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Pennington completes STS Marketing College, earns ‘Travel Marketing Professional’ Certification

Brandon Pennington, executive director at the city of Harlan Tourist and Convention Commission, has completed the three-year program of the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College and earned certification as a Travel Marketing Professional (TMP).

Pennington is about to embark on his 8th year with the City of Harlan Tourist and Convention Commission and has seen tourism grow with each year. His duties as Executive Director include marketing the attractions, events, festivals, and the community to the world while also planning staple events and working on a vibrant tourism infrastructure throughout Harlan County. Pennington also runs the Harlan Center as part of his duties.

Pennington was among 65 STS Marketing College graduates in the Class of 2019. The graduates were announced at the STS Connections conference in Little Rock, Arkansas on Monday, February 10. The program began in 1992 and has produced 1,296 TMPs.

STS Marketing College uses facilities at the University of North Georgia, located in Dahlonega, Georgia, to teach travel marketing for a week each summer. The continuing education program began in 1992.

Registration is open for the 2020 session, which will take place July 26-31. STS membership is not required, but STS members receive a reduced tuition rate.

Instructors are travel industry professionals such as convention and visitor’s bureau executives, public relations practitioners, sales and marketing consultants, and research experts.

“Our Marketing College program is designed to provide applicable tools and working knowledge that our travel and tourism professionals can immediately implement when promoting their destinations, attractions, hotels, and events,” said Monica Smith, Southeast Tourism Society’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Study topics include online marketing strategies, creating an eye-catching and engaging tourism brochure, social media content planning and distribution, Google analytics, travel and tourism research, community engagement, economic impact studies, and budgeting. In addition to classroom work, students also must complete two projects that relate to their job while utilizing skills that were learned throughout the program.

“I am so excited to bring the skills and knowledge I have gained from the STS Marketing College to our community. I believe our tourism product is one of the best adventure and outdoor destinations in the nation and I think that marketing college has given me the tools to further enhance that product.”

“Since its inception almost 30 years ago, Marketing College has elevated the level of service and professionalism visitors receive when traveling to the Southeast and has supported efforts to increase economic development through tourism. We’re proud to be a part of that positive impact throughout the region,” said Smith.