Jul 19, 2018



ATLANTA, Ga. – Team members from the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau joined more than three hundred tourism industry professionals, from across the United States, at Southeast Tourism Society’s 27th Annual Marketing College on the campus of University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga., June 24-29.

For more than 25 years, STS Marketing College has provided educational programming and networking opportunities to students focusing on marketing techniques specific to the tourism and travel industry. Current travel trends, data, and implementation are presented by instructors from across the country noted as experts in their field.

Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development for Putnam County, completed year-one of the three-year program which leads to certification as a Tourism Marketing Professional. Course topics include digital marketing, media relations, customer service, tourism advertising, vacation research, and crisis management.

Molly Brown, director of public relations & marketing for the visitors’ bureau, acquired her TMP certification in 2017 and attended this year as an alumnus. Alumni curricula offers more focused, niche content on topics such as law for tourism marketing and data/research-driven strategic campaign development.

“Tourism is one of the leaders in job creation and has a positive economic impact on its communities,” said Bill Hardman, president and chief executive officer of STS. “At the same time, tourism is ever-evolving, and thus STS Marketing College was created as way to keep travel and tourism professionals ahead of industry trends.”

“Our curriculum is practical and evolves with the attendee. Whether you’ve been in the industry for 30 days or 30 years, everyone walks away with new ideas and best practices for their destination,” Hardman said. “The knowledge gained at STS Marketing College can truly be applied anywhere. We have more than 1,000 graduates, throughout the United States, that can confirm the positive impact this program had on their career, in addition to their destination, as well as the friendships made.”

Students come from numerous industry sectors such as visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, attractions and hotels.

For more information about Southeast Tourism Society, go to

Image: Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development for Putnam County, poses with Suzanne Moon, STS vice president of operations, and Bill Hardman, STS president/CEO, after completing first year certification at STS Marketing College in Dahlonega, Georgia.