Dear Tourism Partner,
The economy is on everyone’s mind with people looking for solutions to job creation. I just returned from a U.S.Travel Association board meeting where it was reported that of the 750,000 new jobs recently created in the United States, 1 in 10 have been in the travel sector. That type of growth in this recession is possible because the paradigm for economic growth is different from other sectors of the economy. There is no need to build or expand a new plant or incentivize business relocation, all important things to do but which are on a longer timetable for new jobs.
The key to tourism growth is increased visitation, which enables industry partners to hire people to service additional guests. We all know that increased visitation is a function of successful marketing promotion, which creates the ‘demand’ for a trip to Tennessee. I believe Tennessee has the best, most diversified tourism ‘product’ in the nation – we just need to make sure we get the word out about everything there is to do here!
Let me list some of the most recent accolades our beautiful state has collected, all creating compelling reasons for people to travel to Tennessee on their next vacation.
East Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm has been awarded the prestigious distinction of being named the No.1 resort in North America as part of Travel + Leisure’s 2011 World’s Best awards. Wow! Kudos to everyone at this spectacular, eco-conscious resort near the Smoky Mountains.
Tennessee was the only state with two of its cities named as Best Value Cities by Kiplinger, the Washington D.C.-based publisher of business forecasts and financial advice. Congratulations to Nashville (No. 3) and Knoxville (No. 5)! Kiplinger’s website receives 1.2 million unique visitors per month, providing amazing exposure for both of these great cities.
Not to be outdone with a national nod, Chattanooga’s highly successful television campaign, “Take Me There” developed by Chattanooga-based advertising agency The Johnson Group, was recently recognized with a national ADDY Award. The commercial is the first local ad, and The Johnson Group is the first Chattanooga advertising agency, to claim the honor. That campaign has definitely been a catalyst for the excellent growth in tourism in that region.
That’s just a quick sampling of the type of honors Tennessee receives on a regular basis, all making our state a must-see destination. And, when people experience the beautiful, affordable places, top tier service, great hospitality and wonderful people who live here, they’re bound to come back – hopefully with a dozen friends!
And speaking of friends, congratulations are in order for Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, who has been elected 2011-12 chair of Destination Marketing Association International. DMAI is the world’s largest association of destination marketing organizations and serves more than 2,800 members representing 650 DMOs in more than 30 countries. Kevin officially took over as chair at the association’s annual convention held recently in New Orleans.
While I’m talking about good news, let me urge you all to attend the Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville Sept. 6 and 7. In addition to special guest speaker Dr. Gary Gallagher, Governor Bill Haslam has been invited to make an important announcement for our industry. I promise it will be a good day for tourism!
To assist our industry partners with their marketing plans, our department was able to make available a draft of our preliminary 2011-2012 Marketing Plan earlier this summer. The intent was to provide enough time to make advertising decisions based on co-op opportunities. Click here to see the entire plan, including broadcast, print and online opportunities, the Civil War Sesquicentennial media plan and Miles Media opportunities which include the Tennessee Vacation Guide, tnvacation.com, the Welcome Center kiosks and mobile site advertising.
If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to attend one of TDTD’s free Web Assistance Seminars. Designed to help industry partners navigate tnvacation.com, T3 deals program, Facebook and the mobile site, the Marketing Department has presented five of these special training seminars to date, receiving very favorable reviews from attendees. For future dates, please see the schedule in the e-newsletter article.
We certainly have a busy season of activities ahead. The Pie in the Sky Trail will be launched at the Chattanooga Visitor’s Center at 10 a.m. EDT Aug. 18. Please join us as we celebrate the Southeast’s first of two Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways trails. Be sure to read the trails e-newsletter article announcing launch dates for all remaining trails. This is exciting news for all of tourism.
Mark your calendars for two very important conferences coming up soon. First is the 2011 Tennessee Hospitality Conference and Exposition Sept. 6-8 at Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. Greg Adkins, CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, and his team have put together an outstanding schedule of events. Download the schedule for the three-day conference.
And, of course, the 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism Oct. 5-7 is not to be missed, especially with it being held in fabulous Memphis! Their special brand of hospitality will start with an exciting opening night event and continue with a Thursday evening downtown block party. Like I said, not to be missed!
Governor Haslam has been invited to address the industry at Friday’s luncheon. It will be a good time to let him know how much we appreciate his strong support of tourism with our budget!
We have several other outstanding speakers this year including Wyoming’s state travel director, Diane Shober, who was recently appointed to serve on the newly formed Council for Travel Promotion. She will give us an update on the new international marketing plan made possible by the Travel Promotion Act that was enacted in March 2010. For more information on the great line-up of speakers and topics that Tennessee Tourism Roundtable Executive Director John Whisenant and his team have put together, look for the article in this newsletter or visit www.tenntourismroundtable.com/.
I look forward to seeing many of you at one of these terrific events. In the meantime, stay cool. Fall will be here before you know it.
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Cookeville’s Tennessee Tech To Host 2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event
The 2011 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event will take place Sept. 6 and 7 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. The theme for the event is “Civil War in the Borderland.”
Gov. Bill Haslam has been invited to participate and present special remarks. Dr. Gary Gallagher, John L. Nau III professor at the University of Virginia and Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr. former president and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society will be the Keynote Scholars. There will be a special musical performance by Tennessee Tech University Tech Chorale.
In addition, this milestone event will consist of historical discussions, stories and living history demonstrations and a book signing. TTU joins the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Tennessee Historical Society and the Upper Cumberland Civil War Roundtable to sponsor a series of distinguished speakers and other events in Cookeville.
For the first time, Tennessee State Library and Archives will host the Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee event as part of the Sesquicentennial Signature Event from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.Sept. 6 at the Cookeville History Museum. The Looking Back project allows Tennesseans to digitally preserve Civil War photos and memorabilia to create a permanent, public archive online.
The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission leads a state effort to promote, fund and preserve the complete story of Tennessee’s Civil War and its legacy. Please visit tncivilwar150.com for a complete list of statewide Civil War events.
Outstanding Speakers to Highlight the 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Several nationally-recognized speakers will be featured during the 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which will be held Oct. 5-7 in Memphis. The conference kicks off with Joe Veneto of Opportunities Unlimited leading the tourism-marketing seminar.
Visitors select destinations and travel products, but what they really want are experiences. Whether you are a DMO, CVB, hotel, attraction, cultural organization or operator, your key to success is the experience you provide. That’s the focus of this year’s conference.
Mr. Veneto is a 25-year veteran of the tourism industry and has worked for national tour operators and major industry wholesalers. He is a certified speaking professional, a designation from the National Speakers Association achieved by less than 10 percent of 4,500 professional speakers worldwide.
Bringing the conference keynote address on Oct. 6 will be Michael D. Gehrisch, president and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International. Gehrisch has more than 29 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including his work for 13 years as executive vice president for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Gehrisch has been named one of the "25 Most Influential Travel Executives" by Business Travel News.
The featured luncheon speaker Oct. 6 will be Diane Shober, director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism and board member of The Corporation for Travel Promotion.
Since coming into her position, Shober has expanded the state's tourism promotion efforts on all levels. Utilizing her innate leadership talents and expertise in tourism and marketing, Shober has elevated the visibility and value of tourism in Wyoming's economy and, in turn, has watched the tourism marketing budget increase by more than 100 percent.
Also featured at this year’s conference will be Tennessee Tourism’s Commissioner Susan Whitaker, who will present the annual “State of the Industry” address and department presentation on Oct. 7, and Governor Bill Haslam, who has been invited to speak at the closing luncheon on Friday.
Additional information on the conference, including schedule, registration and lodging can be found on the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable website at www.tenntourismroundtable.com. Early-bird discounted registration is available for persons registering by Aug. 12.
Pie in the Sky Trail Set To Launch this Month
Pie in the Sky Trail, with the tagline, “MoonPies to Mountain Highs,”will be launched Aug. 18,the seventh trail of 16 in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program. Opening ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. in downtown Chattanooga at the new Chattanooga Visitors Center located at 215 Broad St.
Participating in the celebration will be Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker, representatives from the Tennessee Department of Transportation along with other state agencies and a stellar group of state and local elected officials. Also on display will be the “World’s Largest MoonPie®” provided by Chattanooga Bakery.
Pie in the Sky guides travelers from Chattanooga to destinations such as Lookout Mountain, the Cumberland Plateau in Monteagle, through Falls Creek Falls State Park and later topping the Cumberland Plateau again in Crossville. It includes beautiful drives through the Sequatchie Valley before returning to the Scenic City.
The 300-plus miles driving loop showcases the cultural gems discovered in Hamilton, Marion, Franklin, Grundy, Warren, Van Buren, Bledsoe, Cumberland, Rhea and Sequatchie counties. Its final destination is the new MoonPie®General Store in downtown Chattanooga.
The trail was developed with the extensive cooperation between the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association, Upper Cumberland Tourism Association and their partners. For information on more driving trails in Tennessee, visit tntrailsandbyways.com.
Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Update
Development of the remaining 10 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways continues at a rapid pace as the TDTD marketing team works closely with the local trail committee members to complete this major tourism initiative. Based on the status for each trail, timing of rollout, alternating regions, and already confirmed dates - a schedule of the launch events has been set. Exact dates will be announced as committees meet to finalize the plans.
August 18 - Pie in the Sky
September - Great River Road
September - Promised Land
October 20, 2011 - Ring of Fire
October 2011 - Rocky Top
November 2011 - Tennessee River Trail
November 2011 - Tanasi
March 2012 - Cotton Junction
April 2012 - Screaming Eagle
June 16, 2012 - Top Secret
Partnership Marketing Time
It is partnership marketing time, again! You will notice a few changes for this fiscal year, as well as a few things that will remain the same. The documents can be found in the industry section of tnvacation.com.
The first document is an overview of the program, and the second document is the application form.
Here is the schedule for this year's program:
August 15, 2011: Applications are due to TDTD from the partners for trails & non-trails
September 1, 2011: Award letters will go out to the partners
June 15, 2012: All paperwork must be submitted, all projects must be complete, and all ROI information must be submitted with final copies of the project.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. We are here to help!
Jamie Lynn Thompson will be our internal point person this year, and her contact information is email@example.com or (615) 741-7994.
However, please feel free to contact Paula Hankins or Jennifer Littlejohn for any information you may need throughout each step of the program.
Paula Hankins, Assistant Commissioner of Marketing
We are excited to work with each of you and look forward to the great things that we are going to accomplish together, through this program!
2011/2012 Media Plan Available Online
First, we would like to say thank you for all of the invaluable feedback we received from the 10-question survey we sent to the industry in April. It helped us create a 2011/2012 media plan that supports your goals and initiatives, as well as extends our marketing dollars through partnerships. Media planning is an exciting time for our department as we build new partnerships, assess our strategy and learn more and more about the changing world in how we communicate through advertising.
We are fortunate to have a team of open communicators who thrive on teamwork. This year, we worked closely with Designsensory, Miles Media, Paramore and White|Thompson to tap into their unique talents and expertise. We combined this with the interdepartmental areas, such as sales, public relations and advertising, as well as our international efforts. After taking a look at the big picture, we began honing in on the impact that each area has on the others. This allowed us to create a cohesive strategy, as well as a cohesive media plan with all of the pieces and parts working together to support our goal: "More Visitors, Staying Longer, Spending More."
We hope that the new co-ops, the various cost options, as well as the cohesiveness of the media plan will serve you well in your marketing efforts. We are excited to be your partner in promoting Tennessee tourism and we are looking forward to the great accomplishments to come during the next year.
The media plan is available online at http://tnvacation.com/industry
Web Assistance Tour Returns This Fall
Due to popular demand, the Web Assistance Tour will return this fall to select cities across Tennessee. More than 80 tourism partners participated in the summer tour, which offered hands-on web training on tnvacation.com.
“The tour was absolutely great,” said Ruth Dyal, executive director of the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association. “I’ve heard so many positive responses. There was not one person who walked out of there who wasn’t totally raving about it. It was one of the best things I’ve experienced with the department [Tennessee Department of Tourist Development].”
The dates for the upcoming Fall Web Assistance Tour have been released:
Wednesday, Sept. 21, Greeneville
Greeneville Comfort Inn
Thursday, Sept. 22, Gatlinburg
Anna Porter Public Library
Wednesday, Sept. 28, Union City
Union City Library
Tuesday, Oct. 4, Memphis
Memphis Marriott Downtown
Visit tnvacation.com/industry/ for available time slots for the Gatlinburg and Memphissessions.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for the Greeneville or Union City sessions. Please indicate the location you will be attending.
To reserve a time slot for the Gatlinburg session email email@example.com.
To reserve a time slot for the Memphis session email Michael.Uhles@tn.gov
Click here for more information about the fall tour.
Civil War Update
Civil War Marker Dedications In August
Mark your calendars for three Civil War marker dedications taking place this month:
The Cheatham County Civil War marker dedication will be held Aug. 13 in Kingston Springs. Included in the lineup are Civil War-era music provided by Fiddle & Pick with Gretchen Priest‐May, the 13th Colored Regiment reenactment by Norm Hill and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hughes who portray Major General and Mrs. George H. Thomas.
At 7 p.m. Aug. 16, a marker will be dedicated at historic Fiddlers Grove located inside the Wilson County Fairgrounds.
At 10 a.m. Aug. 27 in Manchester, a marker will be dedicated at the Manchester Courthouse to celebrate the Duck River Defense Line. The event will also include Civil War music and entertainment, storytelling, cannons and reenactments.
Be one of only a few advertisers to appear on a special perforated insert planned for the 2012 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide. The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program encourages visitors to explore top attractions and hidden gems in every part of the state – and now you have a special opportunity to invite them to visit you when they do! This special insert will include additional trails coverage not found in the guide itself.
Special rates are being offered, including a 50 percent discount to advertisers who also purchase advertising in the Vacation Guide. Space is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Contact your Destination Specialist today for more details:
Mary Steadman (Upper Cumberland and East Tennessee) – 423-956-4330,
Abbie Gristy (Middle and West Tennessee) – 731-298-1003,
Facts and Trends
Is “Short” Getting Shorter?
If your definition of “short-term” is 90 days, you might not be a meeting planner. A recent survey of 150 meeting planners commissioned by Zentila, a hospitality technology company, uncovered that “short-term” is now defined as only 13 days. During the past 12 months, the planners booked, on average, 15 off-site meetings with an average booking window of about 36 days.
It also seems hotel sales teams are feeling the pinch by large scale meeting planners who are working with shorter booking windows. Online lodging publication, hotelnewsnow.com, reported that Omni Hotels & Resorts has seen their booking window shrink from 763 days in 2009 to 528 days in 2011. This shrinkage was not noted with the smaller meetings requiring 100 room-nights or less.
Hotel Guest Satisfaction On The Rise
The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index has noted a 3 percent increase in satisfaction by travelers. Although low rates and increased perks such as free Wi-Fi have increased the satisfaction score, it has not promoted loyalty. The reason: “Price-induced satisfaction tends to make people shop around for the best deal,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the index.
According to a USA Today article written in June by Robert Deutsch, the largest increase in customer satisfaction was noted within the group of smaller hotel/motel chains, individual luxury hotels and B&Bs. The index also revealed that guests at the upscale hotel chains are more satisfied than those staying at the budget brands.
Employee of the Month
"I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the house-tops." ~Oscar Wilde
While Wilde lived more than a century ago in Ireland,he was clearly prophetic in his words as they truly describe the actions of our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for July 2011, Frank Pippin.
A tourist recently called our office with nothing but praise for Frank and his honesty. The tourist stopped by the Mitchellville Welcome Center and unknowingly left his wallet, which contained a large sum of cash. Frank found the wallet and the Welcome Center staff promptly contacted the tourist to let him know the wallet had been recovered, along with all of the cash. The man was very thankful to get his wallet back and made it a point to let us know that he is so thankful that there are still honest people in this world.
Pippin, a building maintenance worker at the I-65 Robertson County (Mitchellville) Welcome Center, has been with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development since November 2008.
Department of Tourist Development Directory
Susan Whitaker 615-741-9001 Susan.Whitaker@tn.gov
Assistant to Commissioner
Laura Crawford 615-741-9016 Laura.Crawford@tn.gov
Legislative Liaison and PIO
Carter Meadors 615-741-7843 Carter.Meadors@tn.gov
Deputy Commissioner, Administration
Tom Lightsey 615-741-9023 Tom.Lightsey@tn.gov
Assistant Commissioner, Marketing
Paula Hankins 615-532-7853 Paula.M.Hankins@tn.gov
Click here for a comprehensive department directory in PDF.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm Named No. 1 Resort in North America by Travel + Leisure
Travel + Leisure crowns Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm the No. 1 resort in North America. The World’s Best list is generated as a result of the loyal readers of Travel + Leisure, who for more than 15 years, annually cast their votes for their favorite hotels, destinations, airlines, cruises, outfitters and transportation companies in the world.
Pollstar's Mid-Year Report Ranking
Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena ranks ninth in the United States and 23rd in the world for concert attendance, according to Pollstar’s mid-year ticket sales report. Those numbers are up from the 2010 mid-year report when Bridgestone ranked 23rd domestically and 48th in the world for concert attendance.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine named
Nashville as No. 3 in its Top 10 cities that provide
the best value. Knoxville ranked at No. 5.
The World’s Longest Yard Sale Comes to Tennessee
The Highway 127 Corridor Sale is now in its 24th year and stretches from Michigan to Alabama. The original stretch was 350 miles and has now expanded to 675 miles. The yard sale travels up Lookout Mountain Parkway, enters Tennessee and continues along the Cumberland Plateau into the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Headquartered in Jamestown, Tenn. since 1995, the yard sale brings people from all over to Fentress County, providing a sustainable tourism industry for the county.
Kiplinger's 10 Best Value Cities 2011
Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine named its Top 10 cities that provide the best value, ranking Nashville as No. 3 and Knoxville as No. 5. To identify the winners, Kiplinger's teamed up with a think tank that studies economic prosperity. Kiplinger's staff members visited each of the Top 10 cities to help determine the final rankings.
Frist Center To Offer Discount
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will offer a $2 discount on admission to Warhol Live: Music and Dance in Andy Warhol’s Work each Monday through Sept. 5, 2011 with the donation of Campbell’s soup to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Visitors may bring cans of Campbell’s soup to the Second Harvest bin located at Visitor Services and receive the discount on admission the day of their visit.
Governor Bill Haslam and State Representative
Steve McDaniel, with other special guests,
helped celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony
the newly-opened Parker’s Crossroads Visitor
New Parker’s Crossroads Visitor Center Opens In West Tennessee
The brand new Parker’s Crossroads Visitor Information Center officially opened Aug. 27 in Henderson County with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Gov. Bill Haslam and State Representative Steve McDaniel. Other state and local officials were also in attendance at the opening event. The West Tennessee visitors’ center features regional-significant exhibits from the Tennessee State Library and Archives as well as a bookstore containing many historical and Civil War books along with other materials.
DoubleTree Hotel Earns Award
Governor Bill Haslam awarded The DoubleTree Hotel Chattanooga Downtown the 2011 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award for Pollution Prevention. The award recognizes the many green initiatives that the DoubleTree Hotel has incorporated into the hotel and the surrounding community. The Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect our environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation. This is the 25th year for the awards program.
Knoxville Hotel Earns Tennessee Green Hospitality Designation
The Holiday Inn Worlds Fair Park continues to lead Knoxville’s hospitality market. The full-service downtown hotel earned the Tennessee Green Hospitality Designation certification and is the first full-service hotel in Knoxville to receive the honor. The Tennessee Green Hospitality Program is an initiative to promote and support the vision of a more sustainable state and to assure guests that hotels are actively improving programs for sustainability. Guests will know that certified facilities have achieved a significant level of sustainability in their operations and are continuing to improve.
New Department Positions
Assistant Commissioner Paula Hankins welcomes on board Director of Sales Bennjin Lao and announces a change in job positions for Jamie Lynn Thompson. Bennjin comes to the department with more than 10 years of experience in tourism sales, including sports and CVB sales. Jamie Lynn’s new title is Sales Manager and she will be assisting Bennjin with the sales efforts as well as special projects, including partnership marketing, the trails program and more. Welcome on board, Bennjin, and congratulations Jamie Lynn.
Chattanooga Commercial Wins National ADDY Award
Chattanooga’s highly successful television campaign “Take Me There,” developed by Chattanooga-based advertising agency The Johnson Group, was recently recognized with a national ADDY Award. The commercial is the first local ad, and The Johnson Group is the first Chattanooga advertising agency, to claim that prestigious honor.Avid fans of the commercial contact the CVB to request copies of the “Take Me There” song, a dreamy, melodic tune written by The Johnson Group’s Roger Vaughn. The song also won a regional ADDY award in a five-state competition that included music hotbeds Nashville, Atlanta and New Orleans and can be downloaded for free from the CVB website. To view the award-winning commercial and download the song, visit http://takemethere.chattanoogafun.com.
Sweden Rockabilly Artist is Inductee
Swedish musician, Torbjorn "Ebott" Lundberg is the first artist from another nation to be inducted into the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame. Lundberg has been awarded several Grammy Awards, has toured the United States and has appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the CBS Late Show with David Letterman. His music in the U.S. was released on the legendary Motown label.
Fentress Chamber Receives Award
Fentress County officials proudly announce that Fentress Chamber has been awarded a 2011 Excellence in Tourism Promotion Ovation Award from the Upper Cumberland Business Journal.
Groundbreaking Held For New Sporting Dog Wing
A ceremony was held to break ground for the much-anticipated Sporting Dog Wing to be built at the National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tenn. Some of the sporting dog breeds to be included in the 6,000-square-foot building addition are Brittany, German Shorthaired Pointer, English Springer Spaniel, Red Setter, Vizsla, Wiemaraner, Gordon Setter, German Wirehaired Pointer and others. Completion of the Sporting Dog Wing is slated for mid-September.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You