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2016 Oklahoma Conference on Tourism a Success!

May 18, 2016
View photos from the Conference
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Read about the RedBud Awards Gala

2016 Oklahoma Conference on Tourism a Success!

Tourism professionals from across the state gathered on May 16 and 17, 2016 for the Oklahoma Conference on Tourism, an annual event that helps Oklahoma's tourism industry work together to grow our attractions and communities. Between OTIA's Annual Meeting, eleven educational sessions, a trade show, networking opportunities, and the RedBud Awards gala, attendees had a great time!

The event kicked off with a fabulous Welcome Reception hosted by the Edmond Convention & Visitors Bureau at the breathtaking University of Central Oklahoma CHK Central Boathouse. Attendees were able to visit and network in a relaxed setting before an early morning the next day.

The beautiful Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University served as the setting for Tuesday's daytime educational schedule. Board member Kin Thompson served as emcee, beginning the opening session by welcoming attendees to the Conference and introducing Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, who spoke about his passion for Oklahoma and welcomed the Keynote Presenter, Phil Bruno, President, Treat ‘em Right! Bruno shared the power of winning more visitors with total transparency.

Mid-morning, attendees were able to choose between four concurrent workshops, and all were jam packed. Phil Bruno explained how to go about “Building Great Guest Experiences.” Panelists Todd Stallbaumer, Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department; Sandy Price, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Max Paty, Be Native Tours, taught attendees “How to Work the Motor Coach Market.” Ryan Thompson of The Atkins Group shared insights into “Placemaking” (or creating destinations) using unified branding, urban planning, and cooperation, and Adam Weber of Bluebridge explained the ins and outs of mobile apps and responsive sites.

Hardly a seat was empty as OTIA Chair Cathy Williams-White opened the luncheon by introducing Nelson Gumm with AAA Oklahoma, partner for the Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented at the RedBud Awards Gala later that evening. The luncheon keynote was delivered by Social Media Marketing Strategist Crystal Washington and was one for the books! Washington had attendees taking selfies, using hashtags on Twitter, and fully engaging in her dynamic presentation on “Operation Gen Y - Attracting Young Urban Travelers.”

The afternoon was filled with four more concurrent workshops. Crystal Washington continued her luncheon presentation with the “Top Tour Apps for Providers and Customers.” Sheila Scarborough of Tourism Currents got everyone “Amped Up!” with tips and techniques for marketing festivals and special events through social media. Adam Weber focused on teaching CVBs and DMOs how to create a comprehensive mobile strategy. Rounding off the group was Stacy Tomas, PhD, of OSU-HRAD, who shared ways of “Incorporating Agritourism into your Destination Mix.” 

The afternoon wrapped up with a Keynote Presentation featuring a panel of professionals from the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department, who went over “10 Ways OTRD Can Help You Get Noticed.” The session covered the latest trends, research, and partnership opportunities available to industry members.

More than twenty exhibitors were set up throughout the building, happy to visit with conference attendees and review their products and services during the breaks. The 2016 Oklahoma Conference on Tourism would not have been made possible without the help of these exhibitors or our many wonderful partners. Thank you all so much for helping to put on a successful event. 

Thanks also to our many Silent Auction Donors:
  • AAA Oklahoma
  • American Road
  • Ardmore Tourism Authority
  • Bartlesville CVB
  • Certified Folder Display Service
  • Cherokee Heritage Center
  • Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism
  • Edmond CVB
  • Enid CVB
  • Green Country Marketing Association
  • Henryetta Historical Society
  • Lake Texoma Association
  • Madden Media
  • McCormick Armstrong
  • Meredith Travel Marketing
  • Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tourism
  • Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
  • Oklahoma Museums Association
  • Ponca City Tourism
  • Premier Travel Media
  • Sam Noble Museum
  • Tulsa CVB
  • Visit Norman
  • Visit Shawnee
  • Visit Stillwater
  • Woodward CVB

The day wrapped up around 4:30, when attendees were released to make their way to the Oklahoma History Center for the annual RedBud Awards Gala

What's Happening
Members of the OTIA will come together for Hospitality Day at the Capitol, where we will spend time speaking to legislators about issues facing our industry, and then culminate in a fabulous reception with more than 600 members and legislators at the Chevy Bricktown Events Center.
OTIA has made it easier to apply for the RedBud Awards! You can either download the RedBud Awards application like you have in the past and submit everything in hard copy form, OR you can apply online. This annual event recognizes Oklahoma tourism attractions, destination marketing organizations, and journalists for their outstanding efforts to serve and promote Oklahoma's tourism industry. The ceremony will be held during the Oklahoma Conference on Tourism on May 15. The deadline to apply is March 2, 2018.
OTIA was thrilled to host three amazing Lt. Governor’s Travel & Tourism Summits this year in Guymon, Sulphur, and Tahlequah. Outstanding speakers presented on a variety of topics, and Lt. Governor Todd Lamb once again joined us for the festivities. We've posted pictures from all events!
The travel industry added 30,000 jobs in October, a significant increase following a drop in travel employment last month due to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s analysis of Friday’s Labor Department employment report.

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