It all began just a little more than 11-years ago. And, it was born out of what I saw as a need. Many of my fellow tourism colleagues and industry friends were struggling with this new medium called the internet. The struggles were centered around marketing and how these things called web sites could be leveraged as promotional tools.
At that time, the internet was in its infancy, and many were doubting the pure sustainability and longevity of the web. They were not even considering the power it possessed as a marketing medium. I am not sure what it was, but from the first time I was introduced to the internet in 1995, I felt that the world wide web would change how we did business in the tourism industry. And, today, we all know it has.
So, with some vision – although it wasn’t always clear – and a lot of hard work, I launched Gammet Interactive on September 23, 2000. I was so excited when I got my first project – working with a start up meetings dotcom in the metro Detroit area. Then, based on the relationships that I established during my 10-year career in the hospitality and tourism industry, projects began to flow in. I would type customized solicitation emails to potential clients at night in my basement, program them to be sent during the day, and then do follow up calls sitting in my parked car during my lunch breaks at my first client project. The most satisfying achievement was that each project was built on the last one – all based on colleagues trusting in my judgment and ability.
Initially, I started consulting on web site design, usability and marketability. I gave clients direction, and for the most part, it worked well when it was implemented. Then as the web evolved, so did the projects. They varied from search engine optimization to research to email marketing. And, in the last few years, they have been dominated by social media strategies and online marketing plan development. The projects have become a bit more complicated and time consuming, but no matter what the project is, I’ve found that my enthusiasm for the work has never waned.
Like many of you, I learned on the fly. I spent my nights reading and researching new internet marketing trends and my days attempting to apply them to the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. As time went on, many of my clients asked me to “Tell them more…” – which developed into an educational deliverable. This added another flourishing segment of my business model and opened the door for me to become an instructor in the Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI) Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME) program. Another byproduct of that segment developed into what you may know as the annual Symposium on the Use of Social Media in the Tourism Industry or #SoMeT.
If there has been one constant over the last eleven years, it is my passion for strategic online marketing and how it applies to the travel and tourism industry. I have truly been blessed with an ability to understand the medium and communicate this message to my industry peers. I started this business because I wanted to do a job that no one really understood, nor could they allocate enough funds to justify full time employment.
In business terms, I am the marketing and communications guy. My true love and interest lies in the areas of client relationship management, education and strategic marketing application. I love to roll up my sleeves and get deep into a project. If you look at me in football terms, I am best suited as an offensive coordinator –working with a focused group, drawing up plays and strategically working to out-position the competition. And while I have seen great success as the head coach of my team of two, I know I can serve my clients better with the resources and support of a larger team.
In the last few years, organizations have recognized the value of strategic online marketing personnel. About a year and half ago, I decided to look for an organization that approached business the way I did philosophically and then determine if my background and professional interests were a nice fit. My goal was to continue to do the things I love to do, in a collaborative environment with a like-minded team.
After discussions with nearly a dozen different agencies and organizations, I found a fit with Think! Social Media from Vancouver, Canada. We first met last year, when the organization became the title sponsor of the inaugural Symposium for the Use of Social Media in the Tourism Industry. After a quick phone call, I determined this group is willing to take calculated risks and believes in approaching business with trust through relationships. A year later, a few Skype calls, a visit to Vancouver – where I got to meet the Green Men; and a conversation in New Orleans – we closed the deal.
So, today, I would like to officially announce the merger of Gammet Interactive and Think! Social Media. Over the next two months, we will be working together to combine systems and develop a temporary work flow process. Our goal is to begin to build out a Michigan-based US office within the next year to have the appropriate operational and marketing staff to support the growing need and scope of tourism social media projects. Fortunately for me, my role will be focused on my strengths and passions – working on client development, creating strategic approaches to projects and working on educational out-reach.
A new chapter for me begins today! I would like to thank all of you who have supported Gammet Interactive over the last eleven years. Without you, none of this would have been possible!
And, I am looking forward to working with you on our next project at Think! Social Media!