a message from Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett

Dear Partners,

The great state of Tennessee is 219 years old June 1 and it could be argued we never have looked better.

Summer travel season is here and we are off to a fantastic start.

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Tennessee Travel News

Tennessee Named Top State for Barbecue by TripAdvisor

Travelers rank Tennessee as Best Barbecue State

TripAdvisor® has served up a list of the top-rated states and restaurants for barbecue and announced Tennessee at No. 1 in the U.S.

"Being named the No.1 state for barbecue, by the No. 1 most popular travel site in the world is a ...

Read more

I-26 Sullivan County Welcome Center in Kingsport Opens with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Tennessee Departments of Transportation and Tourist Development hosted the official grand opening ceremony of the I-26 Sullivan County Welcome Center May 8 in Kingsport.

Special guest Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey provided welcoming remarks and enthusiastic support of the new center. Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and ...

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Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Wins Sustainable Transportation Award

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in conjunction with Clean Air Month recognizes the outstanding efforts made by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to reduce transportation-related energy and emissions. This award recognizes TDTD’s efforts in acquiring green certification in all 14 of the state’s Welcome Centers.

All 14 ...

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National Travel & Tourism Week 2015

A wide, cross section of travel and tourism professionals joined forces with community stakeholders to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week May 2-10. This nationwide week of events serves to champion the power of our industry to strengthen the U.S. economy and build a bond between families and friends. 

Tourism ...

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TDTD and Miles Are Looking For Your Most Inspiring Images

It is that time of year again and we are looking for amazing images to include in the 2016 Tennessee Vacation Guide. We need your top 10-15 most captivating, travel-related pictures. These can highlight scenic beauty, family, Tennessee’s great tourism attractions, music performances, history, culinary, agri-tourism, and especially Made in ...

Read more

TDTD Partners with Southwest Airlines to Promote Memphis

Promoting Memphis

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was looking for a way to promote Memphis, Tennessee, and its iconic music history, vibrant food scene and rich historical heritage that’s made it an ideal destination for travelers for decades. In order to promote all the city has to offer, while ...

Read more

IPW, TAP and More For TDTD Sales Team

In conjunction with the 2015 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Event April 30-May 1 in Knoxville, TDTD sales helped support the event with a booth inside the rotunda of the Knoxville Convention Center. Visitors and guests from across the U.S. were able to stop by and obtain additional information, suggestions, and options ...

Read more

Dear Partners,

The great state of Tennessee is 219 years old June 1 and it could be argued we never have looked better.

Summer travel season is here and we are off to a fantastic start.

And why not? The options for visitors in June are incredible, including a smorgasbord of sizzling sounds all around the Volunteer State – in person and on disc.

While Memphis in May fired the proverbial shot across the music festival bow last month, our position as Global Music Destination of Choice kicks in full gear in June with CMA Fest in Nashville June 11-14; Bonnaroo in Manchester June 11-14; Riverbend in Chattanooga June 5-13; and Blue Plum Art and Music Festival in Johnson City June 5-7, just to name a few.

Those are some HUGE festivals to expose what happens on a stage somewhere in Tennessee every day of every week. And that’s just a taste. For a full list just click here.

Speaking of taste, some of our marketing efforts in June target Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas with various promotions and spots that showcase the diversity of what Tennessee offers visitors, including incredible culinary options.

Last food note – Tripadvisor.com in late May named Tennessee the best state for barbecue in the nation – just in time for a record-breaking Memorial Day Holiday travel weekend.

Some of those travelers counted off the miles to the beat of Orthophonic Joy. Released May 12, the Carl Jackson-produced album revisits the historic Bristol Sessions with nearly 20 adaptations of songs from those recordings and narration by Eddie Stubbs.

June 15 is the anniversary marking the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park --- the most-visited such park in the country. It’s always a good time to take a trip to the Smokies.

As of press time, Chattanooga had reached the final four of Outside Magazine’s 2015 Best Town Ever contest. As the 2011 winner, this was the first year the city was allowed back in the bracket.

The town of Luttrell in Union County may only have 1,100 or so residents, but it produced Chet Atkins, who would have celebrated his 91st birthday June 20. Atkins left his mark in many places, including Historic RCA Studio B on Music Row in Nashville. Fans can stop in and check out where he captured some of the greatest songs ever recorded that make up the Soundtrack of America.

Regarding stopping in, I would like to briefly touch on a couple of things regarding our front lines of greeting guests, the Tennessee Welcome Centers.

In early May we celebrated the grand opening of another beautiful facility, situated on Interstate 26 in Kingsport. The center and its employees share with 13 other such locations the job of greeting and providing information to more than 12 million guests annually -- including more than 150,000 during the Memorial Holiday weekend.

That same week, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation honored the Tennessee Welcome Centers with a Sustainable Transportation Award for Green Certification.

We just completed a five-stop listening tour around the state, meeting with industry partners and stakeholders regarding how we can serve you better, starting with those centers. A lot of great conversation and ideas came from those meetings and resulted in at least a few initiatives we already have implemented.

Landmark festivals, historic recordings, national awards, worldwide impact. Summer is here. Experience it. Made in Tennessee.

See you on the road.

Kevin Triplett

Puckett’s Slow-Smoked Barbecue Sandwich Platter

Featured Article 

Tennessee Named Top State for Barbecue by TripAdvisor

Travelers rank Tennessee as Best Barbecue State

TripAdvisor® has served up a list of the top-rated states and restaurants for barbecue and announced Tennessee at No. 1 in the U.S.

"Being named the No.1 state for barbecue, by the No. 1 most popular travel site in the world is a huge honor for Tennessee," said Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. "We look forward to welcoming foodies from far and wide to our state to fill up on the best barbecue in the world."

The ranking is based on the millions of reviews and opinions from the TripAdvisor community via restaurant reviews and total number of restaurants that classify themselves as barbecue restaurants.

“Summer is barbecue season and TripAdvisor has cooked up the country’s top spots for finger-lickin’ fare,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor. “This year, TripAdvisor travelers gave the highest overall marks to Tennessee’s barbecue.”

Other states rounding out the top 10 were Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, California, Virginia, and New York.

For more about Tennessee barbecue, go to http://www.tnvacation.com/food-wine/tennessee-specialties/barbecue-capital/.

Officials Cut Ribbon at i-26 Welcome Center

I-26 Sullivan County Welcome Center in Kingsport Opens with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Tennessee Departments of Transportation and Tourist Development hosted the official grand opening ceremony of the I-26 Sullivan County Welcome Center May 8 in Kingsport.

Special guest Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey provided welcoming remarks and enthusiastic support of the new center. Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and Commissioner John Schroer, Tennessee Department of Transportation, brought opening remarks and shared in the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.  

“The I-26 Sullivan County Welcome Center offers visitors along this corridor a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the great destinations in Tennessee, especially in the Northeast region of our state,” said Commissioner Kevin Triplett. “Statewide, our centers host more than 12 million visitors, providing great Southern hospitality and world-class service. They are a tribute to the value Tennessee places on tourism, a $16.7 billion economic engine for the state.”

Other state and local officials in attendance were state representatives Bud Husley, Jon Lundberg and Timothy Hill; Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, Kingsport City Mayor Dennis Phillips and a special performance by Orthophonic Joy artist Corbin Hayslett sponsored by the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

“Our welcome centers give us a wonderful opportunity to make a great first impression on the millions of people who choose Tennessee as their travel destination,” said Commissioner Schroer. “This beautiful facility will not only serve the needs of our guests, but it will also provide a glimpse of all this state has to offer.”

Following the ceremony, visitors met with exhibitors from area destinations and attractions, such as the Marriott Meadowview, Hampton Inn, WonderWorks, Exchange Place Kingsport, Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, Allandale Mansion Kingsport, Sullivan County Tourism, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and USA Rafting.

Designed as a log cabin and featuring 4,989 square feet, the facility combines the warmth of Tennessee with the modern advantage of new construction. Interstate 26 is approx. 349 miles in length traveling through Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  

Tennessee has 14 Welcome Centers primarily located along the interstate highway system. The centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. 

 

Pete Rosenboro Accepts Green Certification Award from TDEC

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Wins Sustainable Transportation Award

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in conjunction with Clean Air Month recognizes the outstanding efforts made by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to reduce transportation-related energy and emissions. This award recognizes TDTD’s efforts in acquiring green certification in all 14 of the state’s Welcome Centers.

All 14 of Tennessee’s Welcome Centers, which have more than 12 million visitors annually, became green certified in October 2014. They received the Green Certification of the Operations for reducing energy, water and material usage as well as increasing recycling at the centers since January 2014.

As the Welcome Centers serve motor vehicle travelers and tourists, their green certification leads by example and enables visitors to be more sustainable as they traverse Tennessee. Visitors can recycle the cans, bottles, and papers collected from road trips, make pit stops that use less water thanks to low flow toilets and faucets, have a picnic under a PV array, and learn about how to be more sustainable at home.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association, and the independent environmental consulting company Skye Con, worked with the Welcome Centers to complete the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association’s Green Certification Program, which contains requirements based on EPA regulations specifically designed for the Welcome Centers.

A few sustainable activities implemented since January 2014 include updating centers with energy efficient lighting, installing insulation and weather stripping, installing rain barrels for landscaping use, recycling products and setting up visitor recycling areas. The centers monitor electrical and water usage to measure their results. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is providing center employees with continued education about green product training and sustainable best practices.

For more information, visit www.tnenergy.org.  

National Tourism Week Celebration at Mitchellville Welcome Center

National Travel & Tourism Week 2015

A wide, cross section of travel and tourism professionals joined forces with community stakeholders to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week May 2-10. This nationwide week of events serves to champion the power of our industry to strengthen the U.S. economy and build a bond between families and friends. 

Tourism is the No. 2 industry in Tennessee. That is why there was no shortage of ideas to draw attention of the value of travel where we live, work and play.

Convention and visitor bureaus, such as VisitKnoxville, sponsored a casual breakfast for partners while the Blount County Partnership presented a proclamation during a breakfast outside. Memphis held their annual Party in the Park at Court Square that was free to the public. In attendance were mascots, hotels, attractions and local leaders representing tourism in Memphis. Nashville held a special industry lunch at Gaylord Opryland with guest speaker Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel.

The Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Council held an annual event in conjunction with the National Park to recognize the “Visitor of the Day” and recognize the park’s Employee of the Year.  Other communities honored their professional and volunteer team members with special recognition during annual luncheons.

Our state’s welcome centers were the front porch of hospitality as tourism partners gathered to meet and greet travelers who stopped to refresh along the way.  On hand were representatives from some of Tennessee’s finest attractions, lodging, restaurants and festivals. Many traveled across the state to more than one center. 

Front and center were samples of the music, scenic beauty, experiences and cultural/historical treasures Made in Tennessee. Many centers were the stage for live music while others set the table for free homemade desserts and other foods.  State parks were there to introduce visitors to the state’s national resources.

The next National Travel and Tourism Week is May 1-7, 2016.

Images to Inspire Travel to Tennessee

TDTD and Miles Are Looking For Your Most Inspiring Images

It is that time of year again and we are looking for amazing images to include in the 2016 Tennessee Vacation Guide. We need your top 10-15 most captivating, travel-related pictures. These can highlight scenic beauty, family, Tennessee’s great tourism attractions, music performances, history, culinary, agri-tourism, and especially Made in Tennessee arts, crafts, products, and food. 

The overall concept of the guide is to inspire our visitors. The images should showcase Tennessee’s beauty and uniqueness. Images with people are a huge plus (please avoid sending images of people posing for the camera).

 PHOTO SPECIFICATIONS

  • images should be 5x7 inches in size or larger (either portrait or landscape format is fine)
  • 300 dpi
  • jpg or tiff format
  • include the location of the image and photographer information
  • include model releases if people are in the images

 

Click here for submission details and specifications.  

 

Black Cadillacs Perform at Memphis Airport

TDTD Partners with Southwest Airlines to Promote Memphis

Promoting Memphis

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was looking for a way to promote Memphis, Tennessee, and its iconic music history, vibrant food scene and rich historical heritage that’s made it an ideal destination for travelers for decades. In order to promote all the city has to offer, while still focusing on our key brand message of music, TDTD and VML created a campaign centered on how the city inspired an up-and-coming band, The Black Cadillacs, to write the final song on their latest album. The band went to some of the most iconic places in Memphis, such as Graceland, Beale Street, Stax and Sun Studios, to get inspired, crafting their song along the way. On their last day in town, the band went to famous Ardent Studios to record their final track. 

The Film: “Last Song to Memphis”

To highlight the band’s journey, TDTD and VML created a short film, “Last Song to Memphis,” that showcases their time in the city seeking inspiration. Additionally, to further illustrate the unique destinations in the film, VML crafted an interactive version that allows viewers to choose the destinations the band should visit before recording the final song. This allows users to create their own journey and view the piece in the order that interests them the most. The film is housed on tnvacation.com and encourages users to not only view and interact, but also to learn more about the destinations featured in the piece to start them down the conversion funnel to take their own trip to Memphis. 

View the Interactive Video and Landing Page

A Strategic Partnership: TN Tourism + Southwest Airlines

With the story of the band’s journey in Memphis complete, we looked for ways to amplify the film and drive maximum exposure.  Southwest Airlines had recently started a concert series, “Live at 35,” that has bands play a concert in the skies to passengers en route to their destination.

VML was able to leverage an existing client relationship with SWA to further explore this partnership.   The idea to have The Black Cadillacs play the next “Live at 35” was presented to the Southwest communications team in early April.   After Southwest viewed the “Last Song to Memphis” film and realizing the shared business objectives of promoting travel to Memphis (they recently started offering nonstop flights from Dallas to Memphis), the partnership was forged and The Black Cadillacs would be the next “Live at 35” performance. 

Activation

The partnership with Southwest allowed the State to film the band’s performance in the air and create a new, engaging video that featured the in-flight performance while continuing to promote travel to Memphis. The video was filmed and edited within a three-day span, allowing Southwest Airlines to post to its more than 4.5 million Facebook fans as well as to its Twitter and YouTube pages in a timely fashion. 

To take full advantage of the band’s performance in the air, VML coordinated strategic PR efforts out of Memphis and with industry trade magazines while Southwest coordinated initiatives out of Dallas. Additionally, VML tapped several social media influencers such as SPIN magazine and local Memphis blogs and publications to take part in the flight. 

Turner Tour Stops at Pearl Farm

IPW, TAP and More For TDTD Sales Team

In conjunction with the 2015 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Event April 30-May 1 in Knoxville, TDTD sales helped support the event with a booth inside the rotunda of the Knoxville Convention Center. Visitors and guests from across the U.S. were able to stop by and obtain additional information, suggestions, and options on travel throughout the state and across the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. 

TDTD sales had the opportunity to experience Clarksville with 46 Turner Coach passengers May 19-20 from Illinois and Indiana.  The Clarksville Courthouse was the first stop on Tuesday, followed by a tour of historic Ft. Defiance. After a dose of Civil War history, the group had a taste of southern barbecue at Dickey’s where they were entertained by a local bluegrass band. After dinner, the group visited Austin Peay State University for a concert by Mark Lowry, former member of the Gaither Vocal Band.

Wednesday morning began with a beautiful drive to Camden for a visit with the Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Museum at Birdsong resort. After a quick lunch stop, the group toured Loretta Lynn’s ranch at Hurricane Mills then headed back to Clarksville for dinner at Edward’s Steakhouse. Following dinner, the group enjoyed another great evening of entertainment at Austin Peay State University by singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood. They continued their Tennessee adventure with a tour of Ft. Campbell on Thursday morning - departing with great memories of their time in Clarksville, Camden, and Hurricane Mills.

TDTD will participate in the annual IPW Convention May 30-June 4 in Orlando, Florida. Pre-scheduled appointments and meetings will be held with international tour operators and media delegates interested in growing, developing or writing about tour offerings to the U.S., and Tennessee will be among several other partner suppliers from Tennessee looking to promote our state and southern region as a primary destination for their product inventory. Tennessee partners attending include Chattanooga, Franklin, Memphis, Nashville, Sevierville, and the Smoky Mountains among others. 

Immediately following IPW, department representatives will attend the annual Travel Alliance Partners “TAP Dance” conference June 7-11 in Oklahoma City, Okla.. Pods of supplier teams meet with TAP tour operators for scheduled appointments to promote and increase business and tours to the supplier regions. This year, Tennessee will be represented by eight other destinations and attractions including Chattanooga CVB, Clarksville CVB, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Gaylord Opryland Resort, Graceland, Grand Ole Opry Entertainment Group, Nashville CVC, and the Grand Majestic Theater. 

Leon Downey, Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, Starts Summer with an Outdoor Gravity Orb Ride

I Know What You Did This Summer…I Checked Facebook

Want to know how to reach vacationers this summer? Go to Facebook.

According to a study released by Facebook Insights, mobile use of Facebook increases dramatically in the summertime, reflecting the on-the-go lifestyles of travelers. Last year, 70 percent of Facebook logins and 75 percent of Facebook posts were on mobile devices, making Facebook the “go to” place to reach vacationers.

Summertime conversations on Facebook center around activities—swimming, eating, watching the sun set, hiking and partying lead the list—and Facebook users post 22 percent more photos in the summer than they do in winter or spring, and 7 percent more than in autumn.

“Summer inspires people to set some serious goals for themselves (No. 1 is getting in shape),” writes Facebook. “It invites people to spend more on food and beverage, entertainment and travel. And the story of summer is not one of days off but days “on”—on the beach, on a bike, on the trail, on the grill, on the patio, on a road trip.”

Users are “friendlier” in the summertime, too, with users accepting 20 percent more “likes” than they do in the spring, 14 percent more than winter and 6 percent more than fall.

Facebook Insights urges marketers to become more engaged with their customers during the summer months by joining celebrations and encouraging followers to make the most of their summertime experiences.

Skift reporter Joyce Manalo echoes this sentiment and advises travel marketers to take advantage of these trends to make the most of their marketing budgets.

“Brands can inspire fans to create and share their own content from which brands can, in turn, curate inspirational posts,” said Manalo. “For example, airlines and booking sites can craft and point to deals about their best destinations for sunsets; hotels can feature mouthwatering photos of their light and healthy summer menus; and destinations can share information about upcoming events and daytrip itineraries to nearby attractions and nature preserves.”

Industry Spotlight

L-R: Fred Bullard, Jill Thompson and Radio Personality Hallerin Hilton Hill

Tennessee Music Attractions Best in the World

Commissioner Triplett Joins Claudia Moody and Winners of the 2015 Pinnacle Awards

Gerald Hodge and Etowah Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Durant Tullock

Dana Shoen Named GSMNP 2014 Employee of the Year