There were many moments to celebrate at last month's 10th Annual Simpleview Summit. With over 500 tourism professionals and over 150 Simpleview staff in attendance, the event has grown over the last decade to become one of the largest DMO-focused user conferences in the nation. The Simpleview Summit returns next year, April 4-7, for more destination marketing trends, cutting-edge tools and professional networking.
In honor of the 10th anniversary, we've broken down our Summit recap into the ten most notable highlights.
1) Opening Session - Ryan George, Simpleview CEO
After a lively, dubstep-rhythmed stroll down memory lane, Simpleview CEO Ryan George took the stage and welcomed attendees to Summit. George spoke to the paradigm shift that transitioned the company from hardcoded websites to empowering backend toolsets, which we know today as content management systems. That was back in 2000. The philosophy stuck, and today Simpleview CRM and Simpleview CMS have evolved exponentially, arriving at a unified code base that removes the final barriers from "non-stop, no-holds-barred ruthless innovation."
George quickly switched gears from looking back to striving forward, as he revealed new products (below), demoed virtual reality in meeting spaces, and even mused the idea of space itself! George dwelled on the last point in particular, noting the milestones made by companies like SpaceX in just a decade. And with that, the entire audience raised a champagne toast towards continuing to reaching towards the stars and industry innovation - all before 9am!
2) Destination Dashboards
A number of products were officially revealed at the Simpleview Summit, one of which included the new Destination Dashboards. The new dashboards is a standalone product that can pull in a number of feeds to be viewed in one centralized dashboard, eliminating multiple logins and report building. Data feeds such as Google Analytics, social media, blogs, Airline lift, POS systems and more can be pulled in and displayed in an assortment of 100s of graph layouts.
3) Celebrating Over a Decade of Partnership
The second day of Summit began with acknowledging numerous attendees for their ongoing partnership. Asaka Narumi of Visit Pittsburgh and Luke Weinman of South Shore CVA were honored for attending all ten Simpleview Summits and achieving "Perfect Attendance." Andrea Robyns and Nicole Holden were both honored for their prowess with the #SVSummit15 event hashtag, while 47 DMOs were honored for their five years of partnership with Simpleview. Lastly, a total of 17 DMOs were recognized for over a decade each of partnership.
4) More Trainings Than Ever Before
This year we had over 80 different presentations combined between the trainings, roundtables and demos, and that doesn't even include the brand new open discussion labs, created to give advanced attendees the opportunity to ask their burning questions to our staff. Topics ranged from how developers could customize the new Simpleview CMS, to creating an advertising program for your DMO, to CRM tips and tricks, email insights and SEO best practices. Every attendee had the chance to tailor their experience to their training desire, with opportunities to switch between roundtables, trainings and open discussions at will.
5) Industry Trends from Google Travel Vertical
It was a pleasure having Eric Kaufmann from Google Travel Vertical speak at this year's Summit. Kaufmann's message to DMOs was loud and clear: "Travelers are looking for inspiration with video." It would take over 200 years alone to consume all the travel content currently on Youtube, and while 71% of travel related Youtube queries are for destinations, it takes great, evergreen content to make your media standout.
Kaufmann also reiterated the importance of mobile friendly sites, noting Google's recent algorithm that now gives greater priority to mobile friendly sites in searches.
6) Getting Social with #SVSummit15
The tourism industry is no stranger to social media, and it showed with our event hashtag usage. The hashtags #SVSummit15 and #SVSummit2015 were used over 380 times combined on Instagram, and over 401 times on Twitter. Moments from the champagne toast, closing party, product reveals, training sessions and more were shared in the form of pictures, video and status updates. To see what the buzz is about, check out our Storify album.
7) Ten Years of Tucson
The annual Simpleview Summit has always been hosted in Tucson, and highlights the city with networking excursions downtown and at local attractions. This year the conference shuttled attendees to Kartchner Caverns, as well as downtown to try out the city's new street car service. Previous years featured trips to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Sabino Canyon, and other tourist hotspots
This year's event was hosted at the beautiful JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa. The site featured spectacular mountain views, a daily 5:30pm tequila toast, and gorgeous amenities including the infamous lazy river. If you missed out on the resort this year, fear not! Next year returns to the JW Marriott for our 11th annual event.
8) Over 200 Meetings with Simpleview Staff
One distinct feature of the Simpleview Summit has always been the commitment to time with our staff. Not only does a majority of the Simpleview staff attend our networking events and training sessions (even the one's in different time zones), but all client-facing staff is available to pre-schedule meetings with before, during and after the event, if for nothing else than to review where you are at with you services and to match a name to a face. This year, those discussions amounted to over 200 team meetings!
9) Client Panels on Restaurant Weeks, Craft Beers and More
This year we had some really awesome panels exploring modern DMO initiatives. One of the most popular presentations, "Get Buzzed on Craft Beer: Tourism Best Practices" featured insights from Kelly McGrail of Experience Grand Rapids and Shannon Paige of Visit Denver. The presentation included best practices from both DMO's festivals and programs, as well as some sexy data on the craft beer process, and of course, the smelling of hops and tasting of a few local brews.
Other panels were conducted to discuss restaurant weeks, guest bloggers and more.
10) The Simpleview Summit Spring Fling Carnival
It wouldn't be a Summit without a Simpleview closing party, and this one may have taken the cake. Themed "The Simpleview Summit Spring Fling Carnival," the event featured numerous activities to network over, from carnival games, ping pong and foosball, to fortune tellers, caricature artists and sassy hecklers on stilts.... and did we mention a dunk tank?
In addition to the silent auction benefitting Tourism Cares, a nonprofit that restores and preserves valuable destinations, quite a bit of money was also raised by those eager enough to submerge CEO Ryan George, COO Scott Wood, and of course the real money maker, VP of Sales and Account Services Greg Evans at the dunk tank. The night ended with drinks, a surplus of food, and live music from the house band, the Flock O'SQLs, as well as an 80's cover band (both of which came together at the end for a power rendition of "Uptown Funk").
Want to learn more about next year's conference? Visit the Summit website for more information.