I am currently a candidate for the MA in Public Relations (2021), with a focus on hospitality & tourism at the University of Indianapolis. Here are some of my journeys and takeaways from Intro to Hospitality & Tourism that I can bring to public relations and marketing activities within the $1.1 trillion (as of 2018, and obviously prior to COVID-19) industry.

Smooth Sailing

The four primary segments of hospitality (Food and Beverage, Travel and Tourism, Lodging, and Recreation) set up travelers and providers with a well-orchestrated approach for successful experiences, whether local or international, small or large.

Specific subcategories we studied included (but were not limited to):

  • Cultural tourism
  • Recreation tourism
  • Adventure tourism
  • Nature tourism
  • Sports tourism
  • Religious tourism (spiritual focus)
  • Agritourism
  • Ecotourism (environmental; sustainable)
  • Space tourism 

It Takes A Village

Guest speakers from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development helped provide real-world examples of what it is like to work within the hospitality and tourism field.

Misty Weisensteiner, director, and Amy Howell, director of communications and media relations, and also director of Film Indiana, shared their experiences and what they’ve learned throughout careers that followed different paths.

Weisensteiner worked her way up—starting at more local destinations in French Lick, Ind., and turned her focus to tourism development after gaining professional experience.

Howell transitioned television production and news room experience into her role—putting herself in a great place to understand what her audiences need to best cover the topics she desires.

Both also understand the importance of communication and hard work as part of a small team making big things happen.

A Variety of Flavors

Travelers not only have different options when traveling—but now they are more empowered than ever to do their own research and plan their own excursions.

To better understand this—and how travel and hospitality companies of all sizes approach digital marketing—we conducted social media research on various public properties. Reviewing Websites, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and more our cohort presented a property to the class each week. Each turned in to a discussion about the pros and cons and quality of each providers’ offerings—and if it best served the audience and the business.

The focus of my studies were: Visit Las Vegas, Southwest Airlines, NewZealand.com and Sweden’s ICEHOTEL.

Common takeaways for most properties were strong imagery—often taken by visitors who would post their pictures with specific hashtags, enabling the property to showcase an authentic visitor experience and endorsement.

From an academic perspective we also learned about Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research as a source for peer-reviewed journal articles. As a class we also broke down and discussed the journal article, “Insights into the Web presence, online marketing, and the use of social media by tourism operators in Dunedin, New Zealand,” by  Sharleen Howison, Glenn Finger and Chealsea Hauschka.

Sample Assignment: Fam Trips

Assignment: Develop a three-day, mid-April fam trip itinerary for Indianapolis. Imagine that five LEGIT travel journalists will visit Indy for your fam trip. Your itinerary will list specific dates/timings, real-world sites to visit, real-world experiences for the journalists.

View Itinerary

My selected journalists, with a focus on dining reviews, are:

  • Polly Campbell, food writer; Cincinnati Enquirer
  • Lindsey McClave, restaurant critic; Courier Journal
  • Jeff Ruby, chief dining critic; Chicago Magazine
  • John Marshall, dining critic; Columbus Monthly
  • George Mahe, dining editor; St. Louis Magazine