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

Dear Tourism Partners,

I’m heading to Memphis tonight, looking forward to the start of the 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which begins Wednesday, Oct. 6 and concludes with the Governor’s Luncheon on Friday. We are so pleased to have Governor Haslam joining us this year for his first Tourism Conference as Governor. His strong support of tourism has been incredibly important during this first year of his new administration. We are so glad he can join us to address the industry and give us his insights on where tourism fits into his plans for Tennessee’s economic growth.

For the several hundred partners who have already registered, come prepared to learn as well as enjoy one of Tennessee’s premier tourism destinations. This year’s event brings some of tourism’s most respected professionals who will share their wealth of knowledge, experience and creative ideas with Tennessee. For those of you who have not yet decided to attend, there’s still time to register. Let me encourage you to come and join us in Memphis for a memorable conference where we will be “Taking Care of Business” in Elvis’s favorite city.

Joe Veneto, “The Opportunity Guy” of Opportunities Unlimited, will lead our Tourism Marketing Super Seminar on Wednesday. Michael Gehrisch, president and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International brings the Thursday morning keynote address and Diane Shober, my counter-part in Wyoming and a member of the national Council on Travel Promotion, will give our Thursday luncheon address. Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment will present the keynote address on Friday morning, an update on the Governor’s statewide Committee on Tourism. Every one of these presentations will be packed with things you need to know to be successful in the coming year.

My State of the Industry address on Friday morning has a lot of great news about how we did in 2010 in terms of tourism expenditures and other important benchmarks. I will also be presenting Tennessee’s 2011-2012 Marketing Plan as well as our brand new advertising campaign, including a new logo and slogan. I am thrilled with the results - a fresh, relevant campaign that will strengthen our industry's brand position in the mind of the traveling public, enabling us to accomplish our goals of more visitors, staying longer and spending more.

While Sullivan Branding (formerly White|Thompson) beautifully executed this exciting campaign, it was the collective brain trust of our creative agencies, as well as your partner input, which provided the foundation for success. Many of you have already seen a sneak peak at the TV spot and given it high marks. It will be exciting to roll out all of the creative elements on Friday to our industry.

On Sept. 30, Great River Road Trail, the eighth of our 16 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways, was launched and celebrated at a reception at Mud Island River Park. Senator Mark Norris served as the Master of Ceremonies and the event was attended by many state and local dignitaries. October brings the launch of the Promised Land, Ring of Fire and Rocky Top Trails. Read all about it by clicking here.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature event, held Sept. 6-7 at Tennessee Tech University, was a huge success with more than 2,500 people attending, including 1,500 students who learned about the War through living history demonstrations. One of the highlights of the event was a presentation on behalf of Governor Haslam by TDOT Commissioner John Schroer of an $818,880 enhancement grant awarded to the Department of Tourist Development. This grant will enable us to expand the Civil War Trail by another 300 civil war sites throughout the entire state!

A special thanks to Kix Brooks who took time out of his busy schedule to speak about his interest in the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Make a note on your calendar to join us for the next Sesquicentennial Signature event to be held at Pickwick Landing State Park on April 4-5, 2012 where we will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh.

As the beautiful colors of fall begin to surround us, I hope you can find time to take your own road trip right here on one of our beautiful back roads in Tennessee. You’re sure to meet a few of the millions of visitors here on their own Tennessee adventure. Let’s be sure to let them know how glad we are to have them here, enjoying this glorious season with us.

See you in Memphis!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Governor’s Conference 2011 Begins Wednesday

The 2011 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held Oct. 5-7 in Memphis, Tenn. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Taking Care of Business.” The conference is presented in partnership with the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, a statewide association uniting the various stakeholders involved in the tourism industry. Gov. Bill Haslam will address tourism industry partners in addition to the “State of the Industry Address” delivered by Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

This year’s five educational seminars will highlight a wide range of relevant topics vital to the tourism industry including social media marketing, the importance of adventure tourism and advertising strategies. Each seminar will offer expert panelists along with in-depth presentations and discussion.

Partnering Tourism with Tennessee’s New Four-Point Economic Development Plan
Governor Bill Haslam recently announced the new statewide “JOBS4TN Economic Development” plan that outlines four key strategies to be used in local areas and regions across the state. In this seminar, tourism partners will be given strategies and suggestions about how their local tourism organization can partner with these new economic development plans. 

Adventure Tourism
Adventure tourism is an important and fast-growing part of the leisure travel industry, generating $89 billion in travel expenditures in the United States in 2010. This seminar will help define ways to develop and market adventure tourism activities and how adventure tourism can successfully assist in the preservation and protection of the state’s natural resources.
Tourism Turn-Arounds: Being Successful by Thinking Outside the Box
Yes, the current economic times are challenging for all businesses – and travel-related businesses are no exception. Tourism partners will be inspired and challenged by this seminar that will feature several Tennessee tourism businesses that have been successful by “doing new things in new ways” – and in most cases, without a lot of money! 

Making Strong Connections Between Print Advertising and Your Website
Are the worlds of print advertising and web-based marketing completely separate? Not if they are planned correctly. This seminar will provide tourism partners with insight into making those strong connections, tracking the results and maximizing return on investment.
Developing an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan: Tips, Tactics and Best Practices
Facebook, Twitter, blogs, microblogs, podcasts and more: social networking now accounts for 22 percent of all time spent online in the U.S. This seminar will outline the basics of developing such a plan and will look at the most successful methods in use in the travel industry.

Industry Segment Open Discussion Forums
These open discussion forums will provide tourism partners with the opportunity to dialogue with industry peers on current issues and trends, common problems and solutions and to share successful ideas and best practices by industry segment: Destination Management/Marketing Organizations, Attractions and Lodging & Dining.

The conference is open to all tourism industry partners. For information about the schedule of events, visit the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable’s website at www.tenntourismroundtable.com or call (615) 734-9380.

2,500 Attend Tennessee’s 2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Tennessee’s Sesquicentennial Commission hosted the state’s second Sesquicentennial Signature Event Sept. 6 and 7 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. The theme for the event was “Civil War in the Borderland” at which Kix Brooks, country music artist and owner of Arrington Vineyards, made a special appearance.

The event, consisting of historical discussions, musical performances, stories and living history demonstrations, drew a crowd, including 1500 students and teachers. TTU joined the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Tennessee Historical Society and the Upper Cumberland Civil War Roundtable to sponsor a series of distinguished speakers and other events in Cookeville.

Dr. Gary Gallagher of the University of Virginia provided the keynote address on Sept. 6. Gallagher’s presentation, sponsored by the Upper Cumberland Civil War Roundtable and Tennessee Tech University, featured Understanding the Civil War: Causes, Meaning and Memory After 150 Years.

For the first time, Tennessee State Library and Archives hosted the Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee event as part of the Sesquicentennial Signature. The Looking Back project allows Tennesseans to digitally preserve Civil War photos and memorabilia to create a permanent, public archive online.

For more information, please visit tncivilwar150.com.


L to R: Actor as Mark Twain, Marty Marbry, Colonel
Vernie Reichling, Shawn Bible, Senator Mark Norris,
Paula Hankins, Diana Threadgill

Great River Road Trail Launched in Memphis

The launch of Tennessee’s Great River Road Trail was celebrated at a special reception and official inauguration event Sept. 30 at the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island River Park. The eighth of 16 self-guided driving tours in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program, The Great River Road Trail spans 240 miles throughout West Tennessee and is part of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, a 10-state designated route starting in Minnesota and ending at the Gulf of Mexico.

Led by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, The Great River Road Trail is a joint project with the Mississippi River Corridor and the result of multiple state agencies and city and county officials working together. The trail is made up of sites and attractions in Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale, Dyer, Obion and Lake Counties, and guides tourists along the Mighty Mississippi River through small towns, natural areas and historic sites.

State and local officials participated in the special event, including Senator Mark Norris; Mayor A.C. Wharton; Colonel Vernie Reichling, district commander of the United States Army Corps of Engineers; Benny Lendermon, president of the Memphis Riverfront Development Corporation; and representatives from the Tennessee Departments of Tourist Development and Transportation.

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton at the launch event

The Great River Road Trail urges visitors to take in the 64 cultural gems. For more information about Great River Road and other trails, visit tntrailsandbyways.com.    

Upcoming trail launches are:

Oct. 12 – Promised Land Trail

Oct. 20 – Ring of Fire Trail

Nov. 4 – Tennessee River Trail

Nov. 17 – Tanasi Trail

Fall Web Assistance Tour

Some spaces remain in the final fall web assistance tour stop for 2011. The Web training team will be in Memphis on Tuesday, October 4, from 2 pm - 4 pm at the Memphis Marriott Downtown.

This session is free to all Tennessee tourism businesses. To reserve your place to get hands-on assistance with tnvacation.com, T3 deals program, tnvacation mobile site and more; email training@tnvacation.com. Spots will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Facts & Trends

This year’s Governor’s Conference Report on Tourism, available online at tnvacation.com/industry after the Conference concludes on Oct. 7, features the 2011 Tennessee Tourism Research Report provided by D.K. Shifflet & Associates.

Among the important highlights for 2010’s Tennessee stats:

-Overall visitation continues to grow
-GenXers are now the dominant generation of visitors
-Georgia is the largest origin market
-Fall and summer are the dominant travel seasons
-Tennessee hosted visitors an average of 2.2 nights (including day trips)
-Daily per-person spending is at $113
-Dining, shopping, entertainment, sightseeing, nature/eco-travel, national/state parks,
and visiting historic sites are some of the most popular activities for Tennessee visitors.

Visit tnvacation.com/industry on October 7, for the complete report.

Welcome Center

Precious Banks

Employee of the Month

Precious Banks’ name could be considered a play on words.  As a Welcome Center Assistant at the Memphis I-40 Welcome Center, her place of work sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and with a life-long commitment to helping others, well, it all comes together.

She has been with the Department of Tourist Development for over 10 years, during which time she has provided excellent customer service. After visiting the Welcome Center, Precious saw a great opportunity.  “I thought it would be the best place to work,” said Precious.  

She takes great pride in her job as well as ensures that our guests have a wonderful experience while visiting Tennessee. Once a senior lady, who was afraid of heights, had driven over the bridge from Arkansas and entered the Welcome Center perplexed from the experience. Precious offered to drive the woman back over the bridge in order for her to return home safely. This is just one of the many reasons Precious is our Tennessee Welcome Centers Employee of the Month for September 2011.

Over the past year Precious made 612 hotel reservations, which ranks third statewide among our Welcome Center Assistants.  She also enjoys greeting visitors while assisting them with finding attractions and dining, as well as lodging. 

Industry Applause

Coolidge Park, Chattanooga

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

Chattanooga Tops Outside magazine’s “Best Towns Ever” List  

Outside magazine, America's leading active-lifestyle publication, has selected Chattanooga as the winner in its search to determine the best Outside town in America. Outside scoured the nation to find dream cities that offered a balance of great culture, perfect scenery, stress-free and reasonable cost of living, and, of course, easy access to the outdoors. Chattanooga came out on top, receiving the official honor of Outside's "Best Towns Ever" and is featured on the October 2011 magazine cover.

Gatlinburg one of the best places for family vacation

Trip Advisor named Gatlinburg as one of their top destinations for family vacations and one of the top places to see the colorful fall leaves. The 2010 Travelers Choice Destination Awards are based on millions of reviews and opinions from travelers on Tripadvisor.com.

Forbes Announces Top 10 Destinations

Forbes Top 10 Great American Destinations ranks the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as # 9 with 9.04 million annual visitors.

Nashville Plans Museum on African American Music

The intention of a new museum for Nashville is to expand awareness of the Music City and the origins of country music. The National Museum of African American Music will show locals and tourists how the city played an important role in nurturing African American music, which in turn influenced the roots of country and many other American genres. 

Clarksville Market #1

Clarksville’s Downtown Market at Public Square was voted #1 in the state of Tennessee and #15 in the nation, in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. The contest is hosted each year by American Farmland Trust. This is the second year in a row the Clarksville Downtown Market has won first place in the state of Tennessee


Tourism WORKS!

Located on Highway 57 South in Pickwick a new billboard proclaims that Tourism Works in Hardin County. Sponsored by the Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau the board touts information  provided by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the U.S. Travel Association – The Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties 2009.

Forbes Names Mirimichi in 12 Best Value Golf Courses in US

According to Forbes every golf course on this list is of exceptional quality, as well as, location and price. All of these can be played for less than $100, often far less.  That’s where Mirimichi shines.  In 2007, native Tennessean Justin Timberlake bought a financially troubled Memphis course and pumped $16 million bucks into it, turning it into one of the most eco-friendly courses in the world and reopening it as the 7,400-yard Mirimichi. Mirimichi is the only course on earth with both Audubon Sanctuary and the rarer Golf Environmental Organization certified status, and Timberlake is said to be working towards the highest LEED Platinum certification for the buildings. Landing on the list, Mirimichi costs just $59-$71, and also offers a short course and a natural grass putting course.

Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You

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