To know how to attract more visitors to Oklahoma City, the city needs to know what we don’t have.
The Greater Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau is circulating surveys to 800 people to find why people come, and to help identify tourism gaps.
OKC-CVB president Mike Carrier told the Journal Record’s Molly Fleming that the goal of the survey is to learn how people view tourism in the Oklahoma City area.
“As you go through (the survey), you learn it’s not just talking about tourism, but things that affect economic development across the board,” he said. “It looks at a wide variety of things dealing with what people are coming to Oklahoma City for and how we’re serving those people.”
The survey was sent to business leaders, restaurant and hotel owners, travel writers, residents who are involved in certain organizations, meeting planners and others.
Carrier told Fleming that tourism is a $2.2 billion industry in Oklahoma City.
The survey, called “Destination Next,” was designed by Destination International. It has been used in 133 destinations in 11 countries.
Fleming told KGOU that Arlington, Texas recently completed a similar survey. As a result, that city invested more in trying to attract amateur athletics competitions, which can bring a large number of people to a city.
Fleming said the Oklahoma City survey could potentially identify tourism gaps and influence future Metropolitan Area Projects, or MAPS.
“There could be a venue or some type of attraction that Oklahoma City is missing and could be publicly funded. For example, the city is a big player in athletic events. We can get basketball, volleyball, we host the Softball World Series and all sorts of other softball tournaments and baseball tournaments. But we couldn't try to get swim meets because there's no major indoor facility,” Fleming said.
Fleming said there was an increase in Oklahoma City hotel tax collection last year, and the Will Roger World Airport received a record number of travelers.
“Both of those are a great reflection on what's going on in our tourism industry. And so whether it's meetings or athletic events, Oklahoma City is making people's list and they want to stay there which is why they're doing the survey,” Fleming said.
Jacob McCleland: It's the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I'm Jacob McCleland and I'm joined by Molly Fleming. She's a reporter with The Journal Record newspaper. Molly thank you for talking with us.
Molly Fleming: Hey you're quite welcome.
McCleland: So the Greater Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau has distributed surveys to 800 people inside and outside the metro to see how people view the city's tourism. What's the purpose of this survey?
Fleming: So the purpose is to figure out the thing that Oklahoma City is missing to help it compete with other cities and tourism destinations. As you know, president Mike Carrier said it stab us figure out where our gaps are. As we like to say in our office, "You don't know what you don't know." So people in the business community travel a lot and they see what other cities are doing, and you know the best ideas are stolen. So the CVB wants to see what other, what works in other places and what doesn't.
McCleland: How could this survey potentially influence future Metropolitan Area Projects, or MAPS?
Fleming: There could be a venue or some type of attraction that Oklahoma City is missing and could be publicly funded. For example, you know, the city is a big player in athletic events. We can get basketball, volleyball, we host the Softball World Series and all sorts of other softball tournaments and baseball tournaments. But we couldn't try to get swim meets because there's no major indoor facility. Oklahoma City Community College closed there's a couple of years ago. So maybe there's some money in that. It's those type of ideas that the CVB is hoping to find.
McCleland: So how does this survey then, how does it address economic development?
Fleming: The more you can get in your city, like attractions and things to do, the more that people will come to the city and the more money you get and sell taxes and hotel taxes. Oklahoma City saw a boost in its hotel tax collections this year and Will Rogers World Airports saw a record number of travelers. So both of those are a great reflection on what's going on in our tourism industry. And so whether it's meetings or athletic events, Oklahoma City is making people's list and they want to stay there which is why they're doing the survey.
McCleland: Do we have any data that indicate how much money tourism brings to Oklahoma City each year?
Fleming: Yeah, Mike Carrier said tourism is a 2.2 billion dollar a year industry in the city. That's billion with a B.
McCleland: So this survey that's been distributed to get to 800 people in the metro and nearby, how many other entities have done this particular survey in the past?
Fleming: One hundred and thirty three destinations and 11 countries. So it's really a worldwide you know tool that people can use. And cities can build it in different ways. You know, whatever you want to find out. I think there's different ways that you can add in different questions and stuff like that and really kind of make it fit what you want to find out.
McCleland: Well Arlington, Texas is one of the cities that's done this before. What did they find.
Fleming: That they should spend more money on recruiting amateur sports. So, and amateur sports or you know college athletic events all the way down to a youth sports and the city considers itself the capital of sports entertainment. It's home of Globe Life Park, home to major league baseball's Texas Rangers, and Jerry Jones' stadium, better known as AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. But you sports are a huge driver for tourism and if, the survey found that if Arlington had better facilities they could get more of those events.
McCleland: So once they got that information, what did Arlington do as a result of the survey?
Fleming: The Convention and Visitors Bureau doubled it's sports recruiting staff. I mean, you can't just put your name on a poster and expect people to show up. You really got to have people out there, once again, being a champion for your city and telling people why they should have their event in your city. The city is also working on a plan to update its athletic facilities.
McCleland: And what's been the result of those actions?
Fleming: So Arlington took the survey in 2016 and they've seen an increase in amateur sports related hotel nights. The data they gave me though dates back before the survey. But nonetheless the room nights were up 370 percent.
McCleland: So so here in Oklahoma City, what happens next/ What's the timeline from here?
Fleming: So the CVB wants to get this survey information back in February and then the kind of gather everything and present it in March. This will be right in time because for them because the budget to the city is due in April. So we should have an idea of what everybody thinks of the city by by March.
McCleland: Molly Fleming is a reporter with The Journal Record newspaper. Molly thank you so much for your time.
Fleming: You're welcome.
McCleland: KGOU and the Journal Record collaborate each week on The Business Intelligence Report. You can find this conversation at kgou.org. You can also follow us on social media. We're on Facebook and Twitter, @journalrecord and @kgounews.
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