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

It’s fall in Tennessee – one of the most beautiful season’s in our grand state. 

You can feel it in the crispness of the air, hear it in the sounds of crackling bonfires, hayrides and peals of laughter in our mazes and pumpkin fields, see it in the vibrant colors from Memphis to the Smokies, and taste it in the bountiful harvests filling the kitchens of our farm-to-table restaurants.

Every year, visitors from around the globe travel to experience fall in Tennessee. I am pleased that we are now able to show are guests all that we have to offer, including our federal sites and the nation’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Amid the federal shutdown in October, our federal landmarks and attractions were closed. I want to thank Governor Bill Haslam, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters and Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell for working with the department to reopen Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Oct. 16.         

 In an agreement with the National Park Service, the state of Tennessee issued a $240,400 Tennessee Department of Tourist Development grant to Sevier Country to fund 80 percent of the $300,500 needed to open and operate the country’s most visited park for five days. Sevier and Blount Counties funded the remaining amount. However, we only had to pay the National Park Service for one day of operation because the federal government reopened Oct. 17. Governor Haslam’s actions continue to show his unwavering commitment to our industry.

October was an exciting time with the preview of the new Discovery Park of America in Union City, which opened Nov. 1 to visitors. It’s an amazing new attraction for our state. The 50-acre park has more than 70,000 square feet of exhibits focused on nature, science, technology, history, and art – even a slide through the human body you have to see to believe!

On Oct. 23, I was joined by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer at the groundbreaking for the new welcome center on Interstate 26 in Kingsport. The new center is expected to start welcoming tourists in summer 2014.

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event was held in Chattanooga Oct. 9-12, featuring educational symposiums, book signings, special tours, living history demonstrations and musical performances at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Congratulations to the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, the Chattanooga Visitor Bureau, our TDTD staff and the hundreds of volunteers for putting on an historic event.

In December, Nashville and Tennessee hosts Travel South’s Second Annual International Showcase, an important initiative to grow international travel to the Southern states. It will be an exciting three days. More than 160 travel suppliers from the South will be meeting with 75-plus international tour operators from more than a dozen countries. The schedule is packed full every day with workshops, events, sales meetings and networking opportunities. And just around the corner in January, is the American Bus Association’s Marketplace 2014 in Nashville.

This fall, our public relations department and partners are hosting more than 30 national and regional travel writers from around the country for familiarization tours. The first was a FAM tour of northeast Tennessee Oct. 22-27 with 16 writers from outlets such as AAA Living, The Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post. On Nov. 12, we begin a five-day tour in Nashville and the region south of Music City with 17 writers representing outlets such as D Magazine, The Toronto Sun, Group Travel Leader, Austin Chronicle and many more.

As we move closer to Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for each of you, the team at TDTD and the opportunity to work with the best tourism partners in the industry.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

2013 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event Offered Top Notch Programming to More Than 4,500 Attendees.

 “Occupation and Liberation” Commemorates the 150th of the Battles for Chattanooga

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, Occupation and Liberation, held Oct. 9-12 at the Chattanooga Convention Center, was an event worthy of the 150th commemoration of the Battles for Chattanooga.

McCallie Select Men's EnsembleMcCallie Select Men's EnsembleCo-chairs of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee State Historian, hosted the event. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Treasurer David Lillard, Jr. brought special remarks. In addition, a moving musical performance was presented by McCallie Select Men's Ensemble and the Chattanooga Musicianers.

The 4-day event commemorating the Battles for Chattanooga offered top notch programming to more than 4,500 attendees over the 4 day event.  Attendees included more than 1,300 students.

The Commission continues to offer attendees a multi-faceted sesquicentennial commemoration event which showcases music, stories, living history and national speakers from across the U.S. to discuss the important role Tennessee played in the Civil War.  The success of this model can be seen in the number of states attending the Tennessee Signature Event – more than 23 states and 2 countries were in attendance. 

The official ceremony began with the Tennessee National Guard posting colors for the United States of America and the State of Tennessee. Civil War colors were posted for the United States of America and Sons of Confederate Veterans by Company A, 13th and 44th United States Colored Troops and N.B. Forrest Camp #3, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Officials from the Civil War Trust joined the event to celebrate two recent achievements in battlefield preservation: the successful completion of an ambitious $1.4 million fundraising campaign to protect 109 acres at Reed’s Bridge — site of the opening salvo of the iconic Battle of Chickamauga — and the creation of a state-level battlefield preservation fund poised to protect critical sites across the Volunteer State.

Living history demonstrations and educational programs were well received by both students and teachers.  A Slave's Perspective by Nicole Moore and Civil War Music by Bobby Horton were at capacity every session.

The Artillery demonstration by the Volunteer Artillery Crew of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park was a huge hit with students. It was a very interactive experience for the students and a must-see for the teachers. 

Eastern National Bookstore had more than $5,400 in sales despite the government shutdown - a positive opportunity when they would not have been open for sales.

C-span filmed a portion of the event and it aired Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. It can be seen here.   

A special thanks to the event sponsors: 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.  

Please mark your calendars for the 2014 Tennessee Signature Event Nov.13-14, 2014 in Franklin, Tenn.

A New Look is Coming to Tnvacation.com

An all new look is coming to Tnvacation.com & the Content Management System that powers it!

We’ve been talking about the upcoming new responsive web design of tnvacation.com. Well, it’s right around the corner. Responsive Web design automatically adjusts to the size of the screen that is being used to view the site. The update is scheduled to take place in mid-December. With the new format, there will be changes and upgrades to the Vendor Portal.

A team from the Department of Tourist Development and Designsensory will be conducting FREE training sessions at locations across Tennessee. These sessions are for all TN tourism partners and will present information about the new Responsive Web Design as well as provide detailed instruction on how to use the new CMS to update partner pages.

The next training tour stops are in East Tennessee. There will be stops in Middle and West Tennessee in 2014.

For all East Tennessee tourism partners, please make your plans now to attend one of the following CMS training events. 

Tour Stop: Johnson City

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

2- 4 p.m. ET

Carnegie Hotel, Wilder Room


Tour Stop: Kingsport

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013

10 a.m. - Noon ET

Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Eastman Board Room


Tour Stop: Chattanooga

Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013

10a.m. - Noon ET

Chattanooga Choo Choo, 1400 Market Street


Tour Stop: Pigeon Forge

Friday, Dec. 13, 2013

10 a.m. - Noon ET

Music Road Hotel, Violin Meeting Room

To RSVP, please email Michael.Uhles@tn.gov, & include the location of the session you wish to attend.

TDTD Gears Up For Another Jam-Packed, Gift-Wrapped Holiday Season

The most wonderful time of the year and one of the busiest is almost here. Tennessee is getting ready to gift its guests with an abundance of festivals, events and shopping experiences filled with authenticity, Southern tradition and flare.

Guests to the Volunteer State are sure to make unforgettable memories, especially with must-see events like Smoky Mountain Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville featuring brilliant holiday decorations and Christmas lights Nov. 12, 2013-Feb. 28, 2014; Gaylord Opryland’s “A Country Christmas” in Nashville which includes 2 million pounds of carved, colored ice for the spectacular ICE! featuring Frosty the Snowman, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and sensational decorations; and a life-size Nativity, Santa, traditional lights and decorations at Christmas at Graceland. And that’s just a small sample of what’s going on statewide as there is a full list of events and happenings, celebrations and more at www.tnvacation.com/calendar.  

Smoky Mountain WinterfestSmoky Mountain WinterfestTDTD will be in full swing to spread the word on holiday happenings, starting with a Black Friday press release that will highlight the wonderful shopping opportunities for the season. After that, holiday round ups serviced to media contacts across the state, will be frequent, as well as a holiday press release, social media blasts on consumer social outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and the media-focused Twitter account.

The five writers for the tourism blog,Tennessee TripTales, that are spread out across the state, will highlight attractions and events with stunning images and handcrafted stories in order to give an authentic look at celebrating the holidays in our great state.

The relaunch of tnvacation’s winter site, “Savor the Sounds of a Tennessee Winter” will take place with new events and images. The winter sweepstakes will be announced in December.

To make sure your event is included for potential local, statewide, national and international coverage, be sure to enter events and press releases to tnvacation.com via the industry portal: www.tnvacation.com/industry.


Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways App Development Project

Project Overview

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will work with Designsensory and industry partners to develop iPhone apps for the remaining 13 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. Tennessee wants to ensure visitors and citizens traveling through the state have the best possible experience and the necessary tools to plan their trip. This easy-to-use interactive guide will take traveling Tennessee’s backroads to a whole new level!  

The Trail apps will guide visitors through the big cities to Tennessee's countryside and into the local treasures that lie just off the beaten path, providing a personal guide to more than 100 sites and attractions along each trail. The app will allow visitors to fully customize their trail experience, find specific points of interest and share their journey with friends. The user will be able to filter points of interest by interest category or "favorite" and reorder POIs to fit their schedule and travel plans. Also, visitors can search for locations nearest to them or find upcoming events along the trail. With the development of the apps, visitors will soon have a customized trail experience in the palm of their hand!

The apps will support iPhones using iOS 4 and later and will be available in the iPhone App Store upon completion.

App Features

• View points of interest as a list, tiles or in a map;

• "Favorite" points of interest to create a custom trail itinerary;

• Share points of interest on Facebook, check in to points of interest or upload a photo;

• View points of interest by category and see how many are included in each category;

• Filter by interest category including “What's Nearby,” “Food & Wine,” “Nature & Outdoors,” “Attractions,”  “Sports & Rec,” “Civil War,” “History & Heritage,” “Agritourism” or “Music & Arts”;

• View "Did You Knows?" along the trail for interesting facts;

• Click on a point of interest to read a full description, view photos and find contact information;

• Find events along the trail throughout the year;

• Listen to audio commentary about specific points of interest;

• Click on the trail playlist to enjoy trail-related tunes.

iPhone App Development Schedule

Nov. 11, 2013 – Jan. 17, 2014: Promised Land, Ring of Fire, Screaming Eagle, TN River Trail

Jan. 20 – March 28, 2014: Pie in the Sky, Tanasi, Top Secret, White Lightning, Rocky Top

March 31 – June 6, 2014: Cotton Junction, Great River Road, Walking Tall, Sunny Side

Android App Development Schedule (test development)

TDTD will develop and launch Android apps for the three existing Trail apps. This is an opportunity for TDTD to test the android platform in regards to visitor engagement. The results of this test will be utilized as a guide for further development of android apps for the remaining 13 Trails.  Note:  The first four apps will be launched prior to the launch of Android apps. 

Nov. 11, 2013 – Feb. 21, 2014: Nashville’s Trace, Old Tennessee, The Jack

Project Contacts

Patricia Gray, office 615-741-9004, cell 615-310-7539; patricia.gray@tn.gov

Rob Sherrill, office 615-532-8134, cell 615-566-9991; rob.sherrill@tn.gov 

Play Tennessee, TSIS, ABA…Sales Are Ramping Up

As part of the Play Tennessee initiative, the Department will be involved with several youth and amateur sports market events and conferences this month. For the first time, TDTD will be represented at the  TEAMS Conference and Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah, to participate in meetings and appointments among host organizations, sports events rights owners and several Tennessee partner suppliers. Play Tennessee will also be helping to sponsor an evening event during the annual Amateur Softball Association National Council Meeting, to help Chattanooga and Johnson City win their bids for key tournaments for the next year.  At the United States Specialty Sports Association Annual Meeting, Play Tennessee will be working with the Kingsport and Memphis CVBs to sponsor events for their efforts to meet and network with multiple sports governing bodies and rights holders. 

In anticipation of upcoming conventions and trade shows in 2014, the Department will again be updating its sales profile sheet.  Please submit any of your organization’s attractions, events, and CVB/city updates (looking out for the next 12 to 18 months) to Bennjin at Bennjin.Lao@tn.gov, by Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. The next several large trade shows include ABA, NTA, TN Motor Coach, Travel South Domestic Showcase, and Bank Travel. Please provide group tour-friendly updates that will cater to those markets. 

The Department has been working hard to gear up for the Travel South International Showcase that will be held in Nashville, Dec. 3 – 7.  There are pre- and post-FAM tours for this show, as well as multiple appointments with international tour operators and receptive operators.  If you have questions, updates and information relevant to this market that you would like to share prior to our meetings at the conference, please send them to Bennjin at Bennjin.Lao@tn.gov

Lastly, in anticipation of the annual ABA Marketplace coming to Nashville in January, please SAVE THE DATE for the annual Tennessee delegation dinner during ABA dine-around night.  The dinner will be Tuesday, Jan.14, and more details and invitations will be coming very soon.  Please stay tuned. 

October Brought Major TDTD PR Events in Northeast Tennessee

Civil War Exhibit Dedication Held in Bristol

L to R: Rep. Timothy Hill, Dr. Carroll Van West, Bristol Mayor Michelle Dolan, Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Lt. Governor Ron RamseyL to R: Rep. Timothy Hill, Dr. Carroll Van West, Bristol Mayor Michelle Dolan, Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Lt. Governor Ron RamseyLt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Commissioner Susan Whitaker and State Historian Carroll Van West all participated in the dedication of the Civil War Exhibits now installed in Tennessee’s Welcome Centers.

The event took place at the I-81 Sullivan County Welcome Center on Oct. 17. Print and broadcast media from the region covered the event.

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.

I-26 Welcome Center Groundbreaking

Commissioner Susan Whitaker, TDTD, Steve Godsey, Sullivan County Mayor, Bob Oglesby, Commissioner of General Services, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Representative Tony Shipley, Commissioner John Schroer TDOT, Dennis Phillips, Kingsport Mayor Commissioner Susan Whitaker, TDTD, Steve Godsey, Sullivan County Mayor, Bob Oglesby, Commissioner of General Services, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Representative Tony Shipley, Commissioner John Schroer TDOT, Dennis Phillips, Kingsport Mayor Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker joined Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Representative Tony Shipley, along with local officials in Sullivan County on Oct. 23 to break ground for a new welcome center on Interstate 26. The new welcome center will be located at mile marker 5, and is expected to open to the public in the summer of 2014.

Media representatives from all major NETN TV stations, as well as local newspapers and radio, covered the event.

The new I-26 Welcome Center will be the 15th welcome center across the state.

Tennessee’s Welcome Centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and are operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

Travel Journalists Participated In TDTD Northeast Media FAM

NETN FAM tour visits General Longstreet MuseumNETN FAM tour visits General Longstreet MuseumTennessee Department of Tourist Development hosted 16 travel writers in NETN Oct. 22-27. Representatives from AAA Going Places, AAA Living, The Travel Show, The Dallas Morning News and The Philadelphia Sun participated. Journalists traveled from California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina for the special five-day immersion in the tri-cities region. Geiger and Associates coordinated the FAM with the input and assistance of partners throughout the region.

The tour included stops in Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, Greeneville, Rogersville, Erwin, and Jonesborough and stops at Bristol Motor Speedway, President Andrew Johnson historic sites, Gray Fossil Site, Reedy Creek Winery, and Roan Mountain State Park, to name a few.

On Sat., Oct. 26, writers traveled to Morristown to experience the Mountain Makins Festival, one of Tennessee’s celebrated fall events. Tennessee travel writer FAMS during FY12-13 saw a total circulation of 145,730,320 and are a key component to TDTD’s national PR efforts. 

Utilize: Power Plays

by Joseph Nother, Designsensory

Clicking the play button of an online video can lead to the promise of “more”—from more time onsite to more conversions and more conversations. The power of that play button can increase by extending online videos beyond a company’s website to a broader digital presence.

Video aggregators, native advertising, paid placements on YouTube, YouTube channels, Vine and soon-to-be video ads in Facebook’s newsfeed are examples of how an expanding online video ecosystem is shaping brand stories, content sharing and drive results.

A recent Forbes article, The Content Revolution: Emerging Forms of Online Video, shares that “the latest comScore numbers are evidence of just how massive this growth has been: 38.7 billion video views from 182 million Internet users in December 2012.

It’s hard to say which came first—the widespread increase in consumer adoption or the massive surge in the quality and type of video content available. Whatever the cause and effect, the end result is lots of content being viewed in new and different ways.”

Business Insider reports that, “After polling 5,000 executives attending the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Content NewFronts, the IAB found that 75 percent of U.S. senior executives plan to shift their budgeting from television to digital video ads.”

Many of these video distribution avenues are economical, ranging from free to a few cents per placement up to more considerable amounts that mirror traditional media spends.

Video and rich media can help engage, connect and motivate your customers. From setting a long-term content strategy to writing, producing and editing rich media, Designsensory can help you learn more about how to integrate rich media and video into your marketing toolkit.

Nicole Moore, interpreter of slave life, with a classroom of students during the Civil War Signature Event.

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