a message from Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett

Dear Partners,

It is hard to believe it is December and we are closing in on the end of another year.

Industry Spotlight

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Tennessee Travel News

Craft Demonstrations at Tennessee Welcome Centers Win National Award

Tennessee Welcome Centers joined Tennessee Craft to host demonstrations throughout Tennessee Craft Week in October. Top honors were achieved as the statewide demonstrations were awarded American Craft Week’s 2015 Star Award for the Top Event category.

All 14 Tennessee Welcome Centers along with the Nashville International Airport hosted craft demonstration ...

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Retire Tennessee: Turning Your Visitors into Your Neighbors

Retiree development is an extension of tourism development. The tourism and retirement industries are clean industries with minimal environmental impact. We know tourism evolves into retirement. Tourist and retirement industries include visitor attractions, golfing, boating, housing, retail sales, lodging, finance, insurance, utilities, health care, and life care. In-migrant retirees have ...

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How TDTD Can “Tell Your Story”

With the New Year coming fast, one of our resolutions is to get as much news from our partners as possible. The more information and lead time we have, the more opportunities there are for coverage in traditional media (print, broadcast, television) and non-traditional (bloggers, social media channels).

Here are a ...

Read more

Tour & Travel: Sales Update

Held Nov. 2-6 in London, England, World Travel Marketplace was a great success with international tour operators in the industry gathering to hold meetings and appointments to discuss travel opportunities amongst destinations from all over the world. As part of the Travel South pavilion, TDTD was in attendance along with ...

Read more

Rokerthon Takes Tennessee By Storm

NBC’s Al Roker highlighted one of Tennessee’s most dynamic attractions during a live TODAY Show broadcast from Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tenn. during “Rokerthon 2, Taking America By Storm.”

The famous weatherman made history by broadcasting weather from 50 states in one week landing a spot in ...

Read more

Dear Partners,

It is hard to believe it is December and we are closing in on the end of another year.

I know it is different in our industry. We go from season to season and promotion to promotion and not as much Monday through Friday.

Still, wrapping up something as significant as 2015 and what it has meant to our industry calls for a brief pause and a bit of a look back.

Disclaimer here. I hesitated doing this and even missed my deadline by several days, much to the angst of the editor. My concern was with all the great things occurring in our industry this year, I surely would leave out something significant if I dared to try to form a list. So apologies go right up front to anyone omitted. It is not intentional.

In no particular order:

Music is the main thread, the keystone of our proverbial quilt, so an image from one of the hottest shows on TV about one of the hottest cities in the country – both called “Nashville” – graced the cover of the Tennessee Vacation Guide.

Orthophonic Joy, a tribute album commemorating the Bristol Sessions and the Big Bang of Country Music was released in May and has received critical praise, increasing awareness of our musical heritage.

In late April, The Black Cadillacs performed a free concert at 35,000 feet to christen a new flight from Texas into Memphis. The ensuing “Last Song to Memphis” promotion garnered attention in Portland at ESTO, U.S. Travel’s national marketing conference.

Speaking of attention, also at ESTO, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development earned a prestigious Mercury Award for the “Soundtrack of American, Made In Tennessee” campaign. The TDTD one-minute vacation digital efforts won a highly-acclaimed Cannes Lion Award.

Readers of USA Today picked five destinations in Tennessee in the top 10 best musical attractions in the world. In fact, they were five of the top six.  Congratulations to: Graceland, Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge for knocking it out of the park on that one.

Tripadvisor.com named our state home of the best barbecue in the country and Southern Living’s top 50 barbecue joints in the South included 12 from Tennessee.

Outside Magazine readers voted Chattanooga the “Best Town Ever” and Visit Knoxville was recognized as this year’s top DMO. Just in the last few weeks, Lonely Planet named its top-10 cities to visit in 2016. Nashville was the only U.S. city named.

The Today Show’s Al Roker included Northwest Tennessee in his weather-in-50-states-in-seven-days Rokerthon by stopping at Discovery Park of America in Union City. The latest census brings Union City in at less than 11,000 citizens, but more than 500,000 visited DPofA in less than 24 months after opening.

We celebrated anniversaries – the 90th of War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville and the Grand Old Opry.

And we celebrated openings – DreamMore at Dollywood welcomed visitors from 27 states in the first week alone and BassPro at the Pyramid in Memphis saw more than 1 million go through the turnstiles in the first 70 days.

The Ryman Auditorium underwent expansion. Dollywood continued enhancements as well (world’s fastest wooden roller coaster anyone?).

The TDTD experienced some expansion as well. Two programs, Retire Tennessee and Adventure Tourism, are now part of our department.

We cut the ribbon on a new welcome center on I-26 in Kingsport and broke ground on a long-awaited new facility on I-55 in Memphis. We changed signage at the welcome centers to be more in line with our brand.

We hosted more than 13 million folks through our welcome centers this year and as a state, we crossed the 100 million-visitor mark for the first time. The TDTD earned a Sustainable Transportation Award for its green initiatives at welcome centers and a tip of the cap to our Dyersburg location as Welcome Center of the Year.

We promoted the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program at minor league baseball parks all around the state this summer and watched Governor Haslam stand on stage at the Ryman and announce the $17.7 billion economic impact tourism had on Tennessee last year.

In between, we worked with so many of you to host FAMs, promote our state at tradeshows and seminars from Linden, Tennessee to London, England.

And at Governor’s Conference in October, we rolled out the concept of the Tennessee Music Pathway.

I have visited more than 50 counties so far and continue to be amazed at the shining gems we have as well as the proverbial diamonds in the rough. I shake my head at the ingenuity and passion but am not surprised by any of it. It is real. It is genuine. It is authentic.

It is Tennessee.

It is my honor to work with you all every day to promote the incredible resources we have here. Have a great Christmas and holiday season.

Brief pause over. Take a deep breath. See you on the road.

Kevin Triplett

Local maker demonstrates at Dyersburg Welcome Center during Tennessee Craft Week.

Featured Article 

Craft Demonstrations at Tennessee Welcome Centers Win National Award

Tennessee Welcome Centers joined Tennessee Craft to host demonstrations throughout Tennessee Craft Week in October. Top honors were achieved as the statewide demonstrations were awarded American Craft Week’s 2015 Star Award for the Top Event category.

All 14 Tennessee Welcome Centers along with the Nashville International Airport hosted craft demonstration events, providing opportunities for local artists across the state to show how they create their craft and encouraging visitors to experience and appreciate the rich traditions of Tennessee craft.

First Lady Crissy Haslam, serving as Honorary Chairman, made stops for various events, displays and hands-on demonstrations. In addition to spotlighting makers at welcome centers across the state, other Tennessee destinations participated including The Pink Palace Museum and The National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, The Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, and numerous Nashville events during ARTOBER, a month of arts celebration.

“Showcasing these craft artists at our welcome centers provides an opportunity to highlight the authenticity and creative spirit of Tennessee to our guests as they are traveling through our state,” said Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett. “It not only offers an experience that only can be ‘Made in Tennessee,’ but a product as well.” 

The new tradition of Tennessee Craft Week also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Tennessee Craft, a 500 member organization serving as the premier connecting point for local, independent makers and their audiences through Craft Fairs, exhibitions, professional development and educational programs.

To learn more, visit tennesseecraft.org.

Tennessee representatives at American Association of Retirement Communities Annual Conference, Nov. 11-13, Charleston, S.C.

Retire Tennessee: Turning Your Visitors into Your Neighbors

Retiree development is an extension of tourism development. The tourism and retirement industries are clean industries with minimal environmental impact. We know tourism evolves into retirement. Tourist and retirement industries include visitor attractions, golfing, boating, housing, retail sales, lodging, finance, insurance, utilities, health care, and life care. In-migrant retirees have the financial strength to have a major impact on an area’s economy like increased revenue and job creation in the retail, service, and professional sectors, which adds to the overall area amenities, making industrial development, tourism development, and other economic development programs more successful. 

More than 12,000 Boomers turn 69 every day. They will be making a decision to potentially relocate in the next 2-3 years. Thus said, the time is ripe to be touting resources of why Tennessee should be their choice for retirement. 

Ideal Living Resort and Retirement Expo
After exhibiting at two Fall Ideal Living shows, Ramay Winchester with Retire Tennessee is gearing up to attend five Ideal Living Resort & Retirement Expos this winter. 

 “Attendance was the largest for the fall expos since 2008 and three of the winter expos are already sold out,” said Daniel Keir, RPI Media. 

Since 2007, the Retire Tennessee program has had representation at the Ideal Living Expos and has seen an uptick of consumers requesting relocation information on Tennessee from five percent to now 22 percent.

Eight Retire Tennessee counties and four Tennessee developers attended the annual American Association for Retirement Communities Conference Nov. 11-13 in Charleston, South Carolina. The 20-year-old association assists communities interested in targeting and attracting retiree buyers. The AARC conference, “A Year of Change, Renewal & Re-Imagination,” fit perfectly with the spirit of renewal of Charleston, who survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, pirates, hurricanes and social revolution. This powerful conference blended together seasoned professionals in the retirement community industry. Partners heard innovative ideas from the people driving success and change in their communities and from experienced insiders who share their extensive on-the-ground practices. 

In addition to a great conference, Cumberland, Loudon, Hardin, Putnam, Franklin and Sullivan counties as well Fairfield Glade and Jasper Highlands developments were awarded the AARC Seal of Approval Award.

For more information on the Retire Tennessee program, contact Ramay Winchester at Ramay.W.Winchester@tn.gov or 615-975-4237.

Help TDTD "Tell Your Story"                 

How TDTD Can “Tell Your Story”

With the New Year coming fast, one of our resolutions is to get as much news from our partners as possible. The more information and lead time we have, the more opportunities there are for coverage in traditional media (print, broadcast, television) and non-traditional (bloggers, social media channels).

Here are a few insights/guidelines you can use to ensure TDTD has the latest and greatest news from you:

1. Send press releases 

When release is sent: 4-6 weeks before event/big announcement

What we can do:

  • Press site publication
  • Tweet to journalists on @tntravelnews
  • Potential inclusion in an upcoming story release sent to all media
  • Share on Facebook, Twitter, or in TripTales blog post (if consumer interest is high)
  • Instagram post (if image is of scenic beauty since nature shots have a higher engagement on @tnvacation than photos with people)
  • Inclusion in events round up

When release is sent: 2 weeks before event/big announcement

What we can do:

  • Press site publication
  • Tweet to journalists on @tntravelnews
  • Inclusion in events round up

When release is sent: 1 week before event/big announcement

What we can do:

  • Tweet to journalists on @tntravelnews

(TIP: Include a suggested tweet at the end of your press releases).

2. Get social

Be sure to follow us on all social channels to get a sense of what we share and how we share it, so you can craft your information to get the highest engagement possible:

  • facebook.com/tnvacation
  • instagram.com/tnvacation
  • pinterest.com/tnvacation
  • twitter.com/tnvacation
  • twitter.com/tntravelnews (Audience = Journalists)

3. Stay in contact

Send the PR Team your press releases, events, special announcements, awards, and anything in between related to tourism. We’re here to support your own PR initiatives and spread the word:

Cindy Dupree
Public Relations Director
Cindy.Dupree@tn.gov

Molly Brown
Public Relations Media Manager
Molly.Brown@tn.gov

Amanda Stravinsky
Public Relations & Social Media Specialist
Amanda.Stravinsky@tn.gov

Priscilla Presley welcomes guests on behalf of Memphis' Graceland during World Travel Marketplace Reception in London.

Tour & Travel: Sales Update

Held Nov. 2-6 in London, England, World Travel Marketplace was a great success with international tour operators in the industry gathering to hold meetings and appointments to discuss travel opportunities amongst destinations from all over the world. As part of the Travel South pavilion, TDTD was in attendance along with partners from Nashville and Memphis. Partners conducted meetings with 23 international tour operators and receptive operators and also participated in a well-attended client event hosted by our friends from Memphis and Mississippi that saw an up-close welcome from Priscilla Presley. 

TDTD is participating in the annual Travel South International Showcase conference Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Meetings with international tour operators and receptive operators looking to create, add, or amend their Southern tour products are being conducted during this time. Tennessee has great representation with 29 partner delegates in attendance. The delegation is once again hosting a dinner for the international clients on the dine-around night. 

Immediately following International Showcase, a FAM tour will be conducted with nine international tour operator delegates participating Dec. 3-6, in Bristol, Tennessee and southwest Virginia. 

The Midwest Band Clinic Dec. 16-19 in Chicago, Illinois is an international band and orchestra conference. The Department, along with several Tennessee partners from Memphis, Nashville, and Pigeon Forge, will attend to promote our destinations and venues to tour operators, the student band, and youth performance markets. 

As a reminder, the annual American Bus Association Marketplace will be held Jan. 9-13, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Please SAVE THE DATE for the annual Tennessee delegation dinner during ABA Dine-Around night on Saturday, Jan. 9.  The Tennessee partner registration form will be available very soon, so please be sure to register when you receive it as space is limited. 

TDTD PR Director Cindy Dupree presents “Made in Tennessee” Records to NBC’s Al Roker

Rokerthon Takes Tennessee By Storm

NBC’s Al Roker highlighted one of Tennessee’s most dynamic attractions during a live TODAY Show broadcast from Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tenn. during “Rokerthon 2, Taking America By Storm.”

The famous weatherman made history by broadcasting weather from 50 states in one week landing a spot in The Guinness World Records. Roker traveled by planes, trains and automobiles and closed his tour live Nov. 13 on Rockefeller Plaza.

During his appearance at Discovery Park, Roker was welcomed by over 300 friends of The Park who gathered at the 70,000 sq. ft. museum wearing their Tennessee volunteer colors, orange and white. In signature Tennessee style, Roker was offered a musical welcome as the Union City Tornados, a local 130-piece marching band from Union City High School, performed in his honor.

Continuing the musical hospitality, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development presented Roker with a bundle of vinyl records representing each genre of music born in Tennessee: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul.

“Each album was recorded in Tennessee, pressed in Tennessee, and purchased in Tennessee,” said Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett. “We wanted to provide a gift truly symbolizing what our state is: the ‘Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.’”

Throughout Rokerthon 2, Roker’s weather reports aired across additional NBC platforms including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, MSNBC, The Weather Channel, NBC’s local affiliate newscasts, and other programming. Rokerthon 2 streamed live on today.com/Rokerthon during portions of the day. Viewers submitted questions and requested their hometown forecasts by tweeting @alroker using #Rokerthon. Tennessee Tourism offered social coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @tnvacation using #madeintn.

Pictured from left is Jim Rippy, president and CEO, Discovery Park of America; Al Roker; Jenny D. Kirkland, co-founder Discovery Park of America; Cindy Dupree, TDTD PR director; and Terry Hailey, Union City mayor.

Airbnb plans to sustain in the lodging industry for years to come.

Economic Impact of Airbnb and the Sharing Economy Still Taking Shape

Since 2008, Airbnb has been one of the darlings of the sharing economy, hosting more than 40 million guests in more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries. Roughly 25 percent of the company’s more than 1.5 million current listings are in the United States. While the analysts estimate the company’s value at more than $20 billion, its impact on the lodging industry is still evolving.

Seeking Alpha reports hotel companies have successfully evolved in the face of similar competition in the past. In quarterly earnings reports, most of the larger hotel chains report consumer demand has outpaced the increase in numbers of rooms available, meaning Airbnb has yet to impact occupancy and RevPAR (revenue per available room), particularly for brands catering to business travelers in major markets.

The news for hoteliers isn’t all good, though.

According to a 2013 Boston University study (revised this year), “The Rise of the Sharing Economy: Estimating the Impact of Airbnb on the Hotel Industry,” the presence of Airbnb negatively affected hotel revenue in Austin, Texas by roughly 8 to 10 percent over a five-year period with a disproportionate share of this impact on lower-priced hotels serving leisure travelers.

However, the study also found Airbnb has increased the size of the pie, as “Airbnb travelers tend to travel in groups, stay for longer and be more price sensitive than the typical hotel guest…[and] Airbnb travelers [report] they would not have taken their trip if it were not for Airbnb.”

Airbnb is taking on attributes of traditional hotel companies as well.

Sophisticated Airbnb “hosts” are now tapping the company’s “Price Tips,” which enables them to raise rates and increase revenues, but has also brought Airbnb rates more in line with traditional hotel room rates and helped stabilize the market.

Millennial business travelers, who are more open to alternate lodging accommodations may be attracted to Airbnb for Business, which launched earlier this year and has already attracted more than 1,000 companies from 35 countries.

One thing is clear: Airbnb plans on being a player in the lodging industry for years to come.

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