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

Dear Colleagues,

What a wonderful taste of spring weather we have had in February! I’m willing to bet that it has put quite a few people in a ‘spring break’ kind of mood…and we all know that Tennessee should be right up there on top of anyone’s list of desirable destinations. So, rev up your websites, get your social media busy and send us your T3 vacation deals as we plant get-away ideas that will help kick off a successful 2012 tourism season.

A big congratulations and thank you to Greg Adkins, his entire team at the Tennessee Hospitality Association and many of you who made the trip to Nashville on February 22 to put on such a stellar Day on the Hill. It was so good to join you that morning as we heard from Governor Haslam, Lieutenant Governor Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell about the importance of tourism to the state’s economy. What an encouragement to hear their strong support of this industry and their sincere appreciation for all you do to create jobs and business opportunities for Tennesseans.

I personally appreciated the tremendous show of unity and support at my Senate hearing that afternoon. Thank you for visiting with your legislative representatives to update them on the importance of tourism in your communities. I have heard nothing but great feedback on the Day on the Hill.

March is shaping up to be a great month to show off our Tennessee industry to travel buyers. On March 5-8, representatives from TDTD will be joining many Tennessee tourism businesses at the Travel South Showcase in Louisville, Ky. This important industry event brings together delegates from 11 southeastern states for Travel South’s annual sales, marketing and PR convention. Tour operators and media from around the U.S., as well as a select group of international participants, will hear all about travel to the south. The showcase has proven to be a significant source of new business for Tennessee in the past, and we look forward to excellent results again this year.

The Tennessee Sampler Express will take place April 10-12, with sales and PR partners from across the state joining us to take our vacation message throughout the southeast. We have meetings planned in Dallas, Fort Worth and Texarkana, Texas and Shreveport, La., as well as feeder markets in Tennessee’s border states. This is a very cost-effective way to spread your tourism message to tour operators, AAA offices and key media representatives. I strongly recommend joining us for this dynamic sales and PR mission. Click here for more information.

I’m happy to announce launch dates for two more Discover TN Trails & Byways. The Screaming Eagle Trail will launch April 20, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Rivers & Spires Festival in Clarksville, and the Top Secret Trail will launch June 15, opening day of the 10th anniversary of the Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge. The trails initiative continues to foster economic development growth in both our urban and rural communities. See additional details in the accompanying article.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Dr. Carroll Van West and Lee Curtis visit
Mayor Dale Kelley of Huntingdon in Carroll County. They toured the
Dixie Carter Performing Arts and Academic Enrichment Center as well
as several Civil War sites for potential Civil War Trail markers to be placed
in Huntingdon.

Tennessee’s 2012 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, will take place April 4 and 5 at Pickwick Landing State Park. We have heard from people all over the country and as far away as Argentina who plan to attend this very significant event as well as several other special events in Hardin County that week. This promises to be a very historic time in Tennessee, and I hope you will be able to participate in the commemoration. Find out more about it in this issue’s Civil War article.

I know I speak for the entire Department of Tourist Development when I say it is an honor to work on behalf of the tourism industry of this beautiful and exciting state. Please let us know how we can better serve you as you continue to build your businesses and delight your customers day after day. Thank you for the opportunity to tell the world about Tennessee!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

Civil War Signature Event Marks Historic 150th of Shiloh

Shilohĺs 150th grand illumination
will take place on April 7.

Make your plans now to attend this year’s Sesquicentennial Signature Event: “Invasions by Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh,” April 4 and 5. Highlights include: Looking Back project hosted by Tennessee State Library & Archives, a red carpet film premiere of a state-of-the-art documentary The Story of Shiloh: Fiery Trial at 7 p.m. on April 4, and the official Opening Ceremony at 9 a.m. April 5.

Co-chairs of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, will host the event. Governor Bill Haslam has been invited to participate.

While this year’s Sesquicentennial Signature Event may be at Pickwick Landing State Park in Southwest Tennessee, industry partners can expect to see Civil War buffs in many other areas of the state. Tennessee’s rich Civil War heritage showcased through our Civil War Trails entices visitors already coming to the event to see much more.

To date, Tennessee's 2012 Sesquicentennial Signature Event has more than 200 registered attendees. Those registered are from states including California, Arkansas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, Nebraska, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa as well as international attendees from as far away as Argentina.

Seating is limited. Register today by sending an email to vionne.williams@tn.gov or call 615-741-2159. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and Tennessee Historical Society. To download a complete agenda visit www.tncivilwar150.com.

Register Now for the Tennessee Sampler Express - April 10-12

Plans for the 2012 Tennessee Sampler Express are well underway! This year’s event will take teams on the road April 10-12 along seven different routes while conducting sales and PR calls to AAA offices, tour operators and media. A fly route to markets in Texas and Louisiana has been added for 2012.

There is no registration fee, except for personal travel expenses, including hotel for two nights, meals and the cost of rental vehicle split among the team or flights for the Texas/Louisiana route. Each team will have a team captain who will help secure the sales calls and facilitate all logistics.

TDTD will provide binders featuring the profile sheets of participating sales partners. The separate teams of public relations partners will provide PR materials to include on jump drives for all PR meetings.

TDTD will assign teams, based on partner choices, to travel each route and make sales and PR calls. The routes are as follows:


1.     Fly-In:             Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX, Texarkana, TX and Shreveport, LA

2.     Departing from Memphis: Little Rock, AR; Fort Smith, AR; Springfield, MO; Branson, MO; and Jonesboro, AR

3.     Departing from Nashville: Paducah, KY; St. Louis, MO; Terre Haute, IN and Evansville, IN

4.     Departing from Chattanooga: Atlanta, GA; Montgomery, AL; Birmingham, AL; and Huntsville, AL

5.     Departing from Knoxville: Roanoke, VA; Richmond, VA; Raleigh, NC and Greensboro, NC

6.     Departing from Smoky Mountains: Asheville, NC; Charlotte, NC; Columbia, SC and Augusta, GA

7.     Departing from Northeast Region: Charleston, VA; Columbus, OH; Cincinnati, OH and Lexington, KY


The 2012 Sampler Express registration form is here. For sales calls, email registration form to Jamie Lynn Thompson – Jamielynn.thompson@tn.gov. For PR calls, email registration form to Melanie Beauchamp – Melanie.beauchamp@tn.gov.

We hope you can be a part of the 2012 Sampler Express!

STS Scholarships Application available

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with the Tennessee Vacation Guide publisher Miles Media, will again be offering two full scholarships to the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College to tourism marketing professionals in the state of Tennessee. For Tennessee tourism professionals interested in pursuing educational opportunities, scholarship applications are now available. The deadline for application submission is April 16, 2012. 

The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From July 29 – August 3, 2012, the courses will be held at the campus of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Ga. During this week, students will experience a broad-based curriculum of courses designed to teach marketing techniques from all facets of the tourism industry. Marketing College professors are working, experienced professionals from across the U.S. who not only bring expertise, but real-world knowledge and experience to the classroom.

From the time students arrive on Sunday evening until they depart on Friday, they enjoy classes, lectures, discussion groups and one-of-a-kind networking opportunities in an academic environment conducive to learning. Sample courses include: Conducting a Successful Press Tour; Writing a Marketing Plan 101; Inquiry to Fulfillment to Conversion to Database; and Generational Marketing. Students who attend three years of Marketing College receive a Travel Marketing Professional certification presented at a special graduation ceremony at the STS spring meeting.

In each class students, receive a syllabus outlining course objectives and method of instruction. The STS Marketing scholarships will be awarded to two Tennessee tourism professionals and cover tuition, accommodations and most meals for the 2012 session. The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus in cooperation with Miles Media and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass professional aptitude and future career goals in the tourism industry. Contact Mary.Steadman@MilesMedia.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesMedia.com to request an application, or download here.  For more information on STS Marketing College visit http://www.southeasttourism.net/marketingCollege_meeting.cfm.

Tennessee TripTales Blog Launches March 15

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has overhauled its blog, bringing readers Tennessee TripTales, a fresh take on the inside scoop of all Tennessee has to offer.

Tennessee TripTales will feature daily blogs written by professional travel writers as another resource for travelers who want to get off the beaten path and have an authentic Tennessee experience. The Tennessee TripTales bloggers, representing East, Middle and West TN, will cover a variety of topics to educate visitors about the state’s wonderful sites, events and activities. Bloggers will provide recommendations, reviews, tips, photos, video and much more. Ultimately, the information provided will enhance visitors’ stays. Each blogger will provide content once a week, giving exposure to Tennessee destinations and, in turn, increasing tourist visitation. The blog will officially launch March 15.

We know the state is full of outdoor adventure, girlfriend getaways, great local eateries and thrilling attractions. Tennessee TripTales is another outlet to share Tennessee’s outstanding tourism attractions with our readers.

Do you have anything fun or newsworthy to add to the blog? Send in your ideas to Leah Jennings at Leah.Jennings@tn.gov.

To see the blog, visit www.tnvacation.com/triptales.

New Launch Dates Set for Two Trails in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Initiative

Screaming Eagle will launch at 4 p.m., April 20 and will be the 13th finished trail within the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative. Taking place in Clarksville, Tenn., the launch will run in conjunction with the award-winning Rivers & Spires Festival. This will be the 10th Anniversary of the festival. Final event details for the launch are in development but will include entertainment by the Eagles tribute band, Seven Bridges, as well as an exhibition area for tourism partners to distribute valuable information to an estimated 40,000 festival attendees.

Top Secret will launch at 11 a.m., June 15 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. and will run in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Secret City Festival. Oak Ridge Convention & Visitors Bureau partners estimate that 20,000 visitors will attend the festival. Tourism partners along the Top Secret Trail will be on site to distribute information following the launch, which will feature musical entertainment and re-enactors from several major time periods in Tennessee history.

Cotton Junction and Rocky Top are the final trails to launch and round out the full developmental phase of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative. Phase two will begin with a kick-off during the National Travel & Tourism Week, May 5 – 13. Extending the knowledge base of the initiative and creating an in-depth sustainability plan are the primary goals for the second phase.

New Spring Site Features Bill Dance Fishing Trip Contest

To promote the great outdoor adventures that await visitors in Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will launch its spring site at spring.tnvacation.com March 1. This year, the interactive website encourages visitors to experience fishing, hiking and camping along with fishing guru, Bill Dance. A contest will be featured on the site that includes giveaways and a chance to win a fishing trip with Dance.

The grand prize features three ultimate fishing getaways across Tennessee! Headlining this contest is an exclusive opportunity to win a fishing trip with angling legend Bill Dance on one of his private lakes.  In addition to this extremely rare fishing opportunity, the winner will receive two additional professionally guided outings; one near Dandridge, Tenn. and another near Spencer, Tenn. Accommodations are provided to the winner include two nights at Trout Hill Condominiums from Highland Rim Vacations and two nights at Point Resort on Douglas Lake. Other prizes feature backpacks filled with outdoor gear.

To enter, simply fill out the form located at spring.tnvacation.com, with complete rules available at spring.tnvacation.com. The contest runs March 1-May 1.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development teamed up with Bill Dance Outdoors, Highland Rim Vacations, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Point Resort and Designsensory in the development of the Gear up for Spring contest and micro-site Visit spring.tnvacation.com for details.

Sales Update

Maury County’s Brenda Pierce and Corinne Wells
meet with tour operator at Heartland in Knoxville.

Thanks again to all our partners who attended Bank Travel and helped make the Tennessee booth on the tradeshow floor such a vibrant hub of activity and communication. With more than 20 partners representing various attractions, CVBs, dining venues and accommodations on-site to directly exchange leads, appointment notes and buyer needs, this year’s Bank Travel Conference in Memphis was a huge success. TDTD had a total of 29 appointments with Bank Travel Loyalty Directors and Travel Planners, most of whom were anxious to put a trip together as soon as possible and begin selling to their loyalty customers.

Most recently, TDTD was among a group of 33 Tennessee booths represented at the 2012 Heartland Travel Showcase held in Knoxville the last weekend in February. TDTD conducted 34 appointments during the two-day trade show and hosted three FAM tours before and after for group tour operators looking to increase their knowledge of Tennessee product. The gracious Tennessee hosts for the FAM tours included Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, Jonesborough, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Clarksville and Nashville. 

For March, Tennessee will be well-represented at the annual Travel South Showcase, to be held in Louisville, Ky. There will be more than 35 Tennessee partners in attendance and taking appointments to drive group tour and travel business to their destinations. TDTD will once again have both sales and PR/Media sets of meetings scheduled during this much-anticipated trade show. 

2012 Web Assistance Tour

Recent Web training session well attended in
Oak Ridge

The Web Assistance Sessions are FREE to all Tennessee tourism partners!

These events are a great opportunity to get hands-on assistance with the tnvacation.com web site, T3 deals program and the tnvacation.com mobile site from a knowledgeable web team.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

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

Thursday, Mar. 1, Monteagle
12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. 
City Hall
Thursday, Mar. 8, Johnson City
10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 
Carnegie Hotel

Tuesday, April 17, Townsend
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Valley View Lodge
Wednesday, April 18, Crossville,
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn Express
Friday, April 20, Gallatin
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Volunteer State Community College
Tuesday, May 1, Paris Landing State Park
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
State Park Inn 

Wednesday, May 2, Clarksville
12:30 p.m.  – 3:30 p.m.
Capital Bank Building

To RSVP please email training@tnvacation.com and include date and location.

Click here for more information about the Web Assistance Tour.

Civil War Update

President Andrew Johnson Home in

Photographers Needed for Scenic Tennessee’s Photo Contest

Amateur and professional photographers are needed for Scenic Tennessee’s 18th Annual Photo Contest.  This year’s contest, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, commemorates Tennessee’s distinctive Civil War sites and landscapes with the theme, Living Legacies: Capturing the Scenic Beauty of Tennessee’s Civil War Heritage. Winners will be awarded cash prizes, and winning photographs will be exhibited at the Heritage Center in Murfreesboro before touring the state.

Contest entrants are encouraged to use the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker program as a guide to find numerous subjects across the state, including historic landscapes, period architecture, monuments and Civil War-era cemeteries. Entry deadline is April 1. For details, visit www.scenictennessee.org/photo-contest/.




Facts & Trends

Visitation to Tennessee Travel Site 

Online visitation to the state’s  consumer travel website, TNvacation.com continues to rise each year.  Here are the facts and trends from2011:

Unique visits:  4.7 million, up from 3.9 million visits in 2010

Average monthly unique visits:  392,034 compared to 332,921 the previous year

Average daily unique visits:  13,067, up from a 2010 daily average of 10,961.

Total page views:  23 million

Mobile site:  102,000 unique visits during its 10 months of existence in 2010

Industry Applause

Carnton Plantation, Franklin


Carnton Plantation Named One of the Top Wedding Picks

Carnton Plantation has been selected as a 2012 winner in The Knot Best of Weddings, a special section in The Knot magazine and on Weddings from The Knot (www.theknot.com), the No. 1 wedding resource that’s most trusted by brides. The Knot Best of Weddings 2012 provides a “by brides, for brides” guide to the top wedding professionals across the country, and is a must-have when selecting the best-of-the-best wedding resources.

The State Museum Presents Exhibit on the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 

Have you ever wondered about how Tennessee got the nickname the “Volunteer State?” Are you interested in learning more about President Andrew Jackson and how the War of 1812 made him a national hero? Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812 opened Feb. 16, just in time for the President’s Day holiday weekend. The exhibition is free and will be on view in the museum’s Changing Galleries through June 24.

Ryman Auditorium Wins Again

At the 23rd Annual Pollstar Awards held in Los Angeles, the Ryman Auditorium was named “Theatre of the Year” for the second year in a row. The Ryman was nominated along with five other theaters: Beacon Theatre in New York City; Fox Theatre in Atlanta; Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles; Radio City Music Hall in New York City; and Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie in Grand Prairie, Texas. This marks the fourth “Theatre of the Year” win in the past 10 years for the 120-year-old venue.

Peabody Ducks

The Peabody Ducks Are Marching With a New Duckmaster

The world-famous Peabody ducks are marching under new leadership these days. Anthony Petrina has stepped into the prominent role of Duckmaster at The Peabody Memphis. The role of Duckmaster originated at the hotel more than 70 years ago, and Petrina is only the fifth Duckmaster in its history.

Another Main Street Community

Historic Leiper's Fork has been designated as a Tennessee Main Street Community. Tennessee Main Street Program, operated by the Dept. of Economic and Community Development, requires certified Tennessee Main Street organizations to meet National Accreditation standards. The program has 24 certified Main Street Communities across the state.

Mona Herring


Mona Herring Receives Tennessee Tourism Spotlight Award

The Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus awarded Mona K. Herring, vice president of the Rutherford County CVB with the Tennessee Tourism Spotlight Award.  The award was presented at TACVB’s Annual Blizzard. Herring was given the award in recognition of her leadership and service. This is only the second Spotlight Award ever presented.

Hotels Help Education

Seven downtown Knoxville hotels joined together with Junior Achievement and South Doyle Middle School to participate in National Groundhog Job Shadow Day.  This nationally recognized event invites young people to participate in hands-on learning and a one-day mentoring program.  The seven hotels include the Crowne Plaza Knoxville Four Points by Sheraton; Knoxville Cumberland House Hotel; Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown; Hilton Knoxville; Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park; The Oliver Hotel; and Knoxville Marriott.

Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show Huge Success

The Upper Cumberland Tourism Association booth at the just-completed Cincinnati Travel, Sport & Boat Show was a big success. The UCTA attended the show along with several Dale Hollow marinas; Cedar Hill, Eagle Cove, East Port, Holly Creek, Mitchell Creek and Sunset Marina. According to Ruth Dyal, the group distributed more than 4,000 pieces of Upper Cumberland literature and had more than 2,500 people stop by the booth.

Bonnaroo Marks 10 Years of Charitable Giving

Bonnaroo organizers announced that during the first 10 years of the festival, more than $5 million has been donated to local, regional and national charities and organizations. The festival has supported national non-profit organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, Head Count, MusiCares, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club of America, Rock the Earth, the American Red Cross, and the Sierra Club, as well as provided aid during tragic disasters such as the Haitian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, Nashville floods and Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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