The people of Tennessee are simply amazing. In recent weeks, many of our tourism partners have been called upon to show their resilience in the face of natural disaster. Hats off to our partners in Memphis who stood firm in the face of the mighty Mississippi, made a quick adjustment to the location of their famous Memphis In May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and sent the message loud and clear to the traveling public, “Memphis is Open for Business.”
Tennessee Tourism’s marketing department came along beside the Memphis CVB to help spread the word, including sending updates via our social networks, creating a “weather updates” page on tnvacation.com with timely information and spreading the word to our network of media representatives and agency partners. It was rewarding to see the “Memphis is Open for Business” message picked up by U.S. Travel’s Blog on their consumer website Discover America, one of our industry’s premier travel sites.
This same blog also featured Tennessee’s T3 initiative front and center, naming T3 “one of my favorite social media travel perks” and urging consumers to “like/follow/get texts from.”
T3, tourism’s latest travel deal promotion, is growing rapidly in popularity and reach. Let me urge all of you to take advantage of this important campaign by submitting your special deals here: http://www.tnvacation.com/t3/. Read more about T3 in the article featured in this e-newsletter.
None of these and our other marketing accomplishments would be possible without the dollars to do them. I am so grateful to Governor Bill Haslam for his budget proposal that kept the Department of Tourist Development with the same dollars as last year’s budget, and a huge thank you to the 107th General Assembly for approving and passing our budget as proposed. We are committed to getting the biggest return on investment possible for those dollars – thank you for your confidence and support!
Just in time for tourism’s busiest travel season, there’s good news to report and reason to move ahead with an optimistic spirit. In her May travel update, Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior advisor of the U.S. Travel Association, reported: “Some recent surveys show stronger intentions for leisure trips this summer than last year, including preliminary data from the April wave of travelhorizons™ that revealed that, despite increasing angst about travel prices, a greater share of Americans plan to travel on leisure during the next six months than planned to do so last spring.”
The American Express Spending and Saving Tracker indicated 59 percent of Americans plan to travel this summer versus 51 percent in 2010. In this same report, American Express reported that 40 percent of consumers said getting a good travel deal is the most important factor in planning for weekend getaways. Yet another reason to submit your special deals to our T3 campaign.
A number of Tennessee’s tourism partners are experiencing increased, noteworthy attendance. Bonnaroo is SOLD OUT. That means 80,000 music fans will be coming to Manchester June 9-12 to experience what Rolling Stone magazine readers named the No.1 music festival in America.
CMA Festival in Nashville is happening at the same time, bringing music fans from all over the world to Music City for the world’s biggest celebration of country music.
No doubt, the thousands of fans attending CMA Fest will help boost the already record-breaking attendance numbers being reported by The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for 2011’s first quarter. The Grand Ole Opry will take advantage of the CMA crowds to increase its already 11 percent increase reported through the end of April, compared to 2010.
Partners in Sevierville have cause for optimism as their Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival drew more than 35,000 visitors, up from last year’s high attendance of 30,000.
In spite of the rise in gas prices, even RV camp sites are seeing visitation rise. Crossville’s KOA announced a 20 percent increase over last year’s camper stays. Additionally, Cumberland Caverns, also in the Upper Cumberland Region of Tennessee, saw a 28 percent growth in attendance during the first quarter of 2011, crediting the growing popularity of their monthly Bluegrass Underground shows.
More great news comes to Tennessee’s tourism industry from Gaylord Entertainment. Chairman and CEO Colin Reed has announced the partnership with DreamWorks to offer a “DreamWorks Experience,” featuring some of the company’s most popular animation characters. Attending the formal announcement held in Nashville recently were prominent officials including Gov. Bill Haslam as well as some of my personal favorites - Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and the Penguins of Madagascar.
It is no secret that Tennessee has first-class product worthy of the world stage. The last week of May, 17 delegates represented Tennessee at the International Pow Wow in San Francisco, California, conducting more than 250 meetings with travel buyers and media representatives from around the world. International Pow Wow was attended by more than 5,000 travel industry professionals, including 1,200 travel buyers from 70 countries.
Lofthouse Enterprises, under the leadership of David Nicholson, has been awarded the International Marketing contract for Tennessee. In addition to continuing to represent Tennessee in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Scandinavia, David has recently formed a partnership with Americana Gateway for representation in France. Seasoned French travel professional Jean-Marie Douau will represent Tennessee in France, currently the fastest growing European market for travel to the United States.
Welcoming visitors to Tennessee are our 14 award-winning Welcome Centers. On June 24 we will celebrate the grand reopening of the Tiftonia Welcome Center on I-24 just west of Chattanooga. I hope to see many of you at this special event.
I am so often inspired by you, my colleagues in the tourism industry, as you reach new heights for Tennessee Tourism. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your vision as we provide our visitors a world-class Tennessee vacation.
Have a wonderful summer!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Send Your T3 Special Summer Discounts for Summer Fun in Tennessee
The busiest season in Tennessee is upon us as we’re all gearing up for the best summer season yet. Tourists have begun making their pilgrimages to the three grand regions of the state for big summer fun.
Families are always looking for affordable vacation options. The Tennessee Travel Tuesdays (T3) program is in high demand now more than ever in supplying the latest travel specials and deals. Since February, a total of 428,969 emails have been sent out to deal seekers, with an open rate of 19 percent, 7 percent higher than the industry average.
Take advantage of this FREE opportunity to get your special discounts out to thousands of summer travelers. To submit your hot summer deals, visit tnvacation.com/t3 and click on the ‘Partners, Submit Deals!’ icon. After submission, these cost-saving incentives will be promoted through the department’s social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and via emails and weekly SMS text messages.
Speaking of summer fun, Nashville Shores has opened a new attraction, Kowabunga Beach. The attraction, which is four stories tall, contains thousands of gallons of water in more than 70 interactive features including four water slides, a giant bucket that tips hundreds of gallons of water every few minutes, water jets, bridges, tunnels and more.
At Dollywood, the new Barnstormer ride offers the whole family a thrill. Seated back to back, riders travel progressively higher on each swing of the Barnstormer’s two massive pendulum arms, reaching a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation.
This summer in Memphis, check out some cool exhibits at Graceland. Elvis Lives: The King and Pop Culture Exhibit features an interactive exploration through videos, photos and displays of Elvis’ influence on pop culture as we know it today. The ’68 Special Exhibit at Graceland Crossing offers a look at the historic television event and includes some of the outfits Elvis wore during the special, a script and a timeline of significant historical events occurring in the U.S. at that time.
Tiftonia Welcome Center Grand Opening June 24
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker will be joined by Commissioner John Schroer of the Department of Transportation for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the I-24Hamilton County (Tiftonia) Welcome Center at 11 a.m. EDT onJune 24.
"We are very excited to open the new I-24Hamilton County Welcome Center at Tiftonia,” said Barry Young, director of Welcome Centers.“Ibelieve our visitors entering Tennessee viaI-24 Eastwill be very pleased with what they experience at the new center.Guests can browse for brochures in the log cabin, the restrooms are much larger andthere is a family restroom available.And, as always, our friendly staff is there ready to assist visitors with information about Tennessee."
The event willfeature exhibits from tourism partners from around the state. Partners from Blount, Bradley, Hamilton, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Marion, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, Sequatchieand Sevier counties have been invited to participate.
Designed as a log cabin and featuring 4,989 square feet, the facility combines the warmth of Tennessee with the modern advantage of new construction, including sustainable features such as geothermal heating and cooling and a solar array.
There are 14 Welcome Centers located primarily on interstate highway entrances to Tennessee. Tennessee’s Welcome Centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and are operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Kix Brooks To Participate in 2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event
Kix Brooks, country music celebrity and co-owner of Arrington Vineyards, is slated to make a special appearance at the state’s 2011 Sesquicentennial Signature Event. To be held Sept. 6-7 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, the event is officially sanctioned and organized by Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Commission. It is the second of six signature events to take place annually throughout the 150th commemoration years of the American Civil War from 2011-2015.
The theme for the event is “Civil War in the Borderland.”
The event will consist of historical discussions, musical performances, stories and living history demonstrations. 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. on 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.
Tennessee is the only entire state designated by the U.S. Congress as a Civil War National Heritage area. Another important Sesquicentennial initiative is Tennessee’s Civil War Trails program, now featuring more than 200 trail markers throughout the state. For more information, please visit tncivilwar150.com.
Web Assistance Summer Tour Expanded
July dates have been added for Chattanooga and Monteagle to the Web Assistance Summer Tour.
All summer tour stops are FREE to Tennessee tourism partners.
Final Summer Tour Schedule
June 23, Knoxville, East Tennessee History Center
10 a.m. - 1 p.m. ET
June 30, Natchez Trace State Park, Inn & Conference Center
9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CT
July 13, Crossville, Holiday Inn Express
1 p.m. - 4 p.m. CT
July 14, Cookeville, Fairfield Inn & Suites
9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CT
July 19, Monteagle, Monteagle City Hall
1 p.m. - 4 p.m. CT
July 20, Chattanooga, Chattanooga Choo Choo
1 p.m. - 5 p.m. ET
To RSVP please email the date and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for additional locations in the fall and winter.
For more information about the tour visit tnvacation.com/web-assistance-summer-tour
Facts & Trends
“Uncle Joe” and the Internet Share the Travel Service Decision Funnel
Family, friends and media continue to lead the way in providing vacation ideas and inspiration while the internet continues to grow in its influence for advice, pricing and purchasing. That according to the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American TravelersTM study.
The report listed the key information sources for the five phases in the travel decision-making funnel:
Ideas and inspiration: Family, friends and media, including television, magazines, vacation guides and brochures.
Advice and insight: While family and friends still top the list of trusted sources (54%) followed closely by travel guide books (44%), the internet continues to grow its influence.
Pricing and comparing: The internet tops the list with the help of key online resources. Just over half of travelers are using such online travel agencies (OTA) as Expedia and Travelocity for gathering prices and impartial comparisons.
Purchasing: As the decision funnel narrows in purchasing the best deals, the two main options are an OTA (41 percent) or directly to a travel supplier’s own website (38 percent). Other purchase portals include traditional travel agents (23 percent), multi-brand websites (18 percent) and destination websites (17 percent).
“From what we see, Uncle Joe wins for ideas/advice while the Internet wins for price comparison/purchasing,” noted YPartnership in a recent tweet on Twitter. More detailed information about the influencers inside the funnel is available at http://blog.ypartnership.com/?p=327
Employee of the Month
Many times our Welcome Center staff assists travelers in odd situations. Cynthia Jared, manager of the I-40 Smith County Welcome Center recently found herself in one of those situations.
A visitor from Jackson, Tenn. sent us an email describing her recent experience and here is a paraphrase of her account:
"A couple of weeks ago, while on I-40 going to East Tennessee, a hen turkey began to cross the road in front of me and I had no choice except to hit her, which left remnants on the hood of my car.
"Luckily, there was a Welcome Center within a half mile and I pulled in there hoping to get something to clean the front of my car.The manager, Cynthia Jared, came to my rescue.She personally found a water hose, connected it and helped me wash my car off.
"She was a real trooper and I want all to know what a wonderful service she did that day. She certainly went over and above what anyone might have expected of a manager of a Welcome Center."
For her service beyond expectation, Cynthia Jared has been selected as our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for May 2011.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
Beale Street, Memphis
Cheap Air.com Names 10 Great U.S. Summer Cities
With the warmer weather and longer days, many Americans will be looking for places to explore during the months of June, July and August. Cheap Air.com names 10 U.S. cities that need to be checked out this year. At No. 3, Memphis!
Emmylou Harris Honorary Chair for Folk Festival
Emmylou Harris, Country Music Hall of Fame member, and Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam, are honorary co-chairs for the National Folk Festival scheduled for Nashville in September. Expected to draw tens of thousands of music fans, the 73rd annual traveling festival is the oldest and longest-running multicultural festival in the nation.
Bonnaroo is Sold Out
Tennessee's four-day Bonnaroo Festival, now in its 10th year, is sold out. A reported 80,000 tickets were sold, with crowds heading to Great Stage Park, a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn. Not among the 80,000 attendees? No worries, you'll be able to hear the concerts on the NPR Music website, the NPR Music iPhone app and other member stations in the U.S. Bonnaroo is the top-grossing festival in North America and was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 50 moments that changed the history of rock and roll.
Virginia, Tennessee Partner for Civil War Project
Tennessee and Virginia are teaming up in Bristol to collect Civil War documents and artifacts brought in by residents of both states. Archivists from the two Civil War battlefield states were in Bristol collecting records from residents in their respective states, part of an effort to create digital records from the Civil War years. In Bristol, they’ll scan documents and artifacts brought in by residents. The Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Tennessee State Museum and the Library of Virginia are behind the archiving project. Both states are amid projects to document diaries, records and personal stories from the war.
Chamber and Visitor Center Debut
The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce moved into its new $5.3 million home at the end of 2010 and celebrated the grand opening on May 3. Located on the north side of Medical Center Parkway near I-24, the 33,744 square-foot building also features a state-of-the-art Visitors Center. Tourists wanting to learn more about Rutherford County's Civil War heritage, music celebrations, sports venues and much more will want to start out at the new center.
Music City Trolley Hop Connects Visitors To Great Local Attractions
Gray Line of Tennessee announced recently the launch of the Music City Trolley Hop, an on-and-off tour. Led by tour guides, this new tour travels to 11 locations around town and gives riders the option of either staying on board the trolley for the entire narrated tour, or they can hop off or hop on at various points along the route.
Chattanooga CVB Opens New Visitor Center
The Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau officially opened the new Chattanooga Visitors Center. The new location sits in the heart of the tourism district, making it even easier to get in front of the visitor and provide information on all things Chattanooga. The Visitors Center is a one-stop information, hospitality and ticketing center for the tens of thousands of visitors that visit Chattanooga.
A Wide Spot in the Road Becomes a Star on the Map
The Downtown Leiper’s Fork Association unveiled its new brand at an event held at Country Boy Restaurant. The branding is a result of more than a year of research and collaboration between The Tombras Group and a select committee spearheaded by DLFA Director, April Cantrell. The new look of Leiper’s Fork conveys a destination where visitors can shake off their worries and not be in a hurry and, as some say, “step into Leiper’s Fork Standard Time.”
Frist Participates in Blue Star Program
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will join more than 1,300 museums across the nation to participate in the Blue Star Museums program, a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts to offer free admission to active duty military personnel and up to five immediate family members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2011. Admission to the Frist Center is always free for visitors 18 years of age and younger.
Judy Peiser Honored
On May 18, members of the 107th Tennessee General Assembly stood up and applauded Judy Peiser as she entered the House Chamber. She was asked to come forward “to the well” as Resolution 243 was read which championed her commitment to preserving the social history and music of the South while striving to educate and inform the general public of its importance. Joining in this tribute were members of the Shelby County Delegation Representatives Jim Coley, Barbara Cooper, Karen Camper, John DeBerry, Lois DeBerry, Mike Kernell, Ron Lollar, Steve McManus, Larry J. Miller, Jeanne Richardson, Joe Towns, Jr., Johnny Turner, Mark White and Johnny Shaw of Hardeman County. Attending the ceremony for Tennessee Arts Commission was Director of Folklife Programs Robert Cogswell, Center for Southern Folklore board member and director of marketing for theTennessee State Museum, Mary Unobsky and Tennessee State Museum Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell. Summing up the special ceremony, Riggins-Ezzell noted, “This is an honor greatly deserved that speaks of Judy’s commitment to the beliefthat culture is our greatest human experience and must be documented.She has committed her life to this documentation through film, music, arts, crafts and oral histories. The world is richer for this and her work a treasure chest for future generations to savor.”
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You