a message from Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett

Partners,

I come to you each month in this forum to talk about what is going on, big and bigger. We discuss where we have been and where we are going.

Industry Spotlight

View
Tennessee Travel News

Outstanding Speakers to Be Featured at Governor’s Conference

One of the goals of the 2015 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism Oct. 7 – 9 in Nashville is to feature the very best in nationally-known and highly sought-out speakers. And with this year’s incredible line-up, that goal has been reached.

Read more

Retire Tennessee and Adventure Tourism Programs Now Part of TDTD

The Retire Tennessee and Adventure Tourism programs are now officially part of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Retire Tennessee is in its ninth year of marketing the state to potential retirees interested in relocating. Adventure Tourism was launched in 2011 as a rural development initiative. Both programs, managed by ...

Read more

TDTD Partners Hit a Homerun at Trail Night at the Ballpark!

With five of nine events across the state successfully complete, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and its partners are helping spread the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways message to enthusiastic fans during the summer’s exciting Trail Night at the Ballpark! initiative.

In partnership with Tennessee Minor League Baseball, the ...

Read more

TDTD Spring 2015 Co-op Campaign Summary

The 2015 Digital Co-op ran May 1-31. This year’s campaign took into consideration the insights and successes from the 2014 campaign and looked to maximize them by adding a lead generation component through distinctive “Made in Tennessee” sweepstakes packages. As with 2014, TDTD leveraged the Cannes award-winning “One-Minute Vacation” video ...

Read more

Travel Writer FAMS Set for Fall in Upper Cumberland and Knoxville and Surrounding

With the promise of cooler temperatures and fall foliage in the near future, plans are underway for Tennessee to host more than 30 travel journalists during FAM tours to the Upper Cumberland (Sept. 23-27) and Knoxville & surrounding area (Oct. 22-25).

Writers visiting the Upper Cumberland will not only experience ...

Read more

August Brings Roadshows, Motorcoach Meetings and SYTA for TDTD Sales

TDTD Sales attended the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation Tourism Roadshow July 13-17 in Florida. Invited by the NCVC, TDTD helped conduct sales calls with a team of four Nashville representatives, for a total of 24 appointments. 

The team visited Ft. Myers and Orlando, and concluded with an invitation-only client ...

Read more

2016 Vacation Guide Marketing Opportunity Available Now

The Official Tennessee Vacation Guide continues to be the top fulfillment piece TDTD uses to send out to visitors requesting information about Tennessee. In 2014, the state of Tennessee had a great year reprinting 75,000 guides to fulfill demand, and reporting record visitation to Tennessee with more than 100 million ...

Read more

Partners,

I come to you each month in this forum to talk about what is going on, big and bigger. We discuss where we have been and where we are going.

However, I would be remiss if I started this month's letter in any way other than touching a little bit on who we are ... as a nation ... but even more so as a state.

The recent tragedy in Chattanooga reminds us of how fragile things can be. While our industry is extremely competitive, we are family; maybe sometimes more the Griswolds than the Waltons but we are family. And when one of us hurts we all do.

Chattanooga is a tourism development success story to the highest degree. We promote fun. We promote getting away from it all and the many different ways visitors can do that in Tennessee.

Then sometimes we are reminded getting away from it all is a challenge.

So while our industry often is separate and competitive with each other, when the chips are down we are together. That is who we are. We are with Chattanooga in heart and mind. #NoogaStrong.

And that is why we work even harder on getting out there. The U.S. Travel Association has conducted research that shows 429 million vacation days a year go unused.

Let's not only get folks to spend those days in Tennessee, let's get out there ourselves. We are visitors too. Listen, I am among the worst of the lot so change starts here. There is a lot going on. I love working with you all to tell folks about it all.

We do have a lot going on. Don't we always?

From a state standpoint, we continue to look for ways to profile the Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee brand, including swapping out the signage at the photo op locations at all 14 welcome centers with the new logo.

From signs to TV-spots to branded content, our advertising agency, VML, has set the bar high in promoting authentic Tennessee.

Want authentic?

August 6-9, The World's Longest Yard Sale goes right down Highway 127 in Jamestown. Who doesn't like hunting for a bargain?

During that same time period, August 8-9 to be exact, we have the Cherokee Heritage Festival in Cleveland. We strive to tell the stories that shape us and few do it better than Native Americans.

Kicking August 8 and going through the next weekend, the King of Rock 'n' Roll gets his own week. Take care of business and get to Memphis to celebrate the music, movies and life of Elvis.

Poster child for the "all-things-are-better-fried" crowd is the Southern Fried Food and Sweet Tea Festival in McKenzie August 14-15.

At the other end of the state from Mckenzie, Bristol welcomes folks from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries for four NASCAR races in three nights culminating with The Night Race Saturday, August 22.

August 28 in Shelbyville is the launch date for this year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration ... The world championship for the state's native breed of show horse.

And August 28-30 is the African Street Festival in Jackson featuring entertainment, workshops and more.

That much and more, soup to nuts. We have it all right here in Tennessee.

See you on the road.

Kevin Triplett

 Mercedes Ramirez Johnson

Featured Article 

One of the goals of the 2015 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism Oct. 7 – 9 in Nashville is to feature the very best in nationally-known and highly sought-out speakers. And with this year’s incredible line-up, that goal has been reached.

Terry Jones, the founder of Travelocity & Kayak.com, has become a powerful voice in the world of entrepreneurship through his numerous speaking engagements and publication of his book, ON Innovation. His career path has established him as a thought leader on innovation in our increasingly digital world. Beginning his career as a travel agent, Jones spent 24 years at American Airlines in marketing and information technology, capping his career as Chief Information Officer of its SABRE division. While at SABRE, he led a team of six working on a project that became Travelocity.com, transforming it into a company with $3 billion in travel sales. After his work with Travelocity, he became part of the founding team at Kayak.com, a company that yet again revolutionized how travel was purchased. Today he is an author, a leading speaker on innovation and change, the chairman of WayBlazer, and managing principal of ON Inc.

Cary Cavitt is known as America’s “go-to guy” in the field of developing and delivering truly exceptional customer service. With more than three decades of experience in the customer service industry, Cary has a vast knowledge of proven customer service principles and practices and knows how to train and equip both managers and employees in meeting and exceeding the expectations of customers. The author of eight best-selling books on the subject, he truly understands how customers think and, more importantly, how to win them over. He has spoken to more than 2,000 groups and has provided customer service training to companies and organizations around the globe. After receiving a B.A. at the University of Michigan and an M.A. at Eastern Michigan University, Cary went on to receive his PGA Membership and become an award-winning head golf professional at various clubs in the Midwest before founding Service Starts With a Smile Seminars.

In 1995, Mercedes Ramirez Johnson narrowly survived a commercial airplane crash that killed 160 people, including her parents. As one of only four survivors of this tragedy, she vowed she would make her second chance at life count and she has, not only for herself, but also for the tens of thousands of people who have heard her story and her transformational, passionate, and inspiring message. Her Second Chance Living™ concept offers participants a blueprint for change along with specific tools they can use immediately in their professional and personal endeavors. Before becoming a speaker, Mercedes spent nearly a decade in high-level sales in the pharmaceutical and medical software industries. A record-breaking, multimillion-dollar producer, she became the youngest female and sole Latina account executive at Cerner Corporation. As a result, she understands the challenges and opportunities today’s professionals face and has both the capability and the credibility to cross professional, generational, gender and ethnic gaps to connect with people from all backgrounds and levels.

Add to this incredible roster of speakers Commissioner Kevin Triplett, who will share the annual State of the Industry address and Department of Tourist Development presentation, and Governor Bill Haslam, who is invited to present his annual Address to the Tourism Industry at the closing luncheon on Friday, Oct. 9. Truly, this is a conference you won’t want to miss!

Complete information on conference speakers, educational programming, schedule, registration, lodging and more can be found by clicking on the “Governor’s Conference” tab on the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association website at www.tnhta.net.

 

Tennessee’s Great Outdoors Keep Tourists Coming

Retire Tennessee and Adventure Tourism Programs Now Part of TDTD

The Retire Tennessee and Adventure Tourism programs are now officially part of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Retire Tennessee is in its ninth year of marketing the state to potential retirees interested in relocating. Adventure Tourism was launched in 2011 as a rural development initiative. Both programs, managed by Ramay Winchester, were formerly under ECD.

Tennessee is one of only four states with retiree recruitment as a formal program. Nineteen counties have invested in Retire Tennessee and are highlighted on the new www.RetireTennessee.org website.  Last year, Retire Tennessee inspired more than 10,000 inquiries from potential retirees seeking the amenities and resources the state offers.

It is recognized a retiree visits a community three to five times before making the decision to move. Retire Tennessee as part of TDTD is a natural fit. Tennessee continues to gain momentum with more than 78 million boomers as a retirement destination worth considering.

The 19 counties participating in Retire Tennessee are: Anderson, Carter, Cumberland, Franklin, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hardin,  Jefferson, Loudon, Maury, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Robertson, Sullivan, Sumner, Unicoi, Warren and White.

Adventure Tourism is an industry gaining popularity throughout the world, and Tennessee’s abundance of natural resources lend the ideal setting to support this segment of the tourism industry. The Tennessee Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011 was sponsored by Senator Ken Yager and defines adventure tourism as outdoor recreational opportunities such as equine and motorized trail riding, white water rafting and kayaking, rappelling, road biking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, spelunking, shooting sports, mountain biking, canoeing, paragliding, zip lining and other such tourist and recreational activities. 

The Adventure Tourism District designation allows qualified new businesses located within the district to earn job tax credits to offset a portion of the businesses’ Tennessee franchise and excise tax liability. Qualified businesses include restaurants, hotels, or other tourist-related attractions.

Sixteen counties were approved as Adventure Tourism Districts in 2014 and 15 counties will be approved in 2015.  Application will reopen on Jan. 1, 2016 and run through April 15, 2016. This certification is good for a period of three years. Upon expiration of the three year period, your local government must submit a new application for certification.

For more information about Retire Tennessee and Adventure Tourism, email Ramay.w.winchester@tn.gov.

 

Tourism Industry Brings Trails Message to Smokies Baseball

TDTD Partners Hit a Homerun at Trail Night at the Ballpark!

With five of nine events across the state successfully complete, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and its partners are helping spread the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways message to enthusiastic fans during the summer’s exciting Trail Night at the Ballpark! initiative.

In partnership with Tennessee Minor League Baseball, the campaign is an effort to build awareness and create a cohesive understanding of signage, print, online, social, and new media marketing tools.

Trail partners from each region are showcasing the 16 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways to families and fans attending minor league games across the state throughout the summer. Trail Night at the Ballpark! includes promotional items given to the first 200 fans at each stop; and one lucky fan at each game wins a Made in Tennessee gift basket.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey will be the special guest at the Kingsport Mets game on August 14, throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett continues to be on deck throwing out the first pitch at select games as his schedule permits.

“The Discover Tennessee driving trails are designed to showcase some of Tennessee’s most authentic off-the-beaten-path experiences,” said Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “With trails winding through each region, locals can take a Tennessee road trip right in their own back yard. It is the perfect summer adventure, Made in Tennessee.”

Tennessee’s minor league baseball games draw approximately 1.5 million attendees annually. Minor league teams in Tennessee include: Chattanooga Lookouts, Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Astros, Kingsport Mets, Jackson Generals, Johnson City Cardinals, Memphis Redbirds, Nashville Sounds and Tennessee Smokies.

Remaining dates for Trail Night at the Ballpark! are:

Greeneville Astros – Aug. 7
Elizabethton Twins – Aug. 12
Johnson City Cardinals – Aug. 13
Kingsport Mets – Aug. 14
Memphis Redbirds – Sept. 2

For more information on the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program, contact Rob Sherrill at Rob.Sherrill@tn.gov or 615-532-8124 or go to TNTrailsAndByways.com.

More than 480K Registered for the Tennessee Spring Co-op Sweepstakes!

TDTD Spring 2015 Co-op Campaign Summary

The 2015 Digital Co-op ran May 1-31. This year’s campaign took into consideration the insights and successes from the 2014 campaign and looked to maximize them by adding a lead generation component through distinctive “Made in Tennessee” sweepstakes packages. As with 2014, TDTD leveraged the Cannes award-winning “One-Minute Vacation” video messaging with the addition of display banners. All videos were geo-targeted to relevant regions for each package. In addition to online media, the campaign was supported by three separate coordinated email launches and geo-targeted social posts, specific to each partner’s offering. 

The below provides a high-level recap of the campaign and performance:

  • $269,500 total media investment from TDTD and partners
  • 19 Participating partners
  • 7 total sweepstakes packages
  • Key summary of campaign’s performance
    • 61k+ leads generated for partners
    • 483k sweepstakes entries
    • 420k landing page views
    • 155k Facebook clicks (Sweepstakes & partner specific) 
    • 3 MM video views
    • 76k display clicks

Planning for the 2016 Co-op is currently underway and TDTD will be providing additional information prior to the 2015 Governor’s Conference about how you can participate. If you have any additional questions, please contact Jennifer Littlejohn at Jennifer.Littlejohn@tn.gov.

The list of packages and participating partners are below:

  • Speedway Weekend in Bristol
    • Bristol CVB
    • Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Natural Getaway in Chattanooga
    • Tennessee Aquarium
    • Chattanooga CVB
    • Lookout Mountains Attractions
    • SE Tennessee Tourism Association
  • Elvis Experience
    • Elvis Presley’s Graceland
  • Vacation in Knoxville
    • Anderson County Tourism Council
    • Visit Knoxville
  • Great Smoky Escape
    • Sevierville Chamber
    • Riverstone Resort and Spa
    • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
  • Adventure in Pigeon Forge
    • Dixie Stampede
    • Dollywood
    • Music Road Resort
  • Music City Getaway
    • Opry Mills
    • Gaylord Hotels
    • Grand Ole Opry
    • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum  

Cumberland County Playhouse Hosts FAM Attendees

Travel Writer FAMS Set for Fall in Upper Cumberland and Knoxville and Surrounding

With the promise of cooler temperatures and fall foliage in the near future, plans are underway for Tennessee to host more than 30 travel journalists during FAM tours to the Upper Cumberland (Sept. 23-27) and Knoxville & surrounding area (Oct. 22-25).

Writers visiting the Upper Cumberland will not only experience Tennessee’s great outdoors by taking advantage of the region’s numerous state parks and natural areas, but will also experience the authenticity of local artisans. In keeping with “Made in Tennessee” brand message, journalists will meet world-renowned artists at the Appalachian Center for Craft. They will experience mouth-watering cuisine on a culinary crawl, and will hear “The Soundtrack of America” along the way including visits to the Short Mountain Old-Time Music Festival and Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s Americana Music Festival.

Travel writers in the Knoxville & surrounding area will take in the sights and sounds on various tour tracks, including one along the winding roads of East Tennessee with featured rides for motorcycle journalists. History and heritage will also be highlighted as writers will visit the East Tennessee History Center, Museum of Appalachia, and American Museum of Science and Energy. Trips to Urban Wilderness and local state parks will showcase the vast outdoor opportunities. In light of the growing culinary scene in Knoxville, journalists will enjoy exclusive downtown food and brew tours. From brew to zoo, family can’t be forgotten as writers will visit the Knoxville Zoological Gardens.

Tennessee travel writer FAMS during FY13-14 saw a total circulation of 154,137,058 and are a key component to TDTD’s national PR efforts.

Damien Horne Entertains Guests at Florida Showcase Event

August Brings Roadshows, Motorcoach Meetings and SYTA for TDTD Sales

TDTD Sales attended the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation Tourism Roadshow July 13-17 in Florida. Invited by the NCVC, TDTD helped conduct sales calls with a team of four Nashville representatives, for a total of 24 appointments. 

The team visited Ft. Myers and Orlando, and concluded with an invitation-only client event on July 16 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando featuring Tennessee musical guests Damien Horne, also featured at this year’s Sampler. TDTD's participation in this Nashville-sponsored sales mission enabled other regions/cities within the state to be showcased alongside Nashville, providing operators and AAA offices with statewide information to assist them in planning trips to Tennessee. 

Coming up this month are two important regional motorcoach conferences. The department will participate, along with many other industry partners, in the annual GMOA / AMA / SCMA (Georgia, Alabama, and South Central Motorcoach Association) Regional Conference Aug. 8-12 in Lake Lanier, Georgia.  TDTD will be among 20 other TN partners taking appointments with tour operators at The NCMA / VMA / MCASC (North Carolina / Virginia / South Carolina Motorcoach Association) Regional Meeting Aug. 19-23 in Columbia, South Carolina.

On the heels of those meetings, Student Youth Travel Association will host their annual Conference Aug. 28-Sept. 1 in Branson, Missouri. Another large Tennessee delegation will hold meetings with key student / youth tour operators to offer various performance, educational, and experiential opportunities throughout the state. 

For the youth, amateur and professional sports market, the annual Connect Sports Marketplace will be held Aug. 27-30 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. TDTD will help represent the Play Tennessee association in meeting with sports events rights holders to solicit and recruit those planners looking for viable venues and cities to host their events. For more information on how to get involved with Play Tennessee, please make plans to attend the Play Tennessee meeting during the Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Tourism Oct. 7 – 9 in Nashville. 

 

Sign up now for the official 2016 Vacation Guide

2016 Vacation Guide Marketing Opportunity Available Now

The Official Tennessee Vacation Guide continues to be the top fulfillment piece TDTD uses to send out to visitors requesting information about Tennessee. In 2014, the state of Tennessee had a great year reprinting 75,000 guides to fulfill demand, and reporting record visitation to Tennessee with more than 100 million person stays.

Advertising sales are now underway, so don’t miss this great chance to promote your destination in the 2016 Official Tennessee Vacation Guide. The deadline is Sept. 9.

Published by longtime partner, Miles, the guide will once again feature large, captivating photography and powerful, experiential copy to showcase Tennessee’s outstanding tourism offerings. Content will also highlight Tennessee’s music legacy, the state’s outdoor adventure, off-the-beaten-path travel excursions, and farm-to-table experiences. 

The Official Tennessee Vacation Guide has broadened the impact to reach more travelers. The guide will once again be published as an e-guide and interactive iPad app offering additional content and rich media for readers  and additional exposure for advertisers.

Miles is constantly offering ways to maximize your dollars and exposure including bonuses and added value offerings, rich media in the iPad app and the Tennessee Welcome Center displays.

Reach out to destination specialists for Miles: 
Mary Steadman (Upper Cumberland and East Tennessee)at 423-956-4330, Mary.Steadman@MilesPartnership.com
or Abbie Gristy (Middle and West Tennessee) at 731-298-1003, Abbie.Gristy@MilesPartnership.com.

Click here for a PDF of the complete 2016 Tennessee Vacation Guide Media Kit.

UPDATE YOUR INFORMATION: Each year, we also conduct an extensive data collection process to ensure we publish the most accurate business information possible in the vacation guide. Representatives from Miles will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks to update your information and arrange for your free listing in the 2016 guide. As always, you can also log in to our data extranet anytime to access and update your business partner profile page at www.tnvacation.com/vendor.  

Tech Startups Seek to Increase Festival Travel

Tennessee festivals have a storied history of attracting visitors from across the U.S. and around the globe, and festival season never really ends in the Volunteer State, as summer music gatherings give way to fall harvest parties, and eventually to holiday events.

Festivals are prime motivators for travelers, often giving them a reason to visit a destination they might not otherwise consider.  Each year, festivals bring hundreds of millions of dollars to Tennessee.  A 2013 study showed Bonnaroo, the four-day camping festival held in Manchester every June, generated an economic impact totaling more than $51 million.

Exciting news, reported by online travel journal Skift.com this week, could mean increased revenues from festivals.  The publication detailed how five new tech companies that are encouraging people to engage in travel to festivals, by providing strategies and tools that make getting to, and attending events easier and more enjoyable.

Everfest is a new app designed to help travelers by suggesting festivals they may like based on their preferences and locations they’ve visited in the past. The Everfest Web experience currently covers more than 10,000 festivals, and the mobile version covers festivals taking place in selected cities in the next 30 days. The app features lineups, schedules, social feeds and festival maps, as well as a “Find My Friends” feature.

Muzenly is a guide to live music festivals around the world and connects festivalgoers with like-minded music fans for carpooling or sharing accommodations. Travelers can also book tickets and travel packages through the site.

Festicket is a booking platform for travel packages to 500 festivals around the world. The company produces its own magazine promoting different festivals and also offers a variety of destination guides and travel packages.

Ryde is a crowdsourcing service that helps travelers make seating reservations on luxury motorcoaches that shuttle passengers to events at music festivals, sporting events, concerts and other large venue attractions. Ryde currently has partnered with 40 music festivals and sporting events.

Roomblocker is not designed specifically for festivals, but its group hotel booking platform is ideal for event organizers who want to offer blocks of rooms to attendees vying to stay in the same hotel. Hotels bid for an event and organizers can then access how much of a given room block has been reserved.

Innovative technology ideas that provide travelers new avenues to interact with festivals and events are likely to continue to expand, creating increased tourism and setting the stage for an exciting interactive future in the travel industry.

Industry Spotlight

Blues Hall of Fame Opens in Memphis

Gatlinburg Wins 2015 Telly

Commissioner Triplett & Nickajack WC Team with New Signage

Pickwick Landing State Park

Officials Gather to Dedicate Civil War Marker