SoMeT 2010 logoAlthough it’s not on the official schedule for this week’s first-ever Symposium on the Use of Social Media in the Tourism Industry where I’ll be speaking on travel blogging (follow the #SoMeT hashtag on Twitter or the SoMeT Twub for related tweets) I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that hallway and evening social discussions will include this topic….

Brain drain.

Those who understand, appreciate and embrace communicating with visitors on the social Web are getting really tired of working for and with those who do not.

I hear the same plaintive words when I speak about social media at conferences….and not always from young people, either….

“Would you please tell all that to my boss?” “How can I succeed at this when Facebook is blocked at my office?” “My boss only wants copy from our website on our Facebook Page, not conversations with anyone on our Wall.” “My co-workers say that Twitter is dumb and no one who visits us is on it.” “I wish I could work with people like me.”

Three things are going to happen in the near future:

1)  As soon as the economy improves, the best and brightest social media communicators, at all levels, are going to leave their tourism organization as fast as they can, to work somewhere that appreciates and supports their skill set.

2)  Organizations that grasp the opportunities presented by social media will poach the best and brightest from “Slowville CVB” as soon as finances permit, and the poachees will gladly go somewhere that appreciates and supports their skill set.

3)  Organizations not currently onboard will get it. They’ll realize that social media is not “something the intern does,” but rather now a core communications and marketing capability. They will appreciate, integrate and fund it accordingly.

That Number 3 option?  Often, it won’t happen. Those are some of the same folks who blew off the impact of the Web and mobile phones.

The first-ever SoMeT conference in Loudoun County, Virginia this week – you can still drop everything, look at the speakers and register here – will be attended by people who very much “get it,” and are on the front lines with visitors every day both online and off.  I give full credit to the organizations that are paying the way of their hard-working employees, or that would pay for them to go, if they could afford it.

There are, however, other tourism professionals who are taking personal leave and paying out of pocket to attend – not because of funding restrictions, but because thanks to a recalcitrant boss, there’s no other way to get there.

It’s lonely at the “tip of the spear,” but those who are there right now need not despair.

People will either catch up with you and laud your sense of vision, or you will end up someplace that is happy to have you precisely because of who you are and how you connect online with your visitors and supporters.

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