Dear Industry Partners,
What a terrific time to celebrate Tennessee! Returning home from the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Chattanooga, I had a chance to reflect on what an amazing year we have enjoyed as an industry. The reasons are plentiful but revolve first and foremost around all of you, who have invested your professional expertise and enthusiasm into keeping our attractions and accommodations so inviting to the vacationing public.
Another major reason for Tennessee’s continued tourism growth is our beautiful State Park system. A huge congratulations to Commissioner Jim Fyke, Assistant Commissioner Andy Lyon and the entire Department of Environment and Conservation for the prestigious honor of receiving the 2007 Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management at the annual parks conference in Indianapolis! Tennessee’s 54 state parks are a beautiful and significant part of the tourism industry and I am delighted to see them recognized with the highest honor in the United States parks system.
Congratulations to all of our partners in the tourism industry for an outstanding 2007 Governor’s Conference on Tourism. I especially would like to thank Governor Phil Bredesen for joining us on Friday to address us with his outlook on tourism, particularly its role in rural development. His support for the industry has made an enormous impact on our ability to market Tennessee throughout the world.
:pullquote: The feedback on Judy Randall’s marketing super seminar and Dennis Snow’s keynote address on Customer Service was excellent (okay, I admit it - I didn’t see the gorilla!). In addition, the break-out sessions and activities were wonderfully informative and varied – perfect for our first combined tourism conference. Our combined EXPO allowed the nearly one hundred vendors from the various segments of the industry to showcase their services and interact with conference participants.
Many, many thanks to Tennessee Tourism Roundtable’s Executive Director John Whisenant on the success of his inaugural conference. We especially enjoyed your “Dancing with the Stars!” idea and were dazzled by the talent displayed by our industry “Stars”! I feel a "Tennessee Tourism Idol” competition cannot be too far behind.
The new Thursday evening Tennessee Tourism & Hospitality Awards Banquet was a great time to celebrate our industries' achievements. Congratulations to the TACVB for spearheading the Great Ideas Fair and the inaugural Spotlight Awards. Special congratulations go out to all of the award winners, especially the 2007 Knight of the Round Table award winner April Montgomery and the 2007 Gladiator for Tourism, Dr. Steve Morse.
One of the most moving moments of the entire week was the Champion of Tourism Award posthumously given to our dearly missed friend and colleague Jack Steiner, owner of Ruby Falls in Chattanooga. We so appreciate his wife, ‘Mo’, accepting the award on his behalf.
I think we will all agree that the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors’ Bureau rolled out the red carpet to make our conference great. Bob Doak and his staff attended to every detail impeccably, including the weather! Chattanooga is indeed a great city by nature full of fun activities and amazing attractions, and the penguins are the perfect addition to the Tennessee Aquarium.
A special thanks to Dave Perella, Walt Baker and Ronnie Hart for their determination to see this combined EXPO event happen. The Boards of the TTR, TH&LA, TRA and TAA all worked hard on making it successful. I also want to thank my staff, led by Assistant Commissioner Phyllis Qualls-Brooks and Shannon Corney, for their tireless efforts in making this year’s conference a success. The Governor’s conference is a highlight of the year for me, because it is a time to celebrate our accomplishments and to look ahead to the future together.
Again, congratulations and thank you all for your commitment to Tennessee’s tourism industry.
Tennessee State Parks System Named Best In The Country
State Wins Gold Medal Award For Excellence In Parks Management
Governor Phil Bredesen and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke have announced that the Tennessee State Parks System has been named the best state parks system in the country by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.
The 2007 Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in the state parks category was presented to Commissioner Fyke at NRPA's annual conference in Indianapolis.
"This award affirms the steps we're taking to protect special places and to offer a wide range of recreational opportunities to both Tennesseans and visitors to our state alike," said Bredesen. "I'm particularly pleased to see Commissioner Fyke and his dedicated team of parks professionals receive this recognition, and I urge all Tennesseans to get out and take advantage of our award-winning parks system."
Tennessee has 54 state parks and 77 natural areas with a wide range of recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, swimming, golf, boating, whitewater rafting and more. The state parks system includes resort parks with inns, conference centers and restaurants. Tennessee State Parks and natural areas also play an important role in environmental protection of ecologically significant land and preservation of cultural and historic sites.
"Governor Bredesen continues to be instrumental in protecting lands with ecological, scenic, historic and cultural significance for the enjoyment of future generations of Tennesseans," said Fyke. "I'm proud of all we've been able to accomplish in the areas of land conservation and parks management under his leadership."
For more information about the Gold Medal Awards, visit NRPA's Web site at: www.nrpa.org. To learn more about what's available at Tennessee State Parks, visit the Web site at www.tnstateparks.com. To book your stay at a cabin or park inn, call 1-866-836-6757.
Fall Foliage in Tennessee Draws National Attention
Tennessee’s fall foliage was brought into the national spotlight during an interview on the "Today" Show. Travel correspondent Peter Greenberg was interviewed by "Today" Show anchor Matt Lauer on the nation’s most unusual places to view fall foliage.
Several destinations received coverage by Greenberg, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherohala Skyway, Ocoee Scenic Byway, Tennessee Valley Railroad in Chattanooga, Southern Belle Riverboat in Chattanooga and Three Rivers Rambler Train in Knoxville.
For more information on fall foliage in Tennessee, visit fall.tnvacation.com/foliage or call 1-800-697-4200. To view Peter Greenberg’s fall foliage article or to view the "Today Show segment, visit www.msnbc.msn.com.
Tennessee Road Trip
The inaugural “Tennessee Road Trip 2007” sweepstakes was a glowing success. Winner Stefanie Tatsis of Brooklyn, NY and her guest Colleen Drain set out for 7 days and six nights to follow Tennessee’s “Music Trail.” The trip, documented by a writer and videographer, will be a major feature story in the 2008 Tennessee Vacation Guide.
Stefanie and Colleen began their adventure in Memphis with two nights at the Madison Hotel. Their journey included visits to the National Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, Stax Museum, Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Sun Studio. The winners also experienced the blues clubs of Historic Beale Street before heading to Jackson, the home of the Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame & Museum.
:pullquote: After a quick tour of Carl Perkins’ hometown, the foursome headed to Music City for two nights at the historic Union Station Hotel. Their first stop was the Loveless Café for Nashville's favorite scratch biscuits. After their Southern cuisine, they embarked on tours of the Musicians Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium. Other stops in Music City included dinner at the chic Radius 10, breakfast at the Pancake Pantry and a show at the Bluebird Café.
From Nashville, the travelers drove to Knoxville for the Blueplate Special at WDVX studio where singer Jodi Manross and the T. West Band performed. The winners then went on to Bristol for a private downtown tour by Bill Hartley, dinner at the Troutdale Dining Room and one night’s stay at the Carnegie Hotel. The next morning, the travelers headed to Pigeon Forge where they visited Smoky Mountain Dulcimers, had lunch at Calhoun’s and experienced Dollywood. They paid homage to Dolly Parton’s statue in Sevierville and had dinner at the Apple Barn Farmhouse Restaurant before their adventurous Tennessee Road Trip came to an end at the Music Road Hotel in Pigeon Forge.
"I had the time of my life in Tennessee,” said Tatsis. “This was the greatest experience by far that I've ever had. I'm moving down there!"
Tennessee Goes Smoke Free
On October 1, the Non-Smokers Protection Act became effective throughout Tennessee. This new state law bans smoking in enclosed public places and places of employment. The goal of the law is to protect Tennesseans from the potentially deadly effects of secondhand smoke.
While there are a few exceptions written into the law, smoking will now be prohibited in most facilities that are open to the public in Tennessee. These establishments include, but are not limited to:
Public and private schools
Health care facilities
Hotels and motels
Retail stores and shopping malls
Convenience and grocery stores
Sports arenas, including enclosed public areas in outdoor arenas
Restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common areas of buildings
Child care and adult day care facilities
The law provides for owners and operators of certain facilities to continue to allow smoking if they choose to do so. Examples include:
Bars or other businesses that only admit people 21 years of age and older (including both patrons and employees)
Non-enclosed areas of public places, including open air patios, porches or decks, so long as smoke from these areas does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited
Smoking rooms in hotels and motels (up to 25% of a hotel or motel’s rooms may be designated as smoking rooms)
Businesses with three or fewer employees, but only in an enclosed room not accessible to the public and where smoke from such a room does not infiltrate public areas
Private homes and residences, except those used for child care or day care
Much more information on the Non Smokers Protection Act is available on the Department of Health Web site at http://health.state.tn.us/smokefreetennessee/.
2007 CTTP Graduates
Sixteen graduates of the 2007 Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional (CTTP) program were recognized by Dr. Steve Morse of the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute during the 2007 Governor's Conference on Tourism in Chattanooga. Gov. Phil Bredesen congratulated graduates during the luncheon awards ceremony.
The UT Tourism Institute in partnership with the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable develops and delivers the Certified Tennessee Tourism Professional program each year to eligible professionals working in the Tennessee hospitality and tourism industry.
Attendees to the 2007 CTTP training were guided through classroom instruction, practical application exercises, and group discussions in the College's three primary focus areas: Destination & Tourism Leadership, Tourism Marketing, and Tourism Research.
This year’s graduates were:
Elizabeth Allen, director of culture, recreation and tourism in the Collierville Chamber of Commerce
Shannon Corney, director of marketing, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Earl Depke, Volunteer Ventures Travel, Gibson County Tourism Board
Ronnie Douglas, director of sales, Tennessee State Parks Hospitality Services
Cindy Dupree, director of communications, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Larry Gobble, tourism director, Elizabethton/Carter County Tourism Development Council
Patricia Gray, research development coordinator, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Abbie Gristy, Miles Media of Jackson
Dave Jones, East Tennessee Regional Manager, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Knoxville
Julie McDaniel, director of the Department of Tourism, Monroe County Government
Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, assistant commissioner, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Beverly Pounds, tourism department, Dickson County Chamber of Commerce
Anne G. Ross, director of sales, Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau
Beth Stockner, communications and events coordinator, Bristol Convention and Visitors Bureau
Deborah Warnick, Heritage Tourism Manager, Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Melissa Woody, vice president for Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce
I-81 Garners Top Inaugural Welcome Center Award
Sullivan County Welcome Center (Bristol) Manager Jim Bibee and his staff were crowned as Welcome Center of the Year by Commissioner Susan Whitaker during the 2007 Tennessee Governor's Conference on Tourism held in Chattanooga. This award goes to the Welcome Center with highest inspection and customer service scores during a 12-month period. Each year, the winning Center will receive a traveling plaque that will be displayed in the lobby for visitors to view.
"I am very proud of all of our Welcome Centers and am pleased to launch this special recognition during the Governor's Conference on Tourism," said Whitaker.
The inaugural Tennessee Welcome Center Awards showcased the excellence of the front line efforts by the great staff of the 13 Centers.
"Congratulations to the Bristol Welcome Center on being named our first 'Welcome Center of the Year.’ Jim and his staff go over and above the call of duty to provide excellent service to the traveling public. They are very deserving of this honor," said Barry Young, director of Welcome Centers.
The Bristol Center also received the Award of Excellence - Inspections for the Center that maintained the highest inspection score for an entire year. Bristol's average for the year was 100.9 (A+).
Having made 676 reservations during the past year, Marilyn Steadman, a Bristol Welcome Center assistant, won the Most Reservations Award.
There were two winners for the Award of Excellence - Customer Service this year. The I-81 Sullivan County Welcome Center (Bristol) along with the I-40 Shelby County Welcome Center (Memphis) both walked away with honors for the Welcome Centers that demonstrate the best customer service for a 12-month period. The Centers were selected based on letters and calls from members of the public, positive comment card responses, and the number of reservations made. Bristol made 1,491 reservations (highest total) and Memphis made 955 reservations (best percentage).
Young set high standards for the Tennessee Welcome Centers, and in the first year, all 13 qualified for the Quality Center Award. Welcome Centers that maintain an "A" average on inspections for an entire year received this award.
"I am very proud of all of our Welcome Centers this year,” said Young. “They have all demonstrated a commitment to keeping clean Centers and providing excellent service to our customers.”
Welcome Center Employee of the Month
Paulette Harrington of the I-24 Hamilton County (Tiftonia) Welcome Center was our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for September. Paulette has worked for the Tiftonia Welcome Center for just over two years, and she loves to talk to travelers and help them with any questions they may have.
"She is a very dependable employee and a valuable part of our team and is a great asset for our Department as well as our Welcome Center," said Eddie Johnson, Tiftonia Center Manager.
One tourist who recently visited the Tiftonia Center wrote us to tell us this story about Paulette:
"Paulette went above and beyond the call of duty for us. There was a traffic jam on the interstate and we were having difficulty with our car. We pulled into the Welcome Center and asked for assistance, and Paulette came to our rescue. She assisted us in securing a new battery from a nearby auto parts
store, which was a life-saver. That Paulette is a great employee you have there."
Recently, Paulette represented the Department at the Atlanta Camping and RV Show.
For this month's Industry Applause we decided to salute all the award winners who were recognized at the 2007 Governor's Conference from throughout the industry. Congratulations to one and all.
Tennessee Tourism Roundtable Awards
2007 Champion of Tourism
John T. "Jack" Steiner
2007 Knight of the Roundtable
Former Director Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council & TTR
2007 Gladiator for Tourism
Dr. Steve Morse
Director of the UT Tourism Institute
Department of Tourist Development
Welcome Center of the Year
I-81 Sullivan County (Bristol)
Tennessee Restaurant Association
Hall of Fame
Thomas Boggs, Huey's of Memphis
J.P. Mayton, Nashville
Associate of the Year
Tim Griffin, Tennessee Outdoor Advertising, Nashville
Restauranteur of the Year
Jeremy Feinstone, Bosco's-Memphis
TH&LA Stars of the Industry Awards
Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year, 1-100 Rooms
Curby Templeton, Quality Inn
Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year, 101-300 Rooms
Pat Miller, Millennium Maxwell House - Nashville
Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year, 300 + Rooms
Mary Watkins, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
Outstanding Manager of the Year, 1-100 Rooms
Brian Young, Executive Inn
Outstanding Manager of the Year, 101-300 Rooms
Kathy Tucker, Holiday Inn Select Vanderbilt
Outstanding Manager of the Year, 301 + Rooms
Terry Richard, Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University
Outstanding General Manager of the Year, 1-100 Rooms
Don Rogers, Manchester Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Outstanding General Manager of the Year, 101-300 Rooms
Lisa Benker Hampton Inn West at Cedar Bluff
Outstanding General Manager of the Year, 300 + Rooms
Douglas Browne, The Peabody Memphis
TH&LA Preferred Vendor Member Award of Excellence
Bascha Satin, Adagio Massage Company & Spa
TH&LA Hospitality Educator of the Year
Lynne Maynor, Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
TH&LA Gold Star Public Relations Special Events Award
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
TH&LA Gold Star Public Relations Community Service Award
Memphis Marriott Downtown
TH&LA Hotelier of the Year
Steve Hoida, Holiday Inn Select Downtown Knoxville
TACVB Spotlight Awards
Grand Ole Opry, Marketing & Promotion Award
Tennessee Aquarium, Community Awareness Award
Gameday Baseball, Festivals & Events Award
Grand Ole Opry, Leadership & Management Award
Broadcast Media, Marketing & Promotion Award
DMOs (CVB, Chambers) Group
Memphis CVB, Marketing & Promotion Award
Northeast TN Tourism Association (NETTA), Community Awareness Award
Clarksville/Montgomery County CVB, Festivals & Events Award (tie)
Oak Ridge CVB, Festivals & Events Award (tie)
Cleveland/Bradley County CVB, Leadership & Management Award
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You