To say I’m excited about SoMeT is an understatement. I’ve been waiting an entire YEAR for next week to come. Last November I attended #dmmi09 (DMAI’s Destination Management & Marketing Institute) in Indianapolis and as soon as it was over, there was talk and anticipation of #dmmi10. For whatever reasons, DMMI is no more but in its place, the incredible Dave Serino created #SoMeT (Social Media Tourism Symposium).
A case study for social conferences
The conference hasn’t even started and yet the hashtag is not only well-known but being actively used. And it’s been active for MONTHS. How did that happen? Social branding, my friends. I don’t remember exactly when Dave chose the hashtag but I know it was before February = over 9 months. Yes, that long ago.
SoMeT is special because the public was involved from the beginning. The SoMeT Facebook page has been the hub for this conference. Destinations were asked to submit RFPs and then WE had a chance to vote for our favorites in the form of a Facebook contest. In the next step we were asked to provide suggestions of who WE wanted to hear speak at SoMeT.
Last week the SoMeT attendees received a small care package with temporary tattoos of the SoMeT logo. They were asked to be creative and post a photo of the tattoo on the SoMeT Facebook page. I opted for the “Jake and Elwood” style.
Who am I most excited to connect with IRL?
- Tom Martin: a leader in the tourism industry with great success “rebranding” Mardi Gras and QR Code knowledge.
- Joe Sorge from AJ Bombers: a restaurant in Milwaukee that received great success from twitter. I still need to take a road trip up there!
- Sheila Scarborough: an amazing blogger, business woman and role model who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice before, in Chicago and Austin.
- Andy Hayes: an internationally known travel writer, coach and superhero, now living in my favorite city (Seattle).
- Tom Rowe: a pioneer in the CVB social media world and the voice of @BaltimoreMD.
And then there’s the cult.
My twitter BFFs
I’ve been lucky enough to meet these fabulous ladies “in real life” at least once before. They are the first people I turn to when I need advice or want to share news. What started out as twitter BFFs has turned into an amazing group of support and knowledge. And yes, we’re all tourism geeks.
Beth Conway: I first met Beth at DMMI in Indy last year but we were twitter friends way before that. A single mom who’s extremely savvy in social media, she’s also the designer of the SoMeT logo and the #tourismchat logo. She organized the “SoMeT Party Plane” that connects in Chicago and has been keeping the SoMeT buzz going.
Sarah Page: I met Sarah twice now. Except it’s been for multiple times while I’ve been in Austin so I don’t think “twice” really fits. Sarah is my blogging inspiration. She puts a lot of thought and research into all of her work. Her kids taught me how to play Pokemon cards and she’s dubbed her spare room as “my room” even though I’ve only had the pleasure of staying at her house one time.
Betsy Decillis: The first time Betsy and I met was last May for #geekcation, a weekend trip where were tried to earn as many Foursquare badges as possible in Chicago. Betsy is the perfect twitter & Facebook friend because she always comments and responds. She is the voice behind @tourismchat and always looks outside the box when it comes to social media. We also share a love of animal kids (Cesare is the cutest cat I know).
Kat Hoppe: I’ve probably known Kat the longest. We were both asked to help with a social media session at ESTO in 2009 (Lake Tahoe) and since she was driving from Oregon, she offered to pick me up from the Reno airport. She even made a sign with my twitter name on it. It’s uncanny how many similarities we have. We both stay up way too late, wait until the last-minute to start projects and love our dogs. Even though she won’t admit it, I think she’s more of a geek than I am. She, and #esto09, are the reasons I need to add “air quotes” to my Flickr presentation on Thursday. Watch out for them!
The word “excited” doesn’t even come close to what I’m feeling right now. Next week is the first time EVER that we’ll be together as a group. SoMeT, are you ready for us?