In the Public Relations world, we often work to promote single brands, or single businesses, but when several come together to collaborate and promote their town for the sake of tourism, everyone wins. It’s why we pulled together a group of powerful community stakeholders to host a FAM tour to promote Townsend, Tennessee.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the United States, drawing a record-breaking 14.2 million visitors in 2021. It’s a magical place with picturesque vistas, breathtaking views of the valley and mountains in any season, wildlife spotting, outdoor adventures and serene hikes and drives. But the true magic comes when the local businesses work in partnership with the park and each other to better their community and increase visibility.
On a beautiful weekend in early March, we invited a group of travel writers, bloggers and influencers to Townsend, Tennessee to see what The Peaceful Side of the Smokies is all about. We were blessed with perfect weather, and we can’t take credit for the beauty of the Smokies, but the work the local businesses did with us to come together to sell Townsend as THE best destination to enter the park made this a memorable event.
Rather than compete, Little Arrow Outdoor Resort and Dancing Bear Lodge partnered up because they understand that, in this case, what’s good for one is good for all. Several area restaurants including Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro, Dancing Bean, Apple Valley, Little River Pub, Amici, Peaceful Side Social, Burger Master and Filling Station BBQ pulled out all the stops to provide impressive dining experiences. Local makers shops and tourist destinations including Tuckaleechee Caverns, The Townsend Heritage Center, Great Smoky Mountains Tremont Institute and the Townsend Railroad Museum opened up for specialized tours and individually curated experiences so that travel writers would have ample material to encourage travelers to visit.
And these local businesses saw the immersive media weekend as an opportunity to go above and beyond. We hosted an impressive four-course meal with local bourbon pairings that the chefs and bartenders crafted specifically for the event. We infused the entire event with the local spirits by using Company Distilling bourbon in all the drinks, and even making available the master distiller Jeff Arnett, former Jack Daniel’s Distiller, to talk about his newest venture and the future of the distillery in Blount County.
The unique, one-of-a-kind experiential weekend showed the wide range of offerings the town of Townsend has for guests with any interest.
Fam tour sample itinerary:
Thursday of the fam tour
Welcome breakfast/orientation catered by The Dancing Bean
Historical tour of Townsend Heritage Center and Cades Cove.
Picnic lunch at Little Arrow Pavilion catered by Little River Pub
Drive through Foothills Parkway with a hike to Look Rock Tower
Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro – chef’s table dinner with Company Distilling bourbon pairings
After dinner bonfire, dessert and live music
Friday of the fam tour
Breakfast at Dancing Bean
Townsend Railroad Museum
Lunch at Little Arrow Pavilion catered by Amici
Great Smoky Mountains Tremont Institute
Pre-dinner bourbon tasting and cocktail making class with Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller, Company Distilling Co. (former Master Distiller, Jack Daniel’s) – Little Arrow Outdoor Resort pavilion
Outdoor barbeque, live music and bonfire at Little Arrow Resort – catered by Full Service
Saturday of the fam tour
Visit to local area makers
Lunch at Burger Master & a glimpse into the Enduro Southeast mountain bike race
Foraging hike for edible berries to use in cocktails Cocktail – Little Arrow Outdoor Resort
Saturday night dinner and beer tasting at Peaceful Side Social
The result of the fam tour is already dozens of articles and social mentions in the first couple of weeks after the event. When you work together with competitors and complimenting businesses and promote your area for all it has to offer you’ll be more successful in garnering media coverage as a travel destination than trying to market one business.
More towns should band together in this way. The cooperation allowed us, as a PR firm, to pitch a packaged deal to travel, food, and spirits writers and influencers where they were able to experience the best Townsend has to offer.
If you're interested in hosting a fam tour to promote your business or community, contact us here.