Vancouver asks for votes to secure bid to host social media event

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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The Hilton Vancouver Washington is in the running to host a conference on the use of social media in the tourism industry, and local tourism boosters say they need area residents’ votes to seal the deal.

The Vancouver USA Regional Tourism office has already been ranked second out of 16 possible conference sites by organizers of the 2012 Social Media in Tourism Symposium (#SoMeT12), the nonprofit said Monday.

Organizers of the symposium — led by Think! Social Media, a boutique digital marketing agency, are using a bracket format to pit destinations against each other. The location that receives the most votes on #SoMeT’s Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/SoMeTourism) will move up to the next bracket until two are left. Then organizers of the symposium will choose the winner.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be competing for this symposium, which would not only boost the local economy but provide an educational opportunity in the field of social media, which is constantly evolving,” Kim Bennett, president and CEO of the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism office, said in a news release. “We hope to put Vancouver on the map as a leader in this industry. And we are calling on our community to help us secure this piece of business by voting for us.”

Votes are being cast from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday.

The symposium will be held Nov. 7-9. It’s a workshop for marketing organizations, hotels, resorts and other tourism-related businesses that want to learn about how social media are influencing promotional activities within the travel industry.

Jill Daniel, marketing and communications manager for the Vancouver tourism office, said organizers of the symposium initially received 19 applications nationally to host the event.

That list was whittled to 16, and Vancouver — the only West Coast finalist — ranked No. 2 based on certain criteria, including hotel room rates, the availability of Wi-Fi and proximity to an airport. It was also important for an applicant to have previously hosted a similar social media event.

In 2011, the Hilton Vancouver Washington was the site of the 140 Characters Conference, a popular social media forum.

Daniel said more than 200 people are expected to attend the 2012 Social Media in Tourism Symposium. She estimated the event would have a direct economic impact on the community of $175,000.