Since its first meeting, the committee has commissioned studies to further understand tourism in Tennessee. To ensure transparency, it is important that these studies are shared with the industry; however, the committee prefers not to share these documents online in order to prevent them from reaching the state’s competitors. To date, committee organizations have raised $100,000 to pay for the costs related to research. Below is a quick overview of the studies commissioned and are available for free to members of the industry by contacting the committee. Please note that they are not available for download, as the committee prefers to verify an individuals role in Tennessee’s tourism industry to avoid any breach of confidentiality.
The goal of the research is to assist the committee in formulating a strategy the demonstrates a proven return on every marketing dollar spent that will facilitate a significant increase in the state’s marketing fund.
Funding Tennessee’s Tourism Promotion: A White Paper
This report was prepared by Longwoods International in may 2012. The purpose of the report is to make a stronger case for tourism funding that highlights case studies in other states that have eliminated or increased marketing funds. The report is also intended to understand the state tax return on investment of incremental visitors based on increased marketing funds in Tennessee.
Tennessee Synthesized Statewide Traveler Profile Report
At the committee’s first meeting, it was widely acknowledged that in order to be successful, the industry would need to share information regarding its visitors. This way, we as an industry, have the opportunity to better understand the visitor profile across Tennessee. The purpose of the report is to assimilate traveler information from different venues and destinations across the state, categorize like information, summarize the different types of data and reports and to compare and contrast that information. The committee engaged H2R Market Research to compile the information and submitted nearly 50 different research reports across 16 different destinations and venues in Tennessee. The report provides a compelling illustration of the Tennessee visitor across the three primary regions: east, middle and west.
Tennessee Brand Awareness & Perception Study
Another important initiative of the committee is to understand why and why not visitors come to Tennessee. It’s important that as an industry, we understand the profile of the visitor, but even more important is understand what it is about Tennessee that influences a visitor’s decision to visit. The committee engaged H2R Market Research to conduct a survey of 3,099 visitors (1,804) and non-visitors (1,295) in key markets including Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Indianapolis, Louisville and Lexington. The results are intriguing and very positive for the state’s image and brand perception.
Economic Value of a Tennessee Visitor
The committee has worked with the state’s leading economist, Dr. Bill Fox of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, to define the economic worth for every visitor that Tennessee attracts. Metrics include the number of jobs, local and state taxes, average spending and so forth.
Tennessee Tourism Marketing – Stable Funding for Increased Promotion
In June 2012, the committee engaged Civitas Advisors of Sacramento, California to assist the committee in exploring ways that the state can increase its marketing fund from the existing $4.5-million. Civitas Advisors has worked with numerous states and municipalities across the country to increase marketing funds without raising taxes.
Tennessee Tourism Strategic Planning Process
In March 2013, the committee selected Reach Market Planning LLC of Annandale, Virginia and Western Management Consultants of Edmonton, Alberta Canada to assist the committee with the Strategic Planning process.
Tennessee Customer Profile
During the Strategic Planning process, the committee agreed to advocate statewide hotel owners to anonymously submit guest folio data the included address, zip code, length of stay and total guestroom bill to RUF Strategic Data Solutions (RUF). RUF was able to take this data and “boil down” the information to identify clusters of customers across the United States that are similar to current guests in Tennessee. This analysis will help the committee and state pinpoint its marketing efforts to reach the highest-yielding guest to visit the Volunteer state. This information was vital to the state’s relaunch of its brand in Spring 2014: “The Soundtrack of America, Made In Tennessee.”
Since the completion of the above research, the committee has worked with the state and VML in refining its research initiatives and have yielded excellent results. This Additional Tennessee tourism related research can be found on the state’s website at tnvacation.com.