Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents February 2013 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Friends,

What an incredible year of opportunity lies before the tourism industry in 2013! 

The crucial role that tourism plays in the economic growth and job creation in Tennessee was heartily underscored in Governor Bill Haslam's State of the State address last week when he highlighted our unique tourism destinations, described the opportunity for major growth and recommended a budget increase to the Department of an additional $8 million in marketing funds to make that happen!

This significant budget increase proposal came in response to the impressive work and report done by the Governor-appointed Tourism Committee. This unprecedented cooperative effort, led brilliantly by Chairman Colin Reed and his Co-Chairs Ted Miller and Jack Soden, along with hours of critical input from the Department and top tourism leaders from throughout the state, resulted in an excellent comprehensive analysis of the current state and future potential of the industry. 

The Committee presented its report to the Governor, highlighting its tremendous positive brand awareness, competitive strengths, and the unique opportunity for major growth in the immediate future. With this new financial investment, the right strategic plan and continued buy-in from the entire industry, Tennessee tourism will provide enormous growth to our state's economy. 

Over the next few months, the Tourism Committee will continue its intensive work on the strategic plan, inviting input from across the state. This group of individuals, all of whom have other full-time jobs, have committed hours of their own time to making this happen, energized by the enormous opportunity and the unprecedented cooperation and sharing of research, ideas and resources. I salute every one of you and thank you on behalf of the entire industry. 

Over the coming weeks, I am looking forward to sharing tourism's recent strong economic successes as well as presenting this exciting new opportunity to the members of the General Assembly. They will also need to hear from you, their constituents, on the importance of these new dollars. For that reason, I hope to see many of you at the upcoming TnHA "Day on the Hill" scheduled for February 27th. It will also be a great day to let the Governor know just how much we appreciate his belief in the economic power of tourism.

Even as these important meetings take place, the Department is hard at work implementing our current marketing plans for this fiscal year. Look for specific information on upcoming sales missions, media tours and website news in this edition of the newsletter. We want to keep you informed and involved in everything we do. 

Congratulations to an industry that has earned the respect of its top Government officials as well as the love of the traveling public. I am proud to serve with you!




Featured Articles:

2013 Tennessee Sampler Express

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is excited to hit the road again for 2013’s TENNESSEE SAMPLER EXPRESS Mar. 20-22! Sampler Express is a grassroots and economical approach that takes teams on the road along different routes, conducting sales and PR calls to AAA offices, tour operators and media representatives. 

Once again, we will divide and conquer, doing a comprehensive sales and PR blitz in key markets surrounding our state.

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. 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.

Teams will be assigned, based on partner choices, to travel each route and make sales and PR calls. The PR routes are as follows:

1.     Little Rock, AR; Fayetteville, AR; Springfield, MO

2.     Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Huntsville, AL

3.     Atlanta, GA; Augusta, GA; Columbia, SC; Charlotte, NC

4.     Lexington, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH

This year, the tourism Sales office has secured a partnership with AAA The Auto Club Group – Southern Region (formerly AAA Auto Club South) to conduct their monthly Member Appreciation Events, and have a Tennessee spin at each of their seven Atlanta-area branches, on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.  Following the AAA/Tennessee events, the tourism office has designated the following four sales call routes. TDTD will assign teams, based on partner choices, to travel each route and make sales calls. The routes are as follows:

1.      Departing from Atlanta: Greenville, SC; Spartanburg, SC; Charlotte, NC; Greensboro, NC; Asheville, NC 

2.      Departing from Atlanta: Augusta, GA; Charleston, SC; Myrtle Beach, SC; Columbia, SC  

3.      Departing from Atlanta: Macon, GA; Savannah, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Tallahassee, FL

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

5.      Write-In Option: This option would still depart from Atlanta, and commence upon conclusion of the AAA events on Tuesday, Mar. 19. 

The 2013 Sampler Express Sign-up sheet can be found here.  

For sales calls, email registration form to Bennjin.Lao@tn.gov. For PR calls, email registration form to Melanie Beauchamp – Melanie.beauchamp@tn.gov. Deadline: Feb. 8!

We hope you can be a part of the 2013 Sampler Express!

TACVB Blizzard VII Sets Record Attendance

Special thanks to TACVB Executive Director Sheila Leggett, pictured with staff member Lisa Bowler.Special thanks to TACVB Executive Director Sheila Leggett, pictured with staff member Lisa Bowler.Tourism professionals from around the state met in Murfreesboro on January 31 and February 1 for the TACVB Blizzard, a professional development conference featuring seminars and workshops designed to drive more tourists to Tennessee.

Now in its seventh year, Blizzard VII kicked off with an exciting presentation by Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker officially announcing tourism’s late-breaking budget news. Governor Bill Haslam, in his State of the State address on Jan. 28, recommended an $8 million increase in tourism marketing for FY2013-14 budget. Read more about it in Commissioner Whitaker’s message in this issue of Rhythm & News.

"The seventh annual TACVB Educational Conference exceeded all expectations, with a record-breaking 154 attendees from all corners of Tennessee,” said the organization’s Executive Director Sheila Leggett.  “We are grateful to our very talented array of speakers who continued our emphasis on technology and social media to advance the face of tourism in Tennessee. Special thanks to our courageous members who shared their talents during the 'Voice of Tourism' in what we hope will be an annual event."

Other seminars included the “Building a Website that Works,” “Making the Most of Tourism Week 2013,” “How Can the New Tourist Development Authority Act Legislation Benefit Your Community,” and a roundtable discussion with the Department of Tourist Development Key Leaders.

The Blizzard has become an important educational component for Tennessee’s tourism professionals,” said Shelda Rees, Chattanooga CVB and incoming TACVB president.  “Blizzard also gives us an update from Commissioner Whitaker and her staff since the September Governor’s Conference, including this year’s great news about the additional $8 million included in Governor Haslam’s 2014 budget.”

One of the highlights included the industry reveal and overview of mobile apps for three Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. The official launch of the apps will take place in the coming weeks. Once the apps are announced to the traveling public, Tennessee tourists will have an additional tool for planning and gaining information along The Jack, Nashville’s Trace and Old Tennessee Trails. 

"The conference has grown in popularity and attendance among the tourism industry across the entire state. I credit its growth to Tennessee having the best Commissioner of Tourism in the Southeast, great informative speakers, outstanding affiliate sponsors, and a hard working Board of Directors,” said Rhonda Adams, immediate past chair of the TACVB. “TACVB sets the example of increasing the tourism industry conversation in a positive and informative manner with partnering organizations such as Agriculture, Conservation, Roadways, Economic Development, and more.  After all, a good example holds twice the value of good advice."

Tennessee’s Recent International TV Coverage Exceeds $5 Million in Added Value

Tennessee’s international TV coverage reached a staggering $5 million in added value in January 2013 with three shows pitched by Lofthouse Enterprises and facilitated by Lofthouse and state tourism partners who hosted the visiting media representatives.  Lofthouse, led by David Nicholson, represents Tennessee in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France and Scandinavia.

The U.K.’s ITV morning news show, the second largest broadcaster in the U.K. after the BBC, featured Nashville and Memphis in its “Rhythm & Chews” travel feature. Sun Studio, Graceland, The Peabody Ducks and the Arcade Restaurant in Memphis were featured on the first show which aired on Jan. 15. The Nashville segment will feature Opry at the Ryman, Wildhorse Saloon, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Studio B and Rotiers Restaurant.

The Travel Channel International launched a new series, “American Times,” and featured a 47-minute documentary on Tennessee. It is currently airing around the world and features attractions and museums like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Shiloh, Civil War re-enactors on Lookout Mountain, horseback riding in the Smokies and the history of Oak Ridge. The Tennessee show will air 100 times across the network, the largest pan-European channel with 7.2 million viewers per month.

The Dutch travel show ‘3 op Reis’ travelled to Nashville, Franklin, Chattanooga and Knoxville and featured a two-part Tennessee segment highlighting the Ryman Auditorium, Hatch Show Prints, The Bluebird Café, Puckett’s, Carnton Plantation, the Delta Queen, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, downtown Knoxville and Dead End BBQ. The travel program is broadcast every Sunday evening at primetime to more than 900,000 viewers.

More international coverage is on the horizon. Most recently, partners across the state hosted individual international media representatives to Tennessee. Among them – a Dutch journalists writing a Trail of Tears story for EOS Magazine, a German publisher/editor for Country Music News International writing about Nashville, and an Australian journalists traveling from Memphis to Chattanooga in a week, for her 50 states in 50 weeks U.S. trip. David Nicholson and his team are always working to market and promote Tennessee to the international traveler.

Travel South Showcase

Tennessee delegates get ready for ABA 2014 coming to Music City.Tennessee delegates get ready for ABA 2014 coming to Music City.The Department concluded a very busy January, having attended ABA Marketplace in Charlotte, NC, and NTA/Travel Exchange, in Orlando, FL.  At ABA, with the support of 60 Tennessee partner delegates, the department hosted a successful and engaging annual dinner event with over 70 tour operator delegates in attendance.  Less than two weeks later at NTA, the Tennessee delegation of 22 supplier partners hosted 62 tour operators for another great evening of networking and business development.  Thank you, partners, for continuing to elevate Tennessee’s reputation as being a quality host to our clients at these major shows, and making the dinner events such a huge success, year in and year out. 

Next up in February will be the annual Travel South Showcase, February 17 – 20, in Little Rock, Arkansas.  This show caters to tour operators interested in growing and/or developing product to the southern region of the US, and Tennessee will again have over 30 supplier partners in attendance. Travel South Showcase facilitates meetings with domestic and international tour operators as well as travel media. Immediately following the show, Memphis will host 12 tour operator delegates and one travel journalist on a two-night post-FAM tour to highlight group-friendly attractions and venues in the Memphis area.

Spring Travel Writer FAM Dates Set

Travel Writers visit Fall Creek Falls on a recent Tennessee FAM.Travel Writers visit Fall Creek Falls on a recent Tennessee FAM.State-sponsored spring travel writer FAMS are an important part of TDTD’s 2013 PR efforts. Our Tennessee Partners, participating journalists and Geiger and Associates make these events some of Tennessee’s best opportunities for media coverage. In 2011-2012, total circulation from FAMS exceeded 135 million!

In 2013, the first of four FAM tours will be in Southeast Tennessee, April 27-May 1. With Southern cuisine taking the culinary travel scene by storm, this FAM will begin at the International Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg. From there, we want visiting journalists to experience all of the major drivers in the region. In addition to the amazing SETN attractions, the FAM will highlight the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park and Point Park on Lookout Mountain, commemorating the 150th in October, in the hopes of having some strong media coverage in advance of the October commemoration. In addition, some of the important Native American sites in SETN during the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears will also be highlighted.

Next up, May 3-8 journalists will experience all of the major drivers in Nashville and points north, including Clarksville- Montgomery County and Sumner County. In addition to the amazing attractions, culinary, outdoor adventures, etc., we will invite a few major convention magazine writers and showcase the Music City Center.

Lastly, TDTD will host two additional FAM tours in the fall. Journalists will travel to North East Tennessee Oct. 22-27 and to Middle Tennessee and South,including Davidson, Williamson, Maury, Moore and Rutherford Counties, Nov. 12-17.

Thank you to our partners for always making Tennessee look so good!

STS Marketing College Scholarships for Tennessee Tourism Professionals

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with “Official” Tennessee Vacation Guide publisher Miles, 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 10, 2013. 

The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From August 4 - 9, 2013, 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 2013 session. The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus in cooperation with Miles and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass professional aptitude and future career goals in the tourism industry. The STS application can be found here or you can contact Mary.Steadman@MilesPartnership.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesPartnership.com to request an application.  For more information on STS Marketing College visit www.southeasttourism.org.

Tennessee Civil War Specialty License Plate Is FREE for a Limited Time

Thanks to the generous offer of the Trusted Choice Agents of Insurors of Tennessee, the Civil War specialty license plate fee of $35 is waived and now FREE to those who sign up. This special offer from the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association is being shared with you because of your interest in the Tennessee Civil War Trails Program and our state’s Sesquicentennial Commemoration. 

Join Tennessee’s commemoration of the Civil War by ordering the Official Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial License plate! 1,000 orders are needed before the State will produce this specialty plate. 

Proceeds from the underwriting will support Civil War battlefield preservation and the Tennessee Civil War Trails Program.  It’s easy – just complete and send the form to confirm your order. 

SIGN UP TODAY and please feel free to share this email with your friends and family! Free plates are available on a first come – first served basis.  For more information visit www.tcwpa.org or contact info@tcwpa.org.

SAVE THE DATE:  The 2013 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event will be held on October 9-12, 2013 in Chattanooga.  Visit www.tncivilwar150.com and check out the Civil War events page for details on this exciting event.

Best Day to Post on Facebook Fan Pages

A recent article in TNooz.com looked at when are the best days for travel and leisure-related companies to post content to their fan pages.  This research was compiled by LinchpinSEO, a small business digital agency located in the United States.

Interaction types: 

·         Likes make up approximately 79% of all interaction on Facebook

·         Comments 15%

·         Shares 6%

Later in the week, more Fans interact. As the weekend approaches with opportunities for fun activities, interaction rates start climbing for travel and leisure Pages.  Interaction rates start climbing on Thursdays and peak on Sundays, when interaction is 19% higher than average.  People interact more with these brands when they are having fun and talking or planning their own trips.

·         Posts published 8 p.m. – 7 a.m. receive 14% higher interaction than posts between 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

·         Brands that post one or two times per day see 19% higher interaction rates.

·         Pages that post more than 7 times per week see a 25% decrease in interaction rates.

·         Interaction rate for weekend posts is 14.5% higher than weekday posts, yet only 14% of posts are published on weekends.

Ever wonder how certain types of content engages with fans (or not), or words that get better engagement (“winner”!), or why brands should not use shortened URLs?  LinchpinSEO’s research states:

·         Photo posts receive interaction rates 39% higher than average.

·         Posts that contain emoticons receive 52% higher interaction rates.  These posts have 57% higher like rate, 33% higher comment rate and 33% higher share rate.  Review the entire article to see which emoticons work best.

·         Posts with 80 characters or less receive 23% higher interaction than longer posts.  The problem for brands, however is that more than 75% of posts are beyond this optimum length, thus impacting interaction.

·         The most effective calls to action on Facebook include like, caption this, share, yes or no and thumbs up.  These options all see interaction rates of 48% higher than average or more.  Words such as take, click, submit, check and shop see significantly lower interaction rates.

·         When fans are specifically asked to share a post, fans react remarkably well; posts that ask for shares have a share rate 7x higher than those that don’t ask fans share.

·         When fans are specifically asked to comment on a post, there is 3.3x higher comment rate than when they are not asked to comment.

·         When fans are specifically asked to like a post, there is a 3x higher like rate than when they are not asked to like.

·         Posts that are “winner” as a keyword get a 68% higher interaction than the average.

·         Posts that use “win” as a keywords get a 46% higher interaction than the average.

·         Posts that use “giveaway” as a keyword get a 42% higher interaction than the average.

·         Because long URLs receive 16% higher interaction rates than shortened URLs, it is beneficial to use a display URL which gives an indication of the link’s final destination.

·         Though posts containing questions receiving slightly lower interaction overall, they generate 92% higher comment rates than non-question posts.  The value from this type of post is the insight gleaned when mining fan comments.

·         Posts that have a question located at the end have a 15% higher overall interaction rate than those with a question asked in the middle of the post.

·         Posts that have a question located at the end have a 2x higher comment rate than those with a question asked in the middle of the post.

·         Posts that employ the “caption this’ strategy generate 5.5x higher comment rates than posts without a “caption this’ strategy.  “Caption this” posts increase the overall interaction rate by more than 100%.

·         Using a “fill in the blank” strategy, in which brands ask fans to add their own words or phrases to complete a sentence, is a great way to start a dialogue within a Facebook community, and receive 4x as many comments as those that do not.

To review the full article visit tnooz.com.

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