Note from Phil: In my never ending quest to find out why people keep coming back to SOBCon, today I’m honored to share Leslie McLellan’s interview with you. From the moment I met Leslie, I knew she would be a perfect fit in the family – and wow – she did NOT disappoint. Heck, she works with Becky McCray and Sheila Scarborough in Tourism Currents – and they are wonderful alums, so she’s a natural to fit in with this conference. Of course, she brings her own brand of awesome to the table, and has her own reasons for attending SOBCon more than once. If you’re on the fence, read on and learn why Leslie McLellan loves SOBCon.
Phil Gerbyshak: Who are you – and what is your business focus?
Leslie McLellan: I’m Leslie McLellan and am thrilled you asked me about SOBCon! I have been in rural destination marketing my entire career (which is more than 20 years mind you) and along the way have worked a lot with small businesses too. I was a “traditional” marketer until late 2008 when my marketing budget for the resort town of Lake Arrowhead, CA was slashed to ZERO. That forced me into the world of social media and the destination had wonderful success because of it. One of the first people I met online was Becky McCray and it was from her postings that I learned of Liz Strauss and started following her. One year ago, I joined Becky and Sheila Scarborough (another SOBCon alum) in their business – Tourism Currents. In addition to being part of the Tourism Currents team, I am currently building a multicultural tourism marketing program for the city of San Jacinto, CA.
PG: When did you attend your first SOBCon – why did you sign up – and what
did you expect to get out of it?
LM: My first SOBCon, in real life, was last year in Chicago. However, I had followed tweets from earlier SOBCon’s for a couple of years. Since I joined Tourism Currents a few weeks before last year’s event, Becky and Sheila suggested I attend and we use SOBCon as a planning conference for our business. When they suggested that I was so excited, yet I was also very intimidated. SOBCon is for thought leaders and I wasn’t sure I was worthy to attend. I also thought it might be a bit “over my head” as I’m not a terribly techie person. BUT, I knew I would learn from the best so while nervous, my adrenaline was pumping!!
PG: Did you get what you expected (or more or less or just different) from
your first SOBCon?
LM: SOBCon passed my expectations in every way. It wasn’t over my head at all, I was able to contribute just as much as anyone. The sharing of ideas, the openness, was simply incredible. When you’re at SOBCon, everyone cares about your business just as much as you do and you respond in kind. It’s nothing short of an amazing experience.
PG: How many additional SOBCon events have you been to?
LM: None yet, but I CAN’T WAIT for my second SOBCon this May in Chicago.
PG: What keeps you coming back for more SOBCon?
1. The “ideas” that everyone provides for each other. Last year I was surprised by how the smallest, seemingly insignificant comment that someone would make would provide someone else with a huge idea that they could run with. SOBCon is filled with “cream of the crop” thought leaders and for the duration of the conference, that’s what you get and what you give – tons, let me repeat that, tons of wonderful thoughts and ideas that can move your business forward immediately. Everyone there has some expertise/insight to share and the sharing doesn’t quit with the end of the conference. That leads to my second reason for coming back…
2. The people. It’s crazy, I’ve never felt so much a part of any group from the get-go. There were no awkward “feeling out of place” moments. I was part of the group right away. SOBCon attendees have a bond that continues throughout the year. I talk regularly with many of the SOBCon “family” so anyone who is thinking about attending should look at the cost of the conference and truly spread that out over the entire year as the SOBCon community continues to share all year long. SOBCon is not a once and done conference, it lives on 365 days a year.
PG: What has been the biggest impact on your business because of SOBCon?
LM: Since I was new to Tourism Currents, SOBCon allowed us to lay out our goals and plan our business direction. What we accomplished at SOBCon has driven Tourism Currents all year long.
PG: What advice would you give someone thinking of attending SOBCon for
the first time?
LM: Be ready to rock and roll! You hit the ground running and your brain doesn’t turn off until you get home. The ideas flow continually, so be prepared to take the most comprehensive notes you’ve ever taken and be ready to implement what you learn as soon as you get home. This is the very best conference you can attend if you want to take your business to the next level. End of story.
PG: What advice would you give someone thinking of attending SOBCon for a
second (or more) time?
LM: Since this is going to be my second time I’ll share what I plan on doing and that is stretch beyond my initial SOBCon comfort zone and mix and mingle with people I don’t know as well (which is what we all need to do at anything we attend). But at SOBCon, there are so many interesting people that it’s very hard to break away and continue meeting new people. The group is so high caliber that it’s to each of our benefits to get to know as many attendees as possible.
PG: Anything else you’d like to share about the event or anything else?
LM: I’d like to reiterate what most people say about SOBCon and it’s the absolute truth….This event is “one of a kind.” There’s nothing else like it, nothing else goes as in-depth into your business as SOBCon, and if you’re ready to be successful, really successful, this is the one thing you should attend each and every year.
What are you waiting for?
Tickets to the 10th SOBCon are still available – but just a few. Sign up NOW and get connected to folks like Leslie and more!