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Area tourism professionals can gain insight into travel trends at a University of Tennessee conference featuring tourism and hospitality experts from around the country.

The event will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, in several rooms on the second floor of the University Center.

“Hit Your Target: Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Research You Can Do and Use,” is a one-day seminar sponsored by the School of Advertising and Public Relations in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

“This conference is a wonderful opportunity for travel and tourism professionals to learn how and where to find their best customers,” said Lisa Fall, conference coordinator and associate professor of public relations. “The speakers will show attendees how to ask the right questions of the people who can most help their businesses.”

Panel sessions will include topics such as distinguishing customers’ travel patterns, trends in the convention industry and building consumer trust.

Duane Vinson, vice president of Smith Travel Research and a leading authority on current trends in occupancy, room rate and supply and demand for the global lodging industry, will provide the luncheon address at noon. His keynote, “Lodging Research Insights,” will present the latest in lodging performance for the nation, region and Tennessee in a way that is easy to understand.

“Our goal is to increase visits to Tennessee from outside and within the state by generating interest and inquiries,” said Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, sponsor of the luncheon. “It is essential that we continue to get to know our audience. Conferences and seminars, like ‘Hit Your Target,’ inspire growth and creativity to help keep our world-class tourism stage set perfectly for the millions who visit Tennessee each year.”

Tourism is big business in Tennessee, with domestic and international travelers spending about $13.4 billion in the state in 2006, according to “The Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties 2006,” a report prepared by the Travel Industry Association for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in September 2007. Also in 2006, tourism expenditures generated 181,000 jobs in Tennessee, amounting to 6.5 percent of total non-farm employment in the state.

The deadline to register for the conference is Friday, Feb. 1. The cost is $125 per person for professionals and university faculty members. For more information, including a complete list of sessions and a registration form, visit the conference Web site at http://web.utk.edu/~advconf/.


Lisa Fall,(865)974-8155, lfall@utk.edu.
April Moore, (865) 974-0463, amoore9@utk.edu