Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents February 2014 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Tourism Partners and Friends,

What a wonderful week this has been! I hope that each of you had the opportunity to watch Governor Bill Haslam’s State of the State address on Monday evening, where he discussed a number of very significant new initiatives, including those in education and economic development.

For those in Tennessee’s tourism industry, it was exciting to hear him highlight our success, bright future and his commitment to tourism. Here are his exact words:

“Tennessee is known around the globe for a lot of things but music and our state’s natural beauty have to be at the top of the list. We have put together a statewide, comprehensive plan to attract more people to Tennessee. That generates more revenue and creates more jobs. I have been impressed by how the tourism industry from across the state has really come together. As a result, this budget, like last year’s, includes additional dollars to bring more visitors here.”

Thanks to the hard work of this industry over the past two years, Governor Haslam has once again proposed a huge increase in marketing funds over our base budget for fiscal year 2014-2015. With the approval of the General Assembly, the additional $6 million dollars will enable us to continue implementing the strategic plan that has already begun to take Tennessee tourism to the next level of success.

On behalf of the entire industry, I would like to sincerely thank Governor Haslam for his strong belief in the economic power of tourism, the increased investment of state dollars into marketing Tennessee and his confidence in the work our department and the Tennessee Tourism Committee are doing to implement the long-range strategic plan, build our brand and increase visitation to the state.

I am also grateful to the members of the General Assembly who have enthusiastically supported the tourism industry and department. I am looking forward to meeting with the Legislature in the coming weeks to share the great results we have already seen from these new marketing efforts.

I’m pleased to announce that VML, a global marketing agency, has been awarded the state tourism marketing account.  VML was selected after a lengthy RFP process that included, for the first time, participation from industry partners around the state. VML has offices around the world including a new Tennessee office in Nashville.

We’re looking forward to beginning this new partnership with an agency of world renown with clients such as Bridgestone, Gatorade, Southwest Airlines, Wendy’s, Dell, Kellogg’s,  Korean Air, Colgate-Palmolive and now, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, their first state tourism account.

Our TDTD team met on Tuesday with VML to begin the transition and new partnership. VML also met on Wednesday with the Tennessee Tourism Committee and finished the week with a full day of planning meetings with TDTD on Thursday. The energy and creativity during the last three days of meetings has been exciting to experience.

I am also happy to announce the launch of the redesigned tnvacation.com, which features a responsive design to give viewers an optimal experience no matter their device – smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Take the time to visit and explore the site. You’ll find an array of new content and features including videos for each of our three grand regions as well as videos for each of our nine sub-regions. Look for more information on the new site in this newsletter – and then have fun checking it out!

For many reasons, 2014 promises to be another extraordinary year of success for the Tennessee tourism industry. Thank you for your partnership, your remarkable creativity and professionalism. It is an honor to work with each of you.

With great respect, 

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Tnvacation.com Gets a Facelift

On  Jan. 31 TDTD, along with creative agency DesignSensory,  launched the much-anticipated brand new responsive tnvacation.com website, making Tennessee’s travel message even more accessible across all platforms.Tnvacation.com is TDTD’s major indicator for “intent to travel” to our state with more than 6.32 million visitors annually.

If you haven’t taken a peek yet, get prepared to see beautiful images and rich content presented in a modern, contemporary voice. TDTD and DesignSensory made sure the website was sleek, enhanced and told a better story by connecting the dots.

Whether you’re on a large desktop, tablet, or mobile device, the site will adjust to the screen size and provide a consumer-centric, interactive responsive design. Opportunities to highlight sub-regional and regional traits as well as integrate rich media have come together in the new design to provide a better experience for potential Tennessee guests.

Partner page management is more important than ever with multiple options to freely advertise your attraction/event. It is up to the partner as to how much you include. With the new CMS, partners can add a lot more information creating a more robust page. Partner pages are now equipped to include a write-up about the attraction/event, contact information along with a location map. Partners can include up to five images of the attraction/event. In addition, partners can have a cover photo, logo, “Meet the Staff” sidebar, social media buttons, and the opportunity to choose related attractions in proximity to your business. Users can now click to directly send partners a question. This feature is based on partner activation within the portal. There’s also a “Deals” section where special promotions can be included,  if so desired.

All partner pages are FREE!  It pays to add more! You even get rewarded with being a top search result for visitors when you upload engaging video, images, manage your listing page entries, related promos and partner page modules. It’s highly recommended to update your page content monthly. Verify your annual vacation guide entry information in the partner portal as well.

For questions about updating your partner page, contact Michael.Uhles@tn.gov. View the new site here: http://www.tnvacation.com/

2014 Tennessee Sampler Moving to Summer

The Tennessee Sampler/Express is one of the state’s most important tourism industry events. Over the years, this grassroots sales and PR mission has made a significant impact in many of our key feeder markets and beyond, garnering sales leads and resulting in impressive media coverage.

Typically, the Sampler is held in early spring. This year, the event will take place in mid-late summer, exact dates to be determined.

VML, TDTD’s new advertising agency, is officially on board. It is all hands on deck to get the new team up to speed and create the next strategic marketing plan for Tennessee. Highlighting the new campaign as part of the Sampler messaging will be an essential component of the roll-out.

TDTD is as excited as ever about Sampler, and especially eager to maximize the opportunity to reveal a new branded campaign, as we conduct PR and sales meetings on behalf of Tennessee.

An announcement will be made soon with the exact Sampler dates. We anticipate the 2014 Sampler/Express will be another successful Tennessee Tourism event.

Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways Program Update

The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Program is creating an exciting buzz about the unique travel opportunities available along the Trails. January 2014, TDTD fulfilled bulk requests for 21,505 DTTB brochures.

These included requests from:

•  22 AAA offices in IN, IL, MI, NY, OH, PA, TN and VA.
•  29 Tennessee State Parks
•  20 Partner requests including attractions, airports, private businesses i.e., Harley Davidson, economic development agencies, counties, cities and regional tourism partners.

DTTB now featured at Tennessee State Parks

Tennessee State Resort Parks, Montgomery Bell, Henry Horton, Cumberland Mountain, Paris Landing, Pickwick Landing and Fall Creek Falls, now feature a DTTB display of Trail brochures and marketing materials. Tennessee State Parks are appreciative to have the opportunity to showcase the unique tourism attractions available in the region. Equally, visitors are excited about the Trail brochures and tear sheet maps as well as the travel opportunities along Tennessee’s trails.

Tennessee State Park Managers' interest in the DTTB program is overwhelming and TDTD will follow up with 54 managers to promote all 16 Trails.

DTTB Milestones

DTTB signage for all 16 Trails will be complete by Spring 2014. 

TDOT has ordered signs for Tanasi and Pie in the Sky and as soon as signage is received an installation schedule will be set.

DTTB iPhone App Project

Phase 1: Promised Land, Ring of Fire, Screaming Eagle and Top Secret - CMS update and design phase complete; currently in coding phase.

Phase 2: Tanasi, Rocky Top and White Lightning - CMS updates complete; in design phase; Pie in the Sky updates set on February 7.

Phase 3: Sunny Side - CMS updates set on February 5; Cotton Junction, Great River Road, Walking Tall, Tennessee River Trail – TDTD staff will be in touch with Trail leaders to discuss project needs and CMS updates.

All DTTB iPhone apps are scheduled to launch by May 2014.

Stay tuned for more progress on the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Program.


Sales Update - Busy Travel Show Season for Tennessee

ABA tour at Nashville ZooABA tour at Nashville ZooThe Department concluded another busy January, having been heavily involved with the hosting of ABA Marketplace in Nashville, as well as the six pre- and post-FAM tours across the state. In addition, ITMI Symposium and the Tennessee Motorcoach Association conducted their annual events in Nashville and Pigeon Forge, respectively, during the last week of the month. At ABA, there were more than 130 Tennessee partner delegates in attendance and feedback about the show has been overwhelmingly positive. Kudos to Nashville and the Tennessee delegates for helping to make our state shine. With two sets of pre-scheduled appointments during ABA, the Department met with 65 buyer operators. 

The annual NTA/Travel Exchange Convention is taking place Feb. 16 – 20, 2014 in Los Angeles. Tennessee will have 26 partner delegates in attendance to take appointments and conduct pre-scheduled meetings with NTA member operators looking for tour and travel options for their clients. On February 17, the TN delegation will host a dinner for invited clients during the Monday evening dine-around. If you are attending NTA/Travel Exchange and would like more information about the dinner, please contact Bennjin Lao at Bennjin.lao@tn.gov

The annual Travel South Showcase, will take place Feb. 23 – 26, in Charleston, West Virginia.  This show caters to tour operators and media interested in growing and/or developing product to the southern region of the US, and Tennessee will have 31 supplier partner booths in the Tennessee aisle of Showcase. Like last year, the Tennessee booth will be conducting both Media and Sales appointments over two days of the conference. The second day presents a new format this year, as Travel South debuts “Taste and Tunes of the South Tuesday,” with each state able to provide promotional items representing their state. Immediately following Showcase, one of the post-FAM tours will include a visit and overnight in Bristol, Tenn., to highlight group-friendly attractions and venues in the area, including a preview of the upcoming Birthplace of Country Music Museum. 

Tennessee Tourism releases its 2014 vacation guide to the public (Lebanon Democrat) Tennessee Department of Tourist Development released the 2014 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide in print and online as an e-guide. Both versions of the free guide are available at tnvacation.com/guide. Music lives in Tennessee – and that message comes through loud and clear in the new 2014 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide. A striking cover shows native Tennessean and international superstar Justin Timberlake paying homage to Tennessee’s musical roots, while callouts highlight some of the state’s top music destinations. Read the article

Franklin prepares for 150th Civil War anniversary (Tennessean) For the next 10 months, Franklin historic sites will get a major cleanup as the city sends out its nationwide invitation to the state’s signature Civil War sesquicentennial event in November. That mouthful of a word will most likely mean a bump for tourism in Williamson County in 2014, which ranks sixth in the state for tourism dollars.  Read the article

State vacation guide showcases Bristol's musical heritage (Bristol Courier) The Twin City’s musical heritage is showcased in the new 2014 Tennessee Vacation Guide. Bristol and its claim as the birthplace of country music, is prominently featured on the guide’s cover and inside, according to a written statement. Read the article

Rocky Top Sports World Designated “2014 Place to Watch” (PR Web) SportsEvents Magazine has selected Rocky Top Sports World as one of 2014’s places to watch, a recognition The Sports Facilities Advisory says is influenced by effective management methods designed to accelerate growth and improve bottom-line results. Read the article

Memphis Blues Competition Draws Performers from Around the World (VOA News) In spite of a cold spell, things got pretty hot on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee in late January. That's when the 30th annual International Blues Challenge brought together musicians and singers from all over North America as well as Europe, Latin America and Asia to compete for prizes. Read the article

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency honors fishing icon Bill Dance (Clarksville Online) Bill Dance, a Tennessee native and national fishing icon, has been honored for his many contributions to the sport of fishing and as a long-time proponent and supporter of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and its efforts to manage and improve fishing in the state. Read the article

Economic development highlight of recent REDI conference (Herald Citizen) Economic leaders from all over the region and state converged on the campus of Tennessee Tech this past week as an economic development conference, called REDI for Action, was held. Among the topics discussed at the daylong seminar were spec buildings, tourism trends, entrepreneurism, TDEC grants, downtown revitilization, social media and much more. Read the article

Wilderness Wildlife Week gets a new home (WBIR) Hiking, tours, and some East Tennessee wildlife are all in the spotlight this week as part of a major celebration. It's all part of the Wilderness Wildlife Week put together by the City of Pigeon Forge. Those who helped organize the 8 days of activities say its really grown by leaps and bounds since it began. Read the article

Sports help Rutherford County hotel sales increase by $6 million (Daily News Journal) A recent report by Smith Travel Research indicates Rutherford County had a $6 million increase in revenue on hotel rooms sold last year. Barbara Wolke, interim vice president of the Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the increase has largely to do with travel sports, such as soccer and softball tournaments. Read the article

‘Nashville’ TV show fans will love real Music City (Japan Times) Being a little bit more rock’n'roll than country, I had never considered putting a country-fried city like Nashville on my travel bucket list. Yet here I was, standing in a strip mall parking lot in Music City on a chilly Sunday afternoon, outside The Bluebird Cafe. In a half-hour period, four cars had pulled up so a passenger could snap a photo of the trademark blue awning. Read the article





Can PR and Content Marketing Be Integrated?

By Jessica Davis, Content Strategy Specialist, Godot Media

Content marketing is not a new phenomenon. Most agree that Public Relations personnel have been using content marketing for a long time without knowing what to call it. When content marketing became famous and was treated as a different form of marketing, suddenly PR and content marketing teams started working independent of each other. This often results in disconnected messages, confusing tone and overall chaos of the marketing content that is produced by the company.

Parallels in PR and content marketing

In most companies, the PR division is still struggling with how to use their corporate blogs and social media channels. When PR and content marketing works together this problem disappears and a symbiotic relationship is created. Contrary to popular belief, PR and content marketing have a lot in common.

1. Goals

At the end of the day, both content marketing and PR have the same goals. Both PR and content marketing is done to increase web traffic, improve brand awareness, create a unique brand identity and in turn drive more people further along the purchasing funnel.

2. Storytelling

To achieve the goals mentioned above, both PR and content marketing divisions try to inform the target customers about the company and its products through various distributions channels. But the content used to inform the customers cannot be boring and bland. This is where the art of storytelling comes in that PR people and content marketers use to make their content more interesting, appealing and shareworthy. The story or the pitch—depending on whether you work in PR or content marketing—makes the process of informing the consumer more compelling and attractive. The only difference is that PR pitches their content to the media and the reporters whereas content marketers pitch their content directly to the end user or consumer.

3. Distribution channels

Before the days when the Internet became so important for marketers, Public Relations personnel used traditional channels to inform consumers and market their brand and its products. Traditional channels included press releases, conferences, events, etc. Content marketing on the other hand relied on blogs, guest blogging and social media platforms to help get their message across. However, the success of content marketing has prompted PR people to change their distribution channels. Smart PR experts are now using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. for marketing purposes and they are also using these channels to connect with media people to boost traditional PR activities.

4. Writers

This may seem obvious but is an often overlooked commonality. Both PR experts and content marketers need to be excellent writers. Both PR and content marketing require exceptional communications skills. However, PR people need to be good verbal communicators and must be dynamic whereas content marketers need to have good content writing skills. However, you will never find a PR person or content marketer that does not count writing as an important skill to be touted. As written content is getting more and more popular these days on the Internet, both PR and content marketing divisions in companies are looking for people who can write really well.

Integrate PR and content marketing

As mentioned earlier, both PR and content marketing have similar goals. This is why the PR and content marketing divisions of a company must work together right from the brainstorming and strategizing phases. It won’t help a company if its PR and content marketing divisions are releasing conflicting messages with different tones and styles. To build a unique and easily identifiable brand identity, the content marketing and PR teams must decide on the tone and style that they are going to use for their campaigns.

Most importantly, they must also decide on the ideal customer base that they want to target. This will help boost both PR and content marketing efforts and the consistency in both can only be beneficial to the company. After the strategizing phase, PR experts and content marketers must work together during the execution phase too to make sure that their content is complementary and to make changes if needed before content is marketed. Branding campaigns, press releases, articles, promotional messages, etc. need to be consistent before they go out. Also, as both PR and content marketing teams create so much branding content they should work together to avoid duplication and to see how each other’s content can be repurposed. PR content like videos and other multimedia content can be repurposed by the content marketing team and the written content created by content marketers can be used by PR.

This goes to show that content marketing and Public Relations cannot be considered as two separate entities working independently of each other. When companies work this way, their branding efforts can suffer as consumers will be receiving conflicting and confusing messages from the PR and content marketing teams. True brand awareness, increased web traffic and an improvement in brand identity can be accomplished when PR and content marketing teams work together.

Jessica Davis is a Content Strategy Specialist with Godot Media - a leading Content Management company. She works closely with Godot's copywriters, ebook writers, blog writers to ensure that marketing objectives are attained through optimal use of content.. Her other interests, besides online content strategy, copywriting and search engine optimization, are technology, sports and even fashion.

The United States Mint launched the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program coin honoring Great Smoky Mountains National Park on January 29, 2014 in Gatlinburg.

Stay Connected Twitter Facebook YouTube TripTales Partner Login