“Life’s Better in a State of Travel.”  This is the Texas Travel Industry Association’s (TTIA) brand tagline.  This column’s regular readers know I talk a lot about branding, how it’s much more than a mere logo.  My focus is typically honing in on our Denton Original Independent brand, and all the facets that make it so successful in the marketplace from the essence it conveys to delivering on the promise it represents.  The “Life’s Better” brand is one to be explored as well, because it encompasses our Denton brand along with the rest of the state’s individual destination brands and communicates the message that travel is a vital industry to every Texan.

The Texas Travel Industry Association is a non-profit organization that unites businesses, organizations, associations and individuals throughout Texas who are dedicated to developing Texas tourism to its fullest potential. Its membership consists of airlines, hoteliers, CVBs, chambers of commerce, attractions, retailers, restaurants, travel publications, tour operators and individuals.  I am proud to have worked with TTIA for the past 25 years in my destination-marketing career and am honored to serve as chair of the TTIA Board of Directors this year.

A “state of travel” at first glance conjured for me a state of mind.  A state of travel as a mindset is one of passion for exploration, adventure and relaxation.  It is a way of thinking that embraces departure from one’s norm as necessary medicine for achieving a better life.  It is my opinion that everyone has a travel state of mind, at least now and again.  Don’t we all love vacation?

Digging deeper into the brand, however, we also find an important economic message in the “Life’s Better” tagline.  Texas is a state of travel, and life’s better in our state because of the impact travel makes on our economy.  Did you know, for example, that travel and tourism is the third largest industry in Texas?  It is also one of our largest exports, second only to oil and gas.  Let me put this into a dollars and cents portrait.  According to the Office of the Governor, Texas Economic Development and Tourism, total direct travel spending in Texas in 2013 was $67.5 billion, up by 3.1% from year end 2012.   Travelers generated $4.7 billion in local and state tax revenues, supporting 529,000 jobs in leisure, hospitality, transportation, retail trade, real estate, construction, insurance, finance, government, and other industries for $20.4 billion in earnings.

Now that we understand the economic numbers, we can totally “get” the “Life’s Better” tagline’s essence.  To make it personal, the U.S. Travel Association states that you and I would pay almost $1,100 more in taxes every year without travel’s cash flow.

This week, a Denton delegation is travelling to Austin for TTIA’s silver anniversary Unity Dinner, an annual gathering held in Austin that highlights the tourism industry’s economic impact on the great state of Texas.  More than 900 tourism delegates and legislators from across the state will convene at the Austin Convention Center to the theme that “Travel Matters.”  Our delegation is especially large this year, 27 total including Mayor Chris Watts, Denton city councilmembers, chair of the Denton CVB Advisory Board Bob Moses, President of the Denton Chamber Chuck Carpenter, chair of the Chamber board  Larry Parker, State Representative Myra Crownover, State Senator Craig Estes and many other Denton civic leaders.

As we did last year, the Denton CVB and DentonRadio.com are sponsoring the music for the Unity dinner event showcasing Denton’s own singer/songwriters to drive home the important role Denton plays as a leader in Texas music.  Ellie Meyer, Dunashay Thomas and DentonRadio.com director Jake Laughlin will performance in the heart of Austin to clearly demonstrate that Denton’s music matters to Texas travel.

Our music is a major part of how we talk about ourselves in the Texas travel marketplace.  It’s integral to our character, to Denton’s sense of place.  Our music scene is a cornerstone draw for travel’s local tax impact.  And the local impact is where the “Life’s Better” tagline encompasses our Denton brand.

Life’s better in Denton because of travel.  In fact, according to the Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism division the travel industry in Denton is responsible for 1,590 jobs and a $3.9 million impact on local Denton tax receipts.  In 2013, travel spending within Denton was $176 million. Travel matters to our economy and our wallets.

To sum it all up, life is better in a state of travel.  Thanks to travel and our unique original independent brand, life is better in Denton too.