Project Description

Making a Splash

Ackermann PR jumped in head first to help this Sevierville waterpark fill its 1,000-room resort year-round

Issue

The owners of Wilderness at the Smokies resort approached Ackermann PR long before the resort had opened; they wanted two things: a successful, high-profile launch and high occupancy every month of the year in a summer tourist market.

Idea

Ackermann PR conceptualized, planned, organized and implemented a highly-visible, three-phase grand opening. The first grand opening event was for the Stone Hill Lodge and the first outdoor waterpark; the second for the all-suites River Lodge resort and the five-acre indoor waterpark; and the third for the condominiums and Cataloochee Creek outdoor waterpark.

We also coordinated the resort’s social and digital campaigns which further established Wilderness at the Smokies as the Southeast’s largest and most exciting resort offering. Because the resort provides a year-round tropical getaway, we maintained our public relations efforts during what was traditionally a slower time of year for East Tennessee attractions. Ackermann PR played a major role in bringing sporting events such as gymnastics meets, volleyball tournaments, and cheerleading competitions to Wilderness at the Smokies during the first quarter of the year.

Ackermann PR has grown to be a critical part of the Wilderness at the Smokies strategy team since 2007, working directly with the owners as well as resort management. We promote special events and incentives, manage all aspects of community and media relations, cultivate and carry out national coverage, drive digital and social media campaigns, and keep Wilderness at the Smokies at the top of visitors’ minds throughout the year.

Impact

The grand openings at Wilderness at the Smokies resort were covered by virtually all media from television and radio to newspaper and magazine outlets throughout the Southeast in the resorts’ primary feeder markets. Coverage was extended to family magazines including Parent Magazine, Nashville Parent, Family Fun, Cincinnati Parent, Indianapolis Parent and many other publications targeting families with children.

On a national level, Wilderness at the Smokies received coverage from USA Today, ABC News, Travel Channel, and Parent Magazine. Regionally, coverage stretched from Asheville, NC to Atlanta to Cincinnati and included major cities in Tennessee. Half-hour specials about Wilderness at the Smokies resort were produced by television stations in Birmingham, Tri-Cities and Chattanooga.

The 700-acre resort now stays busy year-round — selling out entirely during the summer and operating at more than 90-percent capacity during months of the year when most Smoky Mountain resorts are at 30 to 35 percent capacity.