Happy New Year!
I hope your holidays were wonderful, and you have had some time to think about the opportunities that await you this coming year. For me, it was both fun and startling to see how much the children of friends and family had grown since last Christmas, reminding me just how much can happen in a single year. Tennessee tourism saw so many good things happen in the 365 days that comprised 2011. Just think what can happen in 2012 – especially with that extra ‘leap year’ day added to the calendar!
Kick-starting the new year was TDTD’s 2012 “What’s New in Tennessee” press announcement distributed to national, regional and statewide media. As impressive as ever, it included the 75th anniversary of Tennessee’s award-winning state parks, the 35th anniversary of Elvis Week, Titanic Pigeon Forge’s 100th commemoration, the Sesquicentennial of three of Tennessee’s Civil War National Battlefields – Ft. Donelson, Shiloh and Stones River, Tennessee’s commemoration of the War of 1812 Bicentennial, the re-opening of Opry Mills and the list goes on.
The 2012 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide has arrived and is certainly worth celebrating. This year’s guide, published by Miles Media, is one of our most beautiful to date, featuring an 18-page spread of inspiring photography and stirring personal accounts of Tennessee travel experiences. With a printing of 500,000 copies, the vacation guide is one of Tennessee tourism’s most important tools for our traveling public.
We enter this new year with strong tourism numbers, as reported in October. In 2010, U.S. Travel’s Economic Impact report on Tennessee showed that direct tourism expenditures reached $14.1 billion, a 6.3-percent increase over the previous year. As we look ahead, U.S. Travel’s December Outlook newsletter indicated an optimistic forecast, coming off of one of the best holiday spending seasons in U.S. history.
The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 64.5 in December, the highest level since April and near a post-recession peak, according to the Conference Board. The Consumer Sentiment Index and Economic Confidence Index have also experienced recent gains. This confidence was reflected tangibly as shoppers delivered record-breaking Black Friday sales and preliminary numbers for December indicate a 4.5 percent gain according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
As the economy begins to improve, even incrementally, the tourism industry is certain to benefit, and we are committed to putting Tennessee at the top of a growing traveling public’s wish list.
And why not? Tennessee is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, and is loaded with internationally known attractions including Graceland, Bristol Motor Speedway, the Grand Ole Opry, Jack Daniel Distillery, Dollywood and the Great Smokies National Park. Add to that Tennessee’s breathtaking scenic beauty, great cities and towns, history, music festivals, hospitality, not to mention its affordability – I think it’s safe to say we are well-positioned to reach our goal of “More People, Staying Longer, Spending More.”
The Governor’s Tourism Committee, chaired by Colin Reed, CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, is continuing its in-depth study of Tennessee’s tourism opportunities and needs, holding meetings in each of Tennessee’s three grand regions. For our partners in West Tennessee, mark your calendars to join the Committee for a public meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26 in Memphis, details to follow from the Committee.
As tourism professionals in Tennessee, it is exciting to provide and promote a year-round destination for tourists from around the world. As new and expanded destinations are added to our product inventory, we will continue to set new records in economic development for both metropolitan and rural communities. I’m so proud to be part of this wonderful industry and look forward to working with you in 2012.
Here’s to a successful New Year for each of you and Tennessee Tourism!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
2012 Official Tennessee Vacation Guides Are Here
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has released the 2012 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide! The free guide features captivating photo spreads, personal feature stories and descriptions of the state’s attractions, lodging, historic locales, entertainment venues, state parks, outdoor adventures and more.
This year, the 200-plus page Vacation Guide takes a fresh, innovative approach, providing readers with an expanded photo essay design. The front of the guide features an 18-page diverse collection of large, iconic images of some of Tennessee’s scenic beauty, music, food, attractions, history and more.
“We wanted a Vacation Guide that would stand out and speak to potential visitors,” said Jay Salyers, senior vice president of Miles Media. “This year’s dynamic photo spreads really grab your attention, inspiring visitors to want to experience all of Tennessee’s great attractions and scenic beauty.”
The photo spread is followed by an 8-page story section of travel vignettes written by Tennessee travel writers sharing their personal experiences – a relaxing day fishing on the river, a solemn tour of the battlefield at Shiloh, a lively night on Lower Broadway and a scenic drive along the Walking Tall Trail, a Discover Tennessee Trail & Byway.
Coverage of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program continues in the guide, located in the regional sections that showcase East, Middle and West Tennessee with overviews, spotlights and regional maps. For the events listing, this year’s guide offers an expanded seven-page section highlighting premiere events, fairs and festivals taking place in major cities, small towns and rural communities throughout the state.
More than 500,000 guides are available free at the state’s 14 Welcome Centers and to tourists requesting the publication via tnvacation.com and 1.800.GO2.TENN. It is also available as an e-guide at tnvacation.com. The guide is Tennessee’s primary vacation planning publication and marketing publication for domestic and international trade-shows.
2012 TACVB Blizzard
The Tennessee Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (TACVB) will host its annual mid-winter educational conference on February 2-3, 2012. This award-winning conference will feature topics and speakers designed specifically for tourism professionals who are responsible for bringing visitors to their areas.
Keynote presenter Phil Bruno (“Treat „em Right”), will join a dynamic group of speakers, including Brent Templeton, Rich Benjamin, Annette Trotter, Dr. Steve Morse, TDTD Commissioner Susan Whitaker, and others. (Complete schedule available soon.) TACVB‟s affiliate members will be there to highlight their products and services, as well as offer tips for better business solutions.
The two major sponsors of this year’s Blizzard are Miles Media, presenting sponsor and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, who help us keep the conference costs low enough for even the smallest tourism entity to attend. The conference schedule (11 a.m. Thursday – 1 p.m. Friday) insures that most attendees only spend one night away from home.
Back by popular demand, the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center, conveniently located just off I-24 in Murfreesboro, TN, will host the meeting. The $99 guaranteed room rate is good until January 12th by calling 615-890-4464 (mention “BZZ” or TACVB). Come learn with and from the experts, as you network with friends. We hope to see you there as we take Tennessee tourism by storm!
A good blog goes a long way. If your iPhone malfunctions, simply Google “iPhone blogs.” At your fingertips, you will find an instant network of people experiencing the same problem and, hopefully, how to fix it. There are blogs about anything and everything. It’s a resource that many use on almost a daily basis for anything from inspiration to best practices. The goal is simply to answer the question – what are other people saying about this? It instantly connects people around the world experiencing similar things in life, and that feels good.
In the ever-changing marketing world, the overarching task can be compared to having a voice in a room where everyone is screaming. How do you spread the correct message to the best people? Advertising is one piece of the marketing pie. If an advertiser had all the money in the world, this would be easier – find the target, create a compelling campaign and saturate all markets over and over again until your trusted brand is a household name around the world. However, many marketers face dwindling advertising dollars and the constant task of making smaller budgets work with less. How do you make smart decisions to extend the available dollars and say something relevant to the right audience? Two words: digital integration.
Digital integration is almost like making a 2D image a 3D image. It adds depth and enhances the media plan or non-digital piece of initiatives – period. The timely results allow for timely changes and that can mean all the difference in terms of dollars and success. But digital integration isn’t just about the decisions made as a marketer/advertiser. It is also a significant component in the available mediums in which you market your business or product.
For example, a magazine is enhanced with a digital component, such as a tablet. A website is enhanced by a mobile site. A mobile site is enhanced by an app. An app is enhanced by a social network used to promote it. A social network is enhanced by active engagement. Active engagement is cultivated with relevant content. Relevant content may come in the form of a blog. Relevant content may also come from all of the above. All pieces are interconnected, paired in different ways and enhanced by the other.
The concepts of connectedness, enhancement and engagement within the digital integration of print media, was covered in a blog post by Whitney Haldeman. Haldeman is one of the newest additions to Paramore, which is the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s digital agency of record. Haldeman’s post is precise and shows the changing face of print media. It is a reality that marketers through and within print media can’t ignore.
An updated version of the 2011-2012 Tourism Roadmap is available at tnvacation.com/industry/.
An updated version of the media chart is available at tnvacation.com/industry/.
The planning stage began for a four-person blogger campaign. The final details will be available in the February industry e-newsletter.
Music Voyager is a travel and music television and broadband series that gives the audience a view of the culture, heritage and history that defines the musical soul of a destination. The broadcast, including in-flight and social media, will reach 170 million homes around the world, in 140 countries and in 33 language translations. Music Voyager Tennessee will air the last week in February and we are in the process of wrapping the final cuts for the three episodes, which will cover east, middle and west Tennessee. Links to view the final episodes will be available in the February e-newsletter.
Commissioner Whitaker to Serve on U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors’ Executive Committee
Tourism’s Commissioner Whitaker has been asked to serve on the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors’ Executive Committee for 2012. Previously, Commissioner Whitaker served on the committee during the last quarter of 2011.
The U.S. Travel Association is the national umbrella organization representing all segments of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. U.S. Travel works to increase travel to and within the United States through a substantial advocacy effort that communicates industry interests to policymakers and the media.
The sales team has been busy hitting the road, selling and promoting everything Tennessee has to offer. December was a busy month with the National Tour Association tradeshow in Las Vegas, NV with 51 appointments conducted with group tour operators and a full schedule of networking opportunities. In addition, the Tennessee delegation lived up to the operators’ expectations with another memorable Tennessee dinner. Over 100 operators and state partners enjoyed dinner at the House of Blues on the 43rd floor with breathtaking views of Las Vegas. Thanks to all our Tennessee partners who made the evening possible!
Also in December, several staff members attended the Travel South USA Quad State Mountain Regional Marketing Meeting in Bristol. This meeting allowed state tourism departments from Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia to collaborate in a one-day marketing strategy/workshop. The interactive sessions focused on identifying what tour operators need and want for group & FIT tours, developing successful tour packages, building itineraries and having product ready to bring to market. These new programs and tour packages will be launched during Showcase 2012 during the Mountain History, Culture, Music & More luncheon on March 5, 2012.
While the Travel South meeting was taking place, TDTD also partnered with Graceland, Clarksville CVB, Cedar Street Hospitality (out of Memphis), and Gaylord Attractions to exhibit at the 65th Annual Midwest Clinic – An International Band & Orchestra Conference – in Chicago. The double booth was visited by several dozens of student band directors looking for their next possible performance venue/location, while the state delegation also made sure to meet with tour operators who were in attendance at the show.
By the time you receive this, the TDTD sales team will be packing for the American Bus Association tradeshow in Grapevine, Texas. Similar to NTA, the TDTD team will be conducting appointments and networking with the over 320 registered group tour operators. If you are attending ABA, you should have received information regarding our Tennessee delegate dinner on Saturday, January 7, 2012 and how to register to participate. If you have not received this information or if you are still interested in registering, it’s not too late. Give Bennjin Lao a call at 615-741-9069 to RSVP.
2012 Web Training Tour
Free Web Training Seminars for Industry Partners
Make plans to participate in one of TDTD’s upcoming Web Training Seminars. The sessions are FREE for all tourism partners and provide hands-on assistance in utilizing tnvacation.com, the T3 “Hot Deals” program, tnvacation.com mobile site, using the calendar of events, and answering questions from the attendees.
More than 4 million unique visitors have visited tnvacation.com for five consecutive years. The site experiences 25 million page views annually.
This large amount of traffic and reputation for quality is available to be leveraged by Tennessee’s tourism partners through a free tnvacation.com partner page and the associated components which the Department of Tourist Development makes available.
The TDTD Web tours feature a team of Web professionals providing Tennessee tourism partners with information and instructions on how best to maximize the online tools available via tnvacation.com. The tour team is made up of TDTD staff and representatives from Designsensory, TDTD’s website design firm.
January Through February Web Tour Calendar
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Daugherty Science Building
Room 123 (computer lab)
For Parking: Go to Branner Street on campus, (Daugherty Science Building main entrance is on Branner Street) then turn right on Davis Street and the parking lot is directly across from the tennis courts.
Thursday, Jan. 19, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Comfort Inn - 433 S. Rutgers Ave
Wednesday, Feb. 1, 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Rutherford Co. Visitors Center
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm
University of Memphis - Millington Campus
Wednesday, Feb. 29, 12:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Cleveland/Bradley Co. Chamber of Commerce
To attend one of these free events please RSVP Date & Location to: email@example.com.
Click here for the latest Web tour details and location additions.
Civil War Update
Civil War Marker Dedicated in McKenzie
On Dec. 5, Commissioner Whitaker and Dr. Carroll Van West traveled to McKenzie, Carroll County for the dedication ceremony of the Civil War Trails markers in McKenzie. Mayor Jill Holland hosted the dedication ceremony at City Hall attended by many local dignitaries,including representatives of Sen. Alexander and Congressman Fincher.Carroll County has three markers, two in McKenzie and one in Clarksburg.
In conjunction with the Civil War trails dedication ceremony, TSLA’s Looking Back project was held on the same day in McKenzie at the Gordon Browning Museum on the square and was well attended.Since its inception in April 2010, the Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee project has reached 28 communities and has scanned or photographed more than 1,300 items. Only a portion of these items have been included in the online collection (available on the TSLA website at http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm4-p15138coll6/index.php). Beginning January 2012, TSLA will upload the collections in their entirety. The project has received a steady amount of publicity and positive feedback. As a result, events are scheduled through October 2012. The next event is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Tullahoma City Hall in Tullahoma, Tenn. A full list of events may be found at www.tn.gov/tsla/cwtn/events.htm.
2012’s Sesquicentennial Signature Event
“Invasions by Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh,” 2012’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, will be held April 4-5 at Pickwick Landing State Park. This event will feature the red carpet film premiere of “The Story of Shiloh: Fiery Trail,” opening ceremonies presented by Governor Bill Haslam (invited), Commissioner Susan Whitaker, and Dr. Carroll Van West. In addition, a Battle of Shiloh Forum featuring the foremost Shiloh historians will also be held, as well as living history events. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, and Tennessee Historical Society.
Activities continue throughout the weekend at Shiloh National Battlefield, including a grand illumination on April 7 featuring more than 23,000 luminaries and an Easter Sunrise Service on April 8 at the Shiloh Methodist Church.
Facts & Trends
U.S. Vacation Deprivation
The new Vacation Deprivation Study sponsored by Expedia shows that Americans still lag in taking vacation each year. Leading the world are the Europeans who not only earn more days than the Americans but, for the most part, tend to take every one of them.
The research seems to indicate that Americans see vacations as a luxury with one out of three saying that could not afford one. In contrast, nearly half of American workers said that their financial situation was good or solid. Here are the facts & trends:
Europeans earn, on average, 25-30 vacation days and generally use all of them.
Brazilians receive 30 vacation days and enjoy them all.
Americans earn 14 vacation days and, on average, took only 12. (2 days unused)
Japanese took only five out of an 11 available days. (6 days unused)
“Europeans work to live, feeling vacation is a right rather than a privilege,” said Scott Durchslag, president of Expedia Worldwide in a November 30, 2011 Travel Pulse story. “Americans can often live to work, viewing vacations as a guilty privilege to be downplayed around the workplace - especially if they are worried about their jobs.”
To learn more, visit www.travelpulse.com/expedia-study-shows-americans-still-lag-in-taking-vacations.html.
New Director on Board for Tennessee Welcome Centers
The Department of Tourist Development has recently hired Myron "Pete" Rosenboro as the Director of Welcome Centers. Rosenboro brings 13 years of experience as a facility administrator to the TDTD.
Rosenboro, a Bristol (TN) native, is looking forward to his new position within the Department.
“I’m very excited. In reading about Tourist Development and speaking with several others, this is a great opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of our state's 14 Welcome Centers.”
In his new position, Rosenboro is responsible for the State’s 14 Welcome Centers.
A 1995 graduate of East Tennessee State University, Rosenboro most recently served as the Facility Administrator for the Andrew Jackson/James K. Polk/Citizen Plaza/ and Rachel Jackson Office Complex in downtown Nashville.
Industry Applause is designed to highlight and recognize the achievements of our industry partners.
TripAdvisor Names Two Tennessee Cities in “Top 15 U.S. Destinations on the Rise for 2012” List
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, recently announced the top 15 U.S. destinations on the rise for 2012, naming Nashville as No. 1 on the travel destination list. Pigeon Forge ranks No. 4 on the list.
To read more, please visit http://www.multivu.com/mnr/49254-tripadvisor-s-top-15-u-s-destinations-on-the-rise-for-2012.
Hampton Inn & Suites Millington
Hampton Inn & Suites Millington Ranked as Brands Top Hotel
Hampton Hotels ranked the Hampton Inn & Suites Millington as the top performing hotel within the brand for the third quarter of 2011. The Hampton Inn & Suites Millington was recognized for its high rankings among more than 500 Hampton Inn & Suites hotels worldwide in the categories of overall loyalty, service and quality. The criteria for receiving this recognition is based on customer feedback measured through guest satisfaction surveys about the hotel, as well as product quality and service scores measured quarterly by the Hampton brand.
Tennessee Planners Award CRT
Cumberland Region Tomorrow was recently awarded the 2011 Tennessee American Planners Association Award for Regional Significance for their quality growth work with local communities in Middle Tennessee.
ConventionSouth Magazine Names Annual Readers’ Choice Award Winners
The votes are in, and the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC) has received the 2011 Readers Choice Awards from ConventionSouth Magazine. ConventionSouth, the national multimedia magazine for planning events in the South has released the list of top Conventions and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) to receive the distinguished honor. The 2011 Readers' Choice Award recipients represent CVBs, meeting sites and hotels in the South that ConventionSouth's readers nominated and selected based on their high standard of professionalism and quality service.
Smith Receives Promotion
Craig Smith of Peabody Hotel Memphis has been promoted to regional director of sales and marketing for the Peabody Hotels.
We're Playing Your Song