Southern Cities Compete for Convention Business in Facebook Poll

Facebook users have chosen three Southern cities — Tunica, Miss.; Savannah, Ga.; and Knoxville, Tenn. — to compete for the opportunity to host the 2011 Social Media Tourism Symposium, or "SoMeT," event organizers announced last month.

The annual event — held for the first time last year, when it took place in Loudoun County, Va. — is a national convention on the use of social media in the tourism industry. In keeping with its theme, it chooses where to meet based on votes cast by its Facebook fans.

"We have to make the best decision for our attendees because we want people to come," SoMeT founder Dave Serino told the Savannah Morning News. "We think this is the future of meetings and conventions."

The winners of this year's contest — first-place Tunica, second-place Savannah and third-place Knoxville — will submit a full proposal this month to SoMeT, which will evaluate each destination based on factors such as meeting space, hotel rates and airlift. Ultimately, one winner will be an announced — likely in May — with the event to follow this Nov. 9-11.

According to SoMeT, which expects approximately 250 attendees at this year's meeting, a total of 2,915 individual votes were cast between March 16 and March 23.

Other contenders in this year's contest, in order of votes received — from most to least — were: Columbia, S.C.; El Paso, Texas; Aspen, Colo.; Portland, Ore.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Spokane, Wash.; and Cleveland, Ohio.