Thursday, October 24, 2013

What I Learned: One Intern’s Big Jump into Travel Marketing

By Darcy Griffin

When I started my internship with Compass Media, I thought that I knew next to nothing about tourism marketing. After jumping in, I discovered that knowing and learning are continuously intertwined. Here are three things I learned about learning during my internship.

Just Jump In
My main role at Compass Media was to research best practices for their Southern travel website, VisitSouth. I spent the first week familiarizing myself with technical terms and tools before it dawned on me that I should first get to know the product. Taking the leap from theory to practice shifted my learning to a hands-on process. The fear that I didn’t know what I was doing slipped away because, well, I was doing it. The same went for SEO and web analytics tools. Once I started actually using these tools, things came together much easier. Realizing that I didn’t need to know every last detail lessened my stress and helped me pinpoint the most important areas of focus.

Don’t Discount Past Experiences
Marketing is often about numbers and statistics, especially online marketing: unique visits, bounce rates, keyword rankings. Although I was new to the business side of it, my personal travelling experiences provided a particular insight into tourism marketing. This even mimicked a huge trend I found in tourism marketing: user-generated content. Where my experiences built my knowledge, others’ experiences built the platforms I researched. Making this connection helped me forward my research with confidence, and I often found that my intuition was backed by analytics that I found much later.

Get the Full View
Although my main responsibility was working on VisitSouth, I also had the opportunity to work on other projects. I attended a press event for the Sweet Home Saving campaign where I dressed up as a crewmate in support of the local U.S.S. Alabama at Battleship Park. I made cold calls to local businesses to update our directory. I helped to frantically assemble a quarterly report. And, I cheered on children during a beach games event. Working on these various projects gave me a more holistic perspective of the marketing puzzle. Understanding these diverse projects – and getting to know the people behind them – helped me develop my main project and final report.

I can’t say that I now know everything about travel marketing. But, over the course of my six-week internship, I certainly learned a great deal. Working at Compass Media taught me that recognizing the importance of each aspect within a company is crucial to success at any work level and in any field. All you have to do is take the leap and jump in… learn by doing, work on projects outside of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to use your experiences, and get to know your company and the people behind it.