MANCHESTER – Each year, hospitality and tourism leaders from across the state join together for the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association’s CVB/DMO Conference. Taking place this year in Manchester, March 27-28, the Cookeville-Putnam Visitors’ Bureau team not only attended but was featured as an influential destination. Vice President of Visitor Development Zach Ledbetter was invited to speak to the group of more than 100 Tennessee tourism representatives, sharing best practices and showcasing “How Smaller Destinations Can Do Very Big Things.”
Ledbetter, who leads the charge for marketing Putnam County as a travel destination, served as a speaker during an extensive panel discussion. Topics addressed included the roots of tourism in Putnam County and how events such as BlueCross Bowl gave the visitors’ bureau and the community the confidence to move forward with recruiting and hosting additional visitor-driven events, e.g. motorcycle rallies, fishing championships, etc.
Additional presentation bullets included development of a strategic marketing plan, creation of established branding pillars, inventory of existing tourism assets and packaging those assets to increase visitation to Putnam County.
Ledbetter also addressed questions from the audience regarding challenges in how to compete with larger as well as similar-sized destinations by leveraging a limited budget with smart and strategic targeted marketing investments, e.g. digital media buys, press releases. Additionally, taking advantage of location and proximity to destinations such as Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga was also covered.
The two-day conference offered specialized sessions and workshops aimed to educate and enhance industry knowledge, expanding the abilities of Tennessee’s convention & visitors’ bureaus and destination marketing organizations.
Putnam County’s most recent economic impact statistics (2017) demonstrate $132.03 million in direct tourism expenditures, an increase of 7.3 percent, landing a spot among the top ten counties for percentage increase over the previous year. Putnam County also saw an 8.1 percent increase in payroll with $24.89 million generated by tourism-related jobs. A 5.4 percent increase showed visitor spending generated $2.7 million in local tax receipts for Cookeville-Putnam County, while employment numbers have grown to 1,060 hospitality industry jobs.
The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, providing a tax relief for local residents. To learn more about the work of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, go to www.VisitCookevilleTN.com or request additional information at info@VisitCookevilleTN.com.