Tonight is the eve of the final day of the 2010 Southeast
Tourism Society
Marketing College in Dahlonega, Georgia. At this time next year
I will have finished my third year and earned the designation TMP (Tourism
Marketing Professional). For those unfamiliar with STS Marketing College, it is
a week of intensive classroom instruction with some of the nation’s most
experienced and knowledgeable tourism professionals. Classes this week have
included: Integrated Tourism Marketing; Press Tour 101; Demystifying Economic
Impact; Profiles & Conversion Study; Generational Marketing, and Emerging
Technology as Marketing Tools for Tourism. And that’s only about half of the
classes (I told you it was intensive).

Considering the title of this blog post you’re probably
expecting me to share some facts, figures and insights from those classes.
Sorry. You’ll have to attend next year and learn for yourself. Instead I want to share some
lessons learned through observation during the week and the time leading up to

• Not enough people know where the heck Dahlonega,
Georgia is. In recent weeks as I mentioned to friends where I was going the news
was met mostly with blank stares. That’s a terrible shame because this town is
an absolute jewel. Check it out online ( and plan your visit. When you get here, stop in at the Visitor Center and say
“hi” to my friend and classmate Stephen.

• Southern Hospitality is a very real phenomenon. It’s
like art – it’s hard to describe but you’ll know it when you see it. Nowhere
was it more evident than at the Wednesday night cookout at Mr. Hardman’s home.
He and his family did so much to make the event special. Any time someone said
“Thank you,” his genuinely sincere response would be, “We're happy to have you

• Tourism professionals are very willing to share ideas
and help each other solve problems. No doubt that the states, counties, cities
and towns represented at Marketing College compete against each other for
visitors and still classmates and teachers stay in touch throughout the year to
be resources for each other. Call it what you will: professional courtesy,
class, or maybe Southern Hospitality.

• “Karaoke” is a term used by recording engineers that
translates to “empty track” meaning there is no vocal track. Sometimes it
should stay that way.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all (y’all, that is)
next summer in Dahlonega.


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

facebook-icontwitter iconyoutube icon
© Mikula-Harris