Tennessee Trails lead to Pandora music and Facebook

petticoat_junction

Tennessee’s Department of Tourist Development is rolling out a new way of promoting the state: Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. According to a news release, “The concept behind the program is to leverage Tennessee’s visitor brands including Chattanooga, Knoxville, Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis and Nashville. Self-guided driving trails extend visitor’s stays by showcasing nearby regional gems such as Jack Daniel Distillery, Trenton’s Teapot Museum, Gray Fossil Site and Museum, the homes of three American presidents, our award-winning state parks and agritourism sites.”

You can see more here, but not much. I’m kind of surprised they have released this concept when so much work remains to be done on it.

While pushing various trails is nothing new, the first innovative part is a musical connection to Pandora, the on-line source of music. When I clicked on “Music Playlist,” the Pandora window opened to a station called “Tennessee,” and the very first song was Flatt & Scruggs playing the theme to the old CBS show, Petticoat Junction. Not quite sure what this has to do with Tennessee. I reopened Pandora and attempted to start a new station with the word “Tennessee,” but Pandora kept asking me which artist or song–people like Tennessee Ernie Ford and “Tennessee Stud”–I wanted to build a station around. The tourism people must have worked some deal here.

Of the 15 proposed trails, “The Old Tennessee Trail” is the only one really up and running. A couple of clicks down it reveal a potpourri of places to visit, with not much information about them. One entry is merely labeled “Historic Church,” and the entire description reads as follows: “Beautiful scenery marks this stretch of your country drive. Note the historic church as you stay with Leipers Creek Road, and imagine yourself here in the early 1800s as the area was being settled and farms were being established. Relax as you take in the countryside, where early settlers lived Tennessee’s history.”

Uh, right. Imagine yourself designing a website and actually finding out the name of the church and why it is historic. Rather than grousing on one’s own website, you can now go to the Facebook group site and make comments of your own. This is the second good innovation. Not many people have commented on Facebook–I just did–but it is interesting for state tourism people to give mere mortals a chance for feedback. This can be a double-edged sword.

Several people in the tourism info biz, yours truly included, have tried to figure out a way for a travel wiki, so it will be interesting to see how this Facebook one works out. Let’s keep an eye on it. In the meantime, kudos for using Pandora and Facebook–both widely used, and both free.

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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