By Carlie Kollath
At the final session of the 2012 Mississippi Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau won CVB of the Year in its category. Stephanie Moody-Coomer, the CVB’s deputy director, answered questions from the Daily Journal’s Carlie Kollath Wells about the city’s tourism division.
Q: What projects helped the CVB stand out this past year?
A: A year-long travel market research study was implemented with Young Strategies to strategically analyze the travel market in Tupelo. TCVB launched an integrated marketing plan to help us grow our Elvis brand including the production of Tupelove, the launch of www.welovetupelo.com and the unveiling of the “Homecoming 1956″ Elvis statue. We created a tourism leadership program for our service industry designed to bring about a greater awareness of the hospitality industry in our city and increase customer service. We developed an event promotion campaign with a match grant program to help promote our events and festivals.
Q: What can residents and tourists expect from the CVB in the coming year? Any new projects?
A: I am most excited about our promotion of the Bijou Theater in the Graceland Plaza. In just a week, the theater will be open across from Graceland and will focus on Elvis’ life in Tupelo.
We are putting the final touches on our marketing plan using our research that has identified some new markets that Tupelo needs to be addressing. We’ve been making some shifts in staff to accommodate the additional markets, as well as hiring a new sales manager and a new public relations director.
We are also implementing a strategy to concentrate on our guests once they are in our market and the experience they have in Tupelo. We have funds in our budget to address some product development as well.
Q: Two Tupelo residents also were recognized at the Mississippi Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Can you tell us a little more about them and what they were honored with?
A: Dick Guyton, executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace, was inducted into the Mississippi Tourism Hall of Fame. Mr. Guyton has worked in his current position for 10 years and the Elvis Presley Birthplace has undergone dramatic changes under his leadership and has become a top-notch international attraction.
Jan Pannell was awarded the Community Volunteer of the Year by the Mississippi Tourism Association for her volunteer work on the Elvis Presley Festival. Jan has taken her personal vacation time every year since the festival started in 1999 to be part of the festival team. She has done everything from haul ice to act as personal assistant to Elvis tribute artists. Everyone who comes in contact with her goes away from Tupelo with a great feeling about its people. She is a great brand ambassador for Tupelo.