Marketing Director for the Booth Western Art Museum Tara Currier, has recently completed her second year of a three-year certification program toward becoming a Tourism Marketing Professional.
Attending the annual, week-long Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College, Currier will upon her graduation join a small class of tourism professionals including Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau Deputy Director Regina Wheeler.
"In the tourism industry, TMP certification carries a lot of weight," stated Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the STS. "The fundamental concept of STS Marketing College is that the curriculum is practical. What students learn can be put to practice as soon as they get back to their workplaces."
Twelve states are included in the society but the program draws attendees from states outside the Southeast including Maryland and Oklahoma at this year's training.
"There are currently only a little over 600 TMPs in the United States," Currier said. "It has really become such a prestigious program in the tourism industry that more people even from outside the Southeastern United States are attending."
Data from the U.S. Travel Association for 2009 shows each of the 37,854 households in Bartow County paid $212 less in state and local taxes as a result of taxes generated by tourism economic impact. Reports released last month on 2010 numbers show statewide, international and domestic visitors spent $21 billion, up 8.3 percent from the year before.
"Tourism is economic development. ... Tourism jobs will never be shipped overseas," Currier said. "We have so many attractions here, we are the smallest town in America to have multiple Smithsonian Institute affiliates. I really feel like this area is great for a weekend trip or even an overnight trip."
Currier was one of 232 tourism professionals attending the marketing college at Dahlonega's North Georgia College and State University. Courses train individuals on rising trends, increasing exposure to their target market and how to better communicate with local affiliates including the CVB, visitor's center and the chamber of commerce.
"It's just to inform everyone in the travel tourism industry about trends going on with tourism, how to work with your CVBs, your chambers of commerce, your destination marketing organizations, hotels, attractions, just how everyone can get together and follow along with what's happening," Currier said. "For me personally, it has been wonderful. ... It's been really beneficial for me as an attraction to know what it is the CVBs need from attractions and hoteliers."
Current trends are leading marketing professionals into the online world of social media and the integrated use of mobile media via text messaging, smart phones and Internet-capable tablets.
"They went into a lot of detail about mobile media and social media" Currier said. "Older generations are getting on Facebook and they're getting on Twitter, so another course I really enjoyed was on generational marketing, how you differentiate between the five generational groups that are currently living."