It’s a great time to be in tourism in Tennessee!
Tennessee’s tourism staff understands how valuable the rural communities are to telling the whole Tennessee story. That’s why they’ve developed a grant program that allows rural communities to improve their assets and increase their tourism-related economic impact.
Chandlerthinks has had the opportunity to work with some of these communities.
We sat down with Kellye Murphy from Columbia TN (http://www.columbiatn.com/) to discuss rural branding and the work they’ve done with Chandlerthinks.
There are certainly some commonalities when we talk about how rural communities play a part in tourism.
“Partnership & Collaboration is crucial - you have to think beyond your boundaries”
Connecting with regional associations and the state department are vital to impacting your rural community through tourism.
Murphythe City of Columbia’s Tourism & Marketing Director, works great with her counterparts at the county CVB. Some ways they work together include the City participating in the County’s ad co-op in the state vacation guide and putting together a Familiarization Tour for the State’s welcome center staff to learn more about Columbia/Maury County.
“Small things are what build the destination”
Longterm foundational steps are so important to being able to tell the rural story.
For Columbia, signage is a major component for creating a positive visitor experience and desperately needed. Columbia applied for grant money, available through the TN tourism grants & initiatives program (https://www.tn.gov/tourism/statewide-partners/grants-initiatives.html) for way finding.They aim to show “best practices for a way finding sign program for the south central TN region.” According to Murphy “Comprehensive way finding will really up our game”
The CVB also worked with TDOT to upgrade the interstate signs to add the word “President” in front of James K Polk. This was one of the recommendations from Chandlerthinks plan and is an important step in honing in on their assets.
"Need to have a fully created program. Including any and all marketing tools available."
And to create a program, you need a plan. They used the Chandlerthink’s marketing and branding guide “as a bible” for their first year in creating their tourism program. Program pieces that needed to be in place included website, social media pages and a visitors guide.
Ultimately, each community has their own story to tell and they have individualized needs. Murphy said it best “the industry is so streamlined but all do it so differently, based on how they are structured, or where there are with product development. It’s truly a reflection of the community”
Chandlerthinks is here to facilitate all aspects of rural community branding and it’s some of our most rewarding work.
If you are as inspired by Kellye’s wisdom as we, you can find more insights from her here!