Industry brain drain in travel and tourism

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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10 Responses to Industry brain drain in travel and tourism

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Industry brain drain in travel and tourism | Sheila's Guide To The Good Stuff --

  2. Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners says:

    Interesting perspective Sheila. I have to say that, compared to two years ago, I’m finding more and more people stepping forward to say “we need to be on Facebook. Can you help?”

    More doesn’t mean majority, but it does mean more people on that lovely spear tip. 🙂
    Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners´s last [post] ..Private Sale Travel Clubs- The Sexy New Travel Startup

  3. Mags Doyle says:

    I cannot agree with this post more. I teach interns digital literacy and they often come up against such resistance I wonder, when will the digital divide end?

  4. Cody says:

    You tell ’em Sheila. Great post… some folks are coming around…. but the hill left to be climbed makes Everest look silly.
    Cody´s last [post] ..I have an idea but it completely relies on your participation

  5. Rich Tucker says:

    Part of being the most talented social media communicators is being able to show a positive ROI. If you are social media manager in the travel industry, you need to know what you and your bosses are measuring for success and then blow the numbers out of the water. I believe if you are generating significant revenue utilizing social media in the travel industry that you can get the pay you deserve. If you do not have preset goals and you are not measuring your results, then don’t expect to get paid. Very few industries have more to gain more from social media than travel. There are few jobs as fun and rewarding as a Social Media Management role in the Travel Industry. Hopefully, our industry’s most talented do not get scalped by other industries willing to pay more. I do believe that in all industries the social media communicator’s job to prove their value by showing a positive ROI.

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  7. Janet Engel says:

    Really appreciate the article–thanks so much for posting. I still hear Travel Industry owners stand by their belief that “their clients are not online”. I can only sigh….
    Janet Engel´s last [post] ..Lets experiment with some uni-tasking !

  8. Thanks for all of the retweets and wonderful feedback; I really appreciate it!

  9. So true, Sheila. That’s why we love you… tell it like it is. I consult with travel industry owners every day and tell them they have a choice to make. They can either help drive the bus, or get run over by it. And to Janet’s point, their customers absolutely are online, and I’d love to see the demographics of FB and Twitter users. I think they’re more upscale than most imagine. Rock on.

  10. Peri Re says:

    Great job Sheila – I always enjoy reading your posts and this one is right on!!!

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