Each year, the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) hosts Marketing College, a week-long curriculum that teaches marketing techniques from all facets of the tourism industry. This year, it was held in June in Macon, Georgia. Simpleview awarded scholarships to two communications professionals from client destination marketing organizations (DMOs).
Sarah Howard is the director of marketing and communications at Visit Pleasant Prairie. She’s been in the tourism industry for two years. Andrew Felts is a marketing and communication coordinator at Visit Mobile, and he’s been in the industry for eight months. For both, it was their first time attending Marketing College.
Instructors are industry-related professionals from across the United States who bring a working knowledge of current trends, data, and implementation for tourism and travel. Katlynn Land, training and development manager at Simpleview, taught four sessions at this year’s program: UGC and Internet Privacy, Management by CRM, User Experience, and Google Analytics Basics.
Howard and Felts both said they returned to their respective DMOs energized and eager to implement some of their learnings, as well as to continue on the program’s three-year path. They reflected on their experience in the form of a Q&A to share with other DMO marketers the value they found in attending.
What was your overall experience like at Marketing College?
The quality of educational programming was fantastic. Having the opportunity to speak individually with presenters throughout the week was very beneficial. My favorite part of the experience was that it was real and honest. None of the presenters felt like they were trying to sell their agency’s business. They were there to teach you and pass along tricks of the trade they have learned along the way.
Amazing – I loved learning from so many industry professionals that challenged me to look at the work I was doing through a different lens and see how I can pivot and do things differently. As a new travel and tourism professional, I really loved learning from such passionate people, from presenters to attendees and their success and failure over the years.
What sessions did you find the most interesting or relevant for your job?
My top two sessions were “Product Development” and “Festival & Events.” I felt these two were the most in-depth that had exceptional examples.
My absolute favorite session was “The Power of Partnerships” with Jay Markwalter about the importance of partnering with community leaders and stakeholders in destination development. I also gained so much knowledge from “Public Relations 101” and “Social Media Content Planning and Distribution.”
How do you think attending Marketing College might impact your career going forward?
It will be for the better. I was able to generate ideas during STS Marketing College thanks to the learning environment they foster that encourages in-class participation (with honest feedback).
I have fallen in love with the travel and tourism industry and the mission of DMO’s around the country. Attending STSMC allowed me to meet so many amazing people in the industry across the Southeast and allowed me to create connections that I believe will stay strong throughout the rest of my time in the industry; from calling my peers to bounce ideas off of them, supporting them when they face a challenging time, sharing success stories or helping me in my future career moves.
Howard and Felts were two of the 244 students who attended in 2021. Upon completion of the three-year Marketing College® curriculum, students receive a Travel Marketing Professional (TMP) certification.