Arkansas Industry Insider Newsletter

Greetings Industry Insiders!

The 31st Annual Travel South Showcase will be in Little Rock February 17-20. We are proud that Arkansas has this great opportunity to host nearly 600 tourism professionals who will be gathering with one purpose – to promote travel to and within the Travel South USA region.

Meanwhile, plans are coming together for the 39th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism.This year’s event in Hot Springs will bring together the best the industry has to offer, to hear great speakers and share important information. We’ve shared some highlights to catch below.

Find out what meeting planners are looking for in a destination. Also in this edition, you’ll find an opportunity to nominate your event for the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top20 Events publication, and we’ve got some enlightening guest service and social media tips for you as well.


Joe David Rice
Tourism Director

Our Host City:Hot Springs

Have you been to Hot Springs in the spring? Oaklawn racing season is in full swing, and it’ll be hopping in the Spa City during the 39th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Zoie Clift shares a primer on what you need to know before you go to the track on the Travel Arkansas blog.

Speaking of racing, you’ll have a chance to visit one-on-one with some of Oaklawn’s top jockeys at “Tips and Tales,” the special event accompanying the Tourism Development Foundation’s auction on Monday night of this year’s conference. Meet Jon Court, Terry Thompson, Calvin Borel, Rosemary Homeister, Luis Quinonez, Jenna Joubert and others. All tips collected at the event benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Proceeds collected from the auction benefit the Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation Scholarship Fund.

Have you reserved your room for the Governor’s Conference?  You’d better do it, and quick!  Rooms are already sold out at the Embassy Suites, and the Austin is closed to a sell-out.  Here’s a handy list of hotels participating as hosts for this year’s conference.

The Austin Hotel:  $99/nt single/double, $109/nt triple/quad (use promo code GOVCONF), 501-623-6997 or 877-623-6997

The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa:  $110/nt 1-4 people 501-623-7771 or 800-643-1502

Comfort Inn & Suites:  $109.99/nt queen/queen or standard king, 501-623-1700 or 877-682-444

Comfort Suites:  $114/nt standard, $119/nt upgraded, 501-624-3800

Clarion Resort on the Lake:  $95/nt single or double, 501-525-1397 or 800-432-5145

Country Inn & Suites:  $99/nt, 501-525-2225 or 866-430-2692 

LaQuinta Inn & Suites:  $99/nt, 501-520-6400

Hampton Inn:  $114/nt king or two full, 501-525-7000

Governor’s Conference Spotlight:  Montine McNulty

Montine McNulty is one of the tourism and hospitality industries major supporters. As the executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association since 1996, Montine has worked on issues impacting the state’s restaurants, lodging properties and tourism attractions for more than two decades. Learn more about Montine, her work, and her love of the hospitality and tourism industries by reading the latest Governor’s Conference blog on

A $ensible Approach to Growing Tourism

The Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, taking place March 3-5 in Hot Springs, provides the perfect opportunity to gain information to help your tourism industry business. For example, the panelists for the Tuesday session, “A $ensible Approach to Growing Tourism,” are Todd Herman of the Arkansas Arts Center; Sandy Edwards from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; and Bob Bledsoe with Garden Woodland Gardens.

These three panelists represent excellent destinations in The Natural State and thus have a great perspective to share. The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock is one of those rare institutions that combines the visual arts, theater and museum school under one roof. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville celebrates the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. From the dynamic architectural structures to the majestic botanical landscapes, Garvan Woodland Gardens offers breathtaking sights and fantastic photo opportunities at every turn.

Learn more about the panelists, the properties they represent and their Governor’s Conference topic by reading this blog from Jill Rohrbach.

What Meeting Planners Want

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects meeting, convention and event planner employment growth of 43.7% between 2010 and 2020, adding 31,300 more jobs.

While there’s been growth in this business sector in recent years, André Fournier, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Destination Hotels and Resorts, says, “It’s cautious growth.”

Destination Hotels and Resorts recently commissioned a survey of meeting planners to determine what’s important to them within those “cautious” budgets. Read about the five features that rose to the top in the full article.

Top Events Sought in the Southeast

The Southeast Tourism Society is looking for October, November and December events to include in its upcoming Top 20 Events publication. Through a nomination process, the society chooses the top 20 events going on in the Southeast for each month of the year. The list of winners is published quarterly and distributed to more than 1,600 newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV stations, AAA publications and others.

Festivals and events in Arkansas are eligible for submission. Requirements include:

  • ·       At least 1,000 in attendance
  • ·       Three or more years in existence
  • ·       Payment of $20 nomination fee per event

The society strongly recommends providing supporting materials such as images, posters, brochures, press releases and news clippings.

Deadline for entry is Friday, April 5, 2013. To submit an event, download a nomination form. If you have questions, contact Suzanne Moon at770-542-1523 or

Top 20 Events has been published for nearly 30 years. Current Top 20 Events are listed online.


Hospitality Hot Tip: Are You Overlooking Guests?

“Here is a simple but powerful rule: Always give people more than what they expect to get.” – Nelson Boswell

Boswell’s words hold true in almost any situation – in business, at home and with relationships. You usually can’t go wrong when you go over and above for someone. Check out the Hospitality Hot Tips blog to learn who you should be going over and above for at your establishment. You may be surprised to learn that you could be overlooking some folks.

As always, we encourage you to share with front-line workers in your community!

Pinterest Made Simple

Last year, the social network Pinterest received a lot of attention because of its incredible growth in popularity and usage and its relatively simple concept: collecting images of things of interest that you find on the Web and organizing them into folders or “Pin Boards” that others scan, see and share.

In order to determine whether or not Pinterest  would be of use to your business, it’s best to begin with your audience. Who is your target? If it includes women and families, it may be worth considering. Recent research shows that Pinterest is tremendously popular with women in the United States.

A 2012 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey found that nearly 20% of women using the Internet are now on Pinterest. Data from research organization comScore shows that 68.2% of Pinterest users are women and 50% have children.

Other interesting data to consider: the Pew survey also found that Pinterest appeals to users across various age groups, with 25% of Internet users between the ages of 30 and 64 using the network. Meanwhile, the comScore research reveals that almost 30% of Pinterest users have an annual household income of $100,000 or more. Finally, several studies by individual retailers and brands have shown that Pinterest inspires more purchases than Facebook and drives more traffic than Twitter.


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