ET: Presenter Spotlight: Jennifer Barbee

 ET Summit Update:  New session added: How one destination attracted over 20,000 Facebook fans and 1.5 million web 2.0 hits to their website…go to: to see the full agenda.

PRESENTER SPOTLIGHT:  Jennifer Barbee, Presidenjb_Headshot (2)t, Jennifer Barbee, Inc. 

Session: What Will Travel Websites Look Like in The Future?

Q: Last time we met was when you spoke at ET Summit in NYC in 2005 when you were running working for your aunt Leah Woolford.  You’re now on your own, why did you leave and what have you done since?

A: I left USDM in late 2006.  As far as why, why does anyone choose to follow their own path? Sometimes it’s just in us to make a change and invest in ourselves.  I actually didn’t start my company directly after I left.  I took some much needed time off and investigated what it was about Interactive and Tourism that made it my siren song.  In July of 2007, I had been getting so many consulting requests  from DMOs, that I realized if I didn’t get back the industry was going to drag me back… So, here I am. 

 We have consulted and created strategy at many levels of interactive needs.  For instance, we run the boutique agency for clients like Panama City Beach, Baton Rouge, Loudoun County, VA,  Bradenton Area CVB.  And, we also have executed custom consulting jobs like in Minneapolis, where we were asked to redesign their in-house agency to fit the growing trends of an open brand vs. a traditional strategy.  And, we partner with unlikely companies, educating both our competition (coop-etition) and DMOs on our particular open source approach to marketing online.  We have an education arm to our firm, JB University – which is our labor of love to provide any and all education, completely transparent to the Travel Industry.   

Q: What will your presentation be focusing on at E-Tourism Summit?  

A: The future of Web Design and Websites.  We (the travel industry) are still building these proprietary monster sites, and it’s the beginning of the end for that.  This is the age of Open Source and content distribution.  In the coming 3 years we will separate the men from the boys so to speak in the interactive realm.  The best client is a knowledgeable one, one that aids in attacking problems with you. With billions of sites on the web, and millions of those focused to users in this industry, our main marketing tool should always be the forefront of discussion and making that tool stand apart in some way from the rest.  My presentation is going to dig in to the factors that make tomorrow’s web site … I think the attendees will be surprised to hear the real trends.  I’ll save those trade secrets for the show:)

Q. What social networks do you belong?  How often do you post? How do you find the time to keep up?

A: My Blog, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Linked In, Digg and about 10 more that we use depending on the topics.,,,

We post daily to the blog, several times a day to FB and Twitter, and the others are worked in based on topics.  For us, social media is more than just  our own networking – it’s about getting dirty and rolling our sleeves up, to both leverage practical applications and foresee important trends for clients.  We have over 6,700 Twitter followers and  I take our social networking very seriously.  I just recently wrote a blog post about my soapbox of creating social sites then abandoning them. How often do we post?  Several times a day…with a vengeance.

Q: How do you balance everything you do with a family life?  

A: I have a lovely family that drives me to excel and balance this crazy life.  My husband, Drew worked for EDS, where he managed infrastructure for the Navy’s bases in the Western Hemisphere.  Last year, we decided that we wanted to grow this company together, and he is now with JB Inc.  So, I get to see him 24 hours.  My two girls are also in the mix, Dakota is 9 and going on 15 like most girls her age.  Andrea is 7 and a live wire!  Both of the girls travel with us on client trips.  This year, we spent two weeks in New York, a week in Phoenix and it worked out great.  Blackberrys are a beautiful thing, and allow me flexibility in my work/play.  Balance for us is about integration, and having fun in everything we do.  Life is life…on the job or off. 

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