The Social Media Tourism Symposium (SoMeT), scheduled for Nov. 6-8, unites travel, tourism, hospitality and meeting professionals to examine social media's impact on the tourism industry.
In its fourth year, the social media symposium relies on social media to select its host city. Organizers of SoMeT have created a voting process through a Facebook application where advocates of each contending city can add their vote to strengthen their city's chances of securing the convention.
In this first round of the voting process, the 13 cities will be narrowed down to eight, according to which cities receive the most online votes. The eight finalists will then head into a bracket-style contest in which cities compete against each other one on one.
After Milwaukee fell into second place behind El Paso, Texas, last year, Visit Milwaukee – which is spearheading the social media campaign – is determined to rally votes full force.
"We are going to try our best, and we invite all of Milwaukee to join us and help us win this one," said Jeannine Sherman, director of public relations at Visit Milwaukee, an organization that markets the city to tourists and meeting planners.
Milwaukee would serve the symposium well because of the extensive leisure and business opportunities it has that often go unnoticed by outsiders, according to Sherman.
"(People) don't realize that we have so many amenities of a big city and we have a very relaxed attitude on top of that," Sherman said.
In addition to benefitting the local economy, the convention would help Milwaukee gain recognition as a desirable tourism and convention destination, according to Sherman.
"It's a super opportunity for us to really promote Milwaukee and really meet more people than we would with an ordinary convention," Sherman said.
Last year's online competition racked up more than three million impressions among all cities vying for the symposium.
The other 12 cities being considered for 2013 SoMeT are Branson, Mo.; Cleveland, Ohio; Eau Claire, Wis.; Eugene, Ore.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Huntsville, Ala.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Mississippi Gulf Coast, Miss.; Missoula, Mont.; Pocono Mountains, Pa.; Clearwater, Fla.; and Waterloo, Iowa.
Round one of voting began Wednesday and runs through 11 a.m. on Friday. Voters must have a Facebook account in order to participate and can access voting at http://woobox.com/pp8thu.