State tourism return on brand investment increases

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM

CLARKSVILLE – Tennessee’s value for the investment made to promote the state’s “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee” tourism brand increased in the latest study commissioned by the Department of Tourist Development.

Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett recently announced the results of a return on investment study of the state’s “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee” brand, which indicated a 19 to 1 return on investment – an increase from the last study completed two years ago and significantly higher than the national benchmark.  

Triplett made the announcement during his keynote speech to members of the tourism industry attending Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association’s annual Blizzard seminar in Clarksville.

The study shows Tennessee collects 19 tax dollars for every $1 spent on advertising for the department’s brand campaign, from $18 to $1 in March 2016. Strategic Marketing and Research Insights, an independent third party, conducted the research. 

The national benchmark used by SMARI for tax revenue collected is 11 tax dollars for every $1, meaning Tennessee’s results are $8 above the national average.

“The return to Tennessee on the investment made in tourism marketing and promotion is confirmed by the latest SMARI report,” Triplett said. “It validates that ‘The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee’ brand campaign inspires visitation to Tennessee and continues to be a good investment for our state’s second largest industry. The music, history, culture, beautiful scenery, experiences, family destinations, authenticity and Southern hospitality provided by our communities and partners allow guests to create memories and motivate them to return. This report shows the benefit to Tennessee, which receives $19 back for every $1 spent on showcasing what we have to offer.”

The study demonstrated the economic boost the campaign is to the state, bringing $1.3 billion in influenced spending and more than $100 million in tax collection. The report also showed a community benefit of $251 for every $1 invested in advertising – which means travelers spent more than $250 within the state for each $1 the department spent on the campaign. The national benchmark is $179. 

Additional data indicated Tennessee spent less than the average state destination marketing organization with only $0.39 spent per traveling household against a national benchmark of 67 cents per household.

“Our company measures marketing effectiveness for destinations across the country. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s campaign performed better than most state ad campaigns, combining strong creative and an innovative media plan to generate awareness, positive impacts on perceptions and visitation and high engagement with destinations,” said SMARI executive vice president Denise Miller. The plan influenced significant travel to the state – and this is travel that would not have occurred without the advertising.”

The study showed travelers in the target markets took nearly 1 million trips to Tennessee that would not have happened without the advertising for “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee” campaign. The report also showed the department’s 2017 campaign received excellent ratings for motivating visit interest and presenting Tennessee as a place with something for everyone.

Tourism continues to provide a significant economic impact in Tennessee. In August, Gov. Bill Haslam announced record-breaking numbers for Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures, reaching $19.3 billion in 2016, up 4.7 percent, and an all-time high for the state. This marks the seventh consecutive year Tennessee saw an economic boost from tourism spending.

Tourism generated 176,500 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.3 percent growth year over year. State and local sales tax revenue for the industry topped $1.7 billion, a 6.7 percent increase compared to 2015, higher than the national growth of travel related sales tax revenue, according to the latest statistics as reported by U.S. Travel Association. According to D.K. Shifflet and Associates, 110 million people visited the state in 2016. Tennessee places among the top 10 travel destinations in the U.S. for the third consecutive year and is considered a top retirement destination.

The Department of Tourist Development credited the accolades to the strategy behind this new branding campaign, the support of the Tennessee Tourism Committee and the work of the entire tourism and hospitality industry.

SMARI conducts research and provides crucial feedback to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and the impact to reach and influence travelers. SMARI gathers research from rate-of-investment studies from many states, including Florida, Texas, Utah, Georgia, Colorado and Indiana.

Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll – delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is  “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”

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