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

Dear Colleagues,

Summertime in Tennessee – that just sounds good! Smiling visitors everywhere, discovering what we already know – that you just can’t find a better place to have a great time, whether it’s in the big city or down a back road. 

With more than 54 million visitors spending $15.36 billion while enjoying Tennessee (and seeing tourist expenditures and sales tax revenues increase in every one of our 95 counties), we know the word is getting out about our beautiful state. But this is no time to rest on our laurels.

With marketing platforms and opportunities changing so quickly, the importance of knowledge-driven planning has become more critical than ever. The Tennessee Tourism Committee has been working closely with the Department of Tourist Development, evaluating new statewide research and putting a strategic plan together that will best utilize the new $8 million in marketing funds allocated to the Department for FY2013-14. A huge thank you to everyone who has been contributing so much of their valuable time to this work.

Just in time for summer, the next step in the implementation of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways (DTTB) is to roll-out with the toolkit! Thanks to creative planning sessions with local Trail leaders, the toolkit has been designed to provide marketing resources for all 16 trails. Travelers will be encouraged to experience more of Tennessee along the DTTB, one of the most comprehensive trail programs in America. You’ll find more on the toolkit roll-out in this issue of Rhythm & News.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel, recently affirmed the value of business travel, reporting that U.S. businesses spent $214 billion in 2011 on domestic travel. 2012 estimates are $225 billion, a five percent increase. These findings were released by Oxford Economics who also reported that those companies that spent the most on business travel during the last recession saw higher revenue and profits. That’s an important story that needs to be told!

We also know that business travel is often the first way that a future leisure traveler is introduced to a destination. Our cities have done an outstanding job in recruiting conventions, conferences, and meetings to Tennessee, giving each business visitor an irresistible taste of Tennessee’s unique brand of Southern hospitality.

Adding to Tennessee’s robust list of convention/conference center resources, Nashville celebrated the completion of their Music City Center during a two-day grand opening extravaganza May 19 - 20. The multi-use convention facility has an impressive 1.2 million square feet of public space. Congratulations to Butch Spyridon and the entire Nashville CVC for exceeding their goal of 1 million room nights booked prior to the campus opening!

IPW (formerly known as International PowWow), the travel industry’s premier international marketplace, is taking place this month with more than 6,000 delegates from more than 70 countries registered to attend. As of press time, Tennessee had 67 appointments confirmed with international tour operators. TDTD team will also be meeting with world-wide media representatives during media marketplace. Representatives from five major destinations in Tennessee will also be attending IPW this year.

In early December, Nashville will host Travel South International, giving our statewide partners a spectacular opportunity to participate in an international marketplace that exclusively showcases the Southern states. Let me encourage your participation as more and more international travelers are looking to Tennessee as their vacation destination. For more information, go to http://travelsouthusa.org/internationalshowcase/.

Tnvacation.com continues to attract more and more visitors to the site. In the first four months of this year, total visits increased by more than 200,000. 2013 had the best April ever with 513,971 visits. Mobile visits are up by 23,000 year over year for the same period and Tennessee Vacation Guide requests are up 59%. TDTD’s spring sweeps had 34,700 entries, resulting in 10,853 vacation guide requests.

Mark your calendars for the upcoming Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Sept. 17-19, to be held in Franklin. You won’t want to miss this excellent opportunity to be inspired and equipped with today’s most important insights and tools for success in the tourism industry. 

Until then, I hope you enjoy your summer – both professionally and personally! Isn’t it time for your own Tennessee Road Trip?

Hope to see you out there! 


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

The New Tennessee Tourism Summer Site and Sweepstakes Encourages Travelers To Make Memories in Tennessee

TDTD’s newly launched summer microsite provides visitors with all of the information needed to make memories in Tennessee this summer as well as an opportunity to win a trip to West Tennessee.

The microsite profiles three stories highlighting Tennessee traveler experiences. The stories, “Make Summer Last,” “Make Summer Cool” and “Make Summer Happy” map out itineraries/experiences for the readers. These stories combined with great summer travel deals make planning the perfect trip to Tennessee a breeze.

Handcrafted Pewter from Tennessee Pewter in SomervilleHandcrafted Pewter from Tennessee Pewter in SomervilleIn addition, visitors can enter the Making Memories in Tennessee” Sweepstakes for a chance to win an amazing trip for four to West Tennessee. New this season, the site offers a video showcasing the partners who participate in the sweepstakes. The prize includes:

  • Private tour of the Tennessee Pewter Studio in Somerville, where handmade fine pewter is crafted and the winner will take home a special gift
  • Three night stay for four at Lilies Bed & Breakfast in Brownsville
  • Gift basket with wine from Century Farm Winery
  • Tour of award-winning Tripp Country Ham in Brownsville
  • Free admission for four to Tennessee Safari Park
  • A meal at Backyard Barbecue in Brownsville
  • Enjoy an outdoor concert and/or perform on the porch of Bluesman Sleepy John Estes' home at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center
  • Free admission to Tina Turner Tribute Show
  • Free guided tour of Tina Turner sites in Nutbush
  • Admission for four to Rusty's TV & Movie Car Museum in Jackson
  • A meal at Helen's BBQ in Brownsville
  • Tour of the Historic Denmark Church and Britton Lane Battlefield in Denmark
  • Movie passes to the Historic Ebeneezer Church in Mercer
  • Meet the artist and tour the Mind Field, Brownsville

If you are interested in participating in a future sweepstakes through TDTD, please contact Michael Uhles at Michael.uhles@tn.gov or 615-532-8071.

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Toolkits Coming Your Way!

Over the past several years, TDTD, along with many of our tourism partners, has worked endlessly to develop and launch the 16 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways.

The next step to launching the trails was installing wayfinding signage with TDOT. Many have been installed with more popping up each day. It’s so great to see those signs!

In addition, a redesigned website was launched allowing visitors to create their own trail, choosing between the many points of interest along each trail. The redesigned website, tntrailsandbyways.com, has allowed for regular updates to the information featured. Currently, trail project managers are working with their committees to make changes specific to each trail. This has allowed us the opportunity to reprint brochures with the most up-to-date information for those trails needing to reprint guides.

The Department of Tourist Development along with Sullivan Branding is finalizing a new toolkit of items to sustain the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program moving forward. We identified the kits components based off of feedback from our trail leaders, assistants and managers over the past several months. An example of these items included in the kit are window clings and metal signs for the points of interests; trail map tear sheets for welcome and visitor centers; predesigned print ads for advertising needs; and pull up banners and poster – to name just a few.

The toolkit and starter kit items will be presented to trail teams in June with the goal of having the tools out to the trail partners immediately following.

Stay tuned for more information on the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Toolkit roll out!

Governor’s Conference on Tourism Going “Back to the Future!”

Celebrating the past, equipping for the present, and preparing for an exciting future will be the focus of the 2013 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Sept. 17 – 19 in Historic Franklin.

The theme for this year’s conference, “Back to the Future!” sets the stage for three days of outstanding speakers, great professional development activities, educational seminars on cutting-edge tourism topics and practices, networking opportunities, and, yes – fun! And what better location could there be for that type of conference than Franklin, a community that is thriving today by intentionally preserving its past and effectively planning for its future.

The first day of the conference, Tuesday, Sept.17, will focus on the past, featuring a unique and exciting twist on the always popular Tourism Super Seminar (details coming soon). This year’s Super Seminar will look at specific and proven ways of turning historic assets in your community into successful tourism destinations. That night, our Franklin hosts have plans for a truly memorable and enjoyable opening night event that will feature plenty of good old-fashioned Tennessee fun!

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, the conference focus shifts to the present, with an emphasis on the latest and most effective methods of doing the work of tourism development and marketing in today’s environment. “Our goal is for conference attendees to receive useful and valuable take-aways from the conference,” said John Whisenant, executive director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable. “As a result, we will be offering speakers and programs that will provide practical, specific, and applicable information to help attendees do their work more effectively and successfully.”

The final day of the conference, Thursday, Sept. 19, will be all about the future. Conference attendees will receive information on trends and predictions for the travel and tourism industry, as well as on the truly exciting plans for Tennessee’s future tourism marketing programs. The conference will close with the annual Governor’s luncheon, where Governor Haslam (invited) will share his vision and plans for our industry.

Combining all of that with great networking opportunities, the annual Tourism EXPO trade show, and all kinds of fun and entertaining surprises – it’s the one tourism event you won’t want to miss!

Information on the conference, including schedule, lodging, and registration, is available on the TTR website at www.tenntourismroundtable.com. Individuals registering for the conference before July 31 receive a $35.00 per person early-bird discount.

New Civil War Trail Marker Dedicated in White House

The White House and Tyree Springs Civil War trail marker was dedicated May 10 on the west lawn at City Hall in White House.

City Mayor Mike Arnold provided opening remarks and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission spoke to the historical importance of the Tyree Springs trail marker in White House. 

"You had troops moving through here all the time for four years large regiments, thousands of men," said Dr. Carroll Van West. “Troops created a lasting impact just being in White House without ever having a battle.”

Other elected officials in attendance were White House Alderman Dave Paltzik; White House City Administrator Jerry Herman; Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley; Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt; State Representative Joshua Evans; State Representative Courtney Rogers; State Representative William Lamberth; State Senator Ferrell Haile.

The Tennessee Civil War Trails program is part of a five-state trails system that invites the public to explore both well-known and less-familiar sites associated with America’s greatest drama. A map is available at official welcome centers and identifies more than 250 sites in Tennessee.

A map of the trail markers can also be found at www.tncivilwar150.com or by downloading the Civil War in Tennessee iPhone app.

Visiting Travel Writers to Tennessee Attempt the Impossible

Travel writers interviewed CEO Bob Kellerman, Lodge Manufacturing, during International Cornbread FestivalTravel writers interviewed CEO Bob Kellerman, Lodge Manufacturing, during International Cornbread FestivalBringing professional travel writers to Tennessee for the always-inspiring familiarization tour is an exercise in the impossible. Tennessee’s rich tourism offerings, including the breath-taking scenic beauty, exciting major cities and major attractions, authentic small towns and rural communities, off-the-beaten-path, one-of-a-kind Tennessee experiences, world-renown music, outdoor adventures, shopping, dining…well, you get the idea. So much to see and do, so little time.

The 2013 spring FAMs in Southeast Tennessee and Nashville and Points North attracted 36 travel writers from around the country representing national publications including New York Times, Family Circle, American Way, National Geographic Traveler, Travel Channel, Nation’s Restaurant News, Group Tour Magazine, The Miami Herald and Better Homes & Gardens.

With social media continuing its ever-increasing role in the overall PR approach, TDTD FAMS encourage SM engagement throughout the FAM. As has been the norm for some time, attending writers offer Tennessee media coverage across varied platforms, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, online publications and traditional media.

Special thanks to all of the participating tourism partners who helped make the spring FAMS a terrific success. Both FAMS featured a 14-page itinerary to cover in just four days. And they said it was impossible! Upcoming fall FAMS are in the works with more details to follow soon. See industry events in this issue of Rhythm & News for dates.

Mountain Heights and Musical Nights Sales FAM

“Mountain Heights and Musical Nights” FAM tour visits Dixie Stampede“Mountain Heights and Musical Nights” FAM tour visits Dixie StampedeKudos to Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism’s Joy McNealy and Kay Poole, along with their area partners, for organizing a successful “Mountain Heights and Musical Nights” FAM tour, May 1 – 3.  Attended by 28 tour operators and group planners, who represented 19 companies from all over the U.S. and Canada, their time spent in Pigeon Forge was shorter than some had hoped, but the itinerary was more than full. Many Pigeon Forge attractions and hotels even hosted a mini-trade show to welcome and meet with the FAM participants, and discuss opportunities for future tour groups and bookings. 

Thank you to those partners who submitted information for our semi-annual update of our Sales Profile Sheet. Our next Profile Sheet revision will be November 2013, so please keep us apprised of any news for consideration in the next round, which will be distributed at shows like ABA, NTA, Travel South, and TN Motor Coach. 

For June, the Department, along with Chattanooga, Nashville, Grand Ole Opry Entertainment, Graceland, Pigeon Forge, Fee/Hedrick, Lumberjack Feud, and Smith Family Theater, will be in attendance at the annual Travel Alliance Partners’ TAP Dance, in Norfolk, VA. Also in June, Tennessee will be well-represented at the annual International Pow Wow Convention, held in Las Vegas, NV, promoting all our state has to offer to international tour operators and planners, as well as international media, attending from across the globe. Tennessee will have presence from the Department, along with partners in Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville. 

Utilize: Stills - Video And Motion

In recent months, TDTD’s digital agency, Designsensory, has incorporated custom images and video into several new Tennessee tourism promotions. The Behind the Scenes Video with our Tennessee Family, showcased on the cover of the 2013 Vacation Guide and Ipad app; Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways App video; and the Make Summer Hot: Making Memories in Tennessee Summer Sweepstakes video; are the most recent projects, all of which can be found on youtube.com/tnvacation. In addition, custom lifestyle images were shot by Designsensory for the summer.tnvacation.com seasonal microsite.

Why is this important?

First, it’s crucial to carry branding across all media, with content that reinforces the brand at every turn.

Second, the statistics are staggering: Web video keeps visitors on websites longer, boosts sales and minimizes buyer dissatisfaction. According to studies by Internet Retailer, 52 percent of consumers say that product videos help them feel more confident about their online purchases, and 66 percent will watch a particularly informative video more than once. And, visitors who have watched a video are as much as 174 percent more likely to buy than those who have not.

BizChair.com has tracked 33 percent of the company’s online sales to just 13 percent of its visitors—those who watched the online videos. Smartphone companies have tied video to increased sales in a very specific—and convincing—fashion. One million video views usually translates to 1.2 million units sold in the 12 weeks after a new product launch. Video is important to search engine optimization as well, since videos appear in about 70 percent of the top 100 listings for a search.

So, how will you incorporate video into your brand?

For still photography, video and motion expertise, contact Designsensory at 865-690-2249.

Want to share your video with TDTD, contact Melanie Beauchamp at Melanie.beauchamp@tn.gov.

Source: DS Blog: http://designsensory.com/blog/still-video-motion

Robert Hamsley, WWII hero and proud Tennessean, was recently awarded the Silver Star. Hamsley is pictured on his 94th birthday with Deputy Commissioner Wendell Cheek, TN Dept. of Veterans Affairs; Gail Hughes, Lawrence County Tourism; Derrick Smith, TDTD.

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