a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year!

I love to start the year off with good news, and I’m pleased to report that there is a lot of great news for tourism in both Tennessee and the entire U.S. economy.

Industry Spotlight

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Featured Article

2013 Tennessee Vacation Guide Arrives

The new 2013 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide is “hot off the press” – and copies are already on their way to help inspire travelers to choose the state as the site of their next vacation.

Building on the momentum of last year’s improved publication, the 2013 guide once again promises...

Read more

2013 Brings New Exhibits, Attractions and Milestones to Tennessee

New and exciting exhibits, attractions and events for 2013 are enhancing Tennessee’s thriving tourism industry, along with commemorative anniversaries that remember the past, celebrate the present and bring hopeful anticipation for the future. The “What’s New in Tennessee for 2013” press release announcement was distributed to all national travel media...

Read more

7th Annual TACVB Blizzard Jan. 31 and Feb. 1

Don’t miss the 7th annual TACVB Blizzard Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro. This mid-winter educational conference will feature topics and speakers designed to motivate and inspire tourism professionals responsible for bringing visitors to Tennessee.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker is scheduled to...

Read more

Mark Your Calendar for Tennessee Tourism Industry Events

Tennessee Tourism is getting busy in 2013! Please mark your calendars for these important industry events.

HOLD THE DATES: Tennessee Sampler Express - March 19-22, 2013 Destination: Atlanta Metro Region

The Tennessee Sampler Express is back once again, with high expectations of taking Tennessee Tourism’s sales and PR messages to...

Read more

January Kicks-Off Busy Sales Season

Happy New Year, fellow industry partners! End of the year for Tennessee tourism concluded with participation in the annual Midwest Band Clinic, held in Chicago, Illinois, to promote our partners and venues to the student band and youth performance market. In addition, walking the trade show floor resulted in over...

Read more

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year!

I love to start the year off with good news, and I’m pleased to report that there is a lot of great news for tourism in both Tennessee and the entire U.S. economy.

First of all, we are celebrating right along with Nashville on their city’s selection by Condé Nast Traveler (and reported on NBC’s January 2nd Today show) that Music City is one of FIVE locations in the entire world that you must visit in 2013! The way I see it, the other four (Seoul, Toronto, New Orleans and Amsterdam) must be very proud to be on such a list with Nashville. This on top of National Geographic Traveler naming Memphis one of their Top Twenty “Best in the World 2013” destinations…I’d say Tennessee is in for a stellar year in tourism!

Nationally, travel research expert Dr. Suzanne Cook reported in her December U.S. Travel Association’s ‘Outlook’ report that the industry added 79,000 jobs in 2012, just through November. According to the report, “The message is clear: the travel industry is an essential contributor to a strong, upwardly mobile job market.”

There’s also good news to report from Brand USA, now under the leadership of Chris Thompson, former president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. The organization moves into 2013 on the heels of an impressive inaugural campaign launch in Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. As many of you know, native Tennessean Roseanne Cash performs her original song “Land of Dreams,” in the Brand USA “Discover America” commercials, another coup for our state. Internationally, Tennessee is well-positioned, with a 14.6 percent increase in international travel spending as reported in U.S. Travel’s latest economic research.

The 2013 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide is “hot off the press” – and copies are already on their way across the country to inspire travelers to select our state as the site of their next vacation. With a printing of 550,000, an e-guide to launch January 17 at tnvacation.com, and this year, for the first time, an iPad app (coming very soon), the Official Tennessee Vacation Guide will continue to be one of the state’s most important resources for the traveling public.

Our publisher, Miles, conducted an ROI study in 2012 with exciting results. More than 63 percent of Vacation Guide recipients made a trip to Tennessee after reading the guide. Nearly 87 percent of those folks said the Guide helped influence their decision to visit Tennessee. Almost 75 percent said they increased their length of stay because of the Guide. Bottom line: more than $12 million generated in additional economic impact because of Tennessee’s Official Vacation Guide.

Tourism’s marketing team continues to up the ante for travelers to Tennessee with our seasonal sweepstakes. The winter site, “Savor the Sounds of a Tennessee Winter,” brings opportunity for 16 lucky sweepstakes winners to experience some of Tennessee’s incredible music product by winning trips to Memphis in May’s Beale Street Music Festival, Nashville’s CMA Festival, Chattanooga’s River Bend and Manchester’s Bonnaroo. Check out the winter site at winter.tnvacation.com/.

Significant Tennessee milestones for 2013 include the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battles for Chattanooga with the official Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature event taking place in Chattanooga in October. 2013 marks the 175th commemoration of the Trail of Tears; Tennessee has 12 national sites along this historic Trail. Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s only ski resort, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Johnson City’s Hands On! Museum is turning 25 and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music celebrates its 10th  anniversary, with events beginning in early spring. For more of What’s New in 2013, read the press release now featured on the hot news feed at press.tnvacation.com. 

For pretty obvious reasons, I’m truly looking forward to another tremendous year for Tennessee’s tourism industry, thanks to the collective efforts of you, our partners. Best wishes for much success in 2013!

Blessings,


Susan Whitaker

a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Featured Article 

2013 Tennessee Vacation Guide Arrives

The new 2013 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide is “hot off the press” – and copies are already on their way to help inspire travelers to choose the state as the site of their next vacation.

Building on the momentum of last year’s improved publication, the 2013 guide once again promises to be a powerful, effective resource to draw even more visitors to Tennessee. Featuring a striking cover showing a family enjoying some of Tennessee’s many charms, the state’s primary travel fulfillment piece tells the world … “We’re Playing Your Song!”

The front of the guide is anchored by a 16-page photo essay showcasing all aspects of the state’s travel industry, followed by engaging features written by Tennessee travel writers, information on annual events and festivals, regional profiles, best bets, business listings and more.

New this year are sections highlighting the state’s seasonal vacation contests, a roundup of the many ways consumers can stay connected with Tennessee throughout the year and, coming soon, a dynamic iPad version of the guide that will offer additional rich media and interactive content, as well as links to all advertisers.

2013 Brings New Exhibits, Attractions and Milestones to Tennessee

New and exciting exhibits, attractions and events for 2013 are enhancing Tennessee’s thriving tourism industry, along with commemorative anniversaries that remember the past, celebrate the present and bring hopeful anticipation for the future. The “What’s New in Tennessee for 2013” press release announcement was distributed to all national travel media as well as the statewide media to bring Tennessee tourism top of mind for the New Year.

In Middle Tennessee, the Emancipation Proclamation comes to the Tennessee State Museum Feb. 12 – 18, 2013, and will only be available for viewing for 72 hours during that week. Music City Center, Nashville’s new convention center, is slated to open spring 2013. The building features 1.2 million square feet, including a 350,000 square foot exhibit hall, a 57,000 square foot grand ballroom, 90,000 square feet of meeting room space and 32 loading docks. Also, coming to Nashville, The Johnny Cash Museum, featuring the most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013.

British artist Bruce Munro’s exhibit “Light,” a breathtaking display of tens of thousands of blown glass balls and fiber optic lights, will open at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. In Murfreesboro, Oaklands Historic House Museum was just marked by the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities. GRAYs on Main, in Franklin, a new restaurant and live music venue, takes inspiration from Southern Foodways, including the cuisine of the Carolinas and the Low Country, is slated to open early 2013.

In East Tennessee, The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster featuring 60 individual sleds that travel up the side of a mountain, then wind downhill for one mile at up to 25 miles an hour, anticipates opening early 2013. Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge opens RiverRush, Tennessee’s first and only water coaster in May 2013.

The Old Oak Festival, a community and regional fine arts festival in Greeneville, returns to Tusculum College after a 20-year hiatus. Also new this year, “Scholars then Soldiers: Tusculum College and the American Civil War,” is on display through 2015. Doe Mountain, an 8,600 acre pristine mountain range in Johnson County, will open in 2013 featuring over 22 miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding and OHV trails.

In West Tennessee, Graceland in Memphis will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s “Aloha from Hawaii” and “Elvis: Viva Las Vegas” opening in March 2013, where visitors will experience Las Vegas through the eyes of Elvis Presley, from the first time he stepped foot on stage in Las Vegas through his triumphant return in 1969. Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World retail complex will open in Memphis in the Pyramid late 2013. The complex will feature a restaurant, aquarium and zip-lines, as well as a new 200-room hotel and marina on the banks of the Mississippi. Memphis International Raceway’s new ownership and management brings a new vision to the versatile racing facility including the Hot Rod Power Tour in 2013.

In Jackson, the Providence House, one of the oldest Antebellum homes in West Tennessee, is now open as an event venue as part of Casey Jones Village. The Village Chapel, the 100 year-old church from Haywood County, will be open to the public daily while also hosting weddings and Gospel singings.

The Discovery Museum of West Tennessee features the “Road to Shiloh” exhibit. Flagg Grove School, childhood school of Tina Turner, has been moved to The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Museum in Brownsville. Restoration is underway with a tentative opening date of June 2013. The Morton Museum of Collierville History is now open and the historic Denmark Church is now open after a complete renovation and features a Civil War exhibit. Discovery Park of America, an entertainment and cultural complex in Union City, opens summer 2013.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area opened a new 9-mile bike/hike trail along US68/KY80 between the Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley bridges. LBL recreation area will celebrate its 50th anniversary June 2013.

Milestones for 2013 include the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battles for Chattanooga at the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park, with the officialTennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Eventtaking place in Chattanooga October 9-12. The Battle of Collierville and Stones River in Murfreesboro also commemorate the 150th. Johnson City’s Hands On! Museum is turning 25 and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music celebrates its 10th, with events beginning in early spring.Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s only ski resort, celebrates 50 years of fun in the Great Smoky Mountains.

2013 marks the 175th Anniversary of the Trail of Tears. Noteworthy Trail of Tears sites in Southeast Tenn. include Ross’ Landing in Chattanooga, Red Clay State Park in Cleveland along with others. Tennessee has 12 national Trail of Tears sites throughout the state.

Please keep us informed on new openings in your area throughout 2013.

7th Annual TACVB Blizzard Jan. 31 and Feb. 1

Don’t miss the 7th annual TACVB Blizzard Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro. This mid-winter educational conference will feature topics and speakers designed to motivate and inspire tourism professionals responsible for bringing visitors to Tennessee.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker is scheduled to bring a keynote address “Tennessee Tourism Today,” during Thursday’s opening luncheon. Additional highlights for the 2013 conference include: Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment presents “Lessons Learned from Bonnaroo,” Jay Salyers, senior VP of Miles, discusses “Focusing on Responsive Design and Smart Content,” and the marketing team of TDTD brings a group discussion and Q&A session. Tourism champion Dr. Steve Morse of the University of Tennessee shares ideas for celebrating Tourism Week in your hometown, and much more.

TACVB’s affiliate members will also be there to introduce products and services, as well as to offer tips for better business outcomes.

Along with our presenting sponsor, MILES, we look forward to seeing you in January.

For more information, contact Sheila Leggett, 615/254-1233 or sheila@associationpartners.com.

Mark Your Calendar for Tennessee Tourism Industry Events

Tennessee Tourism is getting busy in 2013! Please mark your calendars for these important industry events.

HOLD THE DATES: Tennessee Sampler Express - March 19-22, 2013 Destination: Atlanta Metro Region

The Tennessee Sampler Express is back once again, with high expectations of taking Tennessee Tourism’s sales and PR messages to travel buyers and travel journalists.

Save the date! This grassroots and economical approach to conducting sales and PR calls garners results year after year. There is no registration fee. Personal travel expenses include hotel, meals and the cost of rental vehicle split among the team or personal airline flights. Each team will have a team captain who will help secure the sales and PR calls and facilitate all logistics. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!

January 17 - Check Your Inbox For Special Edition Marketing eNewsletter

In order to allow tourism partners to maximize their participation level with the marketing opportunities provided by the department, TDTD will distribute a special marketing eNewsletter on January 17 that outlines both the print and digital partnerships available. The goal is to increase awareness of the department’s marketing programs, as well as provide instant access to relevant, marketing content.

Jan. 27-30, 2013 - Tennessee Motor Coach Association - Knoxville, Tenn.

TMCA includes 30 motor coach operator members representing more than 600 Tennessee coaches and 18 affiliated operators from the eight bordering states. Associate membership has grown to more than 290 industry-related companies/organizations from across the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, visit tnmca.net.

Jan. 31 - Feb. 1, 2013 - 7th Annual TACVB Blizzard - Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“Making the Most of Tourism Week 2013,” by Dr. Steve Morse is just one of the dynamic programs planned for the conference. Leave this session with the five best practices used by communities to highlight tourism during National Tourism Week. TACVB - Blizzard will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Murfreesboro.

To register or for more information, contact Sheila Leggett at 615-254-1233 or sheila@associationpartners.com.

Feb. 17-20, 2013 - Travel South Showcase - Little Rock, Arkansas

Travel South USA is a regional partnership that serves as an information source for tour operators, retail travel agents, journalists and other travel professionals promoting travel to and within the southeast. It is the only regional marketplace focused solely on the cultural, musical, artistic and culinary heritage of the South.

For more information, visit travelsouthusa.org.

January Kicks-Off Busy Sales Season

Happy New Year, fellow industry partners! End of the year for Tennessee tourism concluded with participation in the annual Midwest Band Clinic, held in Chicago, Illinois, to promote our partners and venues to the student band and youth performance market. In addition, walking the trade show floor resulted in over fifteen, one-on-one meetings with tour operators focused on the student group market. They were appreciative of the attention and updated information, and the time with them was productive for both supplier and buyers. In attendance this year were delegates from Clarksville, Nashville, Gaylord Attractions, and Graceland.

January for the Department will be busy, with attendance at ABA Marketplace in Charlotte, NC, and NTA/Travel Exchange, in Orlando, FL, then concluding with Tennessee Motor Coach Association in Knoxville.

Again, we will host a Tennessee dinner for the dine-around night at NTA/Travel Exchange. If you are interested in participating in the dinner event, be sure to return the dinner participation form to us as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact Bennjin at Bennjin.Lao@tn.gov. As always, thank you for your continued partnership and support. We look forward to a wonderful and successful 2013 sales year with you!

Industry Trends

<p><strong>Travel Trends for 2013</strong></p>
<p>What&rsquo;s in the travel cards for 2013? The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development&rsquo;s Research Office has reviewed the predictions and compiled the following list of travel trends and concepts to watch for in 2013.</p>
<p><strong>The Changing Consumer:</strong></p>
<p>Boomers, as they reach retirement, are spending less, and younger affluents are starting to enter the market. <em>Travel and Leisure</em> report urges the industry to get ready because the millennials are coming and they are hitting the road in increasing numbers. Travel companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of these independent-minded, digital-savvy twenty- and thirty somethings eager to see the world.</p>
<p><em>Forbes</em> also observed that younger affluents are a trend worth noting. Not only are older Gen X-ers, ages 40-55, spending more on high-end travel, but younger Gen X and even Gen Y adults are spending more on travel, often with their young children. What&rsquo;s interesting about this younger market is that they are the same market that consumes the lion&rsquo;s share of social media, and social sharing seems to be driving their vacation choices. A recent article in <em>The Telegraph</em> makes it clear that affluent travel is less about luxury and more about the cool pics you can post to Instagram.</p>
<p>According to <em>Cox and Kings&rsquo;</em> expert destination managers, &ldquo;Authentic, life‐changing moments are still high on travelers&rsquo; priorities list, and &mdash; with this age&rsquo;s tech savvy &mdash; sharing these moments instantly with those back home is more convenient and exciting than ever, creating a rich, dynamic dialogue about travel and new cultures.&rdquo;</p>
<p><strong>Adventure and Storytelling Travel:</strong></p>
<p>Adventure and storytelling travel are growing in popularity according to <em>Mediapost.com. </em>Travel, and the way the traveler undertakes it, has long been a mark of status &ndash; where and how one chooses to travel is a statement of identity. However, this new abundance and increased accessibility doesn&rsquo;t mean travelers have stopped seeking experiences that express their interests and affirm their status. Rather, it has changed the metrics with which status and traditional travel are defined. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see people expressing their identity through the stories attached to their travels. This is because stories focus on experiences, and these stories are more compelling when those experiences are interesting, obscure, scarce or unique. As travel opportunities become more varied, kudos is being awarded to those who stray off the well-beaten path and experience something different.</p>
<p><strong>Connectivity</strong></p>
<p><em>Cox and Kings </em>notes five years ago, during the first wave of smartphones, the travel industry could not have anticipated the effect posting; liking, picture‐taking, videoing, repinning and sharing would have on how consumers experience their journeys. Today, one needn&rsquo;t fret on where to buy the best postcard &mdash; tweeting a picture or simply sharing one on Instagram drives the &ldquo;Wish You Were Here!&rdquo; message more effectively. Sharing instantly allows travelers to give to‐the‐minute updates on where they are, illustrating exciting on‐the‐ground experiences as they happen &mdash; a real‐time guide book, of sorts. Following this theme, <em>Travel and Leisure </em>states connectivity will continue to play a major role in this year&rsquo;s travel innovations, among them: better mobile maps; electronic wallet app, Passbook; and in-flight Wi-Fi. Also be on the lookout for a new device, the &ldquo;laplet,&rdquo; an innovative hybrid that combines touchscreen computing with full laptop capability.</p>
<p><strong>Culinary Travel:</strong></p>
<p><em>About.com</em> reports the idea of combining travel and dining adventure is certainly not new, but is gaining popularity. For example, travelers can now pay for a 2.5 hour cooking demonstration that also introduces you to the culture and history of a destination. As you watch the chef reveal cooking techniques, you learn. Then you eat a fine meal. All for the cost of a nice dinner.</p>
<p><strong>Experiential Travel:</strong></p>
<p>Experiential travel is also growing in popularity. Consumers don&rsquo;t want the same thing as everybody else, according to Travis Katz, founder and CEO of <em>Gogobot</em>, a travel-related social network. Everyone&rsquo;s an individual, they like choice. On top of that, consumers are very, very time constrained and price sensitive. In 2013 Gogobot will focus on how to make experiential travel preferences easier to discover in order to help travel consumers make easier decisions in the mobile space. Destinations need to be aware that information overload can overwhelm consumers. Google reports mobile represented 35% of all searches in 2012; in 2013 mobile will represent 45% of all searches. These are outstanding growth rates that show 2013 will be the year of catching up to consumer behaviors.</p>
<p><strong>Fit-cations:</strong></p>
<p>For those young families, &ldquo;fit-cations&rdquo; are making a splash. All are geared toward families looking for unique vacation experiences. Vacations dont always have to pack on the pounds. In fact, fit-cations are trips that pack a (calorie) blast! So pick your favorite backdrop and cue the fun. New trends in fitness-based vacations include: river-crusing, snow-shoeing, zumba parties, snowboarding, stand-up rowing workshops and more value-added trips geared towards families. <em>Mediapost.com</em></p>
<p><strong>Friends Getaways:</strong></p>
<p>We all hear the buzzwords such as &ldquo;mancations, girlfriend getaways,&rdquo; however <em>hotelexecutive.com</em> reports that groups of friends are planning and booking more travel than ever. Over the last three years the number of unmanaged leisure group bookings by small groups of friends have increased dramatically to become a very substantial business. Friends getaways trips encompass travelers from their mid-30s on up through the young Baby Boomer segments. This is important to realize when you consider ways to reach these consumers. What does your destination offer that appeals to a group of men or women who want to get away from their workaday lives for a long weekend? Find ways to incorporate unique, fun packages and services and take advantage of your location to partner with local businesses including golf courses, spa facilities and distinctive attractions.</p>
<p><strong>Meetings and events:</strong></p>
<p>According to <em>Carlson Wagonlit Travel</em><strong>, </strong>meetings and events held both in person and online will be explored by more companies as a way to control costs while leveraging social and other features offered by new technologies.</p>
<p><strong>River Cruising:</strong></p>
<p>Another trend, according to Forbes, is River Cruising. This has long been popular with older tourists, but now it&rsquo;s catching on with younger crowds, as well. In response to the new audience, tour companies are equipping their boats with wireless routers and -- for the active traveler -- bike racks.</p>
<p><strong>Roads less traveled:</strong></p>
<p>Still popular from last year are the roads less traveled: photos and check-ins from rural destinations will all continue in 2013. According to <em>Cox and Kings</em>, the opportunity to venture down old paths is enticing to travelers eager to make new discoveries along the way. Storied journeys hold enormous appeal to travelers.</p>
<p><strong>RV travel popularity increases:</strong></p>
<p><em>About.com </em>reports RV shipments are projected to rise in 2013 representing the third consecutive year of shipment increases from manufacturer to showroom. "Theres a lot of versatility in the RV market - many products, price points and how theyre used," says Recreational Vehicle Industry Association President Richard Coon. The chief market for RVs is baby boomers, who like that versatility and the ability to get back to nature with a measure of comfort that exceeds tent camping.</p>
<p><strong><em>Sources: </em></strong><em>Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Forbes, Travel and Leisure, About.com, Cox and Kings, Mediapost.com, Hotelexecutive.com, Gogobot.com, and Google.com. </em></p>

Industry Spotlight