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

Dear Colleagues,

Summer may be winding its way down, but the last official summer month for travel was a big one for Tennessee!

The whole world seemed to be watching Memphis as the 35th anniversary of Elvis Week saw 75,000 fans walk up the driveway at Graceland to pay tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The 10-day event brought an estimated $100 million in economic impact to Memphis. Our much-loved Elvis Presley has definitely NOT left the building.

Clear over at the other end of the state, more than 145,000 race fans from around the world came to cheer the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, once again demonstrating its status as one of the premier NASCAR races in America. Congratulations to the entire team at BMS for putting on such a fantastic experience for race fans year after year!

It looks like this strong summer for tourism in Tennessee should continue through September and the fall. AAA predicted 33 million Americans would travel at least 50 miles from home for the long Labor Day weekend, a 2.9 percent increase over 2011. On Tuesday, AAA stood by their forecast, signaling a public eager to hit the road, regardless of gas prices.

Congratulations to Nashville and the many volunteers from Tennessee’s tourism community for the success of the Student Youth Travel Association’s national conference held at Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center recently. Nashville hosted more than 1,000 SYTA registrants, including 55 Tennessee tourism associates from DMO’s, hotels, attractions, restaurants and transportation companies. Tennessee’s post-event FAMS hosted 15 tour operators to Memphis and seven to the Smoky Mountain Region.

It was great to have a standing-room-only crowd attend the Tourism Committee’s open forum on August 30th at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. This was the last of the statewide meetings which have contributed immensely to the Committee’s discussions of how to take Tennessee Tourism to the next level of success. Thanks to everyone who has been able to participate in these very important meetings.

It’s not too late to reserve your place at Tennessee’s 2012 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Sept. 19-21 in Sevierville. I look forward to seeing each of you at the beautiful Wilderness at the Smokies Resort. Joel Manby, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation and star of CBS’s Undercover Boss, will bring the keynote address “Love Works - Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leadership.”  I am really looking forward to hearing these insights from such a successful leader in our industry.

I am delighted to announce that Governor Bill Haslam will be addressing the conference at Friday’s luncheon following a presentation by the Tourism Committee, updating the industry on its work. This is also a session you will not want to miss!

Don’t forget Dollywood is providing free admission to each conference attendee, so make your plans to take advantage of Dollywood’s generosity.  For more conference details and registration information, visit tenntourismroundtable.com. 

Are you ready for fall? It’s a wonderful season for travel to Tennessee when the display of fall colors inspires weekend getaways, visits to fall festivals and, of course, football stadiums. I hope you can take some time to enjoy fall in Tennessee this year while we all welcome the millions of tourists who come our way.  See you in Sevierville!

Warmest regards,


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Governor Bill Haslam to Address Tennessee’s 2012 Conference on Tourism

Governor Bill Haslam is confirmed to bring remarks during Friday’s luncheon at Tennessee’s 2012 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, taking place Sept. 19-21 in Sevierville at Wilderness at the Smokies. This will be a perfect time to express our appreciation to Governor Haslam for his ongoing support of our industry.

Commissioner Susan Whitaker’s “State of the Industry” address will take place during the breakfast on Thursday, which will include the roll-out of TDTD’s 2012-13 marketing plan as well as an announcement of the Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties as reported by the U.S. Travel Association. Commissioner Whitaker has hinted in her message that we are in store for some good news again this year.

Not to be missed is the keynote address, “Love Works. Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders,” by Joel Manby, president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. In his presentation, Manby turns the traditional view of leadership on its head, championing the value of leading with love, rather than power.

The Tourism Marketing Super Seminar will kick-off this year’s conference from 2 - 4 p.m. EDT, Sept. 19, with Rich Benjamin leading.

Details about this year’s educational seminars, led by the marketing staff of TDTD, are featured in the article following.

It’s not too late to register for Tennessee’s 2012 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Sept. 19 – 21 in Sevierville. For detailed information, visit www.tenntourismroundtable.com.

TDTD Shares Insight on Industry Programs and Platforms

Sharing ideas with industry partners is what the Governor’s Conference is all about. This year, the Department of Tourist Development will share great information, via panel discussions and Q&A’s during six well-rounded sessions.

Got the social media thing down? Are you changing as it changes? Maximize your efforts by learning how your organization should evolve with the changing world of social media during the Next Steps in Your Social Media Marketing.

There are so many new platforms when it comes to media these days. Are you in the know? Best practices when it comes to working with new digital platforms, travel journalists and utilizing TDTD’s resources will be shared during the Public Relations and the New Media panel discussion.

How can you take full advantage of the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways? The DTTB What’s Next? seminar will walk you through exciting new plans and programs being developed to grow tourism in Tennessee.

Does your organization attend group tour shows? If you’re not, should you? Share ideas about getting the biggest bang for your buck from the group tour market during the Group Tour 101 Q&A session with industry partners.

Did you know the state of Tennessee is the only Civil War National Heritage Area to encompass an entire state? Are you piggybacking on the state’s major events to market the Sesquicentennial in your area? Find out what resources are available during the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Update.

International travel to Tennessee is on the rise and the State of Tennessee is working hard to make sure it continues. The department’s international marketing representatives will discuss the state’s international marketing program and will take you through the steps you can take to get your share of this important market during the Tennessee on the World Stage session.

Please make plans to come and share your ideas with us! After all, that’s what it’s all about!

Tennessee Civil War Trails Program Reaches 250 Milestone

There are now 253 newly-interpreted Civil War Trail markers located along Tennessee’s Civil War Trail with many more sites ready to be installed later this fall.  As a key project of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and 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.

L-R are Rep. Steve McDaniel, Sen. Delores Gresham, Lee Curtis, Marty Marbry, Mary Beth Hopper.   In the back row are members of the Leadership Class who sponsored the marker along with Co. Mayor Dwain Seaton and Emily Hunt-Johnson, Ex. Director of the Chamber of Commerce.L-R are Rep. Steve McDaniel, Sen. Delores Gresham, Lee Curtis, Marty Marbry, Mary Beth Hopper. In the back row are members of the Leadership Class who sponsored the marker along with Co. Mayor Dwain Seaton and Emily Hunt-Johnson, Ex. Director of the Chamber of Commerce.The Civil War Trails program takes 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 Tennessee’s unique and fascinating Civil War heritage. One look at the Tennessee Civil War Trails map guide, with a distribution of 1.2 million, will provide insight as to how significant Tennessee was during the Civil War.

The Sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, 2011 – 2015, provides the tourism industry with a unique opportunity to showcase the state’s  rich Civil War heritage to national and international visitors, and to the citizens of Tennessee.  MARK YOUR CALENDAR – Tennessee’s 2013 Sesquicentennial Signature Event will be held in Chattanooga Oct. 9-12, 2013. 

The popularity of the Tennessee Civil War website, tncivilwar150.com, and the Tennessee Civil War map guide, are strong indicators of the high interest tourists 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.  Tennessee Welcome Centers report the Civil War Trails map guide is one of their most requested brochures and there continues to be a strong interest from the UK and German markets.

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 learn more about the economic opportunities available through the Tennessee Civil War Trails program please join Dr. Carroll Van West at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism session, Authenticity in Travel: Tennessee’s Civil War Heritage – A Story Worth Telling!   For more information on the program visit www.tncivilwar150.com.  

Marketing Update

Rural Tourism Committee Meeting Set

The Rural Tourism Committee will meet for an all-day strategic planning session on Sept. 10, 2012, in Nashville. The committee is a restructured version of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways' trail leaders and project managers, as well as members for the Department of Tourist Development and the Marketing Tourism Committee.

The meeting agenda consists of the following topics:

Program Sustainability
Brochure Inventory
Signage Status
Project Updates (apps, social media, etc.)
Trail Tool Kits

The information discussed during the Sept. 10 meeting will be included in the Trails' Session during the 2012 Governor's Conference. Don't miss it!

Partnership Marketing Program Extension

Due to the holiday weekend, we are adding a two-day extension to the Partnership Marketing Program application deadline. Please make sure to submit all of your materials by Wednesday, Sept. 5 for fiscal year, 2012-2013.

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:

Aug. 1, 2012: TDTD distributed the program packets via email

Sept. 3, 2012: Applications due to TDTD

Sept. 5, 2012: Deadline extension to receive applications

Sept. 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.

Sales Update

SYTA Delegates Worked Hard and Played Hard in Nashville

A big thank you to all of our Tennessee partners who generously gave of their time to volunteer during the SYTA (Student Youth Travel Association) conference in Nashville.  It was a very successful conference, not only for the quality appointments and meetings, but also for the amazingly positive impressions of Tennessee’s hospitality now fixed in the minds of the 1004 delegates who attended, both tour operators and suppliers alike.

The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum rolled out the red carpet for SYTA attendees. Photo Credit: Nashville CVBThe Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum rolled out the red carpet for SYTA attendees. Photo Credit: Nashville CVBThe TDTD had 29 pre-scheduled appointments, and conducted 16 roundtable sessions, which resulted in meetings with an additional 32 tour operator delegates.  The state of Tennessee was well-represented at the conference, with 55 Tennessee suppliers registered from 43 different companies.  And the positive impressions continued after the conference, as 22 tour operator delegates left Nashville and participated in two post-FAM tours, one hosted by Memphis, and the other hosted by Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.  

Coming up at Governor’s Conference in Sevierville, plan to attend one of two group sales sessions taking place during the educational seminars portion of the conference. 

We will discuss the various associations and what types of group sales opportunities they present for your organization.

T3 Program Update

Beginning in September the Tennessee Travel Tuesdays program, or T3, will be revamped. Starting this month T3 emails will be sent out every other week while weekly promotion of T3 deals on Facebook and Twitter will continue as well as 24-7 availability on tnvacation.com. These changes are the result of tightened budget resources. The T3 program remains free of charge to our tourism partners who qualify for a free partner page on tnvacation.com.

Johnson City to Host 2012 Southeast Outdoor Press Association Conference

Outdoor journalists will come together in Johnson City for the Annual SEOPA Fall Conference Sept. 26-29. The four-day event offers educational workshops conducted by top professionals in the fields of writing, photography, book publishing, computer technology and other areas of outdoor communication.

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will be represented at this year’s meeting and is a sponsor, along with Johnson City CVB, of the welcoming reception and dinner at Gray Fossil Site and Museum.

In addition, pre and post-conference media tours are offered providing opportunities for gathering new story material and photos. Tours offered include: Nolichucky River Smallmouth, Watauga Tailwaters Photo Tour, Holston River Smallmouth, South Holston Fly Fishing, Shady Valley Wetlands Restoration, Black Bear Tracking, Whitewater Rafting, Caving, Quail hunting and Bird Walk and Butterfly Safari.

For more information about the conference, visit www.seopa.org

Networking: You Had Me at Hello

By Alice Heiman, Connect Magazine

Many meeting planners attend conferences for continuing education, but it can be difficult to leave behind the role of planner and assume the role of attendee. Approaching new people can be difficult because of obstacles we put in front of ourselves as well as those innate to a conference setting. As a result, many people leave events without making meaningful contacts.

It’s also a planner’s responsibility to provide opportunities for people to network. Until people are given permission to meet others, most feel self-conscious and remain within their comfort zones. Ideally, every conference should begin with intentional networking events in the beginning that encourage attendees to meet new people. Until icebreakers become a standard, however, attendees must take initiative.

Overcoming Obstacles

Whether you’re shy or outgoing, figuring out how to meet people on your own is difficult. Many conferences provide registrants with a list of names of other attendees. Peruse companies and people, connect over social media prior to arriving and make arrangements to meet up before you get there or during the event. Research if the conference has a program for first-timers. Some places give a badge for newbies, prompting others to approach and welcome them. Connect with speakers ahead of time. Research them and meet up at the conference. Challenge yourself to walk up to someone standing solo and introduce yourself. Remember, singles like to mingle.

Being unprepared is easily overcome with strategy. Ask yourself a few questions to determine your goals. Why are you going? What kind of people do you want to meet? Are you looking for sales, business referrals, a mentor?  Stating your objective will make it easier to find the right people.

Being in a group provides security, but it also can be a hindrance. If you do go with a group, plan goals and create a supportive outreach team beforehand. Get together for breakfast, but disperse during lunch, and meet up again for drinks later. There’s no need to be split the entire time, but utilize the conference time to meet new people. Introduce each other to one another’s acquaintances.

Becoming a Natural

How do you become someone who effortlessly connects with others? A trick is to not just approach people, but to make yourself approachable as well. There is nothing more beneficial than a smile and eye contact. A positive disposition is simple, and it makes people want to meet you. Many conferences supply badges, which unfortunately hang around the neck and land on the stomach—not prime placement for people to figure out who someone is. Bring your own badge and place it in an easy-to-see location, which makes you more accessible.

Once you are in a conversation, relate to the person you are talking with. Listening is crucial. Look him in the eye, smile, and make a connection. Ask genuine questions and find common ground. If you are really interested in people, they will want to continue to talk to you and eventually you will be the focus of the conversation.

Do not try to sell the starting point in a relationship. If a business interaction sounds promising, arrange a future time for that, but do not do it at the conference.

Following Up

What you do after the conference is just as important as what you do prior. Schedule a time for follow-up. Whether by phone, email, lunch or social media—make it happen. Find a way to help your connection before you ask for a sale or a favor. Learn about them and give them the opportunity to know you and develop a relationship of trust. It can be as simple as sharing a resource or recommending a book.

The 35th Anniversary of Elvis Week saw more than 75,000 fans.
Photo credit: Elvis Presley Enterprises.

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