Sheila Scarborough

Social Media for Tourism Leadership: Sheila Scarborough

Sheila Scarborough is a speaker and trainer specializing in tourism, travel, and social media. She’s written for many blogs and print publications and is also a certified Navy Master Training Specialist, with years of experience as an instructor.

Along with Leslie McLellan, she’s part of the Tourism Currents team, offering an online course and in-person training in social media for tourism and hospitality.

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Leadership Qualities

Surprisingly, sometimes depth of knowledge is not as important as the ability to ask the right questions.

Does the experience of military leadership translate easily into the business world?

The greatest struggle can be in having been used to being on a team. As a solo entrepreneur “there’s no one to turn to, until you can hire someone you trust enough”. This is especially challenging for people who’ve been in very senior military positions.

It’s a constant learning process, as a leader. If you ever think you have it all figured out, that means you think you have human beings all figured out. And you’re wrong.

A key issue for leaders is keeping up with change – which means continuous learning

You’ve got to be educating yourself and letting yourself be foolish and letting yourself go and learn things and do things that maybe mean being a little uncomfortable and silly, but that’s how you learn.

Social Media and Tourism

Tourism Currents’ primary client group is the larger tourism organizations, but those organizations ask for help with social media training for tourism partners (hospitality, destinations…), so Tourism Currents have been doing quite a bit of partner training.

Some observations on that:

  • People get too concerned about the technology
  • Need to think of using social media as a different way to do what you’ve always done (in promoting your destination)
  • People become frozen with the options available – have to get people to focus

You don’t have to be on every social channel. You need to be on the ones where your market is.

Key advice they provide for these tourism partners – two essential steps

  1. Claim your business on Google My Business. Fill out all the information, upload pictures, respond to reviews
  2. Maintain one really good Facebook page

Do those two things well and you’ll probably survive…

It’s a long game: needs patience.

Social Media in Different Countries and With Different Cultural Groups

A number of things are the same everywhere.

One of the challenges – everywhere – is in getting people to understand that using social media effectively has to go beyond “pumping out the updates”. There has to be interaction.

Some say they hadn’t been told there was an expectation for interaction.

The Impact of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality on Tourism

Are virtual reality/augmented reality a threat to tourism destinations? Sheila does not believe so. She used the example of experiencing a virtual tour of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, in Winnipeg. Far from feeling she had seen enough, the experience made her want to visit the actual museum.

People still want to go and visit the Grand Canyon in person.

More about Sheila and Contact Details

Sheila is on the National Professional Development Committee for the AWC (Association for Women in Communications,) co-founded and still writes for the award-winning Perceptive Travel blog, helps run #tourismchat on Twitter, and serves on the Programming Committee for SXSWi, the South by Southwest Interactive tech conference.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Sheila is an NHRA drag racing fan “because there is one winner, one loser, and no whining”.

You can contact Sheila via the Tourism Currents site, which includes a blog and various resources.

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Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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