Touristic Destination Ambassadors, Case Analysis and Conceptualization: How to Better Understand and Use Brand Ambassadors in Cognitive, Affective and Experiential Approaches

30 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2012

Date Written: 2012


Purpose – We propose to capitalize on recent research on tourism marketing, destination choice, but also and mainly on conceptual reflections and research on emotional and symbolical brand relationship. We try to understand how destinations could communicate, using destination ambassadors; in order to better attract travelers.

Methodology – this is a theoretical article presenting key concepts and their relevance to tourism marketing. We present the key concepts and analyse cases or real-life examples of destination ambassadors uses, trying to show the relevance of the described concepts. We use research key concepts and results in Affective marketing, Environmental psychology, and Experiential marketing, exploring issues of persuasion by three persuasion routes through which ambassadors can impact consumer choices.

Approach – This article is a case-based theoretical reflection, aimed at deepening our level of understanding of how and why ambassadors could matter in tourism destination and branding in general. We start with real-life examples, and show in several cases what does not work and why, suggesting better professional practices based on theory.

Findings – We illustrate the concept of destination ambassadors with some real examples. We show that the concept of brand ambassador and destination ambassador are often understood in a very limited approach with confusion, and mot much effects because they only rely on “strike power”, famousness. We propose improvements, suggesting three persuasion routes: cognitive, affective and symbolical. We define “symbols” in branding.

We find out that Affective and Symbolical marketing research could dramatically improve our understanding and good use of ambassadors in touristic destination and marketing in general.

We also propose three key definitions in tourism marketing.

We propose a reflection on how the Deep metaphors conceptualized by Zaltman, actually relate to experiential marketing and do make sens in destination branding; we show that ambassadors could largely contribute to it, using such theoretical framework. In a last section, we take a number of examples and formulate recommendations to practitioners, specific to different sorts of destinations such as spas, ski resorts, hotels, etc. We also suggest to enlarge our vision of “marketing” to creating value in a more sustainable, ecological manner. It encapsulates the idea of creating value for all stakeholders, relying all the old concept of Service Profit Chain in services marketing, and on recent research in Tourism marketing. We suggest to think the option of co-branding for both destinations and ambassadors, especially via Online Social Media. The originality of the research – It consists of two main points. First, although it seems rules/breaking, we simply stick to the modern definition of marketing – marketing seen as a relationship construction process – and to research contributions, in proposing to better understand how ambassadors could be better used for creating value for targeted consumers, in a consistent manner with the destination positioning. We seem to be very provocative in questioning the practices of practitioners using mainly celebrities; but we rather want to enhance more profound practices and more efficiency in business. We also remind that Marketing is not to be seen as a Communication or Manipulation process, but as a value delivery process, and propose how ambassadors could contribute to it.

Second, we draw attention on some key concepts largely ignored in Experiential marketing, and on the importance of more thought. The principle of parsimony also asks us to communicate in a less superficial manner, and in a more efficient way. In the context of Ambassadors in tourism destination, that means we might need to think and understand more, use less Celebrity effects, and more, ambassadors consistent with brand emotional and symbolical positioning. Those can be celebrities, or non famous humans, virtual agents, animals or other non human objects.

Keywords: experiential marketing, destination, ambassador, affect, symbol

JEL Classification: L83, M31

Suggested Citation

Lambert de Diesbach, Pablo Brice, Touristic Destination Ambassadors, Case Analysis and Conceptualization: How to Better Understand and Use Brand Ambassadors in Cognitive, Affective and Experiential Approaches (2012). Tourism & Hospitality Management, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Pablo Brice Lambert de Diesbach (Contact Author)

Institut Supérieur de Gestion (ISG), Paris ( email )

33 6 6491 2602 (Phone)

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