Emerging and Seasoned Tourism Leaders Unite: NC State Undergraduates Help Present at VisitNC365 Conference

— Written By Maude Dinan

This past April, over 500 tourism industry members gathered in Wilmington, North Carolina for the 2019 VisitNC365 Conference. The state’s tourism industry comes together each year at VisitNC365 for professional development experiences and to share marketing initiatives, research findings, issues, and trends for North Carolina tourism. This year’s conference theme centered on VisitNC’s campaign “Firsts that last”—highlighting North Carolina as a unique destination offering unforgettable experiences.

The theme rang true, and not just in presentation content. North Carolina State University brought a strong presence of Sustainable Tourism undergraduate students who attended the conference for the first time to network, attend sessions, and aid in facilitating presentations. One of these presentations included NC State’s Dr. Whitney Knollenberg and VisitNC tourism research director, Marlise Taylor’s, discussion of “Festinomics,” the impact of event tourism.

Students at VisitNC365

NC State Sustainable Tourism students present their poster surveys.

Students Ellison Lambert, Andrew Creech, Emily Fletcher, and Sydney Sutton contributed to the session by collecting data with poster surveys. Each student wielded a poster with one question related to event impact assessment, such as “How many events does your organization host per year?” that attendees answered by placing stickers on the board. The students’ participation contributed to an innovative presentation and demonstrated an effective data collection strategy in event settings. Moreover, their participation made for a valuable experience between seasoned and emerging tourism professionals.

Poster survey

“What is the best medium for you to receive educational materials related to measuring event impact?” reads one poster survey. Participants place stickers under their answers.

Knollenberg noted “VisitNC365 is a fantastic opportunity for any student interested in learning first-hand about how our state’s tourism industry operates. There is no better place for students to network and learn about careers in tourism.” You can read other important takeaways from the conference and start arranging for your attendance for next year. The 2020 VisitNC365 conference will be held in Asheville, North Carolina next March.

Group photo

Taylor (far left) and Knollenberg (far right) led a successful presentation on “Festinomics” with NC State Sustainable Tourism students.