Thursday, May 08, 2008

A follow-up to the tourism post

To be fair, I allowed Knoxville.org to respond to my criticism of their Knoxvillians-only promotion. I emailed Sarah Malak, Public Relations Manager with Knoxville.org about it. She responded with an explanation of what they're doing and why.

Here's my email to her:

Ms. Malak,

I was interested in the Gotta Know Knoxville promotion until I saw on the news that a person needs a valid Knox Co. driver’s license and that the promotion is “only for Knoxvillians.” I find it quite strange that a promotion meant to promote tourism and, according to your website, “aimed at educating local tourism partners on what Knoxville has to offer its visitors” actually excludes tourists/visitors. As a visitor to Knoxville and someone who is looking to learn more about the area, I found the “only for Knoxvillians” promotion to be quite frustrating.

Please consider tourists in your future efforts to promote tourism.

Sincerely,
Justin Tapp


And here is Ms. Malak's response:

Hi Justin,
Thank you for your email. I am glad that you were able to learn some more about "Gotta Know Knoxville" Day.
I'm not sure how familiar you are with the tourism industry, but I would like to educate you on a little bit about what we do.
Our organization is basically a Convention & Visitor's Bureau. This means that we promote the Knoxville/Knox County area by bringing conventions and events to town, and furthermore, we create economic impact, which makes life a little better for everyone who lives in the Knox County area. For example, in 2006, Knox County residents saved $302 in tax dollars because of tourism.
To be quite honest, we spend most of our time focused on tourists. In fact, a lot of our convention and sporting event attendees actually receive promotions (called the 'Uniquely Knoxville Discount Pass') in their packets to visit our attractions - so we are definitely not leaving them out.
Now, "Gotta Know Knoxville" Day and the "Gotta Know Knoxville" program are two different things. I'm sorry if you were confused. This Saturday, May 10, is "Gotta Know Knoxville" Day, which is where we are offering free admission to several attractions - for Knoxvillians. We want the people of Knoxville to tour our attractions and learn what's here so that they may promote them to tourists who are here. A lot of our residents do not even know that half of our attractions exist.
"Gotta Know Knoxville" is a program in which we educate local tourism partners (hotel, restaurant, attraction, or anyone interested in tourism) about what Knoxville has to offer. The reason for this is when tourists/convention attendees come to Knoxville and ask a hotel employee "What is there to do in Knoxville?," then the tourism partners have many recommendations - because they have experienced the attractions first-hand.
So, in closing, "Gotta Know Knoxville" Day is a special day where we are honoring and treating the people of Knoxville, and in turn, they will promote the attractions through word-of-mouth.
I hope I explained the difference between the two programs and what exactly we do here at KTSC.
I do appreciate your comments and please do keep us in mind for your future suggestions!


So, that's that. I find her email slightly condescending but my email was slightly smart-alec. They will educate Knoxvillians in order to make them better promoters of area attractions. Guess we should get to know more Knoxvillians. I still think they should have just opened the promotions to everyone, what harm could that do?

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