ABOUT STS

A short history

On September 14, 1983, a small group of industry leaders from the Southeast gathered for the purpose of organizing the Southeast Tourism Society (STS). Those charter members shared the mutual belief that regional promotion of tourism, via a partnership between states, would create a powerful marketing alliance unparalleled throughout our country. More than thirty years later, their vision continues as STS has established itself as a leader among travel organizations.

Our mission

Dedicated to improving the economic vitality of the Southeast by uniting all segments of the Travel and Tourism Industry; promoting tourism within our member states, fostering cooperation, sharing resources and providing continuing education.

Our vision

To create, maintain and promote a cohesive membership organization responsive to the development of travel and tourism professionals and organizations within the southeast United States of America.

Our four pillar focus

Education

A key component for the success of STS and its members, educational sessions are provided via STS Spring Symposium and STS Fall Form whereas the STS Marketing College is the nation’s premiere educational program for the tourism industry and graduates can earn their certification as a Travel Marketing Professional “TMP.”

Advocacy

STS members have a strong voice in Washington, D.C. and meet with Congress annually to discuss legislation that has a direct impact on our ability to advance tourism and increase economic development for our communities.  To aid in these discussions, STS prints a bi-annual Federal Tourism Directory and “Tourism Works” publication, spotlighting success stories around the Southeast.  The publications are then distributed to the offices of all.

Recognition

There are multiple opportunities to showcase industry leaders via our award programs.  The STS Top 20 Festivals and Events Award program is awarded quarterly whereas the STS Shining Example Award Ceremony, recognizing the best and brightest in travel and tourism, takes place during the STS Fall Forum.

Networking

Noted by our members as one of the top reasons to join STS, networking often looks like a class reunion at our Spring Symposium, Congressional Summit, Marketing College and Fall Forum.  Each event provides unique opportunities to build a strong customer base.

Q: What is the Southeast Tourism Society?
A: A non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism throughout the Southeast United States.

Q: What defines the southeast region?
A: It is comprised of twelve states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Q: What types of businesses and organizations belong?
A: Travel and Tourism for Consumers (B2C) and Industry-Related Service Providers (B2B)

Q: What are the primary areas of interest for STS?
A: Our Four Pillars include: Education, Advocacy, Recognition and Networking (EARN)

Q: What are examples of professional development opportunities?
A: STS meets every spring and fall. (STS Spring Symposium and STS Fall Forum) These meetings feature a professional development component with top-flight tourism experts, workshops and presentations. In addition, STS conducts its annual STS Marketing College in the summer. This is a highly-lauded, one-week intensive course of study that explores many facets of the travel and tourism industry. Marketing College is a three-year curriculum that leads to certification as a Travel Marketing Professional (TMP). In 2010 a Festivals and Events program was also added to the curriculum.

Q: How does STS work within advocacy?
A: Advocacy is an important part of Southeast Tourism Society. We develop an annual legislative agenda, produce useful guides (Federal Directory & Success Stories), monitor federal legislation and keep members informed about important policy issues that impact tourism. STS is known and respected in Washington, and has been called on for congressional testimony.

Q: What is the STS Top 20 Festivals & Events Award Program?
A: In 1985, STS, in recognition of the unique, diverse and unparalleled events in the region, began the Top 20 Events award program. A Top 20 Award seeks to bring more publicity and recognition to the best events in the Southeast, whether it be media, attendees or both! STS selects the Top 20 events, per month, and publishes them on a quarterly basis.
 

Q: What is the STS Shining Example Award Program?
A: Recognizing Outstanding Contributions in Tourism in the Southeast United States. The Shining Example Awards Program, an industry fixture since 1985, is comprised of 15 awards within 13 categories; 11 of these categories are open for nomination. The Awards highlight some of the best work in travel and tourism, and winners truly set examples that others in the industry can follow. These are awarded annually at the STS Fall Forum and nominations are open to STS members and non-members.

 

  • Bill Hardman: President & CEO
    Bill@SoutheastTourism.org

    The President & CEO of STS was born in Athens, Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Bill joined STS in 1997, upon his father’s retirement as President & CEO of STS. What does he enjoy most about his role with STS? “I particularly enjoy being an advocate for tourism and addressing policy issues at the national level that are important to the wellbeing and vitality of our communities around the southeast.”

    As for vacations, they are all the more enticing to Bill with a promise of “a relaxing environment where there are no schedules, time is not important, the food is great and the climate is warm.”

    Aside from the obvious love of family, the next would be SEC College Football. “I am an avid Georgia Bulldog fan and enjoy being in Athens, between the hedges, on any fall Saturday afternoon.”

    Speaking of family, Bill is married to Carol, “the most wonderful woman in the world”. They currently reside in Roswell, Georgia and have three children. Bryan (Amelia); Jenny (Michael); and Chris (Lily). And, if you really want to see his face light-up, ask about his grandchildren…Lee, Katie Wilkes, Olive and Brooks; the next generation of tourism and travel.

  • Suzanne Moon: Director of Operations
    Suzanne@SoutheastTourism.org

    Angela Suzanne Erlhoff Moon, otherwise known as “Suzanne” or “Mama Moon”, is a Southern Girl, tried and true. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Suzanne joined the STS staff in 1992. Her role with STS includes a variety of responsibilities: Finances, Meeting Planning, Office Manager, Dorm Mom to STS Marketing College attendees. If you ask her what she enjoys most about her role at STS she will tell you, “I love, love, love everything and anything that has to do with Marketing College. I also enjoy building relationships with the hotel staff during our annual conferences.”

    Her ideal vacation includes the bare necessities: food, alcohol and her hubby. “I'll go anywhere as long as there is running water.”

    Suzanne and her husband, Tim, reside in beautiful Norcross, Georgia where they are a house divided. As in, during football season, you can catch her cheering on her beloved Auburn Tigers while Tim has all eyes on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Go Tigers!

  • Wendy Thomas: Director of Communications
    Wendy@SoutheastTourism.org

    Born and raised in western Illinois (Not Chicago) Wendy has been calling the south her home for the last twelve years. She is the most recent addition to the STS Team, having come aboard at the start of 2015. Her role at STS has her working on a variety of projects, including social media, monthly newsletters, website communication, STS Top 20 and Shining Example Award programs as well as the Festivals & Events curriculum for Marketing College. “I’m such a fan of this industry. I think the people are incredible. Many of them truly exude southern hospitality which makes it all the more apparent they chose the right career path. STS has given me such unique opportunities to see parts of the Southeast that this cornfield country girl may have never otherwise experienced.”

    Ideal Vacation = Peace and quiet. “Give me a body of water, a decent sunset, the ability to sleep in and I’m set.”

    Wendy currently resides in Dunwoody, Georgia and enjoys hosting her family and friends that need to escape the frigid temps of the north. During football season, you can catch her enjoying all the games and cheering for the underdog. (Consider her Switzerland when it comes to the SEC vs. ACC).