Class examines Georgetown tourism

A class of GW students are applying what they learned in Foggy Bottom and working to make Georgetown a tourism hot spot.

The goal of the three-credit class, Travel Marketing Communications, is to look at the community of Georgetown and develop ideas and plans for how to sell the neighborhood as a “destination within a destination.”

The course, which is offered by the School of Business and Public Management, is designed to teach students the complexities of marketing by researching and evaluating several aspects of Georgetown and promoting tourism for the neighborhood.

“The project is good for the students and the city,” said Dr. Sheryl Elliot, who teaches the class. “The city can have research and ideas for free from the students.”

Divided into six four- to five-person teams, students are focusing their research on specific aspects of Georgetown’s commercial life and the potential growth of its tourism industry. The class is looking for ways to market the area as a whole, rather than focus on specific improvements.

“This project has so far been an exercise in time and human resource management,” said class member Chrystal Lacey, a junior. “The task we have been asked to do is so large that it has to be divided and delegated amongst an entire class.”

One of the teams is a project management team, composed of five students who are each assigned to be a leader for another group. They will eventually analyze the final data and present it to a group of Georgetown’s community leaders.

“The experience is highly involved in the work process,” said project team manager Gerty Heath, a senior. “We are getting involved with the information and with the creation of the final project by . going out to the community to create ideas.”

By focusing their research efforts on specific aspects of tourism, the class can best address issues about which businesses in Georgetown are concerned and present a marketing campaign that will promote the growth of tourism, students said.

The students are analyzing the current infrastructure and recommending improvements. Students are also looking at Georgetown clientele and the relationship businesses have with area college students.

The class will recommend ways to publicize the neighborhood’s rich historical background and community events.

“We would like to take the events that are being created and let the general public know about them,” junior Joshua O’Driscoll said. “Right now the resources really aren’t there to get the information out.”

Working with the class as an adviser is Anthony Lanier, president of East Banc Development, a real estate development company that wants to revamp Georgetown’s image for tourists.

“Washington, D.C., has no major shopping areas like most other cities have,” said Lanier. “We are redeveloping buildings in Georgetown because this is the time to create a pedestrian-oriented shopping area in this city.”

Lanier’s role is not only a project adviser to the students, but also a liaison between Georgetown business owners and community leaders, to whom the students will present their findings.

After the students present their information to Lanier’s panel, the community will decide whether or not the students’ plans will be put into action.

Students said the whole project has been helpful to the city and has offered a unique learning experience.

“It certainly has been interesting and (is) good practice for the future,” Lacey said.

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