Puerto Rico Boosts Efforts to Recruit Ambassadors

The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau (PRCB) is beefing up its 18-year old Ambassadors Program. With an investment of $700,000 that includes public relations, events promotion, and media, PRCB is touring Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and Miami to drive interest from Puerto Ricans and “friends of Puerto Rico” to become one of the ambassadors for the island. The revamped program, launched last July, aims to enlist 250 ambassadors by August 2008. So far, 150 volunteers have joined the effort.

"This year we extended our frontiers," said Miguel Hernandez, a PRCB representative. In the past, PRCB used to focus its ambassador recruitment efforts in Puerto Rico. Its tour of U.S. cities started with Chicago in Sept. 27 and will be followed by an event in New York City on Oct. 24, Washington D.C. on Oct. 25 and Miami on Nov. 8.

The idea behind the program is to recruit volunteer ambassadors who can refer a contact to sell the destination or recruit more Ambassadors of Puerto Rico Convention Bureau. According to the PRCB, meetings and conventions yield $900 million to the island. Throughout its existence, the Ambassadors Program has represented, on average, 20 percent of the total sales of the destination for meetings and conventions.

"We really look to our leaders in the community who participate in the association and could provide the contacts,” said Hernandez. “Most of the international groups prefer that someone in that group belongs to that destination."

Distinguished ambassadors are honored in an annual awards ceremony in Puerto Rico, when honorees are flown in and are invited to stay three nights in the island.

"We invite prospective ambassadors to join us for a special meeting in New York. Most of us know someone that is the decision-maker or the meeting planner of a convention or a meeting. All we need from our ambassador is to open the doors for Puerto Rico, by sharing that contact information; we take care of the rest," said Ana Maria Viscasillas, president and CEO of the PRCB, in a statement.