Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents March 2013 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
Articles Industry Trends Calendar Noteworthy Tips
A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

February has certainly been an excellent month for the tourism industry in Tennessee!

Following Governor Bill Haslam's exciting State of the State announcement of an $8 million increase in his budget proposal for the Department, the Tennessee Hospitality Association had over 175 industry professionals attend its annual Day on the Hill last week. The group listened to Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell express their strong support and appreciation for the tourism industry followed by the Governor's exhortation to let every lawmaker know the importance of keeping those increased dollars in the budget! Thanks to all of you who made the trip, enthusiastically thanking Governor Haslam for his amazing support and confidence in tourism as an economic driver, as well as speaking to your legislators about the enormous positive difference that tourism makes to Tennessee's economy. It will take all of us, continually getting the word out and answering any questions that come up, to make this happen. Congratulations to Greg Adkins, CEO of TnHA, and his whole team for putting on a fantastic event on the Hill.

That same afternoon, I had my Senate budget hearing and was proud to introduce the many industry professionals who had come to support the Governor's proposed budget for our department. These legislative meetings are some of the most important I have all year, and it is a pleasure to report the impressive industry facts and economic results that drive our plans for the future. I am pleased to report that the budget received unanimous approval from the Senate Committee. Our budget hearing before the House of Representatives is scheduled for March 21st.

Many people do not realize that tourism is one of the United States’ largest export industries, one which does not even require sending our goods and services overseas - the international consumers come to us to purchase them! It was recently reported that exports of U.S. goods and services were up 4% nationally, with tourist exports up an impressive 10% nationally. The United States is now in the destination marketing business with the BRAND USA campaign that has begun rolling out in key international markets. Why is this so important to Tennessee tourism? International tourism is one of Tennessee's important export industries, and we too have seen a remarkable 14.6% increase in international travel to our beautiful state, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

In support of those efforts, I am very happy to announce that the Department of Tourist Development will now be working with the Department of Economic and Community Development's new initiative in increasing the export of Tennessee's goods to key markets around the globe. I will be serving on the new International Advisory Council which will be working with Export Development Offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany (serving the entire European Union) and China.  I congratulate Commissioner Bill Hagerty on this bold new international strategy and appreciate his inclusion of tourism in this strategic plan.

In the meantime, ABC's primetime show Nashville has been bringing Music City, Tennessee, top of mind throughout America, and is now ready to take it all around the world! The show distributor, Lionsgate, has signed deals to air Nashville in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Scandinavia, Israel, Latin America, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Now that is some crazy international PR we could NEVER have afforded! What an incredible time for Tennessee tourism!

This newsletter is packed with industry news and marketing opportunities for your tourism offices, including the Tennessee Sampler Express ready to take off March 20-22. Please read it carefully to learn everything you can about how we can partner with you to make your season as successful as it can possibly be. There is reason to be optimistic about the future as Dr. Suzanne Cook, U.S. Travel's research guru, recently gave an updated, positive forecast for 2013. In her latest eNewsletter, she called for a 1.2 percent increase in domestic leisure travel for this year as well as continued recovery for the U.S. hotel industry (now entering its fourth year of increase and record room night sales prompting rate increases).

We'll be looking for that increase in travel to come to Tennessee as we roll out our green carpet this spring and welcome millions to our beautiful state. Thank you for all you do to make them feel like honored guests.


With great admiration,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

2013 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held in Franklin

Main street FranklinMain street FranklinThe 2013 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the state’s premier annual tourism industry event, will be held in Franklin September 17, 18 and 19 at the Cool Springs Conference Center and Franklin Marriott Hotel. The conference attracts hundreds of statewide representatives from Tennessee’s $15.36 billion tourism industry, the state’s No. 1 non-farm industry.

 “We are delighted to be hosting the Governor’s Conference this year,” said Mark Shore, executive director of the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Not only is this a boost to our local economy, it is also an opportunity for us to showcase our community to tourism professionals from across the state.”

The annual three-day conference features nationally-known tourism experts and speakers, educational sessions, a trade show, and presentations by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Governor. Attendees also have an opportunity to experience the local area through special events, tours, and dine-arounds.

“We are very excited to be returning to Franklin for this year’s conference,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.  “Williamson County is known across the state for its heritage tourism, wonderful shopping and dining, and first-class meeting facilities. When you combine all of that with Franklin’s central location, I know we’re going to have a truly outstanding conference this year.”

Franklin has hosted the conference twice before, first in 1999 and again in 2005.  “We look forward to returning to Franklin for our conference,” said John Whisenant, executive director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, the organization which produces the conference in partnership with the Department of Tourist Development. “Every time we have been in Franklin, the entire community has gone out of its way to make us feel welcome and has worked hard to ensure its success. We definitely look forward to working with Mark and his great staff at the Williamson County CVB as we plan what I know is going to be a wonderful event.”

Information on the 2013 conference will be available soon on the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable website at www.tenntourismroundtable.com.

Teams Prepare for Sampler Express March 20-22

Thank you for the great response for the 2013 Sampler Express. A total of 49 tourism partners signed up to join our PR and Sales teams!

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is excited to hit the road again for this grassroots and economical approach that takes teams along different routes, conducting sales and PR calls to AAA offices, tour operators and media representatives.

PR has four teams made up by 13 partners and four TDTD staff. These four teams will divide and conquer in the following markets: Little Rock, AR; Fayetteville, AR; Springfield, MO, Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Huntsville, AL, Augusta, GA; Columbia, SC; Charlotte, NC, Lexington, KY; Cincinnati, OH and Columbus, OH.

This year, TDTD Sales Team has 36 partners and 2 TDTD staff divided between seven teams.  The group will first head to Atlanta on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 for the Auto Club Group – Southern Region (formerly AAA Auto Club South) monthly Member Appreciation Events, and have a Tennessee spin at each of their seven Atlanta-area branches. Following the AAA/Tennessee events, teams will call on the following markets: Atlanta, GA; Greenville, SC; Spartanburg, SC; Charlotte, NC; Greensboro, NC; Asheville, NC; Augusta, GA; Charleston, SC; Myrtle Beach, SC; Columbia, SC; Macon, GA; Savannah, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Tallahassee, FL; Columbus, GA; Montgomery, AL; Birmingham, AL and Huntsville, AL.


A jump drive containing press materials for all PR attendees will be created. Partners participating can send general press overview, quick facts or what’s new sheet, (no more than 10 pages) along with 10 images to Amanda Stravinsky, amanda.stravinsky@tn.gov, no later than EOD Thursday, March 7.

All Sampler attendees may also provide a sales profile sheet for the sales notebooks. Please send 200 copies of your sales profile sheet, (THREE-Hole Punched) by EOD Thursday, March 7 to Bennjin Lao at the address below:

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue/25th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-1102
Attn: Bennjin Lao

Small bags will be provided by TDTD for use on each appointment as “goodie bags” and/or marketing/sales collateral holders.  We will give each team captain the bags, then each team participant can bring their own “goodie” items (not required, but welcomed) and teams will stuff their bags in their respective team destinations prior to the PR and sales calls.

A final travel itinerary with confirmed meetings and detailed contact information will be sent out by EOD March 14. This will include meeting location in each city of departure and parking details for those leaving cars behind.

It’s going to be a great Sampler Express!

Tennessee Vacation Guide and TN Tourism Designs Win Gold Addy Awards

The 2013 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide won a gold ADDY for “Best Guide Cover” and the introductory 16-page photo essay spread was awarded gold and a “Judge’s Choice Award” at the 2013 American Advertising Federation’s ADDY Awards.

The guide publisher, Miles Media produced the 16-page photo essay spread which showcases some of the state’s most popular scenic sites in impressive double-page spreads. The award was received at the local AAF Addy Awards Feb. 21 in Sarasota, Fla.

Designsensory produced the Tennessee Vacation Guide’s striking cover which features a “Tennessee Family” enjoying some of Tennessee’s adventures and also presents an opportunity for readers to experience a behind-the-scenes video of the “Tennessee Family,” accessible with a click of a QR code.  

This award and numerous others were received at the AAF Addy Gala in Knoxville Feb. 16.  In addition to the Best Guide Cover, Designsensory accepted multiple awards for Tennessee Tourism designs. Additional Gold awards were given for the Civil War App; tnvacation.com Spring 2012 website; TN Vacation Guide Video and Landing Page Integrated Campaigns; tnvacation.com Winter 2012 website; TN State Parks 75th Anniversary website and the TN Trails and Byways website. Silver awards were given for the tnvacation.com Summer 2012 website and the tnvacation.com Triptales Blog.

These awards recognize creative among the best in the area. Gold and Silver ADDY Award winners will go on to be entered into regional and national competitions.

The American Advertising Federation’s ADDY Awards represent the spirit of creative excellence by recognizing all forms of advertising from media of all types, creative by all sizes and entrants of all levels in the world.

For more information about The American Advertising Federation, visit www.aaf.org.

Travel South Holds Ultimate Ad Challenge

Each year, Travel South sponsors The Ultimate Ad Challenge, a multi-state co-op advertising partnership.  Approximately eight advertisers present proposals to the 11 Southern state representatives, offering significant online and print publication discounts.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was one of five members of the pre-screening selection team, along with Beverly Shelley (SC), Wit Tuttle (NC), Mike Mangeot (KY), and UAC Chairman Kyle Edmiston (LA).     

Out of the 11 proposals listed below, the eight highlighted in bold were selected to present in February during Travel South Showcase held in Little Rock, AR.

AARP, Budget Travel, Compass Marketing, Meredith, Garden & Gun, Weather Bug, National Geographic, Preservation, TripAdvisor, Scripps Network, CMG/Orbitz/Madden Media, Food Network Magazine, Media One North America, Stats Net Radio, and SpotXChange.

TDTD placed media with Garden & Gun and SpotXChange, to run later this year.

Travel South Showcase 2013 Successful for Tennessee

Travel South Post-FAM Fun in MemphisTravel South Post-FAM Fun in MemphisThe annual Travel South Showcase, held this year in Little Rock, Arkansas, drew a large group of tourism industry representatives from Tennessee, with 32 Tennessee partner booths, and 39 partner delegates in attendance. The Department held 30 scheduled sales appointments with domestic tour operators. In addition to tour operators, Travel South Showcase also hosts a significant number of travel journalists. TDTD conducted meetings with 29 U.S. and Canadian travel journalists during the three days in Little Rock.

TDTD then helped the Memphis CVB escort and host 12 tour operator delegates, and one travel journalist, on a two-night post-FAM tour of Memphis. Site visits included a trip to Graceland, Sun Studio, STAX, Rock N Soul Museum, National Civil Rights Museum, Peabody Hotel, Clarion Hotel Graceland/Airport, the Arcade, Comfort Inn – Downtown, Central BBQ, and Beale Street.  Special thanks to the Memphis CVB and its partners for their organization, coordination, and hospitality during this FAM.

Civil War Sesquicentennial Update

2013 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event – School Transportation Grants Offered to Tennessee Schools!

Point Park, ChattanoogaPoint Park, ChattanoogaCivil War history comes to life at the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration.

How many opportunities are there to experience a real piece of history – especially for free?

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will once again offer transportation grants to Tennessee schools to encourage teachers and students to participate in the 2013 Tennessee Signature Event to be held on October 9-12, 2013 in Chattanooga.  This year’s event will offer four days of living history, educational programming, teaching with primary sources workshops, special exhibit of artifacts from the Battles for Chattanooga, speakers and musical performances. All events sponsored by the Commission are free and open to the public. The grants allow funding up to $150 per bus and are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis with a deadline for submission by April 15, 2013.   To download the transportation grant application visit  http://tnvacation.com/civil-war/events/

The Teaching with Primary Sources Workshop sponsored by the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation will also be offered on October 9 and 10, 2013.  The workshop is open to K-12 educators and all participants will receive a $50 stipend and lunch.  To download the workshop agenda visit http://tnvacation.com/civil-war/events/.

Tennessee's 2013 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee Historical Society, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, The Friends of the CCNMP and the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Registration is now open at tn.civilwar150@tn.gov or 615-532-7520.

STS Marketing College Scholarships Available

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, together with Official Tennessee Vacation Guide publisher Miles, 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 10, 2013. 

The STS Marketing College is a three-year educational program for members of the tourism industry in the Southeast United States. From August 4-9, 2013, 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 will cover tuition, accommodations and most meals for the 2013 session. The scholarships will be granted based on criteria established by the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus in cooperation with Miles and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which will encompass professional aptitude and future career goals in the tourism industry. The STS application is attached or you can contact Mary.Steadman@MilesPartnership.com or Abbie.Gristy@MilesPartnership.com to request an application.  For more information on STS Marketing College, visit http://www.southeasttourism.org/content.cfm?type=C&ID=4

Tennessee Welcome Centers Provide Front-line Hospitality to Our Visitors

By Dave Jones, East TN regional manager, TDTD

Tennessee vacations encompass a broad combination of experiences:  fast and fun, wet and wild, musical and entertaining, natural and scenic, rugged and relaxing, cultural and historical, delicious and divine, just to name a few.  The “front porch” of these opportunities is Tennessee’s 14 highly-acclaimed Welcome Centers where hospitality greets travelers with helpful information as well as a refreshing break along the journey.

As the 2013 travel season begins to escalate, now is the time for attractions, lodging and community destinations to review their “welcome center strategy.”

Since Welcome Centers may stock as many as 500 different brochures, many popular attractions and lodging properties send their representatives to meet the front-line staff and inform them about what is new for 2013.  Phyllis Emery of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Monica Jones from Cirque de Chine, plan a week-long road trip and visit all 14 Centers. Their visit, like many others, includes discount coupons. They learned that many visitors are also looking for food coupons. “Travelers are looking to make the best of what they have to spend,” says Laura Munn, Northeast Tennessee welcome center regional manager.  “We have had an increased request for coupons and special promotions.”

Many attractions and communities also coordinate a visit to a nearby Welcome Center during National Travel and Tourism Week.  With prior permission from the center’s manager, area tourism bureaus, attractions, parks, cultural organizations, arts and crafts communities and hospitality providers share samples of their hospitality during this promotion.  This year’s week of celebration is May 4-12. Save the date and then work with others in your area to travel to one or more Centers during the week. http://tnvacation.com/industry/uploads/43/TennesseeWelcomeCenterList.pdf

Does your destination inform Welcome Center staff about an upcoming event, such as a popular food or heritage festival, concert, cook-off, maybe even a Civil War reenactment during this Sesquicentennial commemoration period?  An informed Welcome Center host or hostess can play a key role in the economic growth of your region.  Many travelers that pass through are looking for an overnight stay.  The staff will often suggest additional activities and reasons to spend an extra night. Do not forget to send them an advance copy of your poster or flyer.

Welcome Center employees working at the visitor information counter conduct a reservation service by placing phone calls at no cost to the traveling public for the purpose of making reservations for accommodations in Tennessee. There is no fee to the tourism industry for providing this service, which can also be used for reservations to other Tennessee attractions that take reservations. In 2012 Welcome Center employees made 12,285 reservations for Tennessee visitors, an outstanding job by these dedicated employees.

“More travelers are requesting information on scenic drives and back-road activities than ever before,” says Jan Elliot, manager of the I-75 Chattanooga/Hamilton County Welcome Center.  Does your region have a new trail brochure that highlights off- the-beaten-path experiences?  Routes for those traveling on motorcycles seem to be flying off the shelf.

Consider a visit to Tennessee’s highly-acclaimed Welcome Centers to meet the staff and keep them informed about special offers and updates related to your site and attractions. The staff of your state welcome centers is looking forward to reaching out to more travelers in 2013 than ever before. 

Cheekwood tulips, ahhhh spring!

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