Dear Tourism Partners and Friends,
What a wonderful week this has been! I hope that each of you had the opportunity to watch Governor Bill Haslam’s State of the State address on Monday evening, where he discussed a number of very significant new initiatives, including those in education and economic development.
For those in Tennessee’s tourism industry, it was exciting to hear him highlight our success, bright future and his commitment to tourism. Here are his exact words:
“Tennessee is known around the globe for a lot of things but music and our state’s natural beauty have to be at the top of the list. We have put together a statewide, comprehensive plan to attract more people to Tennessee. That generates more revenue and creates more jobs. I have been impressed by how the tourism industry from across the state has really come together. As a result, this budget, like last year’s, includes additional dollars to bring more visitors here.”
Thanks to the hard work of this industry over the past two years, Governor Haslam has once again proposed a huge increase in marketing funds over our base budget for fiscal year 2014-2015. With the approval of the General Assembly, the additional $6 million dollars will enable us to continue implementing the strategic plan that has already begun to take Tennessee tourism to the next level of success.
On behalf of the entire industry, I would like to sincerely thank Governor Haslam for his strong belief in the economic power of tourism, the increased investment of state dollars into marketing Tennessee and his confidence in the work our department and the Tennessee Tourism Committee are doing to implement the long-range strategic plan, build our brand and increase visitation to the state.
I am also grateful to the members of the General Assembly who have enthusiastically supported the tourism industry and department. I am looking forward to meeting with the Legislature in the coming weeks to share the great results we have already seen from these new marketing efforts.
I’m pleased to announce that VML, a global marketing agency, has been awarded the state tourism marketing account. VML was selected after a lengthy RFP process that included, for the first time, participation from industry partners around the state. VML has offices around the world including a new Tennessee office in Nashville.
We’re looking forward to beginning this new partnership with an agency of world renown with clients such as Bridgestone, Gatorade, Southwest Airlines, Wendy’s, Dell, Kellogg’s, Korean Air, Colgate-Palmolive and now, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, their first state tourism account.
Our TDTD team met on Tuesday with VML to begin the transition and new partnership. VML also met on Wednesday with the Tennessee Tourism Committee and finished the week with a full day of planning meetings with TDTD on Thursday. The energy and creativity during the last three days of meetings has been exciting to experience.
I am also happy to announce the launch of the redesigned tnvacation.com, which features a responsive design to give viewers an optimal experience no matter their device – smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Take the time to visit and explore the site. You’ll find an array of new content and features including videos for each of our three grand regions as well as videos for each of our nine sub-regions. Look for more information on the new site in this newsletter – and then have fun checking it out!
For many reasons, 2014 promises to be another extraordinary year of success for the Tennessee tourism industry. Thank you for your partnership, your remarkable creativity and professionalism. It is an honor to work with each of you.
With great respect,
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Tnvacation.com Gets a Facelift
On Jan. 31 TDTD, along with creative agency DesignSensory, launched the much-anticipated brand new responsive tnvacation.com website, making Tennessee’s travel message even more accessible across all platforms.Tnvacation.com is TDTD’s major indicator for “intent to travel” to our state with more than 6.32 million visitors annually.
If you haven’t taken a peek yet, get prepared to see beautiful images and rich content presented in a modern, contemporary voice. TDTD and DesignSensory made sure the website was sleek, enhanced and told a better story by connecting the dots.
Whether you’re on a large desktop, tablet, or mobile device, the site will adjust to the screen size and provide a consumer-centric, interactive responsive design. Opportunities to highlight sub-regional and regional traits as well as integrate rich media have come together in the new design to provide a better experience for potential Tennessee guests.
Partner page management is more important than ever with multiple options to freely advertise your attraction/event. It is up to the partner as to how much you include. With the new CMS, partners can add a lot more information creating a more robust page. Partner pages are now equipped to include a write-up about the attraction/event, contact information along with a location map. Partners can include up to five images of the attraction/event. In addition, partners can have a cover photo, logo, “Meet the Staff” sidebar, social media buttons, and the opportunity to choose related attractions in proximity to your business. Users can now click to directly send partners a question. This feature is based on partner activation within the portal. There’s also a “Deals” section where special promotions can be included, if so desired.
All partner pages are FREE! It pays to add more! You even get rewarded with being a top search result for visitors when you upload engaging video, images, manage your listing page entries, related promos and partner page modules. It’s highly recommended to update your page content monthly. Verify your annual vacation guide entry information in the partner portal as well.
2014 Tennessee Sampler Moving to Summer
The Tennessee Sampler/Express is one of the state’s most important tourism industry events. Over the years, this grassroots sales and PR mission has made a significant impact in many of our key feeder markets and beyond, garnering sales leads and resulting in impressive media coverage.
Typically, the Sampler is held in early spring. This year, the event will take place in mid-late summer, exact dates to be determined.
VML, TDTD’s new advertising agency, is officially on board. It is all hands on deck to get the new team up to speed and create the next strategic marketing plan for Tennessee. Highlighting the new campaign as part of the Sampler messaging will be an essential component of the roll-out.
TDTD is as excited as ever about Sampler, and especially eager to maximize the opportunity to reveal a new branded campaign, as we conduct PR and sales meetings on behalf of Tennessee.
An announcement will be made soon with the exact Sampler dates. We anticipate the 2014 Sampler/Express will be another successful Tennessee Tourism event.
Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways Program Update
The Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Program is creating an exciting buzz about the unique travel opportunities available along the Trails. January 2014, TDTD fulfilled bulk requests for 21,505 DTTB brochures.
These included requests from:
• 22 AAA offices in IN, IL, MI, NY, OH, PA, TN and VA.
• 29 Tennessee State Parks
• 20 Partner requests including attractions, airports, private businesses i.e., Harley Davidson, economicdevelopment agencies, counties, cities and regional tourism partners.
DTTB now featured at Tennessee State Parks
Tennessee State Resort Parks, Montgomery Bell, Henry Horton, Cumberland Mountain, Paris Landing, Pickwick Landing and Fall Creek Falls, now feature a DTTB display of Trail brochures and marketing materials. Tennessee State Parks are appreciative to have the opportunity to showcase the unique tourism attractions available in the region. Equally, visitors are excited about the Trail brochures and tear sheet maps as well as the travel opportunities along Tennessee’s trails.
Tennessee State Park Managers interest in the DTTB program is overwhelming and TDTD will follow up with 54 managers to promote all 16 Trails.
DTTB signage for all 16 Trails will be complete by Spring 2014.
TDOT has ordered signs for Tanasi and Pie in the Sky and as soon as signage is received an installation schedule will be set.
DTTB iPhone App Project
Phase 1: Promised Land, Ring of Fire, Screaming Eagle and Top Secret - CMS update and design phase complete; currently in coding phase.
Phase 2: Tanasi, Rocky Top and White Lightning - CMS updates complete; in design phase; Pie in the Sky updates set on February 7.
Phase 3: Sunny Side - CMS updates set on February 5; Cotton Junction, Great River Road, Walking Tall, Tennessee River Trail – TDTD staff will be in touch with Trail leaders to discuss project needs and CMS updates.
All DTTB iPhone apps are scheduled to launch by May 2014.
Stay tuned for more progress on the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways Program.
Sales Update - Busy Travel Show Season for Tennessee
The Department concluded another busy January, having been heavily involved with the hosting of ABA Marketplace in Nashville, as well as the six pre- and post-FAM tours across the state. In addition, ITMI Symposium and the Tennessee Motorcoach Association conducted their annual events in Nashville and Pigeon Forge, respectively, during the last week of the month. At ABA, there were more than 130 Tennessee partner delegates in attendance and feedback about the show has been overwhelmingly positive. Kudos to Nashville and the Tennessee delegates for helping to make our state shine. With two sets of pre-scheduled appointments during ABA, the Department met with 65 buyer operators.
The annual NTA/Travel Exchange Convention is taking place Feb. 16 – 20, 2014 in Los Angeles. Tennessee will have 26 partner delegates in attendance to take appointments and conduct pre-scheduled meetings with NTA member operators looking for tour and travel options for their clients. On February 17, the TN delegation will host a dinner for invited clients during the Monday evening dine-around. If you are attending NTA/Travel Exchange and would like more information about the dinner, please contact Bennjin Lao at Bennjin.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual Travel South Showcase, will take place Feb. 23 – 26, in Charleston, West Virginia. This show caters to tour operators and media interested in growing and/or developing product to the southern region of the US, and Tennessee will have 31 supplier partner booths in the Tennessee aisle of Showcase. Like last year, the Tennessee booth will be conducting both Media and Sales appointments over two days of the conference. The second day presents a new format this year, as Travel South debuts “Taste and Tunes of the South Tuesday,” with each state able to provide promotional items representing their state. Immediately following Showcase, one of the post-FAM tours will include a visit and overnight in Bristol, Tenn., to highlight group-friendly attractions and venues in the area, including a preview of the upcoming Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
<p><strong>Facebooks Teen Usage Plummets as Elders Surge </strong></p>
<p>Facebook has seen a massive downturn of teens as older audiences boom on the worlds largest social network. Teenage members in the U.S. have plummeted 25.3% in the past three years, according to marketing firm iStrategyLabs. "The teenage demographic is leaving," says DJ Saul, chief marketing officer at iStrategyLabs.</p>
<p>The market researcher used Facebooks own self-service advertising tool to report the changes in Facebooks audience since 2011. Facebooks ad tool allows advertisers to target age groups and other categories, offering data on Facebooks audience. While teens on Facebook in January of 2014 fell to 9.8 million from 13.1 million in January of 2011, according to the data, those 55 years old or older jumped to 28 million in 2014, an 80.4% increase. The next largest growth segment for Facebook came from those 35 to 54 years old, according to iStrategyLabs, a 41.4% jump from 2011, followed by those 25 to 34 years old, up 32.6%. The social-networking giant has over 1.2 billion users.</p>
<p>"Todays 13- to 17-year-olds are not adopting Facebook as much as they were in 2011. They are going to Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and even messaging-based applications," says DJ Saul, chief marketing officer at iStrategyLabs. Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 in a bid to capture its young photo-sharing audience.</p>