I am very happy to report that the Tennessee General Assembly approved Governor Bill Haslam’s FY 2013-14 budget, including an additional $8 million to market tourism! These dollars will enable us to significantly broaden Tennessee’s brand awareness and intent to travel in new markets resulting in “More Visitors, Staying Longer, Spending More.” Many thanks to the Governor, the Tennessee Tourism Committee and the hundreds of industry partners who worked hard to achieve this outstanding budget increase!
I recently returned from Washington D.C. where I attended meetings of both the National Council of State Travel Directors and the U.S. Travel Board of Directors. This was my first U.S. Travel Board meeting as Secretary-elect of the organization. It is a great honor for me to serve as an officer of U.S. Travel which has done such an outstanding job in creating awareness of the economic importance of this industry with the White House, Congress and national media.
:image-1-right:Join with me in celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week May 4-12, a perfect time to raise awareness about the importance of tourism in our state and nation. May 8 is Travel Rally Day and the day U.S. Travel has dubbed “Wear Red Day.” The Tennessee Welcome Centers will celebrate all week as industry partners host special events targeted to the many travelers who stop in for an official welcome to Tennessee.
I hope you were all glued to your local PBS station on April 16 when Memphis Soul was featured in the series “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul.” If not, take some time to enjoy the show on YouTube and be reminded once again why Tennessee owns music.
Congratulations to long-time tourism partner and supporter Robert Hamsley, who has served on the Lawrence County Tourism Board for more than 25 years, and who was recently honored with a Silver Star Medal for his heroism during World War II. This achievement will be celebrated on May 14, his 94th birthday! Mr. Hamsley, you are a true Tennessee treasure!
Tennessee’s music, scenic beauty, sites and attractions are all inspiring, but just like Robert Hamsley, it is the people of this great state who make visitors want to come back over and over again. This industry is so successful because of your enthusiasm, passion and drive to be the best. I’m inspired by you every day and thank you for the great work you do for Tennessee!
a message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
Happy National Travel and Tourism Week
National Travel and Tourism Week, May 4-12, is just days away and Tennessee’s tourism professionals have no shortage of ideas to commemorate it. Here are just a few of the examples:
The Business of Tourism
Many communities have already taken the “Tourism Effects” message to their state legislative officials at home and in Nashville, but NTTW is the perfect opportunity to reach out to your local elected officials, community stakeholders and the community at large. Linda Lewanski, Tourism Director of the Newport/Cocke County Tourism Council, has invited Molly Gilbert of the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council to make a presentation to the Cocke County Partnership Board of Directors.
May 7 is Tennessee Legislators Night at a Memphis Redbirds game. The Metro Memphis Attractions Association will not only recognize the legislators from the field, but will host them in one of AutoZone Park’s world class suites. Together, they experience first-hand how tourism effects the local economy.
VisitKnoxville is taking to the airways to promote tourism and their “Be a Tourist in Your Hometown” activities. Included is a daylong event on Market Square featuring “Southern HospitaliTEA” (sweet tea from Calhoun’s restaurant) while locals meet the attraction representatives who provide the many tourist experiences in their hometown.
Visitor of the Day
A walk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park might give you the designation as “Tourist of the Day.” Each year park officials and tourism officials from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Newport and Townsend randomly select a tourist and invite them to a ceremony in front of the park’s headquarters. There is music, speeches, and of course, prizes from attractions in each community.
Paulys, Pinnacles and Presidential Pioneers
NTTW is the perfect opportunity to honor the faces of tourism across the state. Claudia Moody and the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association salute the region’s peak performers with their annual Pinnacle Awards luncheon. Jill Thompson and the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association honors hoteliers, restaurateurs and suppliers with Pauly Awards, named in honor of local tourism leader Paul Sherbakoff. Tammy Kinser and the Tourism Department of Greene County Partnership focus on front-line performers with the Presidential Pioneers of Hospitality Awards.
But “showing the love” can be as simple as a tourism business focusing on its own in-house employees. “Each day of the week we do different things to show the associates how much we appreciate what they do for the guests and visitors on a daily basis,” said Steven Bales, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott in Johnson City. “We do cookouts, in-house contests with prizes, and management will even wash associates cars while they are working.”
“Poppin’ In” to the Welcome Centers
For many years, attractions, communities and State Park representatives from West, Middle and East Tennessee have visited one or all of the state’s 14 welcome centers. Many set up tables and greet visitors with their smile, culture, culinary specialties, wildlife, discounts and helpful information. This year, Ruth Dyal from Upper Cumberland Tourism Association is renting a van to “share the love” with all of the state’s welcome centers. Meanwhile, Johnson City CVB will deliver lunch to welcome center staff in the region and give away popcorn to the visitors. “It’s our way to thank them for “poppin’ in” to Johnson City,” says Brenda Whitson of the Johnson City CVB.
If you are still wondering how your community can step up its game during NTTW, U.S. Travel has just updated its toolkit with economic impact data, a sample op-ed letter, press release, answer sheet, talking points, tweet sheet and Rally Day signs. Find more information at www.ustravel.org/marketing/national-travel-and-tourism-week.
2013 Vacation Guide iPad App Launched
The 2013 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide can now be downloaded through iTunes as a free iPad app. The app was developed in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Miles, Tennessee’s Vacation Guide publisher.
The Vacation Guide app showcases rich media content not found in the printed version. In addition to videos and slideshows, the app presents live links that take viewers directly to the website of all tourism partners advertising in the guide. This feature helps online travel planners get directly to a primary source of information for their Tennessee vacation.
Included in the rich media content are videos of the artists and performances highlighted in the guide articles. The Civil War section features a dynamic photo slideshow helping tell more of Tennessee’s important history. When the guide talks about the great restaurants and chefs you can enjoy in Tennessee, users can tap to call up one of their special recipes. App users scanning through maps and listings will find additional themed and regional itineraries, videos and more.
Tourist Development, along with agencies Miles, Paramore, Designsensory and Sullivan, has developed an aggressive plan of action to market and promote the iPad app across all social media platforms, tnvacation.com and with a national PR campaign.
The 2013 guide kicks off with an award-winning 16-page photo essay showcasing the state’s travel opportunities, which is then followed by a selection of engaging features written by Tennessee travel writers, information on annual events and festivals, regional travel profiles, best bets, attraction and lodging listings, and so much more. New this year are sections highlighting the state’s seasonal vacation contests and a roundup of the many ways consumers can stay connected with Tennessee throughout the year.
Check out the Tennessee Vacation Guide app and give us your feedback. We’re already planning for 2014!
Register Now for the 2013 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event
“Occupation and Liberation” Commemorates the 150thAnniversary of the Battles for Chattanooga
Registration is now open for Tennessee’s 2013 Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event which 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 surrounding historic sites. 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 and will feature educational symposiums, book signings, special tours and entertainment.
Oct. 9 kicks off with the Looking Back Project hosted by Tennessee State Library and Archives followed on Oct. 10 by a teacher’s workshop “Teaching Occupation and Liberation” hosted by Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation. Amy Murrell Taylor, PhD, associate professor of history, University of Kentucky will provide the keynote address, 7-8:30 p.m., Oct. 10.
The Official Opening Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. EDT, Oct. 11 and will include special guests and musical performances. The ceremony will be followed by a forum with America’s foremost historians on the Battles for Chattanooga, living history demonstrations and a Sesquicentennial Civil War exhibit offering rare and unique artifacts from the Battles for Chattanooga.
Symposium sessions continue Oct. 12. Topics include “Military Strategy in the Civil War” and “Civil War Commemoration and Memorialization.”
To reserve your seats please register via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the registration line at 615-532-7520. All Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission sponsored events are free and open to the public. All tourism partners are encouraged to attend this special milestone in our state’s history.
Friends of the Park, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will host commemoration events throughout 2013. For more information, visit www.friendsofchch.org/the-150th/.
2013 Nashville Sweepstakes Featured in Key Markets
In partnership with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is running a TV campaign during the last five weeks of ABC’s “Nashville” season. The campaign launched on April 24 with TDTD rotating the following :30 TV spots in the following markets through May 22.
Dallas WFAA (ABC) May 8, 15, 22
Tampa WFTS (ABC) April 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22
Chicago WLS (ABC) May 8, 15, 22
St. Louis KDNL (ABC) April 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22
Charlotte WSOC (ABC) May 15, 22
Atlanta WSB (ABC) May 8, 15, 22
The call-to-action on the TV spots will direct viewers to enter to win a Nashville Sweepstakes, which will live on Facebook through May 29. The winner will then be selected by June 3.Those interested in winning this exciting sweepstakes may enter via the TNvacation Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/tnvacation or through the state’s website atwww.tnvacation.com/win.
Sweepstakes Details (1 winner + guest):
-- One (1) individual prize to consist of two (2) roundtrip air fare tickets to Nashville, TN
-- Grand Ole Opry – Opry Backstage Tour
-- 3 night hotel stay at Hutton Hotel (based on availability/expires 5/31/14)
-- Nashville Show Tour (Grayline Tour)
-- Nashville Show swag (CD and/or Merch)
-- 1 Music City Backstage Attraction Pass (good for 2 people to over 30 Nashville attractions)
-- Music City Gift Bag
Play Tennessee Teams up for NASC
Play Tennessee partners from across the state, along with TDTD, returned to the annual National Association of Sports Commissions Symposium, which was held in Louisville, KY. The group held appointments with more than 55 sports organizations during the four day event.
“Through the Play Tennessee partnership the exposure of the state is greater at events like NASC. Each city realizes the importance of keeping sporting events in our state so they share information with one another,” said Derrick Smith. Derrick is TDTD’s Middle Tennessee tourism manager and the point person for Play Tennessee.
This year’s participants included: Tim Morgan, Chattanooga Sports Committee; Laura Canada and Staci Hilliard, Cookeville/Putnam County CVB; Karen Hubbs, Johnson City CVB; Jud Teague, Kingsport CVB; Jennifer Morris, Visit Knoxville; Malvin Gipson, Memphis Sports Council; Gary Alexander, Nashville Sports Council; Martha Norris, Sevierville Convention Center; Nikki Harrell, Wilderness At The Smokies.
In anticipation of upcoming conventions and trade shows, TDTD will be updating its group 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.email@example.com by May 8. Upcoming major trade shows include Travel Alliance Partners (TAP); International Pow Wow; and Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA). Please provide group tour-friendly updates that will cater to those markets.
Upcoming Web Assistance Tour Dates
May 1, Jefferson City
Carson Newman University
Ted Russell Hall
744 W College Street
Jefferson City, TN 37760
Start time 2 p.m. EDT
May 2, Morristown
Walters State Community College
R. Jack Fishman Library
500 S. Davy Crockett Pkwy.
Morristown, TN 37813
Start time 10 a.m. EDT
This a FREE program for our Tennessee tourism partners.
The Web Assistance Tour is your chance to get hands-on assistance with the tnvacation.com Web site, T3 deals program, tnvacation mobile site, and more!
For additional information please contact Michael Uhles at Michael.Uhles@tn.gov
<p><strong>Summer Travel Forecast: Vacationers Are Planning Ahead And Seeking Value Over Budget</strong></p>
<p>A new consumer survey focused on travel for the upcoming summer season unveils some surprising trends, from a renewed interest in planning ahead to a primary focus on value rather than strict budget considerations. Results from the March 2013 study conducted by <strong>Destination Hotels & Resorts</strong> (Destination), the nations fourth largest hospitality management company, also revealed that more than half of travelers are planning at least one trip without the kids. A snapshot of the surveys ten key findings is below, full results and analysis can be found in Destinations <a href="http://www.destinationhotels.com/press/summer-travel-forecast-vacationer... target="_blank">online media center</a>.</p>
<p><strong>1. Travelers are Learning the Early Bird Gets the Worm (and Best Rate).<br /> </strong>Bucking the post-recession boom of flash-sales and last-minute-deals, vacation planners are beginning to shop ahead again. Destination has seen the booking window among leisure travelers increase by almost a full day year-over-year; this trend is anticipated to continue for 2013, with 40 percent of survey respondents already on the hunt for their perfect summer trip.</p>
<p><strong>2. When it Comes to Vacation, More is More.<br /> </strong>Travelers are looking to vacation often this summer. Seventy-six percent plan to take as many short trips as possible, compared to only 22 percent eyeing a more traditional, week-or-longer summer escape.</p>
<p><strong>3. We are No Longer Living in a Budget World.<br /> </strong>Almost three-quarters of survey participants indicated that one of the most important elements in their final travel booking decision was value, beating out cost/budget as the prime consideration.</p>
<p><strong>4. Social Media Isnt Just, er, Social. Its a Critical Planning Tool.<br /> </strong>Two-thirds of participants indicated that they spend time on a hotels social channels before visiting. An overwhelming majority – 80 percent – noted that they browse online reviews when researching and booking their trips.</p>
<p><strong>5. Foodies are Still On the Rise.<br /> </strong>It is no secret that Americans have taken foodie mainstream - and that was certainly evident when participants were asked to share the most important considerations in booking their vacation. Fifteen percent ranked locally inspired cuisine as the most important, cant-live-without resort amenity.</p>
<p><strong>6. Summer Travelers Arent Always Kidding Around.<br /> </strong>Summer may be known as the heart of family-travel season, but more than a third of those surveyed indicated they do not travel with children, period.</p>
<p><strong>7. The Family That Travels Together Plays Together. <br /> </strong>Those who are traveling with children made it clear: while they appreciate "kids camps" to entertain their little ones on some vacations - they also want to spend quality time with their children. Sixty-nine percent of respondents are seeking accommodations and destinations that offer new experiences the entire family can do together, with a focus on the outdoors.</p>
<p><strong>8. Theres A Reason They Call It Classic<br /> </strong>Back to basics it is! Folks are looking to keep it simple when it comes to summer travel. Twenty-two percent of participants identified a sight-seeing road trip as the most appealing type of vacation, and more than 82 percent (!) think Americas National Parks are hot this year.</p>
<p><strong>9. New Experiences Wait For No One… Else. <br /> </strong>Solo travel will continue to be a hot topic in 2013. Sixty-five percent of people who plan to travel alone will be seeking out classes or interactive learning programs. More adventurous by nature, single travelers indicated a strong interest in learning a new skill (from surfing to climbing), and will be crossing items off their bucket list this summer.</p>
<p><strong>10.</strong> <strong>Vacations Learn to Get Cutting Edge, Literally.</strong><br /> A large majority of travelers are seeking to learn new skills during their vacations. Culinary classes are extremely popular - with 38 percent of respondents indicating they would be interested in a cooking or wine/beer tasting course – as are adventure skills, with 52 percent of respondents looking for lessons in active/outdoor activities.</p>