News from the Top

Dynamic Cities, Dynamic Ambassadors: A Journey of Change


Words hold value, but it’s actions that truly count.

Pause momentarily and journey with me down memory lane, stretching back over ten years in our extraordinary cities. You might even recall when we lacked a formal term to define our industry. Yet, amidst this evolving landscape, two elements have steadfastly endured. First, change itself – an undeniable undercurrent, ranging from hospitality to public safety demands, from assisting individuals experiencing homelessness to navigating pandemics and societal unrest. And despite these seismic shifts, there remains a second, unwavering constant: the men and women who are the cornerstone of our organizations – our ambassadors. Their tireless commitment and relentless dedication have been instrumental in our collective success.

As chair of the IDA Ambassador Top Issues Council, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with exceptional urban place management professionals. Together, we’ve explored these pivotal changes and adaptive strategies employed by UMPOs. Our resulting work, From Traditional to Trailblazing: The Journey of the Ambassador, offers an insightful exploration of these challenges and innovative solutions.

The report examines the significant transformation of ambassador jobs, highlighting how these roles have evolved from mere providers of basic information to essential contributors in enhancing stakeholders’ overall experience. Key focus areas include:

  • The evolution of responsibilities and expectations
  • Advanced technology impact
  • Trends in rising wages within the industry
  • Strategies for boosting ambassador morale and creating a thriving work environment

Echoing the sentiments shared during the engaging ambassador session at the IDA Annual Conference & Marketplace in Chicago, I urge you to reflect. We often voice our appreciation for our ambassadors, highlighting their role as the “face of the organization.” But it is worth asking: do your actions truly mirror these sentiments? It’s one thing to acknowledge their value in words, but another to reflect this in tangible, supportive actions. Are your policies, workplace culture and opportunities you provide genuinely representative of the esteem in which you hold these vital team members? It’s crucial to ensure that our expressions of gratitude go beyond mere words, transforming into specific actions that genuinely support, recognize and uplift our ambassadors.

The time for action is now. Even with modest steps, we must begin fostering positive and inclusive environments for our ambassadors, who are fundamental to our success.

To learn more about the 2023 Ambassador Top Issues Council Report Brief, please visit IDA’s Publications page. The brief is free for IDA members.


Applications are now open for IDA’s 2024 Top Issues Councils, including the “Mental Health of Ambassadors.” Applications to join are due by January 17, 2024 at 11:59 pm ET. Council work will commence by March 2024. Learn more about applying here.