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Surrounded by inquisitive Minds

Few things excite me more than being surrounded by inquisitive minds.

I love learning new things — that’s a big part of why I love travel. I also love meeting people who can teach me things I didn’t know before. So when I have the opportunity to spend time with smart people who are passionate about travel, I’m all in.

That’s how I felt this summer at Marketing College. Organized by the Southeastern Tourism Society, this annual event gathers travel professionals from the South and beyond who are eager to learn how to succeed in the travel industry. They spend a week in June on the campus of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, being taught by “professors” with expertise in a variety of tourism and marketing topics.

Marketing College has been going on for decades, but by all accounts this year’s event was one of the best ever. It featured 323 students, including 152 first-year students (a new record), as well as 87 second-year students and 84 third-year students who finished the program and received a Travel Marketing Professional (TMP) certification.

I served as one of the 27 professors at the event, sitting on a couple of panels and teaching a third-year course titled “Group Travel Dos and Don’ts.” It was one of the most enjoyable things I have done at a tourism event in a long time.

What excited me so much wasn’t necessarily teaching, although I always enjoy that. Rather, it was getting to know the students and professors. Spending time with a few hundred tourism pros who are eager to learn and a few dozen professors with generous spirits left me energized. And it made me feel optimistic about the future of travel.

No matter where you are in your tourism career, I hope you’ll keep looking for new opportunities to learn. And if you find yourself at a gathering of eager travel students, there’s a good chance I’ll be there with you.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.