Newly certified as a tourism executive, Palestine's Tourism and Marketing Director Mary Raum is ready to make Palestine a bonafide tourist destination.
Beginning classes at the Travel and Tourism College shortly after she was hired in 2016, Raum has spent four weeks per year taking classes on subjects like hand-on strategies in marketing, crisis control, the emotional I.Q. of marketing campaigns, and stellar customer service.
Raum received her “Certified Tourism Executive” designation after graduating from three years of classes, and completing a “capstone project,” required for certification.
For her project, Raum chose the revitalization of the spirit of the dogwood in Palestine – home of the annual “Dogwood Trails Celebration.”
“We've sort of lost the spirit of the dogwood itself,” Raum said. “People used to go on long drives to find the most beautiful dogwood trees; communities and families had seedling planting events.”
Through re-branding, content development, updated marketing collateral, and partnerships – all skills she learned at TTC – Raum set out to bring the spirit of the dogwood back to the city.
Little things, Raum said, almost imperceptible changes strategically directed at bringing the attention back to the blooming namesake of Palestine's biggest festival, were vitally important.
The fairy gardens in Davey Dogwood Park last March and April, she said, are a perfect example.
“The fairy gardens placed at random places throughout the park got people out of their cars,” Raum said. “They walked the trails looking for them, walking through nature, and witnessing the dogwoods they otherwise would have missed while driving.”
Installing bathroom facilities at Davey Dogwood, she said, similarly attracted more people.
“The work I do is a direct reflection on the training I received while working towards this certification,” Raum said. “Receiving this designation is truly an honor.”
Gayle Cooper, director of the Palestine Economic Development Corporation, told the Herald-Press the city is lucky to have Raum. Her newly earned certification is just the icing on the cake.
“Mary is a creative and energetic tourism marketer,” Cooper said. “She brings great ideas to the table, and sees them through with spirit. We are fortunate to have her.”