Deana Ivey: Nashville Booms with Music and Conventions

Skift Take

When Nashville fully embraced its musical roots, it solidified its brand and distinguished itself from other destinations. Now, the city is reaping the tremendous benefits of that decision.

Deana Ivey has worked for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. for 26 years. She took on the role of President and CEO in July 2023. Ivey has been a driving force in Nashville’s efforts to brand itself globally as Music City. She has helped put on large concerts that help promote the city and has co-produced two award-winning documentaries on Nashville. 

Subscribe to the Skift Meetings Podcast: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Google Podcasts | Amazon | RSS

The History of a Brand

In 2004, the city started a strategic planning process with the aim of identifying how best to promote itself. It was at this point that the branding of the city became a focus. The city wanted to differentiate itself from a destination marketing point of view. Through this process, it was decided that drilling down into Nashville as Music City was the way forward. A local historian working on the brand history discovered just how deep the music roots go in Nashville.

A City That Understands Event Production

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. has its own events department, which produces New Year’s Eve and 4th of July events. It also puts on around 150 smaller events for the city annually. In total, the events draw in around 300,000 visitors, and large events sell between 20,000 and 30,000 hotel rooms. The city’s 4th July event is a day-long celebration with the largest fireworks show in the U.S. The New Year’s Eve event is a five-hour televised special on the local CBS network. The knowledge and experience gained from planning their own events ensures that the city can really support meeting planners coming into the city.

The Role of Influencers

Nashville is a hotbed of celebrities who organically post about the city via their social media accounts and, in turn, essentially act as influencers and promoters of the destination. The city recently experienced this when Resse Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman attended a Nashville SC soccer game, of which Witherspoon is a minority owner, and posted about the game on social media, all of which acted as great publicity for Nashville and the team. 

A City that Plays Big

Whilst Nashville recognizes it isn’t as big as the A-tier destinations, such as New York and Las Vegas, it capitalizes on being the home of music and many celebrities, ensuring it plays just as big as the biggest destinations. The work of understanding and capitalizing on their strengths has paid off. The city secured the second spot in Cvent’s 2023 Top Meeting Destinations in North America list, coming only behind Orlando, Florida.