It may be two years later than originally planned, but Southeast Tourism Society’s Domestic Showcase in Huntsville, Alabama, will take place April 17–20, and Monica Smith is excited. As president and CEO of a 515-member-strong tourism organization that celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2023, Smith has seen this meeting come full circle since COVID protocols postponed it and others across the country in 2021.
“Everything works out in the end, doesn’t it?” she said. “Huntsville has put together a wonderful delegate experience for us, and our attendance is looking strong. We’ve added some key educational programming this year, and we think Huntsville will be a perfect destination for STS Domestic Showcase.”
Known throughout the travel industry for its advocacy and educational programs, STS has added several key elements to this domestic group travel event in just two years. At this past year’s meeting in Virginia Beach, STS introduced breakfast sessions featuring dynamic presenters. Those continue this year, and the organization has added an educational component to the meeting for participants who arrive early.
“Ariel Azoff, executive director of brand partnerships for Atlas Obscura, will keynote our Tuesday breakfast, and we’re delighted that your executive editor, Brian Jewell, will speak on Wednesday morning,” Smith said. “We’re also offering a two-day session in Huntsville for sales, marketing and public relations professionals. We’re calling it the SMPR Forum, and it’s being offered for DMO, attraction, lodging and event facility personnel on the front end.”
Smith noted that the business climate for group travel in 2023 is distinctly improved from the past three years.
“We’re delighted to see tour operators in the Southeast are busy,” said Smith. “It’s important we help them maximize their business here. We expect our research and educational components at Domestic Showcase to help tour operators as much as they help our members.”
Smith plans to have 40th anniversary branding elements prominently displayed at STS Domestic Showcase. Those brand elements will also be prominent at other major events like STS Marketing College in June at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and the STS Congressional Summit in Washington D.C., July 10–13. Policy issues including job creation, transportation infrastructure, the cultural benefits of tourism and others are all voiced at the Congressional Summit each year.
“For four decades, the Southeast Tourism Society has advanced careers in this industry and has helped make the Southeast one of the busiest travel regions in America,” said Smith. “After 40 years of accomplishments, we know our best work is still ahead of us.”