Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents February 2012 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

Tourism is in the news! Following an address by President Obama highlighting the enormous potential for growing our economy through the travel industry, the national news media gave great prominence to this announcement of a strategic proposal to boost U.S. travel and position our country as the No. 1 travel destination in the world.

In addition, the newly formed Corporation for Travel Promotion, now doing business as ‘Brand USA,’ will be unveiling their international marketing strategy and campaign to the industry within the next few months. The opportunity to grow the business of tourism has never been better, both domestically and internationally, and we are eager to take advantage of the new opportunities that will be presented during the coming year.

Tennessee is already well positioned to ride the wave of this momentum thanks to Governor Bill Haslam’s support and his confidence in our industry as one of Tennessee’s most important resources for job creation and economic growth.

For Tennessee, the group discourse on a major expansion of tourism began in earnest a year ago when Governor Haslam appointed the Tennessee Tourism Committee to review and explore best practices and growth opportunities for our industry. The Committee held its second open forum last week, this one in Memphis, inviting tourism partners and other stakeholders to share in the collective conversation. I’m inspired by the level of professional expertise within our industry. Thank you so much for your participation in these important meetings.

The Tennessee Tourism Committee is just about midway through its benchmarking research and review, but the collaboration has already produced a spectacular, albeit unforeseen, outcome. Thanks to Chairman Colin Reed and Gaylord Entertainment and Co-Chair Ted Miller of Dolly Parton Productions meeting and working together on this Committee, Dolly Parton was able to use her Jan. 19 birthday to announce one of the most important partnerships in Tennessee tourism history.

Dolly Parton’s Dollywood and Gaylord Entertainment announced the formation of a partnership to develop a 114-acre family entertainment zone in Nashville, including an approximately $50 million water and snow park, the first of its kind in the U.S. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2014. Talk about growth opportunities and job creation - this announcement made news around the world thanks to the legendary Ms. Parton talking about her latest venture in Tennessee tourism! That’s great press for our entire industry.

On Feb. 15, the Franklin Theatre will be premiering the Middle Tennessee episode of the Music Voyager series that was recently filmed throughout the state. Jacob Edgar, host of the series, will emcee the evening with appearances by several very special guests all celebrating this brilliantly produced look at Tennessee’s unmatched status as a music destination. All four of Tennessee’s Music Voyager episodes will be airing around the world just in time for the increased international marketing by ‘Brand USA.’ Perfect timing for Tennessee!

Throughout the entire state, the winter months are busy with business-building activities. I hope many of you are planning to attend the TACVB Blizzard taking place this week, Feb. 2-3, at Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center. This event has grown into one of Tennessee tourism’s top educational opportunities, with special workshops outlining the latest marketing, PR and sales strategies. Don’t miss it - you can even register on-site.

Two important travel conventions are coming to Tennessee in February. Memphis is hosting the 2012 Bank Travel Conference Feb. 7-9, and Knoxville will be hosting the Heartland Travel Showcase Feb. 24-26 at the Knoxville Convention Center. Both of these important travel shows will give us the opportunity to increase group travel to Tennessee; we are delighted they are meeting here and will experience first-hand our special brand of Southern hospitality.

February 22 is the Hospitality Association’s Day on the Hill, an important time to talk about the economic importance of tourism with our legislative representatives. For more information about this significant event, visit http://www.tnhospitality.net/ .

Two very special events to put on your calendar include the Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature event on the Battle of Shiloh, taking place April 4-5 at Pickwick Landing State Park. The second is the sixth annual Tennessee Sampler April 10-12. Look for more information on how your destination can participate in this e-newsletter.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the next few weeks as we prepare for another successful year of tourism in Tennessee!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

TACVB Blizzard VI Brings Together Tourism Partners from Across Tennessee

Tourism professionals from across the state will come together Feb. 2-3 for the TACVB Blizzard VI, sponsored by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Miles Media. This year’s theme is “Charting the Course,” focusing on building a greater experience for visitors to Tennessee. The two-day conference will be held at Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. It is not too late to attend, as onsite registration is available.

Customer service consultant Phil Bruno kicks off the event with the keynote address. Bruno will discuss the competitive advantage of building experiences in addition to offering products and services. Breakout sessions include topics such as new wave digital marketing, group tours and maximizing marketing dollars. The state tourism office will lead a panel discussion, “News You Can Use,” highlighting ways to elevate tourism in Tennessee through marketing, research, website assistance and public relations. Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker will provide the closing keynote address at the luncheon on Friday.

The Blizzard focuses on the significance of Tennessee tourism to local and state economic development. Tourism provides $14.1 billion in direct economic impact to Tennessee.

For additional information, please contact Sheila Leggett at Sheila@associationpartners.com.

Tennessee Sampler 2012 is Full Steam Ahead for Dallas April 10-12.

Tennessee PR team visits the Birmingham
News during Sampler Express 2011


The 2012 Tennessee Sampler Express will take place in previously visited markets as well as a few new ones, including Dallas, TX from April 10-12. The Sampler is an opportunity for TDTD and industry sales and PR partners to spend three days scorching the earth with all things Tennessee. Hold the dates and expect to receive additional details and registration information by Feb. 15.

The decision to add Dallas to our list of targeted Sampler markets is a result of D.K. Shifflet’s research indicating Texas as a key state for travel to Tennessee.

Make your plans to participate in the 2012 Tennessee Sampler Express April 10-12, 2012!

Marketing Update

Tennessee TripTales Blogger Initiative Will Launch March 1, 2012

The Tennessee TripTales initiative is a content creation program that is electronically promoted and scheduled to launch March 1, 2012.

Four professional bloggers will provide weekly content relative to their assigned region/niche. The Tennessee TripTales will offer tips, reviews and photos and videos in a blog format that is easily shared across our social network and beyond. This content will bring exposure to Tennessee destinations, attractions and events, and in turn, increase visitation to and within Tennessee.

Metrics for Success

All Tennessee Tourism initiatives are focused on driving visitors to Tennessee. A key performance indicator of Tennessee travel is the request for travel planning information in the form of a vacation guide, an email marketing subscription and through the use of vacation planning tools online. In addition, department initiatives strive to extend the visitor’s activity and number of nights spent in Tennessee.

The Tennessee TripTales blog will include a call-to-action to visit tnvacation.com, to use key travel tools and features on tnvacation.com, to sign up for Tennessee Tourism emails, to engage with Tennessee across our social network and for visitors to download or request a 2012 Tennessee Vacation Guide.

Content Creators

The Tennessee TripTales initiative will launch with a writer representing each of the three grand regions of Tennessee. The public relations department will continue to provide a weekly blog post as well. An additional blogger will cover niche content. The first niche is “Nature and Outdoors,” selected based off of data from the 2011 conversion study, which indicates this is the most popular niche our audience was interested in.


Tennessee TripTales will be supported by a presence on tnvacation.com, m.tnvacation.com, tntrailsandbyways.com, state sponsored email marketing messages, state sponsored SMS promotions, facebook.com/tnvacation, facebook.com/tennesseetrailsandbyways, twitter.com/tnvacation, twitter.com/tennesseetrailsandbyways, youtube.com/tnvacation, flickr.com/tnvacation and MyTNStory.com.

A custom email will be created that sends the weekly blogger posts to all email subscribers of that particular writer.

The Power of Social

The week of Jan. 16 – Jan. 22, 2012 was a big week in social media for Tennessee Tourism. Fueled by the Dolly Parton-Gaylord Entertainment announcement, TNVacation received 118 new likes, 1,368 people were talking about this (+149.2 percent from the week before) and had a 20,748 weekly total-reach (+25.1 percent from the week before).

Most popular posts for the week were Dolly related. A simple birthday wish to Dolly led in all metrics (9,974 reach, 739 engaged users, 647 talking about this and 6.49 percent virality). The entertainment zone announcement followed with 4.08 percent in virality and 610 engaged users.

This momentum was kept in subsequent posts, as all achieved a virality of more than 1.5 percent (anything more than 1 percent is strong).

On Twitter, the most popular shared links were posts about road trips linking to the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways site, as well as a link to one of our YouTube videos.

A new video of the Dollywood/Gaylord announcement was added to our YouTube page and it saw more than 300 hits this week. As a result, our YouTube traffic nearly doubled from the average site statistics.


Phil Vassar helps ignite ABA for Music City 2014

TDTD Sales Activity Includes Busy Season of Successful Shows

2012 has started out on a high note, as Tennessee was extremely well-represented during this year’s annual American Bus Association Marketplace, held in Grapevine, Texas. There were more than 90 state partners in attendance, representing their respective CVBs, attractions, restaurants, hotels and properties.  In addition, the annual Tennessee dinner was a huge success, with 149 people packed in the restaurant for an evening of networking, partner updates and casual conversation. Approximately 93 of those in attendance were the tour operator buyers the dinner was created to host. Nashville presented an awesome lunch featuring a performance by Phil Vassar, gearing up for ABA Music City 2014. Thank you, Tennessee partners, for continuing to make this annual tradition a top-notch event! 

After ABA, Tennessee Tourism hit the road again to attend Tennessee Motor Coach Association’s Annual Convention in Lexington, Ky.  Meetings with 20 tour operator clients were held during the three-day event, along with several networking opportunities to promote tourism in Tennessee. AAA Alabama Travel Show was held in Birmingham, Ala. the last weekend in January. For this show, Tennessee Tourism partnered with Tennessee State Parks to showcase the state’s many tourist-friendly destinations to this ever-loyal drive market client base. 

Coming up in February, the department is sponsoring the Bank Travel Conference held in Memphis. Tennessee Tourism will have an exhibit booth on the main floor and several industry partners will be sharing the space to spotlight all we have to offer bank travel directors planning their next group tour.  These partners include Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Franklin, Cirque De Chine, Chattanooga, Titanic Pigeon Forge, Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Memphis.  In late February, Knoxville will play host to the annual Heartland Travel Showcase. Appointment schedules will be released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for additional information.

2012 Web Assistance Tour Update

Oak Ridge Web Tour at Comfort Inn

Can 4 Million Tnvacation.com Visitors Be Wrong?

Web Assistance Tour stops recently held in Jefferson City and Oak Ridge were well attended by tourism partners looking to expand their marketing reach. Special thanks to Adele Sensing of Jefferson City and Katy Brown and Nicky Reynolds of Oak Ridge for hosting.

Reserve your FREE spot now at one of our upcoming web assistance tour sessions.

Upcoming Tour Schedule:

Wednesday, Feb. 22, Millington
12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
University of Memphis - Millington Campus 

Wednesday, Feb. 29, Cleveland
12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, Marcj 1, Monteagle
12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
City Hall

Thursday, March 8, Johnson City
10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Carnegie Hotel

Note: The Feb. 1 session in Murfreesboro has reached capacity.

Click here for more information about the Web Assistance Tour.

To RSVP, please email training@tnvacation.com and indicate the location and date of the session you will be attending.

Civil War Update

Shiloh Reenactment

Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event Commemorating the 150th of Shiloh
Experience this historic event at one of America’s  most important battlefields

Tennessee's 2012 Sesquicentennial Signature Event: “Invasions by Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh“ will be held on April 4-5, 2012 at Pickwick Landing State Park in Pickwick Dam. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and Tennessee Historical Society. Seating is limited – REGISTER TODAY by sending an email to vionne.williams@tn.gov or call 615-741-2159.  To download a complete agenda visit www.tncivilwar150.com

Signature Event highlights:
April 4:
Illuminating the Battle of Shiloh: Primary Sources from the Library of Congress hosted by the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation
Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee (digitization project) hosted by the Tennessee State Library and Archive
Red Carpet Film Premiere: The Story of Shiloh: “Fiery Trial” hosted by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and Shiloh National Military Park.

April 5:
Opening Ceremony including special guests, press announcements and musical performance by The 52nd Regimental String Band
Beyond the Battlefield:  Shiloh Heroes and Legends will provide special living history demonstrations hosted by Shiloh National Military Park, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United States Colored Troops
Special Sesquicentennial Exhibit hosted by the Tennessee State Museum and Tennessee State Library and Archives
Battle of Shiloh Forum: The Fall of Tennessee, Fort Donelson to Davis Bridge panel discussion will include the foremost experts in the United States on the Battle of Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh presented by Stacy Allen, Chief Ranger, Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh: The Preservation Story presented by Tiimothy B. Smith, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, Martin
Preview of  Sesquicentennial Civil War Documentary on the Battle of Shiloh presented by Dr. Carroll Van West, Co-Chair, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Book signing opportunity with all authors

In addition, to the sesquicentennial activities planned by the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission, you will not want to miss two locally organized re-enactment events on March 29-31, 2012 featuring more than 6,000 re-enactors and more cannons than you can count! Visit www.shiloh150.org/register and www.shiloh150th.com/index.html for more information on these locally organized sesquicentennial events.  

While in the area a visit to Shiloh National Military Park is a must!  Shiloh, a masterpiece of Civil War interpretation and preservation is an integral part of understanding the Civil War. Whether you are a casual visitor or history buff, time spent at Shiloh is filled with solemn reflection. Join us as we walk the hallowed ground where huge stone monuments pay tribute to the dead and wounded, North and South, and 200 cannons stand ready in the position occupied on that long ago morning in April. During the 150th commemoration of the Civil War, Shiloh National Military Park will offer special sesquicentennial activities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/shil/.    

Facts & Trends

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

"Rocky Top” is America’s Top Money Generating National Park Service Unit

According to a recently-released National Park Service study by Michigan State University, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only the nation's most visited national park, it also tops the 397 national park units in visitor spending. The study estimates that in 2010 the park's nine million visitors spent more than $818 million in the gateway communities surrounding the park in Tennessee and North Carolina. The study also estimates that 11,367 local jobs were supported by park visitor spending.

Nationwide, the National Park Service received 281 million recreational visits in 2010 and park visitors spent $12.13 billion in local gateway regions.

The spending estimates were derived from a money generation model that begins with a park's visitation, party size, length of stay and proportion of local versus non-local visitors. Those statistics are combined with locally-indexed cost estimates for restaurants, lodging, amusements, locally-purchased fuel and transportation and retail spending.

Welcome Center

Regional Managers Named Welcome Center Employees of the Month

Director of Welcome Centers Pete Rosenboro would like to recognize the four regional managers as employees of the month for January 2012. 

Lee Southard oversees The West TN Region consisting of the I-55, I-40 and Dyersburg Welcome Centers.   Laura Munn oversees 1-81 Bristol, I-40 Hartford, I-75 Jellico and I-26 Unicoi County Welcome Centers in the Northeast TN Region.  Janice Rich manages the Middle TN Region (Nickajack, Ardmore, Mitchellville and Clarksville Welcome Centers) and Charles Webb covers the South Central Region of Tiftonia, I-75 Chattanooga and I-40 Smith County. The combined time of State service for the team of regional managers is an amazing 118 years.

Laura Munn, Lee Southard, Charles Webb, Janice Rich

All shared the views of Janice Rich when asked what was most rewarding from working with the department.

“Being able to serve the visitors and having a great bunch of fellow employees,” said Rich. 

While each of the regional managers has received individual recognition, Rosenboro sees their group effort as a major contribution to the department.

“These four individuals do an outstanding job as regional managers,” said Rosenboro. “They have a true understanding of customer service and they are passionate about serving as regional managers.”

Industry Applause

Left to right, Craig Ross ľDollywood,
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Gov. Bill
Haslam, Dolly, Colin Reed-Gaylord

Dollywood, Gaylord Entertainment Partner to Bring Family Entertainment to Nashville
Gaylord Entertainment and Dolly Parton's Dollywood Company have entered into a 50/50 joint venture to develop a 114-acre family entertainment zone adjacent to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. Phase one of the project, currently unnamed, is a water and snow park, the first of its kind in the United States. A late 2012, early 2013 groundbreaking date is expected with the park opening slated for summer of 2014.

Go Green!
The following tourism businesses have received third party green certification from Tennessee Hospitality Association’s Green Certification program: Chattanooga Choo Choo; Chattanooga Convention Center; Chattanooga Marriott at the Convention Center; Courtyard by Marriott Chattanooga Downtown; Courtyard by Marriott Nashville Downtown; David Crockett State Park; David Crockett State Park Restaurant; Doubletree Hotel Chattanooga; Doubletree Hotel Memphis; Doubletree Hotel Murfreesboro; Doubletree Hotel Oak Ridge; Doubletree Jackson; Doubletree Johnson City; Fairfield Inn & Suites Chattanooga South/East Ridge; Fairfield Inn & Suites Cleveland; Fairfield Inn & Suites I-24/Lookout Mountain; Fall Creek Falls State Park; Franklin Marriott Cool Springs; Hampton Inn and Suites Knoxville; Hampton Inn and Suites Knoxville Turkey Creek; Hampton Inn and Suites Nashville/Smyrna; Hilton Garden Inn Chattanooga Downtown; Hilton Garden Inn Chattanooga/Hamilton Place; Hilton Garden Inn Nashville/Smyrna; Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites; Holiday Inn Nashville Vanderbilt (DWTN); Holiday Inn World’s Fair Knoxville; Hutton Hotel;  Knoxville Convention Center; Loews Vanderbilt Hotel; Nashville Airport Marriott; Natchez Trace State Park Inn and Conference Center; Paris Landing State Park Inn and Conference Center; Pickwick Landing State Park Inn and Conference Center; Residence Inn by Marriott Chattanooga Downtown; Residence Inn by Marriott Nashville Airport; Residence Inn Chattanooga near Hamilton Place; Ruby Falls; See Rock City, Inc.; Staybridge Suites Chattanooga Downtown Convention Center; The Chattanoogan Conference Center & Hotel; The Tennessee Aquarium; Hampton Inn and Suites.

Opry Mills Opens in March
Opry Mills, one of Tennessee’s largest outlet, dining and entertainment destinations and closed since May 2010 for a complete renovation, will reopen to customers March 29, 2012. Among the roster of stores returning to Opry Mills is Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Ann Taylor Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger Factory Store and The Disney Store Outlet. Joining this list of prominent retailers is Coach Factory Store, DKNY Company Store, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. The Grand Re-Opening Celebration is slated for May.

Casey Jones Village, Jackson

Casey Jones Village Installs Blink® Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Officials with Casey Jones Village have announced the installation of three charging stations for electric vehicles, the only location between Memphis and Nashville currently offering this service. Casey Jones Village offers three Blink Level 2 charging stations and can accommodate the all‐electric Nissan LEAF.

Chattanooga in the New York Times
The New York Times named Chattanooga, Tenn. as one of the top 45 places to visit in 2012. Chattanooga was one of only four U.S. cities to be mentioned.

Industry Leaders Earn Travel Industry Specialist Certification from American Bus Association
Tourism partners from across the state have achieved the prestigious Certified Travel Industry Specialist designation from the American Bus Association.  Each was recently recognized at a special ceremony during the 2012 American Bus Association Marketplace in Grapevine, Texas. The CTIS program is administered for ABA by Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis and is the first university-administered certification program in the group travel industry.
Congratulations to Lila Wilson, CTIS; Shirley Davis Conner, CTIS; Angela Harness, CTIS; and Shelda Spencer Rees, CTIS.

Humboldt Names New Director
Sherri McCarter has been named the new executive director of the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce. She replaces Gil Fletcher who retired. Humboldt is home to the world-famous Strawberry Festival.


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