Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents March 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,

After a great start with Governor Haslam’s State of the State address, the month of February continued to be a tremendous month for the industry. Braving one of the coldest winters in years, a record number of industry partners from across the state gathered in Nashville on Wednesday, Feb. 6, for the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association’s Day on the Hill.

As TnTHA’s first official event for the newly merged Tennessee Hospitality Association and Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, almost 200 tourism industry representatives held 90 legislative meetings, hosting more than 350 at the closing legislative reception. Greg Adkins and his team did an outstanding job in putting this important event together.

Many thanks to Governor Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell for their words of continued support and recognition of the major impact of tourism on Tennessee’s economy. Without the funding support from the Governor and members of the General Assembly, we would not be enjoying the success we are today, with even greater days ahead. 

I’m happy to announce that one of our key marketing resources is about to get even better. The new tnvacation.com’s trip planner, My Tennessee, launches later this month. It’s a great tool for visitors to plan and create their vacation itineraries and share with friends and family on social media.

Be sure to take a look at our new regional and sub-regional videos that have been added to the website; we invite you to share whichever ones you choose on your own social media platforms. Here’s the newest video that captures the entire state.  

I’m pleased to announce that the 2014 Tennessee Vacation Guide’s multi-page opening photo spread by Miles has won a Gold Addy, and the posters designed by Sullivan Branding for the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways were awarded a Gold Addy and Silver Addy. Congratulations to both of these excellent agency partners!

As we move into March, we begin two of the busiest times for Tennessee tourism – spring break and summer. This year, our industry partners have made major new investments in their attractions and accommodations for our visitors. I am looking forward to a very busy schedule in visiting all of these new tourist destinations.

Here’s just a sample of what’s opening up this year: Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music Museum (late summer), the new family rollercoaster at Dollywood, FireChaser Express (in March - which my grandson Chris has enthusiastically agreed to beta test on my behalf!); the $75 million, 220,000-square-foot expansion of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (spring); and The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel’s new $27 million renovation, opening in April - all incredibly diverse and wonderful destinations for visitors from around the world as well as Tennessee.

You will also want to see the 2013 Southern Living Idea House at the Mansion at Fontanel now reopened as a boutique, “micro-hotel” as well as the amazing new Discovery Park of America in Union City. 

We would love to share your destination’s upcoming plans for expansion through our public relations and social media platforms. Please let us know what’s coming up so we can assist in getting the word out for you too.

It’s been a productive and busy winter…but here’s to warmer, longer days and millions of visitors making their way to Tennessee. Thanks to all of you, we’ll be ready to give them the time of their lives!

Spring Blessings,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College Scholarships Available

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with “Official” Tennessee Vacation Guide publisher Miles, will again be offering two full scholarships to the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College to tourism marketing professionals in the state of Tennessee. For Tennessee tourism professionals interested in pursuing educational opportunities, scholarship applications are now available. The deadline for application submission is April 14, 2014. 

The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From August 3 – 8, 2014, the courses will be held at the campus of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, GA. During this week, students will experience a broad-based curriculum of courses designed to teach marketing techniques from all facets of the tourism industry. Marketing College professors are working, experienced professionals from across the U.S. who not only bring expertise, but real-world knowledge and experience to the classroom.

From the time students arrive on Sunday evening until they depart on Friday, they enjoy classes, lectures, discussion groups and one-of-a-kind networking opportunities in an academic environment conducive to learning. Sample courses include: Conducting a Successful Press Tour; Writing a Marketing Plan 101; Inquiry to Fulfillment to Conversion to Database; and Generational Marketing. Students who attend three years of Marketing College receive a Travel Marketing Professional certification, presented at a special graduation ceremony at the STS spring meeting.

In each class students receive a syllabus outlining course objectives and method of instruction.  The STS Marketing scholarships will be awarded to two Tennessee tourism professionals and cover tuition, accommodations and most meals for the 2013 session.  The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus in cooperation with Miles and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass professional aptitude and future career goals in the tourism industry. The STS application is attached or you can contact Mary.Steadman@MilesPartnership.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesPartnership.com to request an application.  For more information on STS Marketing College visit www.southeasttourism.org.

National and Regional Travel Journalists To Participate in March 18-23 FAM

Museum of AppalachiaMuseum of AppalachiaThe Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will sponsor a unique FAM March 18-23, beginning in Knoxville and heading to points north. The event will actually be four FAMS in one, as national and regional travel writers are choosing from four special niche itineraries: Fishing, Motorcycle riding, ATVing and General itineraries. Geiger & Associates have coordinated the itinerary along with industry partners to showcase some amazing sites and attractions in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Knox, Morgan, Scott, and Union Counties.

More than 20 media participants will be on the tour including representatives from AAA Southern Traveler, The Toronto Sun, Southwest Georgia Living, Outside Magazine, American Road Magazine, and many more.

The FAM highlights stops along Rocky Top, White Lighting and Top Secret Trails including adventures on Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness and lunch at the Blue Plate Special, the Museum of Appalachia, Windrock Park, Oak Ridge Secret City, Rugby, the Museum of Scott County and the McCloud Restaurant and Lodge, among many other stops.   

The writers will have a sampling of East Tennessee’s rich Civil War history, outdoor adventures, scenic beauty, music, culinary, shopping and much more.  

The Tennessee travel writer FAMS are important to TDTD’s national public relations efforts. FY 2012-13 saw 145,730,320 in total circulation resulting from the travel writer trips to our state.

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Program Update

Please find updates on current Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways programs below:

DTTB Brochure Fulfillment

TDTD fulfilled 21,355 bulk and individual requests for DTTB brochures in February 2014. Requests included: AAA offices in MA, PA, OH, ND; 9 Chambers, 1 National Park, 8 State Parks, 2 CVBs, 2 city governments, 2 visitor centers, 2 lodging properties, 1 museum,  1 Harley dealership, 1 senior center, 1 reality company and 1 restaurant. 

DTTB brochures are now available in 30 Tennessee State Parks.        

DTTB iPhone Apps

CMS updates are complete for Cotton Junction, Pie in the Sky, Great River Road and Walking Tall.

The final two CMS updates for TN River and Sunny Side are scheduled to be complete by March 10.

A launch schedule for the 13 DTTB iPhone apps will be available soon.

Android apps for Nashville’s Trace, Old Tennessee, The Jack and tncivilwar150.com will be launched after the launch of the DTTB iPhone apps.

Distribution of Marketing Materials

Rob has been on the road with trail leaders delivering DTTB marketing materials to POI’s along the trail.  If you need assistance with the delivery of DTTB marketing materials please contact Rob Sherrill at rob.sherrill@tn.gov.

Tear sheet maps

Great River Road and Sunny Side tear sheet maps were received from the printer and delivered to Trail leaders Feb. 14.

Tanasi tear sheet map is currently being reviewed for approval by the Trail leader.

Brochure inventory

The following DTTB brochures are currently being reviewed by TDTD for reprint: DTTB brochure, Old Tennessee, Sunny Side, Promised Land, Top Secret, Walking Tall and Cotton Junction.


The cold weather has delayed the installation of signage for Pie in the Sky and Tanasi. TDOT will meet next week to discuss trail signage and an installation schedule will be available soon.

Stay tuned for more information on the Trails.

TDTD Sales Activities Help Build Marketplace Momentum

TDTD tourism partners at Travel South Showcase.TDTD tourism partners at Travel South Showcase.February concluded with the Department having participated in two major industry conferences – NTA/Travel Exchange, and Travel South Showcase. NTA/Travel Exchange was held in Los Angeles, Feb. 16 – 20. The Department conducted 28 appointments with tour operator buyers interested in, or already booking, Tennessee product. In addition to the scheduled appointments, TDTD and 12 partners from the Tennessee delegation hosted the annual NTA dine-around dinner for 20 tour operator buyers. 

Travel South Showcase was held in Charleston, West Virginia, February 23 – 26. The Department conducted 23 sales appointments during the event and 29 media appointments. The new “Taste and Tunes of the South Tuesday” format introduced by Travel South USA was beneficial for our state, as donations from Chattanooga CVB, Goo Goo Cluster LLC, Johnson City CVB, and Ole Smoky Moonshine kept traffic from various tour operator buyers, media, and industry suppliers around the Tennessee aisle all day.  Travel South Showcase concluded with a postFAM tour for one group of 20 tour operators (and one media representative) to parts of southwest Viriginia and Bristol, TN. 

At the end of March, the Department will participate in the Select Traveler Conference (formerly Bank Travel) to be held in Huntsville, Alabama, March 30 - April 1, 2014. 

For Tennessee partner DMOs that are ABA members, please note that ABA has recently opened up the nominations process for the ABA 2015 Top 100 Events in North America. 

This annual publication is a listing of the top events/festivals in North America, which bring group tours to your area. If you are nominating an event through ABA, please let the Department know and email Bennjin Lao at Bennjin.Lao@tn.gov, as we will review and consider nominating as well, to help gain additional exposure for the event in the nomination process.  For additional information, please visit www.buses.org/top100. For instructions, go to https://aba.teameventmanagement.com/team/award/login.asp. The deadline for all nominations is Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

Enjoy a roundup of important industry developments as covered by publications and websites. view now »

The Positive Effects of Taking Earned Leave

U.S. Travel

Each year, Americans are leaving millions of days of earned leave on the table. More than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce chose to forego an average of 3.2 days of personal time off in 2013, totaling 429 million unused days. This epidemic takes a heavy toll on our economy, workplace productivity and family life. We call this the Day Off Deficit.

The newest Travel Effect research, "An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S.," conducted by Oxford Economics, sizes the magnitude of the Day Off Deficit while lending insight into our deep-rooted workplace culture. The study analyzes the attitudes of both managers and employees toward using PTO and uncovers the massive benefits that we would reap if employees were to take just one more day.  Here are some key findings:

How much leave is left on the table and what’s stopping us from taking it? Nearly three-quarters of all American workers earn PTO, but most do not use all of the time they earn; At least four out of 10 U.S. workers feel overwhelmed by work and cite heavy workload as preventing them from taking all of their earned time off.

What would using more earned leave mean for us? 

If U.S. workers were to use all of their available PTO, the U.S. economy would reap an additional $160 billion each year, supporting 1.2 million new American jobs; and If they were to use one additional day of their earned time off, the economy would benefit to the tune of $73 billion. The travel industry could benefit from 581 million additional travel days and $67 billion in additional spending.

What are the benefits of taking more time?

Sixty-seven percent of managers and 55 percent of employees believe taking all available PTO is beneficial to their physical health. More than half of employees say time off improves their social life, and 67 percent believe it improves family life. Managers and employees agree that after time off, they are refreshed, more focused and less stressed.

The Day Off Deficit is an increasingly critical issue for employers and employees, and the solution is clear: more time off means better time on.

The Travel Effect team has crafted toolkit resources to help you leverage these findings and spread the message of America’s Day Off Deficit.

Chris Massie, Titanic Pigeon Forge, created a buzz with this snow sculpture of the Titanic.

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