I would like to begin this letter with a sincere and enthusiastic thank you to Governor Phil Bredesen and the members of the Tennessee General Assembly for the support and confidence they have shown the tourism industry during this session. As many of you know, the 2009-2010 State of Tennessee Budget, which included the non-recurring improvement of $3.5 million for advertising and marketing purposes for our department, has been approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. These funds will enable us to continue our marketing momentum throughout 2009 and 2010, keeping Tennessee top of mind for the traveling public.
The tourism industry is proud to generate billions of economic development as well as thousands of jobs for Tennessee, and it is very good to know that all of that hard work is appreciated and respected by our elected officials, local and statewide.
In addition to giving us the funds necessary for television and print advertising campaigns, the budget improvement dollars will allow our department to continue to work closely with our tourism partners in co-op marketing partnerships and sponsorships. Advertising opportunities that would have been too costly for some partners will again be within reach for many communities this coming year.
All of us in the Department of Tourist Development are committed to being good stewards of these dollars, maximizing Tennessee’s message and outreach through smart partnerships and new media opportunities.
The upcoming Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Murfreesboro will be focusing on those partnership and media opportunities. Register to attend September 16 through 18th and learn how to integrate the latest in cutting edge business and technology into your tourism business. Standing still is no longer an option for success in today’s economic world. I look forward to seeing you there.
In the midst of this very busy summer tourism season, let me encourage you to make every effort to ensure that your local officials and citizens are well aware of your activities, involving them whenever possible. Their understanding of the local economic importance of tourism has been and will be the key to budget support for our industry in the future. We are very grateful for that support this year.
Finally, let me thank all of you for your support of this department, our various programs and our staff. I am privileged to be a part of this industry.
With great respect,
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Super Seminar at 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism Focuses on Social Network Marketing
Twitter. MySpace. Facebook. The Blogosphere. Social marketing is emerging as one of the most effective ways to drive visitors to your destination. But, along with the hyper-targeting and sharing capabilities of social tools, comes the complexities of crafting a successful strategy and then managing that strategy on a daily basis.
This year’s Super Seminar at the ’09 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be led by Hannah Paramore, president of Paramore Redd Online Marketing. Hannah directs the online marketing for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Her popular Social Network Marketing Laboratory will push past the theoretical and straight into the practical how-to of a successful social marketing plan. You'll not only hear from experts, but you will actually be able to put what you learn into practice. Bring your wi-fi capable laptop and meet with the lab technicians to set up accounts, link them and write strategies that you can take home and put into action today.
The Tourism Marketing Super Seminar is Wednesday, September 16, 2009 from 2:00PM to 5:00PM. To register and learn more about this year’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism, visit TennTourismRoundtable.com.
Record Numbers Attend Sustainable Workshop in Baxter
Nearly 200 tourism industry professionals met on June 16 at the DelMonaco Winery & Vineyards, just outside of Cookeville, for the Upper Cumberland Sustainable Tourism Workshop. On hand were leading industry experts, providing practical advice on implementing sustainable tourism practices, green products and solutions, and the power of place.
The workshop’s keynote luncheon showcased Cheryl Hargrove, speaking of “The Power of Place: An Opportunity for Tourism Growth and Sustainability.” Hargrove, a national speaker and international consultant, specializes in heritage tourism, planning, development and marketing.
Other presenters and topics included:
• Becky Anderson, founder of Handmade in America, “Connecting People and Place”
• Mike Berry, President & CEO of the Kentucky Derby, demonstrated how one of the America’s most popular celebrations is moving to a “green” event
• Dr. Carroll Van West (MTSU) and Beth Phillips (UT), “Public-Private Partnerships for Quality Development
• Ryan Gooch (TN Department of Economic & Community Development) and Hugh Morrow, Jr. (Ruby Falls) “Sustainable Resources: Energy, Water & Funding”
The Upper Cumberland Sustainable Tourism Workshop in Baxter was sponsored jointly by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC). Commissioner Susan Whitaker of TDTD highlighted “Why Sustainable Tourism Makes Both Dollars and Sense.” TDEC Assistant Commissioner Andy Lyon pointed to the value of “Growing Sustainable Partnerships.”
Additional workshops with unique topics and presenters are scheduled for the Casey Jones Village in Jackson on November 16 and the Pink Palace in Memphis on November 17. For more information, click here.
Tourists Now Travel on I-40 Through Knoxville Without Detour
As tourism season is reaching its peak, the Tennessee Department of Transportation celebrated the reopening of one of the state's main thoroughfares. Work to reconstruct Interstate 40 in Knoxville was completed ahead of schedule on June 12, 2009. The downtown section, built in the 1950s, was confined to only two lanes of I-40 in each direction and had a number of dangerous interchanges. With the completion of SmartFIX40, drivers now have more travel lanes and a safer, more modern roadway in the downtown Knoxville area.
"We broke ground in Knoxville on July 8, 2005. Here we are, four years later, opening the project ahead of schedule. We estimate that by closing the roadway from May, 2008 to June, 2009 we have saved 2-3 years in construction time that would have been required to implement the project under the traditional "while maintaining traffic" method, " said TDOT Commissioner Gerald F. Nicely.
This was the most expensive and unique interstate improvement effort ever undertaken by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. SmartFIX40 required the dedication of hundreds of workers including employees of TDOT, the contractor, our engineering consultant, city and county officials and others. Many were directly involved in planning, designing and building this project, but many more were involved indirectly by keeping a tight focus on completing this job on time with as little inconvenience as possible to Knoxville residents and the traveling public.
TDTD Commissioner Susan Whitaker understands the importance of visitors having a traffic diversion free traveling experience. "Congratulations to Commissioner Nicely and the entire SmartFIX40 team for executing this much needed project in such a timely manner. As we embark upon our busiest vacation season, travelers will find their road trips fun-filled and detour free."
Bradley County Sites Get Civil War Trail Markers
Southeast Tennessee is continuing to fill out the Tennessee Civil War Trails with Charleston and Cleveland coming on board in June. On June 9, both towns celebrated joining the Trails with commemoration ceremonies.
The Charleston marker at the Public Park, which depicts the importance of the town during the struggle for East Tennessee, is sponsored by the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society, the Charleston City Council and the Cleveland City Council. Cleveland, and all of Bradley County, remained under Confederate control until a Union victory at Missionary Ridge in November 1863. The marker is located at the Museum at 5ive Points and is sponsored by the Bradley County Historical Society and the Bradley County Commission.
During the month of June, 25 new historical markers were installed across the state. The Tennessee Civil War Trails now boasts 65 interpreted sites, providing known and unknown stories about Tennessee’s participation in the Civil War. The next round of installations will take place during the week of Aug. 24. At that time, the department expects to install between 25 and 35 more historical markers. To be included in the next group of installations, applications must be submitted to the Department of Tourist Development by Friday, July 24.
The Civil War Trails program is a multi-state recognition initiative with partnerships established in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. The program brings awareness to the state’s role in the Civil War and serves as a prelude to the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War, which will begin in 2011. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was awarded a two-part, federal enhancement grant of more than $1 million from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The grant provides for an 80/20 match for local participation.For additional information, contact Noell Rembert at Noell.Rembert@tn.gov or Lee Curtis at Lee.Curtis@tn.gov, or call (615) 741-2159.
Advertising Agency Partners Announced
The tourism office is pleased to announce the off-line agency RFP has been awarded to White-Thompson. White-Thompson, with offices in Nashville and Memphis, has more than 25 years of success. Led by partners Evette White, Michael Thompson and Bob Bornbrock, White-Thompson brings strong tourism marketing experience to the table, with previous accounts such as Memphis Redbirds, Nashville CVB, Gaylord Entertainment, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Tennessee Tourism’s account will be coordinated by Sherri Jones and Bennjin Lao, both having strong tourism experience as well.
The online advertising RFP was awarded to Designsensory with a partnership with Paramore Redd. Designsensory has won numerous awards for Tennessee tourism’s Web site, tnvacation.com, and is led by Joseph Nother and Brandon Rochelle. Sara Lewis will be coordinating the account for Designsensory.
Paramore|Redd's President, Hannah Paramore manages the staff of online marketers responsible for Tennessee Tourism’s account, which includes online partnerships, display advertising, lead generation, search engine and email programs. Key staff overseeing the tourism account include Mandy Butters, Amanda Durand, Kate Gallagher, and Christa Goldman. If interested in co-op opportunities with Tennessee Tourism’s online advertising or email programs, contact Amanda Durand at 615-324-8997 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facts & Trends
Senate Agrees to Participate in Tourism Bill
In the June 17 issue of the U.S. Travel Association’s News Brief there was significant information for the travel and tourism industry. Notably, the U.S. Senate agreed to proceed with a tourism bill that is a priority for Majority Leader Harry Reid. The bill (S 1023) would create a private company to advertise the United States as a tourism destination to foreign travelers, funded by private contributions and matched by up to $100 million a year from the federal government.
To read more about the Face of Travel, Visa-Friendly Legislation and other travel-related stories, go to multibriefs.com/briefs/usta/USTA061709.php.
Ruby Falls Sees the Light
Ruby Falls has continued its move toward environmental sustainability with the recent roof-top installation of solar panels. The panels are capable of producing 16,000 watts of renewable energy, enough electricity to light over 250 60-watt light bulbs. The array of panels combined with the use of computer-controlled high efficiency lighting in both LED and compact fluorescents has reduced their power consumption by over 24%.
From left are Jim Frierson and Karen Hundt,
representing the Chattanooga Green Team;
Sen. Andy Berke, Hugh Morrow, Ruby Falls president;
Lee Curtis, TDTD; Mayor Ron Littlefield; Ryan Gooch,
TDEC; and Patricia Gray, TDTD
The project was supported, in part, by a grant from the TN Department of Economic & Community Development’s Clean Energy Technology program. This private-public partnership has been showcased in recent Sustainable Tourism Workshops held in Franklin and Baxter. The workshops are hosted jointly by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation.
Last year, Ruby Falls was distinguished as the first U.S. attraction to successfully complete the Green Globe International environmental certification process. "Third party certification is crucial to holding us to a higher standard and keeping us focused on more environmentally sensitive business practices," stated Hugh Morrow, President of Ruby Falls, LLC. "Since 1928, when Ruby Falls reused the limestone excavated from the cave to build the Ruby Falls building, until today, Ruby Falls is committed to another 80 years of offering one of the most unique natural attractions in the world."
Visit the Ruby Falls Web site for more information on their sustainability progress.
Co-op E-mail Program - The Time Has Come!
Paramore|Redd will manage Tennessee Department of Tourist Development's interactive marketing for the next five years. Due to the tremendous response of the Co-op E-mail Program, Paramore|Redd will continue it through the 2009-2010 fiscal year. There's also a brand new e-mail template for the year.
Go to http://paramoreredd.com/email-marketing/ to view the new rate cards for the Co-Op E-mails for July 2009 - June 2010 as well as a brief description on Paramore|Redd's plan to take the program to the next level.
Contact Paramore|Redd today, at (615) 324-8997, to reserve your spots - they're going fast!
Employee of the Month
After months of prepping the beautiful landscape of the newly reopened I-75 Campbell County (Jellico) Welcome Center, the June recipient of the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month is more than deserving. David Miller, in his 11th year with the Department of Tourist Development serves in building maintenance, and was named for his outstanding contributions.
The brand new Jellico Welcome Center opened to the public on Friday, June 26 and David has been instrumental in caring for the sod that helps create the beauty of the Center.
"He (David) has worked day and night taking care of that sod, watering it and carefully mowing it so it would look good when we opened," said Jellico Welcome Center Manager Rick Parks. "That sod looks so good and established it appears we've had that grass growing there for a long time. Our staff has done a great job with it."
David along with the rest of the Welcome Center staff also managed to protect the sod while heavy equipment was brought in to set the picnic tables and receptacles.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg Opens Its Doors
Hilton Garden Inn, one of the fastest growing brands within the Hilton Family of Hotels, is pleased to announce the opening of the 112-room Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg, representing another addition to the brand’s growing collection of more than 450 Hilton Garden Inn locations across North America, Europe and Central America. The five-story Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg is seeking LEED certification based on specific hotel features from the time the property broke ground through the present.
Casey Jones Museum Opens
A major expansion of the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum opened June 19 with a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony attended by state and local dignitaries as well as four grandchildren of Casey Jones. The 7,500 square foot train station addition is a joint project of the City of Jackson and Brooks Shaw's Old Country Store who has privately managed the Casey Jones Museum for more than 30 years. The City of Jackson was awarded a federal enhancement grant in the fall of 2005 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation signed by Governor Phil Bredesen.
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey with
members of the Tennessee Valley CMT/ABATE
Charter at the I-75 Welcome Center.
Motorcyclists Organization Distributes Litter Bags to Welcome Centers
Concerned Motocyclists of Tennessee and American Bikers Active Towards Education are in the process of delivering 5,000 litter bags to each of Tennessee’s 13 Welcome Centers. To date, bags have been distributed to Nickajack, Tiftonia and I-75 Welcome Centers. Marion County Mayor Howell Moss arrived on his Harley to attend the Nickajack event. Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey attended the I-75 event. License holders in Tennessee made this possible through a grant from the Department of Safety.
Quirky in Tennessee
Secret City Festival is named 2nd in the Most Quirky Festivals in America by the editors of Publications International, Ltd.
Frank G. Clement Railroad Hotel Museum Opens
Nearly 500 people helped the Dickson community celebrate the grand opening of the Gov. Frank G. Clement Railroad Hotel Museum. Located in the former Hotel Halbrook in historic downtown Dickson, the Clement Museum tells the story of Gov. Frank Clement and the history of Dickson as a strategic Civil War site, an important railroad and transportation hub, and a thriving industrial and business center. On hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony was the son of Gov. Frank Clement, former U.S. Rep. Bob Clement; TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely; TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke and Susan Whitaker, TDTD Commissioner.
Paris BASS Victory
Kentucky Lake was the location of the Tennessee Triumph BASS Tournament sponsored locally by the Paris-Henry County Alliance. Bobby Lane wrapped up his first BASS victory finishing the tournament with a final-day catch of 16 pounds, 15 ounces and winning $100,000. Fans were encouraged to attend the Wednesday-Saturday daily launches as well as the afternoon weigh-ins. Other activities included Dog Trainer and Retriever Demonstrations and a live concert by Nashville recording artist Greta Gaines. The tournament aired on ESPN2 on June 13, garnering national exposure.
Tennessee Historical Commission Announces Certificate of Merit Awards
The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced 21 recipients of its 2009 Certificate of Merit Awards. The awards program recognizes individuals or groups throughout the state that have worked to conserve or highlight Tennessee’s cultural heritage during the past year. For a complete listing of recipients of the 2009 Certificate of Merit Awards go to www.tn.gov/environment/hist/.
Wilderness At the Smokies Expands Sales & Marketing Team
Wilderness At The Smokies is happy to welcome Steve Cruz as the newest member of the sales and marketing team. Cruz brings more than 15 years experience in the local tourism industry. His previous professional experience includes working with Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge.
18 Kids and Counting
Pigeon Forge played host to the “18 Kids and Counting” Duggar family where they made some remarkable vacation memories, including meeting Dolly Parton and riding in the 24th annual Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade.
The episodes highlighting Pigeon Forge will air TLC on July 14 and 21 at 9 p.m. (Eastern), with a repeat each night at 1 a.m.
Twenty years at NETTA
The board and members of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA) recently recognized Claudia Moody, chief executive officer, and Lisa Gosnell, adminstrative assistant, for their 20 years of devoted leadership and service.
Manager of the Year
Andrea Anderson, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Chattanooga Downtown, received top honors in June at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) “Stars of the Industry” Awards in Chicago, Illinois. Anderson was recognized as General Manager of the Year, Medium Property (101-300 rooms).
Paul Latture Accepts Position in Rutherford County
Paul Latture, III, formerly of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce has accepted the position of president of the Rutherford County Chamber, effective August 10.
Quote of the Month:
I believe in America because we have great dreams and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.
- Wendell L. Wilkie
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You