Emily Forsha and Katherine Hoppe at the Social Media Tourism Symposium in Huntsville AL (courtesy SoMeT on Facebook)

The magic of a great meeting; Emily Forsha and Katherine Hoppe at the Social Media Tourism Symposium in Huntsville AL (courtesy SoMeT on Facebook)

As social media becomes simply a way to communicate in the tourism and hospitality industries and no longer some exotic new thing, many CVBs (Convention and Visitors Bureaus) and DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) are talking about whether they should set up separate social media channels to support their sales work with meeting and event planners.

Often called Convention Services or just Sales teams, this is a more B2B side of the tourism industry than the staff people who are focused on providing customer service to “regular” visitors and tourists.

Frankly, many in convention sales have been slow to adopt social media as a way to connect and network with their meeting planner market, but more and more are waking up to the possibilities and they often start asking for their own social media accounts with names like “Meet in YourCity” or @YourCityMeetings.

Does this make sense? Should convention/meeting services social accounts be separate and distinct, or should their information be rolled into the main “Visit YourCity” destination social platforms?

I agree with the assessment below from one of the smartest folks in tourism, Gathan Borden, who handles social communications for both the Louisville, Kentucky CVB and the Bourbon Country brands. He gave me permission to republish his advice from a discussion forum thread on this topic:

“We had a separate sales channel about 4 years ago, and then our services team wanted a channel as well. After we looked at it from a 30,000-foot view, it didn’t make sense for them to have separate channels, as their content was duplicating the efforts of our primary destination channel.

Instead, I brought in our services manager(s) to the social media team to do concierge posts through our main destination channel. I’ve also developed a social media plan for the services managers and for planners that is populated with pre-written posts about our destination; all they have to do is plug and play. Any of our service managers have access to our networks and can log in, but the content is already written for them so it takes the thinking out of their hands and still leaves the content with the marketing department.

We have also implemented a hashtag for our meetings in town – #AskLou – and anyone who uses that will get a response from someone on our team, or from locals. For the planners, they now have the same thing and don’t have to make up anything on their own.

Every destination is different, but really assess the following things:

(1) What content will they be publishing [on the Sales side]

(2) Is that content strong enough to sustain a separate channel?

(3) Do you have the resources to populate that channel on a consistent basis?

(4) What is your measurement for success? [I love that Gathan asks this. Don’t set up social channels ‘just because.’]

(5) Is it worth building up something new as opposed to capitalizing on what already exists?”

Telling the story of your destination and ALL of its offerings, including meeting venues, is a team effort. It’s all customer service. I think that with few exceptions, a meetings-only set of accounts is destined to wither as people naturally turn to the “big” destination accounts that are more active and can answer the same questions (if properly staffed as Gathan describes above.)

What do you think? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments….

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