, buzz-worthy California STAR sponsorships at existing trade events, dedicated in-market launch parties, and road trips in a California STAR-wrapped Camaro with full-blown takeovers of different travel agencies.
Visit California’s global teams will continue promotion and audience growth over the next year, with incentivized FAM trips, trainings, newsletters and additional events centered around California STAR.
Visit California will also have access to key performance indicators like never before, such as:
Total investment in the program will continue from a global standpoint with a rewards program beginning in FY17/18. The added component will incentivize agents to share their booking data with Visit California, showing direct ROI for industry partners.
Visit California will also be hosting its first-ever California STAR MegaFAM, with multiple itineraries filled with participants from all 13 international markets and a finale event where industry can meet and network with our STARs. California industry partnership opportunities will be available soon.
For more information about these upcoming California STAR co-opportunities, visit visitcaliforniapartner.com.