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

Dear Colleagues,

December already! This wonderful season of celebration brings family and friends together and inspires many travelers to visit Tennessee. That’s no surprise, since we are fortunate to be a four-season travel destination.

Throughout the state, in our major cities, small towns and rural communities, tourism partners have stepped-up their game with holiday and winter festivities that continue throughout much of the season. These creative tourism efforts are paying off. We received official confirmation that winter travel in Tennessee is on the increase. According to D.K. Shifflet & Associates’ 2011 TN Visitor Profile report, winter saw the largest seasonal growth in the state. Be sure to read the “Trending in Tennessee” article for additional visitor profile information in this edition of Rhythm & News.

We are currently in the early planning stages for FY 2013-2014, having recently had the Department’s budget hearing before Governor Haslam and Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes. These annual hearings are an excellent opportunity to review the outstanding ROI the state has been getting on its annual appropriation, describing the highlights of Tennessee’s impressive tourism results.

Economic impact numbers were announced at the Governor’s Conference in Sevierville. Tennessee tourism’s total direct economic impact reached $15.36 billion. This is the first time we have exceeded $15 billion, and at $1.2 billion, it is the largest single increase we have seen year over year. We saw a record-setting 54 million person-trips to Tennessee, now ranking us 9th among all states in total travel. For the second consecutive year, all 95 counties saw an increase in total travel expenditures.

In my mind, the success of tourism in Tennessee is due to three major factors: first, the incredible beauty and variety of must-see attractions in this state that also just happens to have the best music in the entire world. Secondly, using a variety of media platforms, we are doing an impressive job of getting the word out about all the amazing things there are to see and do here. Finally, and most importantly, it is the inspiring day-in, day-out efforts of the entire tourism industry that offers such an incredible Tennessee experience to our traveling guests. Thank you for your continuing commitment to excellence. It is working!

2012 will be remembered as the year we completed the launch of all 16 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways, commemorated the 150th anniversary of the battle of Shiloh with more than 110,000 tourists in attendance and saw the launch of ABC’s hit show Nashville, reaching millions of viewers across the country every week. It’s also the year we saw Tennessee’s four Music Voyager shows broadcast in over 140 countries, translated into 33 languages and reaching more than 170 million homes around the world. We just received word that it was picked-up by NDTV, one of the leading television broadcast companies in Asia. NDTV reaches the entire Indian broadcast footprint as well as key areas in Asia, Australia, Africa and more.

Throughout the year many Tennessee destinations and attractions have received impressive national accolades. A list of these “best of…” may be found online in TDTD’s 2012 Roadmap. Since publishing the Roadmap in September, the kudos continue. To name just a few, the Southeast Tourism Society awarded Ruby Falls Travel Attraction of the Year and Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass Festival the Festival of the Year Shining Example Award. Chattanooga was named “Best Outdoor City” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, and Ballet Memphis River Project received high praise in the New York Times. Nashville was No. 3 on the Travel + Leisure countdown of America’s best cities. This just in, National Geographic Traveler named Memphis one of their Top 20 “Best in the World 2013” destinations. Congratulations to all!

Tourism in Tennessee keeps bringing it – authenticity, hospitality, great entertainment… and the travelers keep coming our way. More visitors, staying longer, spending more. That’s music to my ears!

I hope your holidays are filled with the joy of knowing how truly blessed we are living in this special place called Tennessee.

May each of you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Susan Whitaker


Featured Articles:

Savor the Sounds of a Tennessee Winter- winter.tnvacation.com

With winter fast approaching, the sights, sounds, warmth and welcome of Southern hospitality come to life in the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s newly launched winter microsite.  

TDTD’s digital agency Designsensory once again created an engaging site using a vertical parallax design and development process. The site, themed Savor the Sounds of a Tennessee Winter, weaves the state’s strong suits of music, remarkable people, warm and memorable places with holiday lights and cherished traditions. Design elements recall holidays past while offering fresh ideas for new memory-making.

In addition, a portion of the site is dedicated to Music Voyager. Visitors to this section can watch clips of interviews and performances from the international show filmed in Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis. Music Voyager is being shown in 140 countries, 33 languages in more than 170 million homes around the world. 

The first of the 2013 “Take me to Tennessee” sweepstakes will roll out just in time for the first day of winter, Dec. 21. The sweepstakes are designed to create excitement and awareness about Tennessee by driving visitors to the site to register and to connect with us through the eNewsletters, deals and social media. 

The winter contest will give four lucky winners each a prize package to one of Tennessee’s biggest music festivals – CMA Fest, Riverbend Festival, Bonnaroo and Memphis in May.

With an exciting seasonal contest, immersive imagery and upbeat content, winter.tnvacation.com brings together the best of Tennessee. From skiing in the Smokies to celebrating a blue Christmas while touring Elvis’ Graceland, the state offers locals and tourists alike an unforgettable winter experience.

TACVB Blizzard Jan. 31 -Feb. 1

Don’t miss the 7th annual TACVB Blizzard Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro. The conference will feature topics and speakers designed to educate, motivate and inspire tourism professionals responsible for bringing visitors to Tennessee.

Highlights for the 2013 conference include: Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment (Bonnaroo),  Neville Bhada with Tourism Skills Group and Tom Duke of Populace. In addition, Dr. Steve Morse of the University of Tennessee will share ideas for celebrating Tourism Week in your hometown. 

TACVB’s affiliate members will also be there to introduce products and services, as well as offering tips for better business outcomes.

Along with our presenting sponsor, MILES, we look forward to seeing you in January.

Stay tuned for registration information. For more information, contact Sheila Leggett, 615/254-1233 or sheila@associationpartners.com.

Special Edition Marketing eNewsletter Scheduled for January 17

In order to allow tourism partners to maximize their participation level with the marketing opportunities provided by the department, TDTD will distribute a special marketing eNewsletter on January 17 that outlines both the print and digital partnerships available. The goal is to increase awareness of the department’s marketing programs, as well as provide instant access to relevant, marketing content.

Here is a quick glimpse at the topics to be covered.

What is an industry profile on tnvacation.com?

How do I implement the tracking codes for the department’s logo, on my site?

What are two simple and cost effective ways to grow business through print avenues?

What are two simple and cost effective ways to grow business through digital avenues?

Creatively, this special edition partner eNewsletter will mirror the monthly consumer co-op eNewsletter, featuring one lead story with four content wells. Watch your email for this important communique from tourism. We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2013!

Travel South International Showcase

Travel South International Showcase post-FAM attendees visit Dolly’s statue in SeviervilleTravel South International Showcase post-FAM attendees visit Dolly’s statue in SeviervilleRepresentatives from Tennessee Tourism just attended Travel South’s inaugural International Showcase. The department, along with 13 Tennessee partners, helped Travel South host 80 tour operator delegates from 17 countries on six continents.  In addition to the nearly-full books of appointments for each Tennessee supplier attendee, the partners and the department held a private dinner event for 12 of those international operators during the showcase in Atlanta.  Immediately after the tradeshow, Tennessee, along with Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Chattanooga, and Nashville, hosted two post-FAM tours for 21 of those operator delegates to see and experience the Great Smoky Mountains region, Chattanooga, Lynchburg, and Nashville.  Thank you so very much, partners, for making this a resounding success! 

Like last year, the department will participate in the annual Midwest Band Clinic, held in Chicago, to help promote our partners and venues to the student band and youth performance market.  We will be attending with Clarksville, Nashville, Gaylord Attractions, and Graceland. 

January is just around the corner, which brings ABA Marketplace in Charlotte and NTA/Travel Exchange in Orlando. Tennessee is hosting dinners for each event on the dine-around nights. If you are interested in participating in those dinner events, please be sure to return the dinner participation forms as soon as possible. If you have any questions, contact Bennjin at Bennjin.Lao@tn.gov.

New Recycling Program Implemented at Welcome Centers across Tennessee

Recycling containers at the I-75 Chattanooga Welcome CenterRecycling containers at the I-75 Chattanooga Welcome Center Tourist Development, TDEC and TDOT recently announced the implementation of the Welcome Center Recycling Program. Recycling receptacles were installed at Tennessee Welcome Centers across the state just in time for America Recycles Day.

“… Millions of Americans have pledged to increase their recycling habits at home and at work,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau.  “However, recycling away from home is one challenge that all recyclers face. Along with Commissioners Schroer and Whitaker, I am pleased to announce the implementation of our Welcome Center Recycling Program at centers across Tennessee. Visitors to our state will now see receptacles with blue and green lids for recycling.”

Welcome center visitors across the state have the opportunity to recycle cans and bottles at the I-65 /Ardmore, I-81/ Bristol, I-75 /Chattanooga, I-24 /Clarksville, I-26 / Erwin, I-40 / Hartford, I-75 / Jellico, I-65 / Mitchellville, I-40 /Smith County and I-24 / Tiftonia centers.

State agencies such as TDOT, TDEC and Tourist Development will partner with Keep Tennessee Beautiful and the Tennessee Recycling Coalition, joining an impressive roster of county and city governments, non-profits and local schools on a number of projects throughout the state ranging from charitable drives to expanded recycling opportunities. These projects are designed to encourage employees, residents and visitors of the Volunteer State to both minimize waste and to recycle as often as possible.

Get Ready for 2013! by Dave Jones

Is there ever a slow month in tourism?  Well, if you have the words “Marketing” or “PR” in your job title, the answer is probably “No!”   The tourism partners we polled see December as the “gateway” into a successful new year. 

Analyze:  “This is the time I finalize my 2013 PR plan,” says Candace Davis, public relations and marketing manager for the Chattanooga CVB.  She, along with others, is analyzing what worked and what needs to be tweaked.  This includes specific seasonal or themed promotions as well as markets to target in the future.

“Part of the analysis formula includes one-on-one visits and roundtable discussions with hotel and restaurant owners,” says Adele Sensing, director of tourism & membership services, of the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce.  “We value their feedback from participation in previous events and sponsorships and, in turn, discover new ideas that will increase “heads in beds in the future.”

Update and Revise:  “December is the perfect month to update those contact lists of media, travel writers and stakeholders, “according Kim Davis, senior director of marketing and communications at Visit Knoxville (Knoxville Convention & Visitors Bureau).  “And don’t forget elected officials.  There can be numerous changes, especially after a very active political year.”  Kim also looks for improvements that might be needed on local maps and brochures.  

And don’t forget to update your media kits and press releases.  If you are new to this PR thing, now is the time to go ahead and produce your basic releases for your business or attraction.  You never know when some news event might be related to what you do and you can ride with a favorable story that has “legs.”

Plan and Create:  This goes without saying.  Everyone we spoke with is putting the finishing touches on their marketing and PR plans.  Kim is planning next year’s media blitz as well as setting dates with local hoteliers for upcoming group FAMS and media tours.  If you have editorial calendars from your key publications, she says this is a good time to look at them and prepare a time-line of when to begin the pitches.  Candace is looking at her time-lines for those seasonal promotions as well.

 Adele uses this time to work on the “creative” for next year, including a new web-site.

Breathe:  Anne Hornyak, Senior Social Media Strategist for Sparkloft Media added this tip on Facebook’s Tourism Geeks page.  After all, December is a time to pull back from the “grind” and refresh those relationships with family and friends.  Enjoy the season to celebrate.

Scott King and Amanda Marr from the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce accept the STS Festival of the Year Shining Example Award for the Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass festival.

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