Texas Forest Trail Region 2015 Summit

Nacogdoches, Texas- Each spring the Texas Forest Trail Region hosts an educational summit for tourism professionals across East Texas. This year’s conference, April 28-29, is designed to deliver top-notch travel education along with the complete downtown Nacogdoches experience.

The two-day conference will kick-off at Mast Hall, located at 317 E. Main Street at 1:30 p.m. on April 28. The day’s events will include a workshop with Alicia Downard, Production and Community Relations Specialist for the Texas Film Commission, a reception at the Liberty Bell and a dinner with keynote speaker Ben Smithee.

Smithee is a consumer trends & marketing research expert, nominated as one of the “Top 10 Youth Marketing Professionals in the U.S. Smithee’s clients include Coca-Cola, General Mills, eBay, American Cancer Society, Fiat, Pfizer, Lilly, The National Guard, Hallmark, GEICO, Kroger, Ad Council, and South by Southwest Interactive and many more. He has consulted companies ranging from start-ups to 3-billion dollar publicly traded organizations, and has become a trusted voice in the marketing and marketing research industry for his dedication to pushing the industry forward and serving as a catalyst for evolution.

Immediately following Smithee’s address, attendees will be treated to a special film screening of the Tomato Republic at the Cole Art Center. The documentary featurette, filmed in Jacksonville, Texas was the winner of the 2014 Special Judges Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. A Question & Answer Session with filmmaker Anthony Jackson and actor Rob Gowin will take place after the screening.

Day two of the Texas Forest Trail Region Summit will include a hands-on media workshop with Ben Smithee. Whether you are a media novice or a seasoned marketing professional, this intensive, practical, and hands-on workshop will provide techniques, tools and strategies that will give your advertising and marketing campaigns the edge in today’s market.

Communities across the country are getting crafty in their quest to stimulate community pride and drive tourism traffic to town. “Public Art & Tourism Panel: If you build it they will come,” will showcase three East Texas public art projects using arts and culture to entice travelers and encourage economic development.

Panelists include, artist and Stephen F. Austin State University art professor, Jeff Brewer; Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce President, Peggy Renfro; and Friends of Historic Nacogdoches Sculpture Trail Coordinator Anna Middlebrook.

Elizabeth Eddins, Director of Tourism, Beaumont CVB will discuss “Turning Foes into Fans: Educating locals on your destination and services.” Eddins will discuss how attendees can host similar programs in their community. She will be joined by Marcus Powers of the McFaddin-Ward House to provide the perspective of an attraction and will offer how the program has strengthened partnership in Beaumont.

Lastly, Brian Sullivan, Associate General Counsel for the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, will detail how local hotel tax expenditures are vital to attracting tourism to Texas communities. In light of all the wonderful events and attractions that East Texas has to offer, Sullivan will be presenting the basic framework to use when considering how to invest and spend local hotel tax dollars and will guide attendees through that important decision-making process aimed to promote the Texas Forest Trail Region as a top travel destination in our state.

The cost of the summit is $75 for Texas Forest Trail partners and $85 for non-members. The Keynote Dinner, a continental breakfast and lunch are included in the price of registration.

For information and registration visit before April 22. Space is limited. After April 22, please contact our office for availability. Marty Prince can be reached for questions regarding the summit at (936) 560-3699 or via email at

The Texas Forest Trail Region fosters regional economic development by promoting heritage tourism through the preservation of cultural and historic resources and regional partnerships. The Texas Forest Trail Region encompasses 35 counties in East Texas including Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Franklin, Gregg, Hardin, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Marion, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Panola, Polk, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Walker and Wood. To learn more about partner memberships and benefits online now:

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