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

As we enter December, our tourism industry is in full-swing for the Christmas holidays with lights, music, attractions, parades, shopping, events, college football bowl games and so much more that bring tourists from across the globe to Tennessee.

From Memphis to Bristol, we offer a Tennessee holiday that creates memories of a lifetime for our visitors.

I know we are all busy with our regular Tennessee tourism “day job,” but I invite each of you to take a little time this season to experience why millions visit this amazing state.  Go ahead and take part in a holiday event or visit an attraction in your area – and experience first-hand what makes our state special this time of year.

Take in the beauty of a Tennessee holiday from the Memphis Zoo Lights that “jungle all the way” to the holiday tours of antebellum homes in Maury County to the unbelievable light displays in our Smoky Mountain towns – and wonderful events at all stops in between. If you get the opportunity, attend one of our two college football bowl games – Nashville’s Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31.

For Tennessee tourism, it was an historic year. For the first time, our industry exceeded more than $16 billion in economic impact in 2012, an increase of 5.2 percent over the previous year. State and local tax collections reached a new high of $1.24 billion for tourism related businesses, which is the seventh consecutive year above $1 billion. In addition, we saw a significant increase in international visitor economic impact – up 10.4 percent in 2012 to $497 million.

The new year starts with a whirlwind as Nashville and Tennessee play host to the American Bus Association’s Marketplace 2014 at the Music City Center, Jan. 11-15. More than 3,500 tour operators, suppliers and exhibitors will attend and more than 140,000 pre-scheduled sales appointments already have been set!

For the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, 2014 brings the addition of a new marketing and branding agency for the department.  We are still in the RFP process with a new agency scheduled to be on board in early 2014, when we will begin the planning process to develop a new brand campaign using input from the Tennessee Tourism Committee and our new strategic plan.

As this year comes to another successful close, I’m more excited than ever to be a part of this wonderful industry and the team of professionals at TDTD.

May God bless each of you with another “tender Tennessee Christmas” with friends and family. Enjoy a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!


Susan Whitaker

Featured Articles:

TACVB Blizzard Feb. 6-7 in Chattanooga

Don’t miss the 8th annual TACVB Blizzard Feb. 6 -7 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Chattanooga. The conference will feature topics and speakers designed to educate, motivate and inspire tourism professionals responsible for bringing visitors to Tennessee.

NEW this year: TACVB will offer the “Dr. Steve Morse Blizzard Scholarship” which will cover registration cost, hotel stay, and mileage to attend the event. The scholarship is open to tourism professionals who have never had the chance to attend this conference. Watch the TACVB website, www.tacvb.net for application and details.

TACVB affiliate members will be there to introduce their products and services, as well as offer tips for better business outcomes. 

Along with our presenting sponsor, Miles Partnership, we look forward to seeing you in February.

Stay tuned for registration information. For more information, contact Sheila Leggett, 615-254-1233 or sheila@associationpartners.com.

Tnvacation.com CMS to get New Look in December

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 Web page to match 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 CMS. The CMS, where partners log-in to access thier page on tnvacation.com, will launch the week of Dec. 16. Users will be prompted at log-in once the new CMS is launched.

The new CMS will offer partners an enhanced page with capabilities to have more images, content and even embedded video.

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 early 2014.

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

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 and include the location of the session you wish to attend.

What's Buzzing on the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways

It has been an exciting month for the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program. Most likely you’ve noticed a few signs going up along the DTTB with TDOT installing Promised Land, The Jack, and Screaming Eagle signage.  Along with the new signage, trail leaders have been hopping a ride in Rob Sherrill's pick-up truck to deliver marketing materials to POIs on the trail and having a little fun along the way.

Nashville's Trace and Old Tennessee were promoted at the Music City Motorcycle Show recently where 750 people stopped by the Williamson County CVB's booth to learn more about this exciting tourism program and grab a brochure.

The iPhone app project begins next week with the opening of the DTTB CMS for updates to Promised Land, Ring of Fire, Screaming Eagle and Top Secret.  Trail leaders for these trails will have two weeks to go through the POIs and update everything possible, verify addresses, make sure every POI has a phone number and an associated photo. The department is excited to work with our DTTB partners to launch the remaining 13 iPhone apps by the end of April 2014!

Be on the lookout for more exciting happenings along the Trail as TDOT is in the process of ordering signs for Pie in the Sky, Tanasi, Rocky Top and Top Secret. TDTD will have an installation schedule for these trails as soon as the signs arrive at TDOT's sign shops.

Thanks again for all you do to promote the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program.

Video, Video, and More Video

Video Crew at Andrew Johnson Gravesite Video Crew at Andrew Johnson Gravesite How important is video to your website? Very important. According to the 2013 Portrait of American Travelers, 60% of American travelers use TripAdvisor when choosing a hotel, but YouTube is the second-most popular resource.

With the redesign of tnvacation.com in full-swing, we began the process of video creation to tell a deeper story about Tennessee that will translate across our multiple channels of communication. The videos will begin rolling out in mid-December.  

The first set of videos will focus on the topical elements of: Taste, Touch, See, Listen, while geographically, these videos will focus on the entire state of Tennessee. The second set will take a primary focus on the nine sub-regions of the state, while showing a beautiful mixture of people and telling their travel stories.  

TDTD Sales Update

Steve Cruz at TEAMSSteve Cruz at TEAMSThe Department represented Play Tennessee Nov. 4 – 8 along with several partner organizations who also had booths (Chattanooga, Memphis, Knoxville, and Wilderness at the Smokies) at the annual TEAMS Conference and Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Play Tennessee booth concluded the conference with 31 appointments, meeting with national governing bodies, event promoters, and sports events rights owners to find opportunities for Tennessee to host their sporting events.  Many of the appointments provided RFPs for Tennessee cities to consider, so there is good chance that several Tennessee cities will be in contention for hosting various sports events in the near future. 

With 92 highly qualified international tour operators expected to attend, the Department has been working hard to help Nashville host the second annual Travel South International Showcase that will be held in our home state Dec. 3 – 6, 2013.  In addition to the Department’s full book of 40 pre-scheduled appointments, there are 3 post-FAM tours after this show that will take 24 international tour operator delegates to spend two days and one night in Memphis, and 10 delegates to visit and overnight in Bristol, TN.  A group of 28 visiting delegates will also spend an afternoon touring Rock City and Lookout Mountain, in Chattanooga, before stopping by for a visit at the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, then enjoying the three-day conference that will be sure to impress the operators and have them rushing home to include and/or add more Tennessee product to their tour offerings. 

Like last year’s International Showcase, the Tennessee delegation will have the opportunity to host a dinner and reception for 12 international tour buyers assigned by Travel South USA.  Because the group is in Tennessee, we decided to leverage our state’s strength in authentic and unparalleled musical experiences, and will be treating the group of buyers and 27 state partners to an unforgettable night of songwriters showcasing their talent and personal perspectives on hits they have penned.  It will be a most memorable evening, and we appreciate the state industry partners for their support and assistance in hosting these valuable clients. 

Nashville and Points South FAM

Steve Wariner with Travel Writers at Tennessee State MuseumSteve Wariner with Travel Writers at Tennessee State MuseumTDTD hosted 12 travel journalists Nov. 13-17 as part of the Nashville and Points South FAM tour. Representatives from AAA Arizona Highroads, Austin Chronicle, and The News Herald were in attendance. Journalists traveled from Texas, Ohio, Illinois, and even as far as Canada to participate in the tour of Middle Tennessee. Geiger & Associates coordinated the FAM with assistance of partners throughout the region.

The tour included stops in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Columbia, Smyrna, Lynchburg, and Franklin with stops at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Studio B, Jack Daniel Distillery, James K. Polk Home, Stones River National Battlefield, Carnton Plantation and many more.

On Nov. 13, the writers had the opportunity to meet country music songwriter and entertainer, Steve Wariner, as he gave a personal reflection and tour of his exhibit “Wariner’s Watercolors: Paintings by Steve Wariner” on display through Dec. 29 at the Tennessee State Museum.

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.

Great Places To Stay In Tennessee (TN Business Spotlight) Whether you want to visit the bright lights of a big city or unwind in the country, Tennessee has plenty of places to accommodate your traveling needs. Southerners are known for their hospitality, and Tennessee is certainly no exception. From The Peabody in Memphis to the General Morgan Inn in Greeneville, check out these great places to stay. Read the article. 

Trail Signs Installed on Screaming Eagle Trail (Leaf Chronicle) Signs for the Screaming Eagle trail are now directing visitors and local curious travelers along this important tourism route. The brown signs, recently installed by TDOT along the 353-mile, self-guided driving trail, help guests discover more about Middle Tennessee’s destinations rooted in military and music history as well as some of the nation’s best outdoor locations. The Screaming Eagle trail, with 75 stops from Nashville throughout Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery and Stewart counties, celebrates Middle Tennessee’s history, legends and heroes, landscape, music and cuisine. Read the article. 

Discovery Park Faces Success in First Weekends (WBBJ TV) Officials at Discovery Park of America in Union City are reporting that the first two weekends have been a huge success. According to officials, More than 9,700 people have visited the park from as far away as New York, Colorado and Utah. “The vast majority of our guests have come from Tennessee and Kentucky,” a park spokesperson said. “But we have had people from Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Louisiana.” Read the article. 

View more E-Clips >

With Shrinking Screens, Marketers Have to Shorten Tag Lines

by Sullivan Branding

Think small.

In September, we saw the launch of the new Samsung Smartwatch, which has a 1.6-inch screen and weighs 2.6 ounces. This week, Cisco Chief Futurist David Evans wrote an interesting technology blog post, The Future of Wearable Technology: Smaller, Cheaper, Faster, and Truly Personal Computing. Evans speaks to the new trend of wearing personal computers in the form of clothing, jewelry, shoes, glasses, watches and even on the skin.

We used to think the future of technology was at our finger tips, but now it’s available on our wrist, on our clothing or even on our skin. A Samsung ad campaign now features Dick Tracy, Captain Kirk and other notable sci-fi characters to introduce their new Galaxy Gear Smartwatch. Sci-fi efforts have come full circle.

Smaller screens now make for smaller messages and logo-driven marketing

As marketers, we should look for innovative ways to promote our goods in small form type and font, and yes, reducing or eliminating words in branding campaigns and taglines.

This shouldn’t be that difficult or challenging. History shows that the greatest ad campaigns are usually made up of fewer words, like Volkswagen’s “Think Small,” Nike’s “Just Do It,” and the National Dairy Council’s “Got Milk.”

And with smaller and smaller screen real estate, is it time for branders to start thinking image only?

All of us immediately identify logos. Strong and robust logos like Apple, the Nike Swoosh or any airline are easily recognizable. Millions of us are even hooked on the Logo Quiz App for that reason – we identify with brands.

Creative and art directors should now resize every logo and tagline in their brain. The way we receive our marketing messages is getting smaller, almost tiny. Because people are now consuming content on a small screen, brand stamps are coming – less words and more colors (set for your own personality type) will soon dominate a new age of advertising.

For my generation, it’s fun to watch and will require reading glasses. For younger generations, it’s one step closer to successfully connecting more people, starting conversations and growing new brands.

Linda Caldwell (center), one of Tennessee’s favorite tourism professionals, retires. We’ll miss you, Linda!

Stay Connected Twitter Facebook YouTube TripTales Partner Login