Governor’s Conference on Tourism to Highlight the Business of Tourism
Plans are well under way for the 2011 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which will be held Oct. 5 – 7 in the “Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll” – Memphis, Tenn. The Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and our hosts in the City of Memphis are all working hard to ensure that this year’s conference is the best ever!
The theme for this year’s conference, based on the famous Elvis Presley motto, is “Taking Care of Business,” and that’s exactly what the Tennessee tourism industry will be doing. Excellent keynote speakers, outstanding educational seminars, updates on the Department of Tourist Development’s activities and programs, as well as networking opportunities with other tourism professionals and tourism industry suppliers – all are being designed to help the state’s second largest industry grow and prosper.
“We are delighted to be hosting the Governor’s Conference in Memphis this year,” said Calvin Taylor, vice president of government relations for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and current Tennessee Tourism Roundtable chair. “We’re going to be pulling out all the stops to showcase our city to our tourism friends from across the state.”
That sentiment was echoed by Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “Memphis takes us right to the heart of their city and our industry with the theme “Taking Care of Business,” said Commissioner Whitaker. “Memphis will without a doubt roll out the red carpet for our industry this year. This is a must-attend conference for tourism partners.”
The Governor’s Conference on Tourism is produced by the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable (TTR) in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Detailed conference information and online registration is now available on the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable website. A special discounted early-bird registration rate is being offered through Aug. 12.
Tourism’s Summer Marketing Initiatives
The momentum continues as new initiatives and plans take shape to promote tourism growth in Tennessee.
In the works is the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s “One Tank of Gas” summer promotion, which showcases Tennessee as an affordable destination, promoting travel throughout the state on just one tank of gas. The online advertising will run on TripAdvisor, Orbitz and iExplore, and will be geo-targeted within a 200-mile driving radius.
The department met recently with the Paramore Agency, White|Thompson and Designsensory to discuss the media plan for fiscal-year 2011/2012. The media plan presentation included a top-to-bottom assessment of current procedures, budget, and online and offline operations. This is part of an overall plan to create cohesion amongst the department’s agencies and streamline the state’s advertising, public relations, sales and social media efforts. A draft of the media plan is available online here:
And speaking of agencies, Designsensory was recently awarded the distinction of the Gold Award in the SEED Awards for its design of the department’s “Sunny Side of Summer” season site. Congratulations, Designsensory!
In other news, communities and organizations from the Smoky Mountains to Knoxville and Chattanooga are joining with National Geographic Maps to highlight the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the East Tennessee River Valley region for a national and international audience. The project seeks to contribute to the economic health of communities by promoting geo-tourism: tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.
Residents of the region are asked to submit points of interest during the nomination period, which ends July 31. Nominations may include historical structures and archaeological sites, scenic landscapes and wildlife viewing areas, trails and outdoor recreation, local cuisine, events, and more.
Visit EastTNgeotourism.org for more information.
I-24 Welcome Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
A Welcomed Celebration on Interstate 24
Grand Reopening ceremonies of the Interstate 24 Hamilton County Welcome Center at Tiftonia were held June 24. The new and modern 4,989 square foot cabin-style facility replaced the outdated center that was closed more than one year ago. It is the “front porch” to visitors entering the state from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana via I-59 as well as those traveling from Nashville along I-24.
"This new Welcome Center sets the stage for our visitors to enjoy the perfect combination of Tennessee hospitality and helpful tourist information," said Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker. Joining her for the ceremony was Transportation’s Assistant Commissioner Joe Carpenter along with elected state and local officials and others from the tourism community.
Greeting visitors to the center during the festivities were popular tourism icons, including “Maggie the Cow” from Mayfield Diary Farms, “Rocky” from Rock City, “Mac” the macaroni penguin from the Tennessee Aquarium and “Little Debbie” from McKee Foods Corporation in Collegedale. Tourism representatives traveling from Chattanooga, all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains region, were also there to showcase their attractions.
Tennessee has 14 Welcome Centers primarily located along the interstate highway system. The centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Web Assistance Tour Update
Fall Dates Added for Memphis, Greeneville and Union City; Monteagle session postponed.
The Web Assistance Tour is your chance to get hands-on assistance with the tnvacation.com Web site, T3 deals program, facebook, tnvacation mobile site & more!
Summer Schedule & Locations
Wednesday, July 13,
Holiday Inn Express – Peavine Road
Thursday, July 14,
Fairfield Inn & Suites
New date to be announced
Monteagle City Hall
Wednesday, July 20,
Chattanooga Choo Choo - Roosevelt Room
Click here for more information on the summer tour.
Fall Tour Upcoming Locations
Wednesday, Sept. 21,
Date To Be Announced
Union City Library
Tuesday, October 4,
Note: For the Memphis session there will be assigned time slots. The available times will be posted in the tnvacation.com/industry section on July 8. The Memphis stop will be at the Marriott Downtown across from the Convention Center.
For all stops other than Memphis, email the date and location you will attend to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newly Imagined Vacation Guide - A Great Opportunity to Advertise
Advertising sales are now under way for the 2012 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide, which will introduce a dynamic new format designed to inspire potential visitors like never before! Featuring larger images, a new style of photography, professionally written content and double the amount of space devoted to events, the guide is a one-stop trip-planning resource.
Once again published by Miles Media, this vacation guide is sent to hundreds of thousands of travelers who have already expressed an interest in visiting, making it an invaluable tool for promoting your own destinations and attractions.
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to reach a highly qualified audience of travelers. Special co-op rates and premium ad placements are available. Contact your destination specialist below for more details, or view the new 2012 media kit in the “Advertising Opportunities” section here: http://www.tnvacation.com/industry/. Sales close on Sept. 9, 2011!
Mary Steadman (Upper Cumberland and East Tennessee), (423) 956-4330, Mary.Steadman@MilesMedia.com
Abbie Gristy (Middle and West Tennessee), (731) 298-1003, Abbie.Gristy@MilesMedia.com
Civil War Update
As Tennessee marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, events are being held throughout the state in commemoration of the Sesquicentennial. A complete list is available at tncivilwar150.com. Below are some additional Tennessee Civil War highlights:
The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission is pleased to announce the official Tennessee Civil War 150th Anniversary License Plate order deadline has been extended. For more information on the license plate or to place an order, visit tcwpa.org. No payment is required for the preorder. The annual fee is $35 for a regular plate; $70 for a personalized plate.
The first of its kind and using GIS technology, a new interactive application on Tennessee Civil War sites is now available. Hundreds of Civil War battle and engagement sites can now be viewed through aerial photography, street maps, land use and property parcel. A complete historical background of all the units that served is also available and organized by county. Images and documents from the Tennessee State Library & Archives are linked to the site for further detailed information. All ages will be interested in the new site which can be found at tnmap.tn.gov/civilwar/.
Congratulations to Franklin resident Julian Bibb, an attorney at Stites & Harbison PLLC, who has been awarded the Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award from the Civil War Trust for exceptional merit in Civil War battlefield preservation. Bibb becomes the second Tennessean to receive the award after historian and author, Robert Hicks.
“The work done by the Civil War Trust would simply not be possible without the efforts of men and women like Julian Bibb and his colleagues,” said Jim Lighthizer, Trust president. “They are often the unsung heroes of historic preservation, but I am confident that their work will be felt for generations to come.”
Facts & Trends
Tnvacation Facebook Fans Exceed 50,000!
Advertising to Facebook Fans Improve Conversion
Last month, the number of consumers who “like” the Tnvacation Facebook page exceeded 50,000 fans. Social media is one aspect of marketing not to be ignored!
According to information recently uncovered by the social advertising giant TBG and released in the blog, Inside Facebook, “By advertising to Facebook fans instead of non-fans, advertisers can reduce the acquisition cost of registrations by 44 percent, event signups by 33 percent and purchases by 15 percent.”
The study suggests that companies who heavily invest in Facebook fan acquisition on the front-end will find favorable return in the above mentioned conversions when marketing to the fans with Facebook ads down the road.
Driving the Overnight Tourism Economy
America’s leisure “drive market” represents 85 percent of the 1 billion overnight trips taken by travelers in the country. Mandala Research and Solutionz, in partnership with the Destination & Travel Foundation, recently released the results of Project 85 – The Drive Market.
Key results of the study released online at www.destinationmarketing.org
97 percent of driving travelers obtained information online
63 percent planned their trip with assistance from destination websites
14 percent contact convention and visitor bureaus when planning a trip
Percentage of those surveyed who use social media in their lives:
Gen Y - 68 percent
Gen X – 61 percent
Baby Boomers – 41 percent
Silent Generation – 35 percent
Emerging trend: Younger generations are more likely to use social media to learn more about a destination:
Gen Y – 24 percent
Gen X – 18 percent
Baby Boomers – 7 percent
Silent Generation - 4 percent
Employee of the Month
If you are traveling along I-81 and are looking for accommodations, make a stop in to the Sullivan County (Bristol) Welcome Center. There you will find Marilyn Steadman, a Welcome Center Assistant, one of the best in the business in helping travelers locate a place to rest. For the fourth year in a row, Marilyn retains the title of "reservations champion" for making the most reservations last year. She made 931 successful reservations from September 2009 to August 2010!
For Marilyn's consistent efforts, she is our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for June 2011.
"She is a dedicated employee who always goes beyond the call of duty to help our visitors," said Bristol Welcome Center Manager Jim Bibee. "Marilyn is also very helpful to her co-workers and she has a great working relationship with her fellow employees as well as visitors. When it comes to making reservations she is always ready to help our visitors find the best rate and the right fit for their stay in our state."
"Marilyn possesses the work ethic you wish all employees had," said Regional Manager Laura Munn. "She takes that extra time to assist our travelers with her knowledge of the state to ensure they get the most out of their visit to Tennessee."
Marilyn began her employment with the Department in November 2006 and this is her second Employee of the Month selection.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
CMA Fans Break All Spending Records
Country music fans opened their wallets like there is no recession at the CMA Music Festival. Each of the four-night LP Field concert events saw a capacity attendance of 65,000 country music fans that left behind a record $30 million. Local hotels booked approximately 110,000 nights in hotel rooms, more than this event has ever experienced. The record numbers were seen across every economic indicator, including crowd size, ticket sales and festival growth, according to local data tracking firm Smith Travel Research.
Chattanooga Wins Online Vote
Chattanooga has won the online voting component of Outside magazine’s “Best Town Ever” contest for 2011. Voting is now closed on the Facebook page and Chattanooga beat second-place Tucson, Ariz., by 1,509 votes. Chattanoogans have to wait until early September to learn if their city is the ultimate winner of the contest.
Hermitage Hotel Ranks No. 6 in Nation
U.S. News publication has named the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville No. 6 on its annual list of best hotels in the country. The list is comprised of 86 luxury hotels. U.S. News evaluated nearly 1,000 hotels across 49 major U.S. destinations, analyzing ratings and awards from travel experts as well as user ratings. The Hermitage Hotel is the only hotel in the Southeast to make the top 10 and remains the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Award winning hotel in the state of Tennessee.
Mirimichi and Timberlake Honored
Music phenom and actor Justin Timberlake won one of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Environmental Stewardship Awards for building Mirimichi, the environmentally friendly golf course near Memphis. Timberlake was one of 14 winners of the 25th annual awards, which recognize exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect the environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law.
Home of the Beatles and Elvis create a network of Rock ‘n’ Soul Mates
Dozens of venues in Liverpool and Memphis are set to become Rock ‘n’ Soul Mates in a transatlantic link up between the two cities. The joint public and private sector initiative aims to encourage tourists to explore the connections between the English and American cities whose music and history have helped to shape the world.
Gatlinburg receives 2011 Green Plus™ Chamber of the Year Award
The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce has been selected as the winner of the 2011 Green Plus™ Chamber of the Year Award for Leadership in Member Sustainability for the “Gatlinburg Goes Green” program and other initiatives. The award was made at PNC Bank regional headquarters in Washington, D.C. by the Institute for Sustainable Development, Partners for Livable Communities and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.
Wilderness at the Smokies Named One of ‘The South’s Best Pools’ by Southern Living Magazine
When Southern Living Magazine went in search of the “South’s Best Pools,” they included Wilderness at the Smokies resort. The top 10 list also showcases other world-renowned resorts such as Keswick Hall at Monticello in Virginia, Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Florida and Joule Hotel in Texas. Wilderness at the Smokies resort opened in 2009 and is the Southeast’s largest indoor/outdoor waterpark resort. With two outdoor waterparks and a six-acre indoor waterpark, Wilderness also has six restaurants, a deli, gift shops, convenience stores, mini-golf and a 36-hole championship golf course.
Knoxville’s Boomsday Named a 2011 Top 10 Summer Festival by Road Trips for Families
Road Trips for Families, an online travel magazine focusing on road trip travel, announced their top 10 picks for family-friendly summer festivals, and Knoxville’s Boomsday made the list. "Summer is always prime festival season, but we've never had so many submissions for the honor of our top 10," said Julie Henning, Feed Me editor at Road Trips for Families.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You