Ashley White, Digital Communications Manager, Beaumont CVB
Ashley White, Digital Communications Manager at Beaumont CVB is a Simpleview Summit veteran. She will be attending Simpleview Summit for the sixth time this year.
Primarily a Simpleview CMS user, Ashley first attended Summit in 2010 "to figure out what I was doing."
"I knew nothing about websites before I started at the bureau," said Ashley. "Not only did I learn how to build a website at Summit, but build it better each year."
Ashley says she learned about SEO, responsive site design, and how to use different CMS modules and widgets to not only make their destination website look better, but also have better functionality.
"We had a Ferrari but were only driving on one wheel. We had a great system, but I was the only one who used it. I would go (to Summit) to see what's new and what we could do better."
As the Beaumont CVB's needs evolved, Ashley's reasons for attending Summit became multi-faceted. In addition to working with Simpleview CMS, the Beaumont CVB decided to do more with Simpleview CRM. "When we started discussing CRM two years ago, I attended CRM sessions at Summit," said Ashley. "I wanted to learn beyond the basic, take that stuff back to the team and answer questions."
"Now, I feel I need to go every year," she said. While Ashley has attended each year between 2013 and 2016, this year is the first year since 2010 when additional members of the Beaumont CVB team will be attending Summit along with her. "We're bringing five people this year," she said, including their Director of Marketing, Director of Sales, and their Tourism Director. "The majority of our staff will be at summit and attend the pre-summit training."
This dedicated and hard-working Digital Communications Manager and veteran Summit attendee sums up her feelings about Simpleview Summit pretty succinctly: "Hands down my favorite conference that I attend every year."
How Ashley Makes Summit Work for Her
She goes to learn. What makes Summit worthwhile for Ashley is the educational factor, primarily the training sessions and roundtables. She appreciates "the opportunity for hands-on, specific training based on area of interest," and is particularly fond of the roundtables because they are broken up to deliver specific information on one subject, such as CRM or SEO.
"I do feel I really get a lot education-wise, learning how we can use what we have better, more efficiently," said Ashley. Yet she pays attention to what's new, too, and the next tools they might want to get for their team.
She takes notes. Ashley not only learns project specifics and best practices from training sessions and roundtables, she also pays attention to the stories of other attendees and what's working for them. "Although we are smaller, I still seek to emulate larger organizations and take notes."
She networks. While Ashley admits her primary reason for attending Summit is education, she adds, "the networking is awesome, too. I love to see everybody."
"The one reason summit is so unique is that it is specific to Simpleview clients," said Ashley. "This is a huge advantage. If you go to talk to somebody, you know they speak your language...speak not just CRM or CMS but Simpleview CRM or CMS. Attendees do the same thing but for a different destination. They have the same problems or can offer a solution for our situation."
"I've been in the industry a long time," said Ashley, "so I know more and more people. (Summit) gives me the ability to talk to and learn from these people. I use every networking opportunity I can."
With all she's learned about Simpleview CMS, Ashley also feels confident reaching out to and talking to new people, helping them learn in the same way she does from everyone she has met. This mentoring spirit is another positive aspect that enhances the unique experience of Summit. Not only do the Simpleview staff and trainers want to help DMO teams reach their highest level of success, but DMO teams, user group members, marketing experts and more are enthusiastic about providing insights and advice to anyone looking to get the best out of their technology and service offerings.
She connects with her Simpleview team. Ashley uses Summit as an opportunity to talk with her Account Manager and SEO Analyst face-to-face with a pre-scheduled team meeting. She said of her SEO Analyst, Tracy Legault, "Tracy is awesome. Any time I have a question, she'll get it answered."
Ashley is also a fan of the "Ryan and Greg Show," a presentation given by Simpleview CEO Ryan George and VP of Sales & Account Services, Greg Evans. "Greg was the first person I ever met. He met with us on my first launch in 2010," said Ashley. "They're funny. They epitomize the Simpleview family," she said of the two, adding, "Simpleview is kind of like the common destination between all of the destinations...the common meeting ground, level playing field. Everyone at Simpleview is very friendly and like a big family."
She returns to what works. Not only does she return to Summit each year to get hands-on training based on her DMOs changing needs, she returns to a process she learned at Summit to pitch changes to decision-makers. "If there was a specific project (I wanted to tackle), like moving to a responsive site or doing a redesign or redoing a sitemap, I'd give examples from Simpleview." The "Situation, Solution, Results" session was the most helpful to Ashley, helping her outline her project to decision-makers in a way that showed what she thought the organization needed to accomplish, how Simpleview could help them meet those goals, and the results they should be able to expect. She keeps the SSR document from the session and uses it as needed.
Ashley's Advice to First Timers
- "Definitely plan ahead. There's a lot you can do to plan ahead. Look at the schedule. Figure out what your want to get out of it. CMS? CRM? In my opinion SEO is always important. It's important to go with specific intentions. Think about your end goals before you go."
- "Talk to your (Simpleview) team face to face. I talk to my Account Manager, my SEO Analyst. It's important that you meet those people and develop a relationship with them." There is time set aside for pre-scheduled team meetings on Sunday, April 2, Monday, April 3, and Thursday, April 6.
Jacob Burke, Digital Marketing Manager, Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Jacob Burke, Digital Marketing Manager at Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, attended his first Simpleview Summit after only one month on the job. He's attending his third summit this year and looking forward to not only learning and networking more, but being a resource for others, something he also accomplishes as a Simpleview CRM user-group member.
Jacob feels he left his first visit to Summit with "a better tool set to handle the administration of our CRM system." This year, this voracious and enthusiastic learner and Digital Marketing Strategist looks forward to gaining even deeper CRM knowledge, especially about what's new with the platform; connecting in person with attendees he met at previous Summits; the "beefed up" digital marketing track; the new Summit app; and meeting with Sam Brace, Simpleview's Director Of Product Education, and Jennifer Spoelma, our Product Education Strategist, post-summit.
How Jacob Makes Summit Work for Him
He digs for deeper insights. While Jacob appreciates the detailed knowledge he gains through the Summit trainings, he also knows that it's impossible to attend every session. Therefore, he puts a lot of thought into which sessions he does attend. Just as Ashley White suggests, he attends with specific intentions. "For me specifically, the focus is on CRM," said Jacob. "I take a hard look at what is being presented and compare that to what areas I may need to know more on."
"The pre-conference training was very useful to me," said Jacob. "It was important as a new user to the CRM system and even last year as a returning user, because CRM is always changing."
This touches on a key element that keeps Summit attendees like Jacob and Ashley coming back year after year. There is always something new to learn, something innovative being unveiled, a fresh perspective being shared.
"Master of the CRM Universe" was one training session that resonated with Jacob and provided useful takeaways for him in the past. He appreciated the deep dive into the administrative section of the system. Another presentation that stood out to Jacob was Sacramento CVB's Extranet Partner Engagement Session. (Learn more about Sacramento's experience here.)
Jacob also finds the CRM roundtables, while brief in length, to be a valuable educational component, as they are led by analysts or developers who are experts in the specific areas they're addressing.
He takes notes for his team. For his team back at the office, Jacob tries to establish beforehand who needs help where and to note sticking points. At Summit, he compares how they use the system compared to other destinations. Then he'll try to attend sessions that address these areas and take notes for others.
He networks...and keeps networking. "Networking is an invaluable opportunity. We're in our own little world with our destination, so being able to interface in person is really a necessary element. There are people I try to seek out...like people I met the first year. We've shared info back and forth." Scheduled breaks and meals, Open Evening on Tuesday, and Pre-Conference Activities all offer opportunities for interacting with fellow attendees and sharing lessons learned within training sessions and roundtables.
Jacob's Advice to First Timers
- Plan ahead. "You have to plan. You can't attend every session, it's impossible. You need to go to the sessions that are in your area, or as an administrator, where you may need to hop around." The Summit website schedule and new Summit app can help you plan which sessions and roundtables to attend.
- Take in as much as you physically can. From pre-conference trainings and newcomer sessions to roundtables and presentations to post-summit scheduled team meetings, Jacob has seized every available opportunity to learn more and found value in each piece. Post-summit, presentation slide decks and recordings of some of the sessions are available in the document library of the Client Portal, so you can learn even more even if you missed a session during the event.
- Put yourself out there. "By introducing yourself to people, you're going to get more information and references. Go to receptions. Get to that newcomer reception. You meet people that are in the same position and you can learn from them in a more relaxed, intimate setting. I'm still in touch with and sharing ideas with people I met at the newcomer session," Jacob said. He advises, "Don't just find people with your title ... we all take on more than what we originally applied for. Get out there and network."
- Meet with your team. Jacob feels it's key to schedule an in-person meeting with your Simpleview team. He's even adjusted his flights to later hours to build in more time to meet Simpleview staff face-to-face, and Simpleview team members have been flexible with scheduling time while he's still in town. There is time set aside for pre-scheduled team meetings on Sunday, April 2, Monday, April 3, and Thursday, April 6.
So, Summit Newcomers ... how will you make Summit 2017 work for you?