Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents February 2007 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

2007 certainly has started off on a high note for tourism with a great many visitors making their way to Tennessee during the New Year and into January. The industry itself has also enjoyed a tremendous beginning as the TACVB held its premiere Professional Development Conference “TACVB Blizzard” at beautiful Montgomery Bell State Park in mid-January. More than 100 industry partners attended and feedback has been resoundingly positive. Congratulations to TACVB Executive Director Sheila Leggett and TACVB Chairperson of the Board, Melissa Woody for a very successful event. Special thanks to Miles Media, Collinson Publishing, MNI, Inc. and Templeton Design Group for the sponsorship of this important conference.

And we’re just getting started! Next stop – Tampa, Florida and the Tennessee Sampler, back by popular demand! We are thrilled to re-launch this high-energy event, expected to impact the city of Tampa and the entire Florida travel market with our exciting Tennessee message.

Scheduled for March 27-29, the Tennessee Sampler is a combined sales push, media blitz and trade show to be held at the Renaissance Tampa Hotel and International Plaza. The Sampler is exclusive to Tennessee tourism partners and is designed to showcase all things Tennessee.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet with tour operators, travel agents and AAA auto counselors, sports organizations and media all in one location. Furthermore, prearranged sales and media appointments will be conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The reception on Wednesday evening will showcase impressive Tennessee talent and Tennessee products as well as give all attendees an opportunity to market specific sites and attractions through individual exhibits.

Conferencing in Tampa gives us the unique opportunity to take Tennessee to the fourth largest AAA affiliate in the AAA federation. AAA Auto Club South, with more than 70 branch offices, serves more than four million members in Florida, Georgia, the western two-thirds of Tennessee and Puerto Rico.

In addition to selling the state, this event is a great opportunity for the Tennessee tourism industry to interact with each other and learn more about our various events, destinations and activities. From Tennessee’s small and scenic rural areas to our large urban entertainment centers, our state is truly a treasure-trove of tourism opportunities.

The hard work to make this a fantastic show will be well worth it when we arrive in Tampa. This is your chance to really shine in sunny Florida!

See you there!

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

New Tourism Print Campaign

You don’t just visit Tennessee, you experience it. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s new action-packed print and online advertising campaign is bringing that message to life.

As part of the marketing department’s continued efforts to strengthen the brand, the newly unveiled ads further the cohesive branding efforts initially launched with the revamp of tnvaction.com. The ads stress the ‘experience’ of visiting Tennessee not just Tennessee as a product.

Tennessee offers a host of incomparable selling points- from our unmatched musical heritage and entertainment performances to a wealth of scenic beauty and exhilarating outdoor adventures. The new attention-grabbing ads convey personal messages through point of view photography and copy that reflects a true experience and its payoff, promising unparalleled vacation satisfaction. While appealing to a diverse group and providing a sense of fun and adventure, the ads set Tennessee apart from its competitors.

“Anytime you are selling a tourist destination, you should communicate the experience, not just the product,” said Jennifer Spence, Assistant Commissioner of Marketing. “We wanted to stir the emotions of a potential visitor, not just telling them why they should visit Tennessee, but actually making them feel like they’re here.

“The new print ads were a good investment towards building our brand and this campaign should have longevity, allowing us to enhance it further in order to showcase other Tennessee offerings.”

Anytime you are selling a tourist destination, you should communicate the experience, not just the productBoth the print and online campaigns were developed to support the department’s media strategy for the 36 print opportunities, some of which are heavily focused on niche markets such as music, history and golf. Advertisements have already begun appearing in publications such as Southern Living, Good Housekeeping and Travel + Leisure, in addition to niche magazines like Golf Digest, Field and Stream and Country Weekly.

Memphis-based Chandler Ehrlich, the department’s creative ad agency, served as the impetus behind the unique concept and captured the department’s vision of wanting visitors to experience the real essence of a Tennessee vacation.

“We wanted to demonstrate the actual brand experience to the consumer and give viewers a sense and feel for the environment,” said Lare Arra, VP Creative Director at Chandler. “From a photography standpoint we used a point of view from the viewers as well as the person we are depicting in the ad- for example as with the bicycle ad where the viewer can look over the handlebars of the bicycle and experience what it’s like to explore a Tennessee biking trail.”

With concepts including music, historical/heritage, scenic, family attractions, outdoor adventures, camping, fishing, golf, dining, girlfriend getaways, African American and group sales, the new print and online campaign conveys that, we’ve truly set the stage in Tennessee for visitors to be entertained for a day or a lifetime. And whether it’s riding a mountain bike on a Tennessee trail or looking through a view finder at Rock City, we’re giving potential visitors a chance to step on that stage before they even arrive to our great state.


National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis

February is Black History Month – and there’s no finer stage to celebrate African-American heritage than Tennessee. From one end of the state to the other, you can discover many attractions that showcase the impact African Americans have had on music, art, culture and history the world over.

You can explore the civil rights movement at the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis, at the site of the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, which displays America’s growth from tragedy to triumph. Near the banks of the Mississippi is the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum (Burkle Estate). This modest white clapboard house provided refuge for runaway slaves on their desperate and dangerous flight North from the oppression of the South.

Nearby, you’ll find the music and entertainment pulse of downtown in the Beale Street Historic District, which served as a haven for African Americans migrating from small towns at the turn of the 20th century. Minutes away, learn about legendary artists at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Just 35 miles north of Memphis is Henning, Tennessee, and the home of the late Alex Haley, the 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the book Roots. The home is open for tours by appointment.

In Nashville, visit the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, and the “Stories from the Hermitage Slave Community” exhibit through March 11. In celebration of Black History Month, the museum will feature a special presentation on February 8th, with a theatrical performance by Sister Style and a talk by former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

While in the capitol city, travel to Hadley Park, the first public park for African Americans in the U.S., and the Civil Rights Room in the downtown Nashville Public Library.

In Clarksville, look for the Wilma Rudolph statue and learn about the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals in a single Olympiad, the 1960 Olympic Games. Don't miss Olympic Plaza on the Tennessee State University Campus in Nashville which features "The Olympian" a 46-foot statue honoring TSU's Olympic athletes. TSU has a rich Olympic history, producing 59 competing athletes who have captured 17 gold, eight silver, and seven bronze medals. The plaza pays tribute to all 59, most notably legendary coach Ed Temple and aforementioned track and field superstar, Wilma Rudolph.

Be sure to visit the Chattanooga African-American Museum, a center for historic artifacts and artistic expressions. While there, visit Bessie Smith Hall, which is dedicated to America’s “First Lady of Blues.”

Knoxville is the home of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, a learning museum of African-American history and culture. Nearby in Haley Heritage Square is the famed 13-foot bronze statue of Alex Haley, who spent the last 14 years of his life in East Tennessee.

North of Knoxville, in Clinton, is the Green McAdoo Cultural Center formerly known as Clinton High School. In 1956, 12 young people walked into history and changed the world as the first students to desegregate a state-supported high school in the South. The center tells the story of the challenges that surrounded this key moment in history, which occurred a full year prior to the tumultuous attempts to desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School.

Many history-making events and major attractions rooted in African-American culture are all around us in Tennessee. These are just a few examples of the experiences that can be found throughout Tennessee…where the stage is set for you.

Smith County Welcome Center

Diann Higgins, Smith County Welcome Center

The Tennessee Welcome Center located in Smith County has at least one distinction that sets it apart from the others. This single building facility that literally sits in the middle of the state along the 1-40 corridor between Nashville and Knoxville services both east and west bound travelers. In 2005, more than 2 million people took advantage of Smith County Center's hospitality.

Obviously each of the center's employees can assist you with directions and give expert advice on things to see and do in Tennessee, but the employees here believe in going the extra mile for their visitors. "I love people and we all love the tourist. It's very rewarding how much people appreciated us helping them," said Cynthia Jared, center manager.

Jared, who emphatically loves her job, has been at the Smith County Center since February 13, 1986, the day the doors opened to its first visitor. The most rewarding thing about her job is how much people appreciate that the staff is there to assist.

In January, Diann Higgins of the Smith County Welcome Center was selected as the Tennessee Welcome Center Employee of the Month. "We have recently received several comment cards and a letter complimenting Diann on the excellent job she does as a Welcome Center Assistant at one of the busiest Welcome Centers in the state!" said Barry Young, Director of Welcome Centers.

The Smith County Center has even gone Hollywood! It was featured in the 1996 Spike Lee movie, Get On the Bus. Lee and his crew took three days to shoot a scene inside the center.

"My mother made two southern delicacies sweet tea and peach cobbler for one of the actors. We all had a great time while they were here filming," Jared said.

Scenes from another blockbuster movie, The Green Mile, were shot at a train track just a few yards from the center as well. The 1999 motion picture featured actors Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.

As part of a partnership with the Tennessee Arts commission, a giant sundial sculpture, by steel sculptor Preston Farabow of Knoxville, is currently under construction on the premises and expected to be completed by the end of February 2007.

Late Breaking ABA News

For the first time, Tennessee hosted a dine-around event for tour operators at the American Bus Association's 2007 Marketplace in Grapevine, Texas. American Bus Association's Marketplace offers the opportunity for destinations, hotels and attractions across the country to promote their product to the bus group business, through set appointments, trade show exhibits, sponsored events and networking.

At the Tennessee-hosted dine-around event, which was held on Tuesday, January 30th at J.R.'s Steakhouse, more than 40 state partners worked together in hosting a record turn-out of approximately 160 tour operators! This was by far the most attended dine-around for Tennessee and was a great opportunity to get to know tour operators better and thank them for their business. Thanks to all Tennessee partners who participated in this very successful team event.

Agritourism Grants Make Tourism Grow

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is once again making funds available for the development and promotion of the agritourism industry throughout the state. This year, there is no requirement of matching funds. Each region can apply for a grant of up to $3,000. To qualify, the project to be funded will show how it will increase agritourism visitors to its specific area. The grant is competitive this year with an emphasis placed on new and innovative projects benefitting all agritourism in the area.

Applications must be received in the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Office by March 15, 2007. For information on guidelines, and details of this Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program, please contact Dan Strasser, Agritourism Coordinator; email dan.strasser@state.tn.us or call him at 615-837-5298.

Industry Applause


The Winter issue of MovieMaker magazine named Memphis number seven on its list of Top Ten movie cities in the country for 2007.

Three Pigeon Forge marketing projects, last summer's gas giveaway, Winterfest brochure and a feature article appearing in Wilderness Wildlife Week have won national awards from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House officially re-opened January 8th. Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House in Lynchburg, Tennessee, is right back where it started. After a year's worth of extensive renovations Miss Mary's re-opened its doors at its original location on Main Street just off the Lynchburg town square. The remodeling allowed for more modern conveniences and added space, but the Boarding House still maintains its old-time charm.

Several Tennessee cities and attractions were included in Southern Living's Readers' Choice Awards for 2006 which details their readers' top three favorite places in the South. In the Mountain Destination category: Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge; Barbecue Restaurant category: Rendezvous in Memphis; Shopping category: Pigeon Forge; Country Inn/B&B category: Blackberry Farm in Walland; and in the Small Southern Town category: Jonesborough received a special mention as a small Southern town the readers also love.

Michael Fitts Receives 2007 Jefferson Award. Tennessee state architect Michael Fitts was recently presented the AIA 2007 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. This biennial award recognizes excellence in architectural advocacy and achievement. In his 35 years as the Tennessee state architect, Fitts has overseen the construction of more than $4 billion in public work under seven governors.

Wayne County has a new Welcome Center! It is the only Tennessee rest stop on the Natchez Trace Parkway and not far from the AL line, so they are the first Tennessee impression for many visitors. Visitors are usually given coffee, Wayne County water, and home-made cookies - the volunteers are wonderful!

Special awards were given to Lebanon Chamber of Commerce president, Sue Vanatta, and Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau director, Ricky Rodriguez, by Dale Nunnery, founder and president of Lebanon based, Classic Cars Southeast. Each agency was instrumental in helping spread the word about the classic car dealership during 2006. Efforts by the organizations attracted individuals and groups to the dealership to view it’s “museum-quality” showroom of classic cars. Tourism is big business for Lebanon and Wilson County, very positively affecting their economic bottom lines. Both Vanatta and Rodriguez agreed that helping to promote Classic Cars Southeast was personally interesting and very rewarding for the local community.

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

Stay Connected Twitter Facebook YouTube TripTales Partner Login