How can a small town like Farragut leverage itself to attract visitors who will spend time, and thus money, to help fill our tax coffers?
That’s one of the questions the town’s Tourism/Visitor Advisory Committee is charged with answering. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed members to the committee in October.
Many people are confused by tourism. The word makes them think of tourists sporting broad-brimmed hats and sunscreen. But Farragut Tourism Coordinator Karen Tindal defines it as “marketing your own community.” That means thinking about what makes your town special and showcasing it.
Tindal was hired (part-time) eight months ago. As a long-time Farragut resident, she’s quick to say what makes the town special to her – safe places to run, a sense of community and convenient shopping and dining. She also knows that those qualities have potential to draw visitors.
Farragut events like the Independence Day Parade, Freaky Friday Fright Nite and Light the Park highlight our close-knit community. Our greenways and parks (think McFee Park splash pad and Mayor Bob Leonard Park athletic fields) attract visitors from counties that don’t have such resources. And exit 373 features an abundance of shops and restaurants (along with first-rate hotels) just off I-40/I-75. To learn how we’re currently promoting all of these things, see VisitFarragut.org.
But Tindal’s plans go beyond publicizing Farragut’s assets. She hopes to align the town’s tourism efforts with the state’s very successful program (TNVacation.com), which currently features Tennessee’s rich musical history. She also wants to collaborate with nearby communities to market combined resources.
“Farragut has so many good things going on that it’s easy to come up with ideas for how to promote it,” Tindal says. “And it’s not just about attracting visitors. We plan to highlight current offerings and put together new events for the benefit of residents, too.”
Tindal and I recently attended the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism where we met tourism professionals from across the state. Some worked for municipalities; some worked for CVBs (Convention and Visitor Bureaus), which are not-for-profit organizations funded by local governments. During one session, I met Linda Brooks, who operates a bed and breakfast in Rugby, Tenn. She’s a savvy volunteer who promotes Morgan County, home of Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, which offers tours and End of the Line moonshine. Pure marketing genius.
Tourism programs are as diverse as our communities. Our efforts won’t look like anyone else’s because there’s no place quite like Farragut. We hope our new advisory committee will offer fresh insights into how the town can best market itself.
New committee members are Akshay Hira (Lodging), Angela Wolf Sanders (Dining), Julie Blalock (Retail), Ashley Lynch (Attraction), Vice Mayor Louise Povlin (BMA) and at-large members Allison Mengel, Michael Bellamy, Christine Gilbert and Wendy Robinson. We appreciate these volunteers, and all the qualified applicants for the committee, and look forward to working with them to encourage everyone to Visit Farragut.
Wendy Smith is coordinator of public relations and marketing for the Town of Farragut.