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

Dear Industry Partners:

As the official 2007 summer travel season starts to wind down, our thoughts have been focused on plans for the coming fiscal year. The department’s Marketing Road Show, designed to provide and explain the details of the 2007-08 Marketing Plan, has already taken us to five cities in July with at least three more sessions to do in August.

Many thanks to Governor Phil Bredesen and the members of the Tennessee General Assembly, who once again provided a $4.75 million special allocation to aggressively market the state. Once the state’s budget was approved in June, we worked quickly to finalize plans and make them available to you for your planning purposes.

This year’s Marketing Plan was largely borne out of input from the Tennessee tourism industry. You told us which markets were important and what co-op opportunities worked last year (and which did not). This has been extremely helpful information and we greatly appreciate your on-going feedback.

We are very excited about the upcoming year and it is a delight to share our plans with all of you. I would like to thank the partners who have graciously hosted us, sharing their resources to make these presentations a success.

For those of you who have not been able to join us, the entire presentation can be found on-line at tnvacation.com under the “Industry Partner” section.

On another note, back-to-school signs are everywhere, so let me remind you of the “Tax Free Holiday” coming up Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 5. This money-saving venture offers three full days of tax breaks for families preparing children for school. Don’t miss it.

Also Tennessee parents should look for information packets coming home from school with your children. These packets describe the new “CoverKids” insurance program which provides coverage for many currently uninsured children. For more information go to http://covertn.gov/cover_kids.html.

In the meantime, enjoy these beautiful summer days. I hope you can break away for your own Tennessee vacation.


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

2007 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

The 2007 Governor’s Conference on Tourism is just around the corner, and it is a must-attend event. The event will take place September 19-21 in Chattanooga with great new features, educational programming focusing on cutting-edge tourism topics and the Tennessee tourism and hospitality industry coming together in a whole new way.

John Whisenant, executive director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, said, “You spoke and we listened.” He said a review of evaluations from past conferences indicated that additional workshops or sessions were needed. The response has resulted in a Tourism Marketing Super Seminar.

On Wednesday, September 19 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. renowned tourism expert Judy Randall will conduct this pre-conference event. It is a full three-hour special educational seminar, jam-packed with the latest in tourism marketing ideas. “And, there is no additional cost to attend this event,” said Whisenant.

Learning opportunities will abound with all of the seminars. The educational sessions will present highly-respected experts in the areas of tourism trends, culinary arts, marketing, crisis management, economic development and technology.

On Wednesday evening, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. the Opening Reception will take place at the Tennessee Aquarium featuring their newest exhibit, “Penguins Rock!” Though the penguins will be decked in their formal black and white, tourism attendees will not be required to wear a tux.

Another new feature is the tourism and hospitality expo, featuring exhibits from the tourism, restaurant, hotel and lodging industries. It is going to be full of exciting activity. This year’s Silent Auction will showcase great gifts from throughout the state, ranging from great crafts to wonderful treats.

Conference Hotels include the Chattanoogan, Marriott Chattanooga at the Convention Center, Sheraton Read House and the Staybridge Suites, all conveniently located near the Convention Center.
To register on-line go to www.tenntourismroundtable.com or call the TTR office at 615-734-9380.


Take a Tennessee Road Trip with Elvis and Friends

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) has launched an inter-active viral marketing campaign titled “Take A Tennessee Road Trip,” to drive even more traffic to the already popular tnvacation.com website. The promotion, viewed at the top of TDTD’s home page, premieres with the “King” himself, Elvis Presley and urges visitors to “Take A Tennessee Road Trip With Elvis And Friends.” The campaign is designed to utilize its present web audience to perpetually drive others to www.tnvacation.com.

The concept borrows from the popular TDTD television campaign “Tennessee Road Trip” featuring Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton touring the state together in a red convertible. Now, visitors to the site can place an image of themselves riding in a red convertible, listening to Elvis playing on the radio, while seated next to the “King” himself.

Once a visitor has “taken a ride with Elvis,” they are then encouraged to share the images of their ride with friends and family members. The viral process begins when the visitor (known as the “sneezer”) gives TDTD permission to send an email invitation to another person in their social network. The recipient of the “viral message” can view the riding experience, create their own experience, request a copy of the Tennessee Vacation Guide and link to other helpful vacation information. Every “rider” also receives, via email, a “TN Road Trip License to Ride” photo ID.

Elvis is the first in a line of what the state hopes to be other Tennessee celebrities utilized to add strength to its new online viral marketing campaign. New online marketing agency Paramore/Redd is leading the creative collaboration between TDTD and tourism’s marketing partners Chandler Ehrlich and Design Sensory. The program will continually be self perpetuating as more and more people create and share their own riding experience, then spread it to others in their sphere of influence.

In the end, “Take A Tennessee Road Trip” is a viral campaign that will drive inquisitive people to tnvacation.com, place more vacation guides in the hands of the consumer, generate more leads for our partners, increase visitation to our state and ultimately expand opportunities for a higher quality of life for the people of Tennessee.

Tennessee Tourism Participates in UK’s Deep South Mission

Music Stop on the Deep South Mission

The Deep South Mission is a sales and marketing initiative touting the tourism assets of five “Deep South” states (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi) to tourism gatekeepers in the UK. Organized by Lofthouse executive and Tennessee’s UK Public Relations and Marketing representative David Nicholson, this year’s event reached beyond expectation.

Attended by Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Director of Sales Lee Curtis from the tourism office and Shirley Davis Conner from Graceland, the five day event was packed with sales calls and training meetings with reservation call centers. In addition, Susan Whitaker conducted interviews on six regional BBC stations which covered much of England including Leeds and Oxford plus six eastern and southern counties. The interviews combined for 56 minutes air time and reached more than 1.7 million British listeners.

Land travel was particularly relevant to Tennessee as it was provided by a Gibson Guitar touring bus, which proved especially popular. The five states divided into three teams that rotated between the Gibson bus, training and sales calls. All training was uniform using the Deep South PowerPoint with each state allocated 5 – 10 minutes for their respective presentation.

The Mission started in Manchester with a luncheon for Visit USA Retail Travel Counsellors and then visited tour operators in the area. On Tuesday the mission moved to Leeds, Market Harborough, Peterborough and Birmingham for sales calls and training. In London a luncheon was held and attended by 28 tour operator and airline representatives. After London the tour moved south to the Gatwick area for more calls and training.

During the week more than 500 travel staff boarded the Gibson bus for a Deep South overview using the new brochure. US colleagues briefed each group on the region and the brochure and there were giveaways and quizzes including a company-wide Deep South day at Travelsphere with 300 staff competing for an Ipod!

Additionally, 90 staff members from organizations including Airmiles, BA Holidays, Cosmos, Lastminute.com, Funway, United Vacations, Wexas, Travel Counsellors and Continental Vacations were trained using the new PowerPoint.

The combination of the Gibson bus, the BBC interviews, and the training and sales calls made this year the most successful mission ever. More than 600 travel professionals experienced Tennessee and the Deep South, which can only increase our brand recognition and awareness in the UK.

Smoky Mountains 75th Anniversary Calendar of Events

Sunset in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains will be abuzz with even more activities in the coming months as it gears up for the 75th Anniversary. There will be an official 75th Anniversary Calendar of Events to commemorate the event.

To be included in the official calendar, you must submit your application by August 30, 2007. Applicants must meet several criteria that includes three themes.
-Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a gift of the people- a sanctuary for renewal and discovery.
-Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place that celebrates the history and heritage of the mountains.
-Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place to enjoy the scenic splendor of the mountains and the variety of life found here. 

“…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

In order to be considered for sanctioning as part of the Official Calendar of Events for the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the event must be solely a community-based event, and be held in the community, not in the park.

In addition, the community must have the resources to support the event in its entirety, or must identify and secure sponsorship for the event.

The Application Procedure Includes:

1. The Official 75th Anniversary Event application period will be open from July 8, 2007 through August 30, 2007. Although applications will be accepted after the official period, Event Coordinators are encouraged to apply during the official application period to facilitate timely review and inclusion in the Official 75th Anniversary Calendar of Events.

2. During the application period, event applications will be accepted online at: http://progressivedesignspecialists.com/smokies75eventapp/. If you do not have access to the internet, please contact the 75th Anniversary Coordinator (information below) for alternate instructions.

3. Event application forms must be filled out completely. Event applicants may wish to upload a photo (no larger than 250 x 150 pixels, or 40 kb)

If you have a question about the Official 75th Anniversary Calendar Event Application process, contact Ann Froschauer at ann@gsmassoc.org or 865-436-7318 x 349.



• Sending 1 million CoverKids applications home with Tennessee school children

• So thousands of Tennessee’s uninsured children can get health insurance coverage

• CoverKids can get comprehensive health insurance to Tennessee's uninsured children.

• CoverKids allows qualifying children 18 and under to get FREE, comprehensive health insurance so they can get preventive health care such as vaccinations and services such as doctor visits, prescriptions and hospital visits.

• A family of four with a $51,625 yearly income can qualify for CoverKids.

• To help thousands of uninsured children in Tennessee get health insurance coverage, one million CoverKids applications are being sent home with Tennessee school children for the 2007-08 school year.

• The applications will include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easy for parents to return the applications.

• More information on CoverKids is available at www.covertn.gov or by calling 1-866-COVERTN.

Burrelles/Luce Clipping Service Update

In March of this year, The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development announced the conversion of our media clipping service, BurrellesLuce from “hard clips” to an innovative online service accessible to all industry partners. To date, 100’s of clips have been sent to partners across the state, providing quick and easy access to tourism’s news coverage.

In addition to the department’s ongoing efforts to service the clips, all industry partners have easy access to view the current Tennessee Tourism clips online. To access the online clips, go to tnvacation.com/press; the BurrellesLuce icon is located underneath “Submit a Press Release”. By clicking on the icon, all of our industry partners can view the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s BurrellesLuce account. After clicking on the icon, you will be redirected to the BurrellesLuce home page. At the top left of the screen, click “Client Login”. Here, you simply provide the username and password to view the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s BurrelesLuce account. (Please contact Catherine.stevens@state.tn.us for the username and password) This allows our valued partners to view all of the clips received which are sorted by West, Middle and East Regions.

BurrellesLuce monitors more than 20,000 print publications and more than 10,000 web media outlets for Tennessee Tourism news. All articles that feature news about Tennessee Tourism are then posted on the BurrellesLuce website.

Jellico Welcome Center

Jellico Welcome Center

Built from the stones of Pine Mountain, which towers over it, Jellico is one of the top three Tennessee Welcome Centers in visitation numbers. The 2,600 square foot structure was built in 1971 on Interstate 75 near the Kentucky boarder and has a 600 foot stone wall in the rear that winds up the mountain behind it.

Not only is it rock-solid in structure but in visitations as well with more than 1,300,000 visitors in 2006.

During the past 12 years, Rick Parks has led the team as manager at Jellico. Rick believes the success of the Center stems from how the staff works in unison.

"I've got the best staff I've ever had. Everyone works great together," says Parks.

Rick once received a letter from a visitor after he located and returned to her a very precious piece of jewelry.

"I just wanted to say thank you for finding my bracelet. I didn't think there were any more honest people in this world. Thanks for proving me wrong. I had a great time visiting your beautiful state and I will return. Thanks again. Your peers and superiors should be proud for an outstanding job!"

That statement made by Lynnapril Sylvia of Richmond, Kentucky is just one of the nice things that people say about the hospitality and service provided by employees at the Tennessee Welcome Center located in Jellico.

"The Jellico Welcome Center is always very busy and has served us well over the years," said Barry Young, director of welcome centers.

Welcome Center Employee

Jennie Fitzgerald

Jennie Fitzgerald, a welcome center assistant at the Dyersburg Welcome Center, is the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for July. Jennie has been with the Department of Tourist Development for almost eight years. Our office has received many positive comments about "Miss Jennie", as she is known around the Dyersburg Welcome Center.

Comments include the following, "Jennie Fitzgerald was the best ever and helpful in every way and very kind," said one tourist who recently visited the Center. Another tourist commented that "Miss Jennie was very helpful and very nice. I think y'all should keep her around for a while! Thanks goes to Miss Jennie for always being here when we stop by."

Jennie really enjoys helping our visitors find what they are looking for in Tennessee. "I really enjoy meeting and talking to our visitors," Fitzgerald said. "I love working in this great atmosphere...the flower beds, the hummingbirds, and everybody who comes in just loves the log cabin."

While living just over a mile from the Welcome Center, it's a six and a half mile drive to the Center for her each day because of the road design. The Dyersburg Center is located in a very beautiful area of Dyer County, not far from the Mississippi River on I-155. "We have some very scenic places around here, and I know the tourists really enjoy visiting the Welcome Center," she said.

Industry Applause

Southeast Tourism Society Names Top 20 Fall Events
Oct. 5-6, Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention. Athens, TN.
Oct. 5-7, 35th Annual National Storytelling Festival. Jonesborough, TN.
Oct. 11-14, Museum of Appalachia Tennessee Fall Homecoming. Norris, TN.
Nov. 7-Feb. 28, Gatlinburg Winter Magic. Gatlinburg, TN.
Nov. 8, 18th Annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest Kickoff. Pigeon Forge, TN.
Dec. 1, 14th Annual Christmas in Collierville. Collierville, TN.

STAX and Soul Music Saluted at America's Largest Annual Rock-Film Festival
The prestigious Mods & Rockers Film Festival presented annually by the American Cinematheque honored the 50th Anniversary of Stax Records with a five-film cinematic salute. Special features included the World Premiere of Respect Yourself, a new two-hour documentary celebration of Stax Records that features a who's who of Stax artists. The film also features interviews with fervent Stax admirers such as Bono, Elvis Costello and Chuck D , the American premiere of a newly-unearthed 1967 Norwegian TV special that captured the legendary Stax Revue of that year - the only known full-length visual record of that tour and the celebrated concert film shot in L.A. in 1972 Wattstax.

TN Overhill Heritage Association Receives Grant
The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association is one of eight organizations that will receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Thirty-six applications were submitted from Appalachian states to participate in a project titled “Appalachian Gateway Initiative: Natural and Cultural Heritage Tourism Development.” The project is part of ARC’s effort to promote asset-based economic development in Appalachia.

Rutherford Earns Three Stars
This designation obtained through the state of Tennessee allows the county to receive special incentives from the state and be more competitive for grant funding. The Three-Star community program administered through the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development could assist Rutherford County in obtaining matching grants, extra points in the Community Development Block Grant and reduced energy loan interest rates.

Reese's Launches Elvis Candy, Chance to Win Cadillac
Elvis' love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches can now be enjoyed by everyone. Reese's is paying tribute to Elvis Presley with the launch of Collector Edition Reese's Elvis Cups. The cups will feature the unique peanut butter and banana flavor combination made famous by "The King." The cups are available now through December 2007 in standard miniatures and "The King" sizes. In celebration of the new treat, Reese's is also giving away a pink Cadillac and other authentic Elvis prizes such as an Elvis-owned scarf and a cancelled check signed by the icon. To enter the sweepstakes, visit www.reeses.com for additional details.

RealTravel Reveals Top Ten Hidden American Treasures - Ruby Falls selected among ten American Treasure spots.
Destinations selected for visits include spots in Tennessee, Arizona and South Dakota according to RealTravel, a travel blogging and travel guide site that helps more than half a million people plan trips with advice from other travelers every month.

Retire Tennessee
Crossville and Cumberland County have been recognized as a premier retirement destination. The American Association for Retirement Communities has made the area only the second Tennessee community to earn its Seal of Approval as a retirement destination

Two New Professionals Join Knoxville Opera Staff
General Director Brian Salesky has announced Celeste Hart as Director of Development and Jenny Dell as Marketing and Public Relations Specialist to the Knoxville Opera staff. According to Salesky: “The two roles we have filled are key positions that will lead Knoxville Opera forward in our efforts to better reach and serve the Knoxville community with stability and growth.”

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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