Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents March 2011 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

Just three months into 2011 and the tourism industry in Tennessee is off to a great running start. Taking our lead from Governor Bill Haslam and his economic focus on job creation, the Department of Tourist Development has been hard at work aligning all of our resources toward increasing tourist visitation and its accompanying job growth.

Sales efforts for the state have been an important priority this past month. The Travel South Showcase was held in Atlanta in February, bringing together representatives from all 12 southeastern states for the organization’s annual sales, marketing and PR convention. More than 40 Tennessee tourism partners participated, conducting 1300 meetings with travel planners and 50 meetings with media representatives. I personally spoke with several international travel writers, including two from France, who were especially interested in Tennessee as a destination.

This year’s Heartland Show was held in Detroit, where our Tennessee delegation, including 11 tourism partners and TDTD’s Paula Hankins and Dave Jones, conducted 335 meetings with group travel leaders.  In 2012, Heartland will be hosted by the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation at the Knoxville Convention Center. After surviving the blizzard in Detroit that weekend, I’m sure the delegates will appreciate the blue skies of Tennessee next year!

In addition, Marty Marbry, our West Tennessee Marketing Manager, represented the department at both the Tennessee Motorcoach Show in Tunica, Mississippi, and the Bank Travel Show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Marty reports that there was great interest in the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program as well as the Civil War Trails.  

One of the department’s most important and successful initiatives, the Tennessee Sampler Express, is just around the corner on April 5-7. Let me strongly encourage you to participate in this very effective sales and PR mission. Last year, 50 tourism partners and TDTD staff divided into 10 teams and conducted 167 sales and PR meetings in 22 markets. The 2011 Tennessee Sampler Express will provide an effective way to leverage your tourism marketing dollars and get a great return on your investment. The only cost to partners is travel expense. Read more about it in this newsletter.

On March 1, the Tennessee Hospitality Association sponsored its first "Day on the Hill" in over a decade. Special congratulations are in order for Greg Atkins, THA executive director, for organizing such an important and successful event. At the luncheon, I was honored to share the speaker’s podium with Governor Haslam, Lieutenant Governor Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, each of whom expressed their understanding of the importance of the tourism industry to the economic growth of Tennessee. Their presence at the luncheon and words of support were well-received by the many industry partners and legislators in attendance.

My congratulations to Bristol Motor Speedway, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. BMS, with approximately 160,000 seats, is one of the top five largest permanent seating venues in the world and has a $450 million direct economic impact on the Tri-Cities region. As many of you know, long-time BMS president Jeff Byrd passed away last October after a courageous battle with cancer. The impact of this great loss cannot be fully measured as the entire community and especially the racing world have grieved the passing of this brilliant and inspiring man. It has been an especially difficult time for the staff, fans and NASCAR participants at BMS.

In an unprecedented and moving tribute, Food City, title sponsor of the March race, has renamed this year’s event the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City. The race on March 20th will now celebrate this significant anniversary of the Bristol Motor Speedway and also honor the beloved leader and friend who made BMS the incredible success it is today. This will certainly be a Race to remember on the World’s Fastest Half-Mile!

Are you as happy as I am that spring is just around the corner?! With warmer days ahead, the thoughts of many will turn from icy roads to happy road trips and wonderful destinations in Tennessee. Thanks to all of you, we’ll be ready to give them a vacation they’ll never forget. I can feel it in the air!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Tennessee Sampler Express Announced


The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is excited to announce 2011’s TENNESSEE SAMPLER EXPRESS April 5-7. Back by popular demand is the “Express” version of the Tennessee Sampler. This grassroots and economical approach will take teams on the road along six different routes, conducting sales and PR calls to AAA offices, tour operators and media.  DEADLINE for registration has been extended to end-of-day March 10.

Once again this year, we will divide and conquer several feeder markets, doing a comprehensive sales and PR blitz in markets surrounding our state. Last year this approach was extremely effective, resulting in seven sales teams conducting 130 sales calls to AAA offices and tour operators in 47 different cities. Three PR teams held 37 meetings in 10 cities.

More good news:  There is no registration fee for this year’s Sampler except for personal travel expenses. This will include hotel for two nights, meals and the cost of rental vehicle split among the team. Each team will have a team captain who will help secure the sales calls and facilitate all logistics.

TDTD will again provide binders featuring the profile sheets of participating sales partners. The separate teams of public relations partners will be invited to provide PR materials to include on jump drives for the separate PR meetings.

Click for registration form


TDTD Commissioner Susan Whitaker; Mike
Chambers, Dandridge Vice Mayor; Patrick McIntyre,
Tennessee Historical Commission; Nancy Tinker,
National Trust for Historic Preservation

Dandridge Tennessee Earns National Designation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Dandridge, Tenn. one of its 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.  Each year, the organization recognizes cities and towns that offer an authentic visitor experience by combining dynamic downtowns, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization. Main Street Dandridge submitted the nomination for the prestigious designation, which is also shared by eleven other communities including Alexandria, Virginia, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“Dandridge offers a comforting escape from the beaten path,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “An impressive number of Dandridge’s historic commercial buildings have been restored, and comprise the centerpiece of a vibrant downtown where one can relive the town’s Revolutionary War-era history, browse antiques, savor hand-dipped ice cream or view an 1840s-era inn that sheltered four United States presidents.”

Dandridge has already become a popular destination on two of the state’s Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways as well as the East Tennessee Crossing National Scenic Byway.  Now the public is encouraged to help determine which of the 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations will be the 2011 Fan Favorite by voting online.  The winner of the popular vote will be announced on March 16, 2011.

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways News

The Jack Trail Launches March 22!

Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker will be joined by TDOT Commissioner John Schroer to officially launch The Jack Trail on March 22 at the Oaklands in Murfreesboro. Country superstar and Arrington Vineyard co-owner Kix Brooks will also participate in the launch event.

The sixth of 16 self-guided driving tours in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byway program to be launched, The Jack Trail features 328 tourism sites spanning across nearly 350 miles in the mid-state, highlighting parts of Nashville, Davidson County, Murfreesboro, Bell Buckle, Wartrace and several other counties brimming with history, music, horse racing and whiskey making.  

The kick-off event , the first in a day of festivities, will be held at 11 a.m. at Oaklands in Murfreesboro and is open to the public. Tourism partners throughout the region are encouraged to attend. At 2:30 p.m. the celebration will continue at Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg. And at 5:30 p.m. Martin’s BBQ Joint in Nolensville will literally put on the “whole hog” for a grand finale worth waiting for!

Visitors Center - Jack Daniel Distillery

The trail officially begins at the Downtown Nashville Visitors Center where guests can pick up brochures, maps and coupons before heading out to discover Tennessee’s back roads.   However, guests can choose to begin their journey at any site along the path.  Once on the trail, guests can explore the historically-significant towns of Smyrna and Murfreesboro, visit the renowned Jack Daniel Distillery, not-so-typical American rum-making Prichard’s Distillery, and explore the home of the world famous Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Led by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, The Jack Trail is the result of multiple state agencies working together, as well as city and county officials in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Bedford, Coffee, Moore, Lincoln, Giles and Marshall Counties.

The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program incorporates all 95 counties and Tennessee’s five National Scenic Byways.

Tnvacation.com Goes Mobile

Tennessee Tourism's New Mobile Site Simplifies Travel

Tennessee Tourism continues to lead the way in providing cutting edge technology to aid the traveling public. In March, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will launch the inaugural tnvacation mobile site.

The mobile site contains easy-to-use features for smartphone users ready to take the roads in Tennessee. A key feature of the mobile site will be the "Set a location" function which will allow users to easily access relevant content about the specific area of Tennessee in which they are traveling.

The “Things to Do” tab and related subcategories include addresses and information for more than 4,000 tourism partners from across the state. An “Explore Nearby Things” section allows for simple exploration of a visitor’s current surroundings. Point-to-point directions are also available for each of the many attractions.

The smartphone site navigation makes it easy to locate lodging, dining options, welcome centers, airport information and special deals and offers. The new site is optimized for iPhones and Android devices.

In celebration of the launch the department is planning a contest to be hosted on the mobile site. Look for site launch and contest details in the coming days.

Civil War Update

Lairdland Farm House Marker, Cornersville

Tennessee Civil War Trails Hits 200!

There are now 201 newly interpreted Civil War Trail markers located along Tennessee’s Civil War Trail with many more sites ready to be installed in the ground later this spring/early summer.  As a key project of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and in partnership with the TN Civil War National Heritage Area, this well-funded, community-centered program is the platform not only for the state’s Civil War-related heritage tourism initiatives but also a platform for public engagement. Having a strong base for the success of the program was Tennessee's prior designation by Congress for a National Heritage Area for Civil War, tncivilwar.org.

One look at the Tennessee Civil War Trails map guide should tell you how significant Tennessee was during the Civil War. The Civil War Trails program will take visitors from famous battlefields to stories of guerilla fighting and the heroism of the families left on the home front, places all over the state that tell our unique and fascinating Civil War heritage.  The Sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, 2011 – 2015, provides the tourism industry with a unique opportunity to showcase our rich Civil War heritage to national and international visitors, and to the citizens of Tennessee. 

The popularity of the Tennessee Civil War website, tncivilwar150.com and the Tennessee Civil War map guide are strong indicators of the high interest tourist are showing in Tennessee’s role in the Civil War.  Tennessee is the most requested Civil War Trails map guide in all of the five states located on the Civil War Trail with over 100 downloads per day on civilwartraveler.com.  Tennessee Welcome Centers report that the Civil War Trails map guide is one of their most requested brochures and there is a strong interest in the UK and German markets. In addition, visitors are going online at tncivilwar150.com to explore with nearly 10,000 page views in the first two months of 2011.   

The Civil War Sesquicentennial is bringing communities across our state together to tell the whole story of Tennessee’s important role in the Civil War.  To join this exciting Trail contact Lee Curtis or Patricia Gray at 615-741-2159 or lee.curtis@tn.gov / patricia.gray@tn.gov or download an application at tnvacation.com/industry/marketing-information/.   To order the Tennessee Civil War Trails mapguide please call 615-532-7520.  

Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College Scholarships for Tennessee Tourism Professionals

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with “Official” Tennessee Vacation Guide publisher Miles Media, 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 11, 2011. 

The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From July 24 - 29, 2011, 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 (TMP) 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 2011 session.  The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (TACVB) in cooperation with Miles Media and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass professional aptitude and future career goals in the tourism industry. The STS application can be downloaded here or you can contact Mary.Steadman@MilesMedia.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesMedia.com to request an application.  For more information on STS Marketing College visit southeasttourism.org/education/index.html.

Facts & Trends

National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis

New African American Travel Survey Released

Cultural heritage plays a key role in the destination selection for African American travelers, according to The African American Traveler study recently released by Mandala Research.  The writer of a story published by TravelPuls.com,   www.travelpulse.com/africanamerican-travel-preferences-detailed-in-new-poll.html  reports  the study uncovered three main segments within the African American travel market:

“Curious and Engaged” (32%) responding that a key reason in trip selection was the availability of African American history sites and culture.

“Family Reunion” (29%) are travelers whose most recent trip was to attend a social or family event.

“Business Travelers” (27%) responded that they had taken at least one business trip in the last 12 months.

Half of the African American travelers responding to the December 2010 poll indicated they would be more inclined to visit attractions that offer more exhibits about their history and culture.  Interest increased to 74% among the “Curious and Engaged” travel segment.

Brochure Effectiveness in a Social Media World


Ian Cross, Director of the Center for Marketing Technology conducted an international cooperative survey of travelers in 15 cities representing four countries – the United States, Canada, Mexico and Western Europe.  A total of 1,765 surveys were completed during the summer of 2010.  Although the correct message is a key ingredient to any successful marketing program, Cross’s survey supports the use of brochures to influence the traveler while “in-market.”

80% of non-residents pick up a brochure while in-market

73% of leisure travelers became aware of a service or attraction because of a brochure.  (66% of all travelers)

Brochures also lead the list of media that impacts the travel making decisions while a traveler is “in-market.”  These are the results:

Brochure from a display stand:  69%, Map:  62%, Web/Internet:  57%, Friend/Relative:  52%, Travel Guide:  49%, Visitor Centers:  47%, TV:  32%, Newspaper:  25%, Radio:  24%, Billboard:  23%

For more information, click here:  www.bhs-promotion.com/media/rapports/BHS_IAPBD-EN.pdf

Welcome Center

Lee Southard

Employee of the Month

As a shining example of hard work, the Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for February 2011 has hit the ground running in his recently acquired position.  As of August 9, 2010, Lee Southard has served as Welcome Centers West Tennessee Regional Manager and his responsibilities include overseeing the Memphis I-40 and I-55 Welcome Centers as well as the I-155 Dyersburg Welcome Center, brochure distribution for the I-40 Madison County Rest Areas and the Lauderdale County Rest Area on Highway 51.  

Although he has only been with us for a short time, Lee has been busy making improvements to our West Tennessee operation. The tower lights for the Downtown Memphis I-40 Welcome Center had been inoperable for years. Lee took the initiative and worked with TDOT to get the lights repaired/replaced and now the "beacon" lights are shining again in Downtown Memphis.

Industry Applause

Ryman Auditorium, Nashville

Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.

Ryman Auditorium Named Pollstar Theatre Of The Year
For the third time, Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium has been named Theatre of the Year.  The award was voted on by industry professionals at the 22nd Annual Pollstar Concert Awards. The honor is widely regarded as the most prestigious in the concert industry.

Chattanooga's Market Street Bridge on Historic Register
The Market Street Bridge has a new title. The largest drawbridge of its type east of the Mississippi River was one of eight Tennessee sites added this week to the National Register of Historic Places. The steel and concrete bridge opened across the Tennessee River in 1917 and today welds together Chattanooga's downtown waterfront with the city's revitalized North Shore.

Pigeon Forge Festival NamedTop 20 Event in Southeast’ 
For the third time in the 11-year history of Saddle Up!, Pigeon Forge’s annual salute to the Old West, the festival has been named a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Saddle Up!, a hallmark winter entertainment event in Pigeon Forge, closes out the city’s Winterfest celebration by  bringing cowboy and cowgirl performers and a variety of activities to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Kenny Chesney Named Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame's Tennessean of the Year
Country music star turned sports documentary producer Kenny Chesney is the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame's Tennessean of the Year. Shown on ESPN, Chesney's Boys of Fall documentary looks at the positive aspects of playing football. Chesney donated 10,000 DVD copies of the film to coaches of high school football teams. The Tennessean of the year designation, first awarded by the Hall of Fame in 1982, "honors an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to our society through sports or other methods, demonstrating strong character and high profile leadership."

The Inn at Christmas Place


The Inn at Christmas Place Recognized
Pigeon Forge favorite, The Inn at Christmas Place, has been named a Top 25 Hotel by TripAdvisor in its 2011 Travelers' Choice awards. The hotel ranked sixth on the list.

Marty Belz Honored With Florida Hotel Award
The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association has presented the group’s 2010 Charles Andrews Memorial Hospitality Award for Community Leadership to Marty Belz, president and CEO of the Memphis-based Peabody Hotel Group. The CFHLA presents the award each year in recognition of an individual’s achievements and contributions to the Central Florida hospitality industry and the community at large.

Memphis Zoo Panda

Memphis Zoo Upgrades Mobile Phone app
A new upgrade for the Memphis Zoo's mobile phone application makes it one of the most inclusive zoo apps in the country. The free app features the "Friend Finder" party locator, a GPS-enabled map, monthly schedules for the zoo and a video walking tour of the zoo. The app can be downloaded on iPhones or on any Android network-powered mobile device, which zoo officials say makes it one of only two zoo apps in the U.S. with that capability.

Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Merchandise
The official online store for Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial merchandise is now available at www.tcwpa.org/store.  A link to the online store is also available at tncivilwar150.com.  Available Sesquicentennial merchandise ranges from hats to handmade Tennessee ornaments.

Mirimichi Receives Golf Digest/Environmental Award
Mirimichi and Superintendent Dustin Green were recognized in Orlando at the GCSAA national conference for their environmental stewardship efforts.  The Environmental Leaders in Golf Award recognizes golf course superintendents and their courses for overall course management and excellence in the areas of resource conversation, water quality management, integrated pest management, wildlife/habitat management and education outreach. 

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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