MISSOULA, Mont. - A new social media campaign has Missoula in the running for a major economic boost and you can be a part of it.
NBC Montana told you about Get Social in Missoula; it's a face-off between 13 U.S. cities to decide which will host the 2013 Social Media Tourism Symposium.
Thursday afternoon we met with Missoula tourism coordinators to get the details about what hosting this symposium would mean to the city.
We found out it would be a huge economic boost for the local economy as the symposium would host anywhere from 300 to 400 top social media influencers.
We talked with Tia Troy, the public relations manager at Glacier Country Regional Tourism Commission, told us this could be huge news for Missoula.
"This crowd is a very social crowd and they want to experience the local community, the local atmosphere and they're going to be out enjoying the city and soaking up everything that it has to offer," said Troy. "The best part is they're going to be spending money directly into our locally owned businesses."
Tourism coordinators tell NBC Montana if Missoula wins they expect the symposium would bring in over $250,000 to the local economy, not to mention the long-term impacts of hundreds of social media influencers talking about Missoula as the place to visit.
Barbara Neilan, the executive director of Destination Missoula, says the symposium would offer an abundance of free advertising and press for Missoula but without the expensive price tag.
"The community who lands this conference gets huge national press that we couldn't garner by having to pay for it. We just couldn't afford to do it," said Neilan.
Troy says she was in El Paso, Texas, when they won last year and she couldn't believe the impact it had on their tourism industry.
Troy says if Missoula wins, the city would host the symposium the first week of November. During that time social media influencers would get to experience all of the delights Missoula has to offer such as easy access to outdoor recreation, shopping at local stores and, of course, tasting the great beer local brewers have to offer.
"The one thing that's great about social media for tourism is that it's a really affordable tool to help spread the word," says Troy. "Basically we'd be getting millions of dollars in free advertisement that going to be promoting Missoula and promoting Montana and that's only going to bring more people here, so make sure you get online and vote."
We checked which cities are in the running to host the symposium: Branson, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Eugene, Oregon; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Gulf Coast, Mississippi; Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania; Saint Pete/Clearwater, Florida; Waterloo, Iowa; and Missoula's toughest competition so far – Huntsville, Alabama.
Tourism advocates say with excellent restaurants, shops and some of the finest breweries in the state they think Missoula would be the perfect host for the tourism symposium.
"It's really going to let other people know that here in this valley there's this fantastic city with so many amenities like easy access to outdoor recreation and a character that you aren't going to find anywhere else," said Troy.
"We can get it done, Missoula's got the spirit and that's the thing that's so great about this community," said Neilan. "Missoula absolutely has the spirit when something like this happens."
We checked the vote count at 10:20 p.m. Thursday, and the poll reported Missoula trailing Huntsville by exactly 787 votes.
You do not have to live in Missoula or Montana to cast your vote for Missoula, so tourism coordinators invite you to tell out-of-state friends and family to cast their votes too.
We will find out the top eight finalists Friday and it will be narrowed down from there. The championship final is April 2.
To vote click here!