Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, on Wednesday announced the results of a return on investment study, the first since launching the “Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee” brand campaign, during a special event at Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association’s Day on the Hill.
The new brand campaign was launched approximately 18 months ago. Research conducted from a third party, Strategic Marketing and Research Insights, indicates an 18-to-1 return on investment. This shows Tennessee is collecting 18 tax dollars for every 1 dollar spent on advertising for the new campaign. The national benchmark used by SMARI for tax revenue collected is 9 tax dollars for every 1 dollar.
"This is great news, not only for our tourism industry but for all Tennesseans,” Governor Haslam said. “An 18-to-1 return on investment is pretty impressive no matter what kind of business you’re in, but when you consider that the national average is only half that, it has an even bigger impact. We are blessed in Tennessee to have an abundance of incredible attractions – our music, our history, our beautiful landscapes and family destinations, and I want to thank our tourism and hospitality industry for their hard work to attract so many people and so much investment from around the world to Tennessee.”
"The SMARI Report confirms two important facts,” Commissioner Triplett said. “The brand campaign messaging ‘The Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee’ is inspiring vacationers to choose our state and Tennessee taxpayers are reaping the benefit of tourism’s success with an 18:1 return on investment.”
The study also shows Tennessee visitors spent on average $229 for every dollar invested in the campaign. The national benchmark is $152. Additional data indicates Tennessee spent one-third less than the average state destination marketing organization with only $0.22 spent per traveling household against a national benchmark of $0.67 per household.
SMARI Executive Vice President Denise Miller said, “Our company measures marketing effectiveness for destinations across the country, and the Tennessee Tourism campaign performed extremely well, and significantly better than what we typically see for destinations. Tennessee Tourism combined strong creative with an effective media plan to influence significant travel to the state – and this is travel that would not have occurred without the advertising. Tennessee achieved a strong return on investment, and the results were especially impressive given that this is a relatively new advertising campaign.”
The announcement provides added support for the positive economic impact of tourism in Tennessee, said officials. In August 2015, Governor Haslam announced record breaking numbers for Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures, reaching $17.7 billion in 2014, up 6.3 percent, and an all-time high for the state.
Tourism-generated jobs for Tennesseans reached 152,900, an increase of 2.8 percent. State and local sales tax revenue for the industry topped $1.5 billion, up 7 percent over 2013, and the ninth consecutive year tourism topped $1 billion, according to the latest statistics from the 2014 Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee as reported by U.S. Travel Association. For the first time in history, travel to Tennessee topped 100 million, achieving 101.3 million person stays, a 5.1 percent increase over 2013. International travel increased 8.4 percent, reaching $576.5 million in economic impact. Tennessee is ranked in the Top 10 destinations in the U.S. for total travel.
TDTD credits these 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.
The TTC, appointed in 2011 by Governor Haslam, is made up of tourism leaders in both the public and private sectors. TTC is chaired by Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., and co-chaired by Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and Sande Weiss, president of Music Road Resort.