Tarleton Co-sponsors Rural Travel, Small Business Social Media Summit

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Numerous ways rural communities can add tourism dollars and get their stories on social media will be explored at the virtual, free Texas Rural Travel and Small Business Social Media Summit on Wednesday, Nov. 30, starting at 9 a.m. Register at https://tarletonstate.us/ruraltravel.

Featured presenter Spencer Zamora with the Texas Department of Tourism will focus on the importance of travel and tourism in rural Texas. An interactive panel will discuss the possibilities and potential of rural convention and visitors bureaus in Central Texas and Deep East Texas.

Attendees will develop ideas to strengthen their own county, city or small businesses during another interactive session, “Generating Travel and Tourism Ideas for the 4th Quarter.” The session will stress holiday marketing and advertising strategies for rural restaurants and bars, bed and breakfasts, and lodging, retail and events/festivals. 

“Participants will get dozens of key insights that can have a massive impact in building relationships for attracting travelers to rural areas,” said Dr. Gina Fe Causin from the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Human Sciences. The Texas tourism department’s Zamora is a graduate of SFASU’s hospitality administration program.

SFASU is a sponsor of the summit along with the Tarleton State University Department of Communication Studies, the Deep East Texas Travel and Tourism Collaborative, the Texas Social Media Research Institute, and the Rural Communication Institute (RCI). 

Tarleton students are among the event’s planners. “Rural small businesses are a huge part of the travel and tourism in small towns,” said communication studies graduate student Sydney Brown. “Having this summit to connect small businesses with the local CVBs will promote rural towns as destinations. This is one step to make sure our small rural towns are not forgotten.”

“Creating a platform creates change,” added Tarleton alumna and RCI Industry Fellow Lauryn Harris. “Let rural voices be heard.”

Social media can be an important part of a small business’ digital footprint, guaranteeing that the business “still exists and has a heartbeat,” said Tarleton graduate student Jorge Irizarry. “Weekly social media posts can affirm to the community that a rural business still provides products and services for locals and visitors.”

And a vibrant social media presence can highlight special aspects of small-town commerce. Tarleton grad student CareyLyn Ryan: “It can expand the knowledge of the patrons and let them see the unique differences that rural businesses have to offer.”

The summit is an outcome of summer 2022 funding from the Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation (CARRI). Contact Dr. Causin ([email protected]) or Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards ([email protected]). 

A founding member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton transforms generations by inspiring discovery, leadership and inclusion through teaching and research. Degree programs for almost 15,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, A&M-RELLIS, and online emphasize real-world learning that addresses regional needs while sustaining the values of excellence, integrity and respect.