Internet, Marketing, Travel & Tourism

Making conferences social

By William Bakker | 04.11.12 | Comment?

Conferences are inherently social. People gather to learn and discuss topics that they are passionate about with people who care as much about it as they do. Yet the way conferences are created and promoted are incredibly traditional.

There’s a better way: bake social into the conference.

A good example is the Social Media Tourism Symposium Think!’s very own Dave Serino started in 2010. The mission statement describes what the conference is all about:

The symposium is a combination of destination marketing organizations, hotels, resorts, attractions and any other tourism related entities sharing ideas and learning more about how social media is effecting promotion within the travel industry.

What makes this conference unique is the involvement of attendees throughout the entire process. Attendees will have a voice in everything from the location to the session topics and presenters.

By involving the people who care about the subject matter in the planning process, Dave creates a conference that is more relevant and, therefore, more likely to be attended by the people who helped create it. Because all of this happens in social media, people who care are also promoters of the event.

For example, the destination selection process is driven by the SoMeT Facebook community. DMOs respond to an RFP and the Facebook community votes where the conference is going to be held. The 2012 selection process is entering the final stages.

In the process, people also get to know each other. They make friends online and want to attend the conference to meet those new friends.

This is what conferences are all about. Going to a cool place, learning relevant things and meeting new friends. By baking social media into the conference itself (instead of looking at it as an advertising vehicle) you make conferences more relevant with attendees who feel strongly connected and want to help make the event a success.

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