Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents August 2010 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

The heat is on and the summer weather is sizzling…which means it’s an especially ‘cool’ time to be vacationing in Tennessee! Even with the start of school approaching, you might be surprised to find out there are more than 150 fairs, festivals and special events happening throughout the state in August and September. The tour and travel industry continues to create jobs and economic impact for local communities and the state all year long. Let’s make sure we’re getting that important message out to our state and local leaders. Tourism dollars matter – especially in this economy!

We will be focusing on how best to do that as well as many other issues crucial to our industry at the 2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism scheduled for September 22-24 at the beautiful MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center in Kingsport. Our partners in Northeast Tennessee are rolling out the red carpet to bring us “The Sunny Side of Tourism,” starting with a very exciting opening event that will get all of our hearts “racing”!  

We are especially honored to have Jeanne Robertson as this year’s keynote speaker. Jeanne is the recipient of the National Speakers Association’s Hall of Fame Award, the Golden Gavel Award and the Cavett Award. Jeanne uses her sharp wit to illustrate that humor is more than a laughing matter. She’s high-energy, hilarious, and her message is right on target for tourism. Read all about this year’s Super Seminar, the fantastic opening event, engaging educational seminars and special appreciation ceremonies at tenntourismroundtable.com. I truly hope to see you there!

The tour and travel industry continues to create jobs and economic impact for local communities and the state all year long.July held a number of important events for the industry. I was honored to participate in the Tennessee Hospitality Association’s annual “Stars of the Industry Awards” banquet, a wonderful event that celebrates the accomplishments of both management and front line employees. The Department’s own East TN Regional Manager, Dave Jones, received their award for Associate of Excellence – way to go, Dave! We’re proud of you and all the winners of these prestigious awards.  Also, major kudos to TnHA on the selection of Greg Adkins, one of Tennessee’s most respected government leaders, as their new CEO. I’ve known Greg for several years and he will do a superb job in his new position.

We also held the first of our five 2010 Sustainable Tourism Certification Initiative workshops in Gatlinburg. It was a great success thanks to the hard work of Patricia Gray and others from our department and their close collaboration with the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce and CVB, and our host venue, Gatlinburg’s LEED-certified Hilton Garden Inn. The five 2010 workshops will serve as public forums to receive input from industry partners on the need for a Sustainable Tourism certification program. The next workshop will be held in Nashville at the Hutton Hotel on August 19; workshops in Jackson, Memphis and Knoxville follow in September and October. For more information and free registration, please go to tnsustainabletourism.com.  

My personal congratulations to Dr. Rachel Chen, associate professor in the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Department at the University of Tennessee, who has been named as the director of UT’s newly created Center for Sustainable Business and Tourism. Her research support of Tennessee’s tourism industry has been an enormous help for many years, and her new appointment will enable us to continue to position the state of Tennessee as a national leader in Sustainable Tourism.

While returning home from a U.S. Travel Association board meeting, where Nashville’s Butch Spyridon did a marvelous job on a panel discussing crisis management, I was struck by how many dedicated, smart, creative and determined tourism professionals we have in this state. Many of us have recently faced great loss, both personally and professionally, but we continue to be there for each other and persevere in making Tennessee a better place for our families and our visitors. Thank you for continuing to inspire me on a daily basis. I look forward to seeing you in Kingsport next month!


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Tennessee’s Inaugural Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event Announced

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Commission announces the state’s Inaugural Sesquicentennial Signature Event. Taking place November 12 and 13, the theme of this historic milestone is “The Coming of the Civil War.” Governor Phil Bredesen will kick off the event at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall beginning at 10 a.m. CST on November 12.

"The sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War is important to all Tennesseans,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This inaugural event, which begins the five-year recognition from 2011-2015, will create conversation, stir interest, and help people develop a greater appreciation for history and acknowledge the role this war played in the lives of all Americans."

commemoration of the American Civil War is important to all Tennesseans
The Tennessee Sesquicentennial Signature Event will consist of historical discussions, stories and reenactments in addition to music by the internationally acclaimed Fisk Jubilee Singers and special appearance by country superstar Trace Adkins. In addition, the historical significance of local attractions such as the Tennessee State Capitol, Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center will be highlighted. State-sponsored activities will be held in downtown Nashville throughout the two-day event. Special recognition for Tennessee’s Civil War Trails communities and their efforts in sustaining the state’s history will also play an important role in the event.

“We know the Civil War Sesquicentennial will focus the world’s attention on this pivotal time in our nation’s history. We expect thousands of visitors to make their way to Tennessee to learn about the state’s role in the war,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, appointed by Gov. Bredesen, leads a state effort to promote, fund and preserve the complete story of Tennessee’s Civil War and its legacy.

Registration for Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Signature Event is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.tnvacation.com/civil-war/events or contact patricia.gray@tn.gov or lee.curtis@tn.gov.  Registration can be e-mailed to vionne.williams@tn.gov.


Jeanne Robertson

Governor’s Conference Opening Keynote To Look at the Lighter "Sunny" Side of Tourism

Let's face it: in many ways, it’s been a tough year for tourism.  So what better way to kick off the 2010 Conference than with a light-hearted and humorous look at our industry and at life in general?  We begin this year’s conference with a different type of opening keynote featuring award-winning speaker Jeanne Robertson, who is sure to get you laughing as she utilizes her positively funny style to illustrate how a sense of humor can be an integral part of a strategy for success for everyone. Using original hilarious stories from everyday life, she will show us how to laugh at ourselves and accept the things that cannot be changed about us and the people around us.  You won’t want to miss this look at the “Funny Sunny Side of Tourism!"

Jeanne Robertson is an expert in humor, whether regaling audiences with her experiences as a 6'2" Miss Congeniality winner in the Miss America Pageant or outlining the steps to developing a sense of humor.  She is past president of the National Speakers Association and was the first woman to win NSA's top honor, the Cavett Award. She was also honored by Toastmasters International when it named her the recipient of its Golden Gavel Award, presented annually to one individual who has demonstrated outstanding skills in communication and leadership. You may have seen this Speakers Hall of Fame inductee being interviewed by CBS correspondent Morley Safer on “60 Minutes” . . . or seen one of her speeches on public television . . . or heard her on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s family comedy channels . . . or read one of her three books on humor . . . or seen one of the six humor DVD’s she has released in the past eleven years. But only when you hear her in person in Kingsport will you appreciate why audiences across the nation proclaim, “The meeting ‘ain’t over ‘til the tall lady speaks.”

The 2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held September 22-24 at the Marriott MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport.  Complete conference information, including the conference schedule and program, registration, and lodging information can be found on the Tennessee Tourism web site.

The annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism is produced by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

Tourism and the Gubernatorial Candidates

To assist the membership of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable and the state’s tourism industry in understanding the position of each of the 2010 gubernatorial candidates on tourism-related issues, the TTR Board of Directors and its Executive Committee developed a series of questions to be posed to the candidates.  To read their responses go to the TTR web site.

A forum with the candidates is scheduled during the 2010 Governor’s Conference.

State Archivists Search for Civil War Memorabilia

Attending the Fort Negley preservation
event included United States Colored
Soldiers re-enactors, pictured: Bill
Radcliffe, Norm Hill and his grandson
Brandon Hill

As the commemoration of the American Civil War approaches, representatives from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum will be recording and digitizing Civil War memorabilia owned by local residents for a new exhibit.

On August 6, archivists will be at the Rutherford County Archives, 435 Rice Street in Murfreesboro, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  During that time, they invite area residents to bring in photographs, documents and other artifacts related to the Civil War.

Individuals may call (615) 253-3470 or e-mail civilwar.tsla@tn.gov to schedule a reservation with the archivists. Reservation forms and available times may be found on the State Library and Archives’ section of the Department of State web site at http://tn.gov/tsla/cwtn/events.htm.

The archivists will scan or take digital photographs of the materials, some of which will be featured in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee.” The archivists will not actually take possession of the items from their owners.

The preservation project was held at Fort Negley on Friday, July 16 in Nashville on Friday, July 16 and was a great success.  Attendees at all the events will receive copies of the digital photographs and tips on how to preserve their Civil War memorabilia.  Archivists plan to visit all 95 of Tennessee’s counties in search of material for the exhibit, which will commemorate the Civil War’s 150th anniversary.

Shop Tax Free Tennessee

If you're planning to purchase some new clothes or school supplies this summer, you may want to wait.  The Tennessee Department of Revenue is having a sales tax holiday August 6 through 8.  Shoppers can save almost 10 percent on tax-free clothing, school and art supplies, and computer purchases.

The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 6 and ends on Sunday, August 8 at 11:59 p.m.  During the designated three-day weekend, shoppers may purchase selected clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school supplies with a price of $100 or less per item and computers with a price of $1,500 or less without paying Tennessee's state and local sales tax.

The holiday also includes purchases of qualified items sold via mail, telephone, e-mail or internet if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the holiday for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period.

More information from the Department of Revenue is available from the following sources: Web site: www.tntaxholiday.com  and salestax.holiday@tn.gov

Sustainable Tourism Green Certification Workshops Continue

Joint Project Between Tennessee Departments of Tourism and Environment and Conservation

As part of Tennessee’s ongoing Sustainable Tourism initiative, five green certification workshops sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are being held in 2010 across the state. The initial workshop was held in Gatlinburg during July at the LEED-Certified Hilton Garden Inn. All workshops will facilitate discussions and solicit partner input regarding the development of a state green certification program for the tour and travel industry. In addition, the events provide continued sustainable tourism resources, case studies, best practices and access to leading experts.

“From the beginning, partner input has been essential in shaping Tennessee’s Sustainable Tourism program,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “The 2010 workshops exist as public forums to receive input from
industry partners and create a green certification program that continues to position Tennessee as a leader in the nation’s Sustainable Tourism movement.”

TDTD and TDEC jointly applied for and received a United States Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Prevention Source Reduction Grant which will fund the green certification workshops. The purpose of the grant is to research and develop a sustainable state-level green certification program for Tennessee's tour and travel industry

"We look forward to hearing and learning from our partners in the hospitality community," said Commissioner Jim Fyke of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. "I am pleased so many industry leaders are interested in design models and operational standards that attract visitors and protect the natural surroundings that draw people to our beautiful state."

Tennessee has a nationally recognized, award-winning green certification program to utilize as a model through Chattanooga Green Lodging created by The Chattanooga Hospitality Association and adopted by the Tennessee Hospitality Association. The departments will work with industry partners, THA and Chattanooga Green to provide the latest green certification information to the industry as well as facilitating the interactive open discussion.
This initiative will encourage the state's tour and travel industry to become standard-bearers in the implementation of energy, water and waste conservation, pollution prevention and sustainable business practices. The overall goal of the program is to establish a regional model for certification by working with EPA and the green hospitality guidelines they have established. 
Upcoming workshops will be held August 19 at The Hutton Hotel in Nashville; Sept. 14 at Casey Jones Village in Jackson; Sept. 15 at the Memphis Doubletree Hotel/East Memphis and Oct. 13 at Knoxville Convention Center in Knoxville.

To attend a workshop and be part of this important discussion on green certification for Tennessee’s tour and travel industry, RSVP today to Patricia Gray at patricia.gray@tn.gov or (615) 741-9004. Visit tnsustainabletourism.com for additional information.

Facts & Trends

The Four “Tribes” of the Leisure Travel Market

There is new research from the Ypartnership and the Harrison Group that identifies four “tribes” of leisure travelers in the United States.  According to a recent article in Travel Weekly these “tribes” are nearly all equal in size and they all spend billions on leisure travel. However, unlike in most of the other methods in identifying the traveler, boomers are not the controlling group in the tribal approach.
•    Sensationals:  The youngest group, with an average age of 40, is also the largest.  These adventurers are often single and have a tendency to make quick travel decisions.
•    Familias:  Their average age is 42 and are often made up of dual-income households.  They favor travel safety and predictable experiences.
•    Touristers:  Average age is 47 and spending is 25% more than the Family tribe.  They spend more and love the outdoors.
•    Extraordinaires:  The eldest and wealthiest group.  Many are empty-nesters.  They are lovers of the arts and cultural experiences but also appreciate scenery and unique destinations.

Researchers in the report, Portrait of American Travelers, emphasize that their “goal-based segmentation" cuts across traditional demographic categories such as age and income to showcase the unique vacation needs and desires of each “tribe.”  However, writer Bill Poling points out that traditional demographics are not completely ignored.  

Welcome Center

Mary Bailey

Employee of the Month

Mary Bailey, a Welcome Center Assistant at the I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center has been selected as the July Welcome Center Employee of the Month.  Mary has been with the department for 13 years. 

"Mary has a great working relationship with fellow employees and visitors.  She gets constantly receives comments cards on her service," according Jim Bibee, the Bristol Center Manager.

Here are excerpts from a letter tourists from Pennsylvania recently sent:

"We recently visited your Welcome Center at Bristol.  Special praise to Mary at the info desk.  She provided service, options and info beyond expectations.  Because of her help with ticket purchases and reservation arrangements, our trip to Tennessee was more enjoyable than we were expecting.  We had a great day in Tennessee!"

Welcome Center Promotions Announced 

Janice Rich has been named Welcome Centers Middle Tennessee Regional Manager. She previously served as manager of the 1-65 Giles County (Ardmore) center. 

Brenda Anderson is the new Manager at the I-65 Giles County Welcome Center, effective August 1. With 12 years of service, Brenda has a vast knowledge of the welcome center.

Industry Applause

Guy Fieri Making Waffles, New York City

Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.

Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri and Hampton Hotels Wake Up With Waffles

With the summer travel season in full swing, Hampton Hotels teamed up with chef and television celebrity Guy Fieri to emphasize the importance of breakfast and officially launch the addition of hot, freshly-baked waffles to Hampton’s free breakfast offering.  To officially kick off Hampton’s new free waffle offering, the hotelier, Fieri and his son, Hunter,  lined up 30 Hampton waffle bakers in New York City’s Herald Square Park and served waffles to more than 7,000 people during a “Wake up with Waffles” event. Research shows that families who eat breakfast together may help to support good nutrition and healthy eating patterns in children. Hampton Hotels are a part of Hilton Worldwide and its Operations Center is based in Memphis.

Peabody Rooftop Party Season Finale Focuses on Gulf Coast Clean Up

The Peabody Hotel’s 2010 Rooftop Party season finale included a New Orleans theme with entertainment by Cowboy Mouth; Mardi Gras style food, drinks and décor; and a donation to Gulf Coast Oil Spill clean-up efforts. The Peabody and Rooftop Party beverage partner Miller Coors Memphis will donate 50% of the sales of every Miller beer sold to the Memphis-based Ducks Unlimited in support of their Gulf Coast oil spill recovery efforts. Representatives from Ducks Unlimited were also at the party to share news about their work along the Gulf Coast and accept additional donations. As the world leader in wetlands conservation, Ducks Unlimited has been working to increase awareness of the risks migratory waterfowl face in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill and has created a Gulf Coast Response Team to assist in the recovery and restoration efforts of the wetlands in that area.

Pictured: Marty Mabry, Derrick Smith, Dave Jones,
Commissioner Whitaker, Phyllis Qualls-Brooks

Jones Hospitality Association Winner

At the 23rd Annual Stars of the Industry Awards dinner Dave Jones,  East Tennessee regional manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, was awarded the Associate of Excellence. Dave was also recognized in May as the Service/Supplier of the Year during the 2010 Pauly Awards, sponsored by the Knoxville Tourism Alliance and the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute. On hand to cheer Dave on were Commissioner Whitaker, Assistant Commissioner Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, his wife Monica Jones, Derrick Smith and Marty Marbry.

Mason Works with Students Who Have Hopes of Turning Pro

Recognizing that a strong bass fishing department would be a great recruiting tool, Bethel College hired  outdoor hunting and fishing guide, Garry Mason to be their bass fishing coach.  Officially recognizing bass fishing as a sport, and including it in their athletic department’s budget, Bethel has opened the door for many firsts. Freshmen Jake Lawrence and Jacob Hardy are the first students in America to receive an athletic scholarship for competitive bass fishing. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $4,000 a year. Lauren Stamps, is the first woman in the United States to receive a scholarship for bass fishing and one of a handful of women to compete on the basically all-male college circuit. Due to the rapid growth of collegiate bass-fishing tournaments, Bethel University in McKenzie, decided to get on the bandwagon.  According to collegebass.com, there are an estimated 220 college bass-fishing programs throughout the United States and Canada.

Gloria Ray

Ray Inducted in Hall of Fame

Gloria Ray, CEO of the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation, was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame during induction weekend this past June in Knoxville.  Ray was responsible for the design, development, construction and management of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville. She also established the Tennessee Lady Vols as a nationally recognized program and brand while serving as the first Women’s Athletic Director at the University of Tennessee. 

Meeks Name President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected Stephanie Meeks, an experienced non-profit leader, as its next president.  Meeks began work in July 2010, succeeding Richard Moe, who retired in May after 17 years at the Trust.  Meeks previously served as president and CEO of Counterpart International, a $110 million development organization with programs in 25 countries. 

Quote of the Month:

Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.
-Roy Goodman

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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