Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents August 2012 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

Tennessee tourism is certainly on a roll this summer! Great Smoky Mountains National Park, already America’s most visited National Park, saw an increase of nearly 411,000 more people for the first six months of 2012, year-over-year. This is a trend we are seeing throughout the state, with record attendance at Knoxville’s International Biscuit Festival, Nashville’s CMA Fest and Memphis’ 26 percent increase in combined visitation at major attractions, including the Memphis Zoo, Beale Street and Graceland.

Here in the Department of Tourist Development, we are continually monitoring our response metrics to stay up on how we’re doing. We were delighted to see that June broke all records for unique visitors per month to tnvacation.com, with 521,475 uniques. Tnvacation.com mobile site visits are up 18.1 percent. These types of numbers denote an increasing demand for information about all regions of Tennessee, strongly suggesting that this ‘roll’ we’re on will be continuing throughout the year. That’s great news for the industry and Tennessee’s economy!

More celebration is anticipated at Graceland during the 35th anniversary of Elvis Week, August 10-18. Record crowds are expected as fans from all over the world descend on Memphis to remember the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Nashville is hoping to extend the stay of Elvis Week visitors to Tennessee by offering special Elvis events at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Hatch Show Prints. More visitors, staying longer, spending more – it works!

Tennessee’s Civil War Trail continues to expand. August and September will bring 19 additional Civil War markers installed throughout the state, bringing the total number of markers along the statewide trail to 257. After these installations, markers will be in 76 of our 95 counties. Tennessee’s Civil War Trail map guide remains the No. 1 most requested in the five-state program.

In Tennessee, “We’re Playing Your Song,” and this year, tourism’s marketing tagline has been creatively modified for our Governor’s Conference on Tourism taking place September 19-21 at the incredibly beautiful Wilderness Resort in Sevierville. “Playing Tourism’s Song” sets the tone for the conference, an important event our statewide tourism partners won’t want to miss.

The lineup of conference speakers is excellent. I am thrilled that Joel Manby, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, managing partner of Dollywood, is bringing our keynote address. There’s a good chance you saw Joel on Undercover Boss, a memorable episode that led to Joel’s book and his keynote topic “Love Works - Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leadership.” Before coming to Herschend, Joel was the CEO of Saab Automobile USA. During his tenure, Saab's sales increased by 67 percent and their J.D. Power Quality Rating jumped from 30th to 5th in the industry. I am looking forward to learning much from this proven industry leader.

Hearing Joel’s keynote address will no doubt be worth the price of admission, but John Whisenant and his committee at the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable have planned much more. This year’s conference features the annual Marketing Super Seminar on Social Media ROI led by Rich Benjamin, and industry educational seminars facilitated by key leaders from within our industry. Our friends at Dollywood have even offered to provide a free ticket to their amazing theme park for each conference participant – wow! What a way to finish a conference on tourism.

I look forward to seeing you there and presenting the State of the Industry address where I have even more exciting news to report. Yes, that’s a tease…and you won’t be disappointed! For more conference details and registration information, visit http://www.tenntourismroundtable.com/.

The Tourism Committee received some great input from industry partners during our recent meeting in Jackson. An open forum with industry partners from Nashville will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on August 30. I hope those of you in middle Tennessee will join us to discuss the direction of tourism in Tennessee.

School starts soon, which means families will be making the most of the final days of summer visiting Tennessee’s many tourism attractions. Congratulations on a banner year and for keeping Tennessee such a successful vacation destination all year long.

Warmest regards,


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Outstanding Speakers and Educational Seminars Highlight Governor’s Conference 2012

Nationally-recognized and highly sought-after speakers and a wide variety of professional development seminars will be featured during the 2012 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which will be held September 19 – 21 in Sevierville.

The conference kick-offs on Wednesday, September 19, with Rich Benjamin leading the Tourism Marketing Super Seminar from 2 - 4 p.m. EDT. In these days of tightening budgets and demand for a higher return on investment, being able to track and quantify digital marketing  results is critical.  In this year’s Super Seminar, “It’s All About the ROI: Tracking the Effectiveness of Your Social and Online Marketing,” Benjamin will teach how to use Google Analytics and other tools to track online investments.

Bringing the conference keynote address on Thursday morning will be Joel Manby, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation.  In his presentation, “Love Works. Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders,” Manby turns the traditional view of leadership on its head. As an expert on leadership, Manby doesn’t lead with power; he leads with love. He views love as a mode of thinking – one that has helped him deliver tangible results and position HFE (which includes Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, and Stone Mountain Park) as the 9th largest themed attractions company in the world.

Also featured at this year’s conference will be Commissioner Susan Whitaker, who will present the annual “State of the Industry” address and department presentation on Friday morning, September 21, and the Hon. Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee, who has been invited to speak at the closing luncheon on Friday.

On Thursday, an outstanding series of educational and professional development seminars will be offered, as follows:

  • Group Sales 101   The group tour market can be a valuable and important part of any marketing and sales plan. This seminar helps sort through the alphabet soup of associations and the types of group sales opportunities they present, which trade shows are a priority, and how to maximize the group sales machine. 
  • Next Steps in Your Social Media Marketing  OK, you’ve gotten on the bandwagon and built your Facebook page and Twitter account and posted a few videos on YouTube.  But what’s next?  This seminar will help you maximize those efforts and tell you about the newest trends and emerging platforms in social media marketing.
  • Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Update  Major events marking the Sesquicentennial have already taken place to great success. This seminar will preview upcoming events and activities and provide valuable resources to help maximize your public relations and event planning efforts related to the Sesquicentennial.
  • Tennessee on the World Stage  International travel to Tennessee is on the rise and offers tremendous growth potential for both urban and rural destinations in the state.  This seminar will feature information on the State’s international marketing program and how to take advantage of this expanding market. 
  • Public Relations and the New Media   The Internet, our websites, and digital platforms can be powerful public relations tools used to effectively reach the travel media with your destination’s story. In this seminar, you will learn how to best utilize new media to reach travel writers and the press, as well as utilize the outstanding public relations opportunities offered through the Department of Tourist Development.
  • Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways 2.0: What’s Next?  The final trail in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program has been launched, and they now crisscross the state with wonderful opportunities for visitors to experience Tennessee.This seminar provides insight on how to take full advantage of the Trails program.  

And of course there will be great social activities – the TTR/THA/SCHA Golf Tournament, Opening Night Event at the Wild Water Dome Indoor Water Park, Sevierville Dine-Around, and free admission to area attractions such as Dollywood and Titanic – all of this awaits you at this year’s conference!

Additional information on the conference, including schedule, registration, lodging, and fun can be found on the TTR Web site at www.tenntourismroundtable.com.

TDTD Launches Newly Transformed Press Room Site

In a continuing effort to serve all media, especially the travel journalists interested in helping spread Tennessee’s tourism message, Designsensory, TDTD’s digital agency, has completed a total transformation of tnvacation.com’s Press Room. 

Given the task, not just of an upgrade, but of a colossal renovation, Joseph Nother, principal & creative director at Designsensory, and the Designsensory team, were tasked with taking advantage of new technology, improving usability and increasing relevant content.

Content helped drive design decisions, leaning heavily on images to create the visual appeal necessary to showcase Tennessee’s scenic grandeur and high-profile attractions.

Providing journalists with immediate access to Tennessee tourism news was the highest priority, landing “Hot News” and “Local Features” front and center on the homepage. Providing story ideas to journalists searching the site brought about an expansive section, also featured on the homepage, and leading to additional story ideas on a primary landing page.

In addition to redesigning and developing the website, Designsensory created new versions of the press kit information for offline use and in PDF form. Each PDF features a narrative with beautiful photography with captions to showcase Tennessee’s outstanding tourism resources. Photo assets from the archive and related partner URLs with hotlinks are provided to enhance the PDF.

The Photos & Videos page offers journalist the ability to download high resolution images and or watch video clips to enhance their stories. Journalists are required to request a log-in and password for access to the images and videos.

Easily navigable, the site features What’s New, Tourism News (archives), Media Kit, Story Ideas, Photos & Videos, and Contact Us.

Changes to the Press Room infrastructure expedited a plan to set and streamline the infrastructure for Industry Partner communication as well.

These important updates include new and improved press release submissions via the industry partner portal. And, COMING SOON, the opportunity to submit images via the website, with each press release submission.

·      Submitting press releases can now be done by logging in to your vendor page at: http://www.tnvacation.com/industry/

·      Press releases should be submitted at least two weeks in advance of event when possible.

·      Please make every effort to include images with all press releases, with credit and captions when available.

For a look at the new Press Room visit http://press.tnvacation.com/

Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways: What’s Next?

As you are aware, all 16 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways trails have been developed and launched as of June 26. This extensive trail program, which encompasses all 95 counties, has been three years in the making and we are excited to move into the next phase of the program. An early September meeting has been set with the project managers and trail leaders to better define the industry’s needs and develop a plan that provides support to the program. In addition, the new and updated trailsandbyways.com site will be launched in September. The new features and enhancements include personalized itineraries, sorting of POIs, easier back end functionality for editing, audio tours, and a more engaging, user-friendly design.

Be sure to check out the Governor’s Conference schedule and join us for a discussion on Discover Tennessee Trails: What’s Next? This session will tell you how you can take fullest advantage of the Trails to market your destination.

2012-2013 Partnership Marketing Program Announced

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is pleased to announce we will once again provide matching funds for FY 2012-2013, through the Partnership Marketing Program. The program provides tourism organizations the opportunity to expand the impact of their marketing message, increase visitation to their community and increase travel-generated revenue. Sponsorships awarded are limited to available funds, as well as the number of requests received.

Program Schedule:

August 1, 2012: TDTD to distribute the program packets via email

September 3, 2012: Applications due to TDTD

September 14, 2012: Partnership marketing funds awarded (notified via email and traditional mail)

May 3, 2013: Qualifying projects must be complete

May 31, 2013: Reimbursement paperwork and final report due to TDTD

If you have any questions, please contact Colleen Coury at Colleen.Coury@tn.gov.

SYTA 2012 Coming to Nashville

It’s almost time!  The Department of Tourist Development and the state of Tennessee are excited for Nashville to host the annual SYTA (Student Youth Travel Association) Conference this year, August 24-28 at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. 

If you interested in getting involved, there are SYTA volunteer opportunities still available. It is a great opportunity to network and build new relationships with SYTA attendees, as well as other partners across our state. 

Again, you do not need to be a SYTA member to volunteer, and if your organization is not yet a member, this could be a wonderful preview to determine if a SYTA membership would benefit your organization. 

if you would like to volunteer, please contact Amy Starnes at amy@visitmusiccity.com as soon as possible. 

For those Tennessee partners registered for the SYTA conference, the state’s caucus, or “Destination Get Together,” will be at 8:15 a.m. CDT August 26in the Tennessee Ballroom, Gaylord Convention Center, Level 2. This is an opportunity for DMO representatives to share leads with our TN partner delegates. 

Lastly, the TDTD is updating its group sales profile sheet. If you have updates (including student friendly ones) to be considered for inclusion, please email all details by August 3 to Bennjin at Bennjin.lao@tn.gov

140 Characters: When Enough is Plenty

by Betsy Snyder, senior copywriter, Sullivan Branding

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Concise, descriptive, leaves you wanting more. Just like a good marketing headline.

Hemmingway wrote that, and it's become a famous example of the power of concision in fiction.

What if that had been a tweet?

Ah, Twitter. Powerful social tool. Political force. News breaker. Magnifier of ignorance. Eternal ledger of impulsive ranting. Connector of humans. Vampire of time.

No matter what you think of the little blue bird, Twitter has become more than just a place to broadcast what you’re having for lunch or your current “I’m so bored” message, though there’s plenty of that out there, too.

Like the form restrictions of the sonnet and the haiku before it, Twitter’s 140-character enforced limit is drawing out writers’ creativity in unexpected ways: Some write “Twiction” or “TwitFic” composed of 140-character lines. Others write brilliantly brief super-flash fiction that stands alone, like Hemmingway's. Some use it to keep track of ideas, or keep a timeline journal.

What can Twitter do --beyond social media-- for brand messaging? It's a valuable tool for boiling everything down to the truth.

What would you say about your brand/ service/ product if you only had 140 characters?

What, in 140 characters, do you want your audience to do? To feel?

Try it with your next ad headline or branding exercise. It’s going to take some work, but chances are that what you cram into those 140 characters is going to come extremely close to the brand’s core truth.

Memphis makes an advertising splash during the 2012 London Olympics.

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