The Thanksgiving season has always been one of my favorite times to reflect on the good things that have happened during the previous year and to remember to give thanks for each of them. This year, all of us involved in Tennessee tourism have many, many things for which we can be thankful. It’s just been an absolutely outstanding year for this dynamic industry.
I’m thankful for the increased travel to Tennessee resulting in direct travel expenditures of more than $12.4 billion, up a billion dollars over the previous year, as reported by TIA*. For the first time since 1997, all 95 of our counties saw increases in tourism expenditures. Additionally, the payroll generated by direct travel spending grew 4.2 percent to $4.9 billion while the number of travel-related employment rose to 178,100, up from 175,000 in 2004. It’s so good to know that tourism is part of improving the quality of life for all Tennesseans.
I am grateful for developing partnerships with the media which have opened new opportunities for state-sponsored co-ops as well as new ventures with the internet and network programming. The Great American Country “Main Street Stops” commercials have exposed thousands of potential new visitors to many areas of the state they have not yet visited, using beautiful images and great copy. They are helping us get the word out about Tennessee as the perfect vacation destination. In addition, TV spots featuring fishing legend and Tennessee treasure Bill Dance were also launched this year on Outdoor Life Network (now known as VS network), further bolstering our outdoor niche marketing.
I can’t list things to be thankful for in 2006 without mentioning Dolly and Elvis! This legendary duo accomplished in one short thirty second TV spot the equivalent of millions of dollars of advertising exposure. The media debut of “The Tennessee Roadtrip – Dolly and Elvis” sparked national and international exposure resulting in more than 400 broadcast clips and 262 print and on-line articles. Its popularity also vaulted our web site, tnvacation.com, into a top vacation sites position on all the major search engines including Google and Yahoo. Wow, we all owe them a huge thanks!
I’m very thankful for the support of Governor Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee General Assembly that enabled all of this successful marketing to happen. We could not have done it without the additional funding that was put into the Governor’s budget and subsequently approved by the Legislature. We are looking forward to seeing the sales tax dollars that have been generated from this campaign be invested in education and other important services at both the state and local levels. That prospect is one of the things that makes this business so exciting!
Lastly, I am so grateful to be a part of a wonderful team of dedicated and talented people, both within this department and around the state, who love telling the world about Tennessee. This beautiful stage was “set” for all of us a long time ago. Now, we have the good fortune of keeping it set for our guests! We truly have much to be thankful for in Tennessee!
My sincere thanks to each one of you,
*Travel Industry Association of America, Washington, D.C. August, 2006 Reporta message from Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker
GAC Airings Take Center Stage
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has launched another phase of its strategic marketing campaign with a sponsorship with Great American Country (GAC).
In addition to extensive rotation of the department’s television spot featuring Dolly and Elvis, the sponsorship also includes ten destination commercials, known as Main Street Stops, which GAC customized specifically for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The spots individually feature Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville, Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg/Sevierville, Knoxville, Jackson/West TN., Clarksville, Bristol/Johnson City/Kingsport/Northeast Tennessee, Tennessee Overhill area and Lynchburg – all highlighting specific selling points of each area and offering a more detailed approach than a statewide television spot could accomplish.
The fast-paced and high energy commercials, which began airing nationally in September, appear during GAC’s Main Street programming and can be seen from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In addition to the television spots, the sponsorship integrates Tennessee into meaningful content opportunities as well as increased online exposure at gactv.com. Visitors to the GAC website can view the ten Main Street Stop videos, as well as find useful information to help plan a wonderful getaway in Tennessee.
:pullquote:Tennessee is fortunate to have cable television channels that are extremely fitting to the state's brand efforts, and happen to be based in Tennessee. When meeting with Knoxville based Scripps Network, which represents Great American Country (GAC), Home and Garden Television (HGTV), Do-It-Yourself Network (DIY) and Food Network, all channels are very appropriate for Tennessee tourism opportunities, but GAC's opportunity was the perfect match, said Jennifer Spence, Assistant Commissioner of Marketing for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
"GAC was obviously appealing because the country music audience is a large part of our potential visitor mix, and GAC's branding efforts have a similar feel to our own,” she said. "That fact, combined with the Main Street connection, the online component and most of all, the ten destination spots that provided details on some of our state's greatest treasures, something we can't accomplish in a state-wide :30 spot, really made this the perfect partnership and a stronger message for Tennessee as an ideal vacation destination."
GAC also visited several of the areas featured in the commercials to film extensive footage. This was an added benefit for many of the smaller areas who were unable to provide the high-quality footage needed to better sell the state as a viable vacation getaway on the nationally acclaimed network.
In addition to the television spots, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in conjunction with GAC and the Nashville CVB offered tourists a chance to win a trip to Music City on tnvacation.com. The grand prize winner will receive tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, two nights stay at the Holiday Inn Brentwood, admission to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and General Jackson Showboat cruise.
Susan Leigh, vice president of ad sales for GAC, said the company was delighted to participate in the sponsorship.
“This is a good example of a true partnership,” Leigh stated. “Tennessee Tourism came to us with some objectives and we were able to tweak Main Street Stops to meet those needs. We’re hoping this can continue to be a platform for both of us year after year because I think it’s a huge opportunity.”
Click here to view the television spots from the cities that have already aired- Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
The schedule for the remaining television spots are:
Feb. 26 - Knoxville
March 12 - Jackson/West TN
March 26 – Clarksville
April 9 - Tri-Cities/Northeast TN
April 23 - Tennessee Overhill
May 7- Lynchburg
The Hermitage Utilizes Student and Adult Groups to Sustain Heritage Tourism
The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson, is the most authentic early presidential home in America. The mansion, located in Nashville, has been restored to its 1837 appearance, looking much like it did when President Jackson finished his second term and returned home. This display of living history also features the Hermitage garden, Jackson’s tomb, Tulip Grove, the Hermitage Church and sites related to slavery, farming and nature. Nearly 190,000 tourists visit the museum each year.
This fall, 40 freshmen students and 40 graduate students from Vanderbilt University volunteered to paint tables, chairs and porches; repair fences; plus do yard and garden work on the 1,100 acre plantation. But to the Hermitage staff, their volunteer program is about more than free labor.
Paula Hankins, VP of Marketing and Sales, sees the program as a partnership that allows students the opportunity to learn what is in their community, explore history and discover the industry that brings it to life. She chose college freshmen because she wanted them to learn what the city had to offer. The graduate students came through Hands On Nashville, a clearing house of volunteer opportunities available in the city.
:pullquote:Hankins says that she is getting better volunteer response as a result of their senior staff networking with schools and other community minded groups. Once the staff better understands what other organizations do and need, beneficial partnerships can often be established.
A good source of partnerships is with youth leadership groups, such as Leadership Donelson-Hermitage. The Hermitage will often make their visits educational, asking various departmental staff members to make brief presentations during lunch. Hankins promotes tourism, addressing marketing and public relations programs to attract people to the museum. Others talk about preservation, gardening, etc.
During Citizenship Day, students from a World Study class at an area high school volunteered while 100 immigrants became naturalized citizens at an event on the lawn of the Hermitage. A mutual relationship followed and the teacher brought all 56 students back to volunteer for the museums 6th Annual Haunting at the Hermitage.
Volunteers at The Hermitage leave happy, knowing that they have taken their place in history… in the preservation of this beautiful and historic site that will continue to bring this remarkable history to life for generations to come.
“Many careers in tourism begin with volunteer work,” says Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, Assistant Commissioner of Community and Industry Relations for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD). “Our industry, as a whole, benefits from The Hermitage’s model by providing a way for students to learn about tourism. That exposure further heightens their curiosity in the many careers that are available."
Clarksville Welcome Center
The Tennessee Welcome Center in the Clarksville area has a unique distinction. It is located near the Tennessee-Kentucky state line on I-24 near mile marker one, which is just a stone's throw from Fort Campbell Army Base. Fort Campbell supports the third largest military population in the Army and the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, the only air assault division in the world, hence the designation 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The base boasts 105,068 acres mostly in Tennessee, but the post office is located across our northern boarders. With so many military families and visitors, it’s no wonder that Clarksville was the third fastest growing city in Tennessee during the 1990’s.
Among the number of travelers that visit the center in Clarksville, many are family members and friends of the soldiers stationed at Fort Campbell. The center has a staff of nine who serves thousands of visitors annually and this year that service was rewarded with a first.
Welcome Center Director Barry Young recently initiated the Tennessee Welcome Center Employee of the Month Program. The first person to win the award is Rena Caparida of the Clarksville Welcome Center. Rena, who has been with the department four years, is recipient of the inaugural award for October.
“It’s such an honor,” said Rena. “Each of us here enjoys helping visitors make great use of their leisure time while they are here or assist them in making plans for their return to the state.”
When asked what was the best part of her job, Rena replied "Having the opportunity to work with such wonderful people," referring to the other employees at the Center.
“Our office has recently received numerous calls from visitors to our state about the great job that Rena does and her excellent customer service skills”, adds Young.
Please help us congratulate Rena Caparida and the entire staff of the Clarksville Welcome Center for a job well done!
The Tennessee Sampler is Back!
Mark your calendars for the return of the "Tennessee Sampler", a sales blitz and trade show event exclusive for Tennessee partners. This year's event is in Tampa, Florida on March 27-29. Participating partners will be divided into teams and will attend pre-set sales appointments on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday is dedicated for AAA, including a "Tennessee" presentation to AAA Auto Club South call center and sales visits to AAA offices in the area. Wednesday evening, tour operators and AAA are invited to the "Tennessee Sampler" event from 5 - 9 p.m., and participating partners will have booths set up, door prizes, food and beverage, and Tennessee-style entertainment.
A committee is currently working on finalizing details, so please stay tuned. Registration and more information will be available on tnvacation.com/industry and the registration fee has not increased from the 1999 event; cost is $400 which includes two partners, all appointments and booth space. Registered partners can bring additional representatives at $75 per person.
Pickwick Receives Readers Choice Award
The Readers Choice Award votes have been counted and Pickwick has been selected 2006 “Best of the Best” in the Best Weekend Getaway category. The Readers Choice Awards are sponsored by the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, TN and voted on by their subscribers and online customers. Over 2,800 ballots were cast and readers of the Commercial Appeal picked their “favorites” in 115 categories.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts Awarded Prestigious Grant
From the Institute of Museum and Library Services
Thanks to a “Museums for America” grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Frist Center will launch the Hispanic Outreach Project for Education (HOPE Project). The grant supports the enhancing and sustaining of the Frist Center's relationship with the Hispanic community. The Frist Center's exhibition, Mexico and Modern Printmaking 1920-1950, opening in February 2007, will serve as the catalyst and as a foundation for the HOPE Project.
Frist Center Employee Andrea Steele Receives Award
Andrea Steele, Educator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, has been selected by the Tennessee Art Education Association (TAEA) to receive the museum Educator of the Year Award. This award honors an outstanding TAEA member whose service and contribution to art education merits recognition and acclaim. Andrea will receive her award at the TAEA Fall Conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn., November 10, 2006.
Kingsport Has Hit the US Airways
The Kingsport Convention & Visitors Bureau (KCVB) is excited to announce the release of Profile: Kingsport in US Airways Magazine, October 2006 issue. This unparalleled exposure is a perfect opportunity to inform a global audience how Kingsport's rich history, natural beauty, affordable living, and impressive business climate make Kingsport one of Tennessee's bright spots!
US Airways Magazine (formerly known as Attaché) reaches an impressive audience of over 3 million affluent business and leisure travelers each month.
Wilson County Director Ricky Rodriguez Named to Board
Wilson County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director, Ricky Rodriguez, has been appointed to the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) board of directors. The announcement was made during the STS Annual Meeting held in Arlington, VA. Rodriguez is active in various civic and cultural organizations in Wilson county and middle TN.
Southeast Tourism Society Recognizes Tennessee Partners
Southeast Tourism Society (STS) honored the best and brightest in the tourism industry at its annual Shining Example Awards banquet. The presentation was made in Arlington, VA during the 23rd Annual Meeting of STS. Tennessee’s own Natchez Trace Compact and Kingsport, TN Convention & Visitors Bureau were both recognized for their accomplishments. Natchez Trace Compact was named Regional Organization of the Year and the Kingsport, TN Convention & Visitors Bureau was given the Tourism Awareness recognition. The Shining Example Awards were established in 1985, are in 13 categories with competition from 11 states. Entries are judged on a variety of criteria. Judges are comprised of senior tourism professionals from all areas of tourism.
Dolly Parade Wins Award
The 21st Annual Dolly Parade won the Silver Grand Pinnacle Award from the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) The parade, which honors Dolly Parton, is the symbolic start to the spring tourism season in Pigeon Forge.
Grand Pinnacle Awards, are the top recognition category in the IFEA’s annual evaluation of festivals and special events from around the world. Winners for 2006 were chosen from more than 3,000 members in 38 countries.
Tennessee, The Stage is Set For You