Last month, travel dropped to its lowest level nationwide in recorded history. As we begin to come back, leisure travel has been the first segment to inch back to some sense of normal. People are ready to leave their homes and are looking for some sort of escape. Beaches in Texas and Florida have opened and travelers are beginning to visit these spaces. STR notes that U.S. hotel performance, while it took a hit, is bouncing back faster than China and Europe. This is good news for markets like Nashville, TN which are dependent on tourism. Tax revenues from our hotel/motel tax help fund city events, the Music City Center, and education to name a few.
The authenticity of any destination is the locally owned businesses that add color to any visitor experience. Nashville has no shortage of creative, locally owned restaurants, boutiques, activities, and, of course, music venues, to engage any curious traveler. Time and again the city has been recognized as one of the top travel destinations in the country. What business owners Kurtz Hospitality Marketing works with are looking forward to is getting back to work and welcoming visitors back again. Today we visited with Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp for a few of his thoughts on the return of tourism in Nashville.
Butch Spyridon has served as the head of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC) since 1991. Under his leadership, the NCVC has led the strategic development of Nashville’s hospitality industry, and Music City has evolved into a global, year-round destination, generating over $7 billion in visitor spending.
During Butch’s tenure, the NCVC has been involved with development initiatives that include the Tennessee Titans, Bridgestone Arena, Music City July 4th, New Year’s Eve in Nashville, the Music City Center, Music City Walk of Fame, and the city’s branding initiative. He also led efforts to bring British Airways’ nonstop flight to London in 2018 and he led the successful recruitment and execution of the 2019 NFL Draft, which became the most successful Draft in NFL history and the largest public event in Nashville in terms of attendance, visitor spending and TV viewership around the world.
Now that Nashville is beginning to re-open, what are you seeing from a tourism standpoint?
We bottomed out the first week of April. We have seen very gradual improvement each week since. We will start some minimal marketing in early June to try and start some real rebound. As restaurants, bars, and music venues begin to (safely) open, we will begin to see visitors coming back to Nashville.
What can hotels, restaurants, and attractions do as a community to bring back tourism?
Right now, I believe the best approach is to make your business as clean, safe and approachable as possible. We have to convey a safe message as we move forward. Avoiding any backslide is critical to a successful recovery.
With the brand Music City, how do we bring the music back while helping visitors feel safe in our hotels/bars/restaurants/attractions?
Phase 2 reopening will include some music. That is a great start. No one has figured out large gatherings yet, but we will. We need music and our visitors do too.
How will tourism change and will the effect be long term or short term solutions?
I think Nashville can rebound a bit quicker with a regional marketing approach. It’s going to be a slow and gradual climb back to the top. Patience is key.
Finally, and I can't believe I am asking for this, when will the woo girls come back?
Haha. I happen to believe the woo girls will be back pretty quick. They were the last to leave and likely the first to return. No fear! Nashville offers a diverse visit for all leisure travelers and is great location for once-in-a-lifetime trips like bachelorette visits.