Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presents September 2013 Rythm & News for industry partners of Tennessee
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TDTD’s staff is commandeering this space to make the following important announcement:

Commissioner Susan Whitaker has been named the National Tourism Director of the Year by U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors. Congratulations to our awe-inspiring leader!

A Message from
Commissioner Susan Whitaker

Dear Colleagues,

I see my September message has been hijacked! 

I was so honored to receive this special recognition from the U.S. Travel Association and my fellow state tourism directors. It is certainly one of the highlights of my career, but I recognize that the award is a reflection of the talent and dedication of the entire team at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. It's their continuing dedication and long hours of hard work that have made us so successful. Thank you, Team!

On August 9, Tennessee Tourism Committee members from across the state gathered in Nashville to present Governor Haslam a multi-year Strategic Plan for our industry. Governor Haslam gave his valuable input to the committee, asking key questions and giving his stamp of approval to moving forward with this visionary plan for raising Tennessee tourism’s profile throughout the United States and overseas. The plan will be presented to the entire industry at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Franklin.

That important presentation is just one of the many reasons you will not want to miss this year’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held Sept. 17-19 at the Cool Springs Conference Center. This year’s outstanding roster of speakers features nationally-known and highly sought after speakers including Duane Knapp, Kelly McDonald, Jake Olsen and McKay Christensen, and Don Schumacher.

Whether you need to know more about how to build a genuine destination brand, reclaim your destination’s historic assets for tourism, develop as an amateur sports destination or market to people not like you, this is the conference for you! We are honored to have Governor Bill Haslam joining us on Thursday for his address to the Tourism Industry. To find out more about conference topics and how to register, go to www.tenntourismroundtable.com

Tennessee has been in the national news with some of the biggest announcements for tourism ever to come out of our state. It was an honor to share the stage with Dolly Parton and Governor Haslam when Dolly announced plans for $300 million in capital investments in The Dollywood Company over the next 10 years. The plans include a brand new coaster for 2014, FireChaser Express, and a 300-room resort DreamMore to open in 2015. The investment is projected to create more than 2,500 new jobs.

And in the same week, Jack Daniel’s, one of our most famous international Tennessee brands and a huge tourism draw, announced a more than $100 million expansion to their facility in Lynchburg, and the creation of more than 90 full-time jobs. Completion is expected in 2015.

Memphis also saw big news recently with the announcement from Southwest Airlines that all of their AirTran fleet will soon be converted to the very popular Southwest brand.

Don’t miss the premiere of the second season of ABC’s hit nighttime drama Nashville, airing Sept. 25. The cast and crew have been seen all around Music City, taping new episodes that are sure to keep its millions of fans on the edge of their seats (and thinking about a visit here!)

We’re moving quickly into the fall, my favorite season of the year, and another wonderful time to welcome our guests and showcase our beautiful state. I look forward to seeing you in Franklin for Governor’s Conference!

Warmest regards,

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

Susan Whitaker Named 2013 National Tourism Director of the Year

Commissioner Whitaker receives National Tourism Director Award from Wyoming Tourism Director Diane Shober and U.S. Travel President & CEO Roger DowCommissioner Whitaker receives National Tourism Director Award from Wyoming Tourism Director Diane Shober and U.S. Travel President & CEO Roger DowCommissioner Susan Whitaker was named 2013 State Tourism Director of the Year by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors. The announcement was made during lunch Monday, Aug. 19 at the U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations in Richmond, VA.

The State Tourism Director of the Year Award is presented annually to the state tourism director who contributes to successfully raising the profile of their state as a travel and tourism destination, selecting the individual exhibiting the most impressive achievements. It's a unique honor as a fellow state tourism director makes the nomination and the top three nominations are sent to the entire organization for a vote.

Whitaker, a veteran tourism marketing executive, was appointed Commissioner of Tourist Development in January of 2011 by Governor Bill Haslam. Whitaker was initially appointed to the position in 2003 by Governor Phil Bredesen, and reappointed under his administration in 2007. 2013 marks her 10th year as tourism commissioner.

Tourism is one of Tennessee’s largest industries, providing a $15.36 billion direct economic impact and generating more than $1 billion annually in state and local sales tax revenue, with a record-setting 54 million person-trips to Tennessee in 2011.

“This honor is well-deserved,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “Susan and her staff bring innovative ideas and vision to Tennessee’s thriving tourism industry, and the accomplishments under her leadership will have a lasting impact on Tennessee."

Whitaker previously held the position of vice-president of marketing for Dollywood, Tennessee’s most visited tourist attraction. Her former boss, entertainment icon Dolly Parton, weighs in on Whitaker’s award. “Susan is not only a friend of mine but she’s one of the best friends that our Tennessee tourism industry has ever known,” said Parton. “Susan makes sure that the welcome mat is always out for folks who want to visit our great state, and I appreciate her enthusiasm, dedication, and get-it-done attitude!"

Whitaker serves as the Secretary of the U.S. Travel Association’s Board of Directors. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of State Travel Directors, TravelSouth USA Board of Directors, the University of Tennessee’s Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management Advisory Board, and the Governor’s International Advisory Council.

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2 trillion in economic output and supports 14.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. 

History-Making Governor's Conference Coming to Franklin

With a truly stellar line-up of speakers, topics and events, this year’s Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism promises to be one for the history books!  The conference will be held Sept. 17–19 at the Cool Springs Conference Center in Franklin.

“Our roster of speakers this year is absolutely incredible,” said John Whisenant, executive director of the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, the organization that produces the annual conference in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.  “We are fortunate to have speakers and presenters that are nationally-recognized, as well as professionals and tourism specialists from right here in Tennessee.  I can’t remember a conference where we’ve had so many speakers of such high caliber.”

The range of topics being offered at this year’s conference is also genuinely impressive.  Two Super Seminars and four major keynote presentations as well as six different breakout session topics will cover a wide array of subjects of interest and value to the state’s tourism industry.  “Whether you are a large or small destination or tourism-related business, this year’s conference is going to provide you with information and tools that will help you tremendously in doing your job,” Whisenant continued.

And of course, there’s always great social and networking opportunities, such as the opening night event, “Music, Moonshine, and More!” in Historic Leiper’s Fork and the Tennessee Tourism EXPO tradeshow.  “Our Franklin and Williamson County hosts have made some terrific plans for us,” said Whisenant.  “They have really pulled out all the stops to make sure our attendees feel welcome and have a great time.”

And just announced:  for the first time ever, one-day only registrations are available for this year’s conference.  Persons who want to attend the conference but can’t come for the entire three days can opt for Wednesday only or Thursday only registrations.  Information on both full and one-day only registration can be found on the TTR website.

You won’t want to miss this premier tourism event – register today!

TDTD Announces New Fall Seasonal Site and Sweepstakes

We all know our amazing fall foliage brings visitors to Tennessee. With autumn just around the corner, TDTD will launch a new, fall seasonal site and sweepstakes, Sept. 12. The site, fall.tnvacation.com, is themed “Go Behind the Scenes in Tennessee this Fall.” The beautifully designed site hooks visitors with an enhanced video component, giving them a glimpse behind the scenes with Tennessee’s top chefs, musicians and artisans. Once visitors arrive in the various sections, the themes expand to give information on the entire state. In addition, TDTD will roll out a major sweepstakes, “Seeing Stars & Living Large in Tennessee,” designed to drive interest and social media engagement, as well as promote fall travel to Tennessee.  

New Video Elements include:

Foodie Fantasy - Step into the kitchen with Chef Sean Brock of Husk and Chef Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel. Learn about what techniques and ingredients define Southern cuisine, and how these chefs and others in Tennessee are redefining and reshaping our experience of food.

Music Lovers - Go behind the scenes with Grammy Award-winning country group The Time Jumpers. Country super-star Vince Gill shares his passion for Tennessee. "Ranger Doug" Green talks about what it's like to be a part of the music scene in Nashville and the pleasure of playing with gifted musicians such as Vince Gill and Joe Spivey every week. 

Gift Guide - Like music, design defines and shapes the cultural landscape of Tennessee. Spend a few moments with designer and printmaker Justin Helton of Knoxville, as he talks about how he got into the business of creating posters for music artists, bands and design lovers.


“Seeing Stars & Living Large” - Gives one lucky winner and three guests a chance to see Nashville “behind the scenes,” first-hand. The prize includes accommodations for four at the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Hermitage Hotel; VIP tour for four at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; a recording session at historic RCA Studio B; breakfast and dinner for four at Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel; a behind the scenes tour of Hatch Show Print; four tickets to the Grand Ole Opry; gift certificate to Husk Restaurant; a private tour and tasting for four at Yazoo Brewery. The contest ends Nov. 11.

Again this year, week-by-week, Tennessee Fall Foliage Reports will be found through the “Foliage” tab at tnvacation.com.

We look forward to the launch of the site on the 12th and celebrating fall in Tennessee. Please check-back, and let us know what you think by emailing Jennifer.Littlejohn@tn.gov.

2013-2014 Partnership Marketing Program Details

The 2013-2014 Partnership Marketing Program began on Aug. 9, 2013 with the distribution of paperwork for this year’s program. We look forward to working with all of you to complete another successful year of partnership benefitting Tennessee Tourism.


The program budget will remain at $1.25 million.


Your department contact for the program is Carrie McMichael. Her contact information is:

Carrie McMichael
Senior Marketing Assistant
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
William Snodgrass Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 13th Floor
Nashville, TN  37243
615-741-9027 (office)
615-253-4219 (fax)



Aug. 8, 2013: Overview & Application forms sent to partners
Sept. 4, 2013: Applications due to TDTD from partners
Sept. 13, 2013: Award letters sent from TDTD to partners.
May 2, 2014: The qualifying project must be complete.
May 30, 2014: All paperwork must be submitted, all projects must be complete, and all ROI information must be submitted with final copies of the project.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

August Sales Conferences Included Connect Sports and SYTA

Play Tennessee team attended Connect Sports Marketplace in MilwaukeePlay Tennessee team attended Connect Sports Marketplace in MilwaukeeTDTD recently attended the Connect Sports Marketplace held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, under the Play Tennessee brand, and sponsored the identification/name badges for the conference’s Rights Holders.  This was the inaugural Marketplace for Connect Sports, highlighted by two days of one-on-one pre-scheduled appointments with Sports Events Rights Holders from across the USA and Canada.  Play Tennessee conducted 22 pre-scheduled appointments, plus three add-on appointments shared with Play Tennessee partners, for a total of 25 direct contacts and meetings during the Marketplace.  

The sponsorship allowed for discounted registration fees for other Tennessee supplier partners in the Play Tennessee delegation, which included Chattanooga Sports Committee, Memphis Sports Council, Kingsport CVB, Rocky Top Sports World, Sevierville CVB and Wilderness at the Smokies, and Visit Knoxville.  

The Department also participated in the annual SYTA (Student Youth Travel Association) Conference in Los Angeles, CA from Aug. 23 – 27, 2013. TDTD met with 19 student youth travel tour operators in pre-scheduled appointments, and took advantage of additional networking opportunities during the tour operator roundtable sessions. Leveraging the success from the 2012 SYTA Conference that was hosted in Nashville, the Tennessee delegation showed a strong presence again with 22 partner organizations in attendance. SYTA will continue to have a distinctly Tennessee tune to their organizational structure, as our very own Mrs. Laurel Bennett, director of tourism sales for the Nashville CVC, was elected to the SYTA Board of Directors. Congratulations Laurel!!  We look forward to your leadership at SYTA for the next term. 

Twenty-two States and Two Countries Now Registered for 2013 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event

Twenty-two states and two countries are now registered to attend Tennessee’s 2013 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event and seats are filling up fast!  The 2013 Signature Event remembers the 150th anniversary of the Battles for Chattanooga. Titled “Occupation and Liberation,” the commemoration will take place Oct. 9-12, 2013 at the Chattanooga Convention Center and will feature educational symposiums, book signings, special speaker-led ticketed tours, living history demonstrations and musical performances.

Registrations have been received from Tennessee, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Colorado, Maryland, Hawaii, and Canada and France. Tour Groups are expected from Gatlinburg, Atlanta, North Carolina, and Indiana. More than 1,980 students and teachers are confirmed for the educational programming and living history presentations, which is capacity for school groups.

Amy Murrell Taylor, PhD, associate professor of history at University of Kentucky will provide the keynote address, 7-8:30 p.m. EDT, Oct. 10.  The keynote’s topic will be “On the Frontlines of Freedom: The Story of the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps in Tennessee and the Nation.” In addition, the Signature Event will feature speaker discussions by America’s foremost historians on the Battles for Chattanooga, including the “Battles for Chattanooga”, “Military Strategy in the Civil War” and “Civil War Commemoration and Memorialization.”

The event will feature several musical performances including the singing of the National Anthem by The McCallie School Men's Ensemble, a free concert by Bobby Horton, Civil War historian and performer, and Civil War era music presented by The Chattanooga Musicianers.

The 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 Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau.  

Register today for this important event by email at tn.civilwar150@tn.gov or call the registration line 615-532-7520. All Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission sponsored events are free and open to the public.

Tennessee's Welcome Center Civil War Exhibit Dedication Date Changed to Oct. 17 

Permanent Civil War exhibits were recently installed in Tennessee Welcome Centers. The purpose of the Civil War exhibits is to educate visitors and Tennesseans as to the important role Tennessee played in the Civil War. Each Tennessee Civil War Exhibit features an overview of Tennessee’s role in the Civil War, as well as the regional impact of the Civil War and will also promote rural tourism development through the Tennessee Civil War Trail and Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways programs. 

A ribbon cutting and dedication originally scheduled to be held Sept. 4 will now be held Thursday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. EST at the I-81 Sullivan County Welcome Center, located at the southbound mile marker 75.3 in Bristol, Tenn.

Permanent exhibits can also be found at Tennessee Welcome Centers located at I-40 Shelby County – Memphis; I-65 Robertson County – Mitchellville; I-24 Hamilton County – Tiftonia; I-65 Giles County- Ardmore; I-40 Smith County - Buffalo Valley; I-75 Campbell County –Jellico; I-26 Unicoi County –Erwin; I-40 Cocke County – Hartford; I-75 Hamilton County – Chattanooga; I-24 Montgomery County – Clarksville; and I-155 Dyer County - Dyersburg.

This project was made possible through a partnership with Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, and the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and was funded by the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, State Capital Commission.

For more information on Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial, visit tncivlwar150.com or download a complimentary, Tennessee Civil War 150 iPhone app, available at


Rhythm & News Debuts E-Clips Section

With this issue, Rhythm & News debuts a special section to feature Tennessee Tourism’s E-clips. Each month, this feature will highlight the major news coming out of the industry and published nationally, regionally and/or locally. E-clips are compiled weekly by Patricia Gray and emailed to tourism staff and stakeholders. The new section will present a monthly round-up, and will serve as an important update on the top media coverage for Tennessee Tourism. Scroll down to Tennessee E-clips section to “view now.”

Tnvacation.com Version 3.0 Training Sessions

In preparation for version 3.0 of tnvacation.com the programming team at Designsensory will be debuting version 3.0 of the Content Management System this October. The new and improved CMS will be more robust and offer more options than the current platform.

With the new CMS we are bringing back the FREE Web assistance sessions which have been held across the state the past few years. These again will be led by TDTD Website Manager Mike Uhles and Paula Solomon from Designsensory. At each session a team of experts will be on hand to provide practical information on how to best use the digital tools available through the department.  

Upcoming CMS Training Dates:

October 2, Nashville
October 25, Jackson
November 20, Johnson City
November 21, Kingsport

More dates to be added and details will soon be posted at  http://tnvacation.com/industry/


Enjoy a roundup of important industry developments as covered by publications and websites. view now »

Has Technology Robbed Our Communications Skills?

By Buddy Butler, Paramore

This is a question that I often ponder in our fast paced, instant information, endless stream of communication world that we live in today.  We are bombarded with images, sounds, music and videos so much so that I wonder if we really see or hear any of it.  In our technological efforts to increase communication, I worry if we have done nothing but retard our ability to effectively communicate.  We receive so much information that I question if we really process what we are receiving?

One of my favorite movies is “Inherit the Wind” with Spencer Tracey playing the lead character.  The movie is about the Scopes Monkey Trial that took place in 1925 over the teaching of Darwinism.  There is a great quote about the price of progress that seems even more appropriate today than ever.

“Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.  Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says, 'All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.'  

'Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat.'  

'Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.'”

What separates us from all other living creatures is the power of communication; our ability to inspire thought and stroke feelings and emotions through language.  Language stimulates our imagination, creating images in our minds that cannot be duplicated by a camera.  Have you ever seen a movie after you read the book?  The book is always better.  Why?  Because you have made it your own by interpreting the written word into a visual story in your mind.  It is your own unique story that nobody else shares with you.  Everyone sees the same movie.

Today, you cannot walk into a restaurant without there being at least one TV on and usually several all showing something different.  You look around and see families at tables and everyone is looking at their phone, not at each other.  We communicate in little, misspelled snippets of instant communication.  Not much depth or thought, just words. 

Our minds crave stimulation and our imaginations want to be tested and flexed.  Now, more than ever, it is so important that when we communicate, we do so with purpose and emotion, presenting meaningful information that will inspire and stimulate the listener or reader.  Everyone pours out loads of meaningless information on a minute by minute basis.  But, if you can inspire someone through your communication, you will truly be unique and valued.

So, what does this have to do with websites or marketing?  

First, the web is a very crowded space and information in general is growing 30% per year. There are few rules that govern how much can be built in cyberland or gatekeep the level of quality.  So if someone does find your site, you’re either an excellent marketer or you’re lucky.

Then, look at the content on your site.  Are you inspired?  Are you moved?  Does it engage your imagination?  Or is it just a bunch of words?  Eventually people need more than a pretty face.  They need depth and substance and help making a decision, whether it’s about a healthcare provider, a cell phone package, or the destination for their next family vacation.  Overwhelming them with tons of unfocused content and tools they will never use won’t help draw them to your business.

Consider inspiring the reader first and then informing them.  It’s like reading a book.  If you don’t draw me in during the first chapter, I will probably lose interest and move on to another book.  And there are lots of books out there.  Make sure yours is one we want to keep on our shelf.

Entertainment icon Dolly Parton is joined by Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Dollywood CEO Craig Ross, Governor Bill Haslam and Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster at the announcement of Dollywood’s $300 million expansion.

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