View Full Version : OKC leaders pushing for marketing during tough times

01-09-2009, 10:22 AM
Glad to see something finally coming out like this. I've been waiting for the City to step up to the plate and put something out like this. Good job, Steve!

Oklahoma leaders pushing continued marketing
Published: January 9, 2009

The country may be stuck in a dire recession, but local marketing professionals were told Thursday now is the time for Oklahoma City to raise its profile with tourists and convention planners.

Mayor Mick Cornett, former Mayor Kirk Humphreys and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President Roy Williams agreed the city is still moving forward as they addressed the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Cornett said local tourism promoters have focused on assets that include the presence of three interstate highways going through the city and the advantage residents who are involved in national groups might have in booking conferences.

A good salesman
Humphreys noted Cornett himself used his involvement with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to book its annual national convention at the Cox Convention Center in 2010.

"Our mayor is undoubtedly the best communicator and best salesman for a city as any,” Humphreys said. "We are really blessed.”

Cornett returned the compliment, saying the investment in downtown and the city led by Humphreys and other leaders has been critical to having a city worth boasting about.

"It wouldn’t matter how good a salesman I might be if I didn’t have a good product to sell,” Cornett said.

Raising expectations
The panel agreed Oklahoma City is still struggling with low expectations.
Humphreys said he recently met an NBC network reporter at a Thunder game who was staying in Bricktown with his 11-year-old son while in town covering a game at Ford Center.

Humphreys quoted the reporter as saying he was surprised at what Oklahoma City had to offer and was going to return with his wife and another couple from his hometown of Dallas.

"What we always hear from convention visitors and tourists is that they come here with a relatively low expectation and they leave with their expectation exceeded,” Williams said.

Williams said the city must strive to provide visitors with an "authentic experience” unique to Oklahoma City.

"One thing we’ve seen with our research is our American Indian heritage, our western heritage, is intriguing to people,” Williams said.

Williams said spending on marketing is remaining steady while other cities are cutting back because of the recession.

Cornett hopes the city will maintain its momentum and added a MAPS 3 vote could happen as early as December.

What’s Next
A MAPS 3 vote
If such a vote does occur, Mayor Mick Cornett said, he believes residents should consider including construction of a new convention center. He said even if one is approved in December, replacement of the Cox Convention Center wouldn’t occur for another decade — coinciding with the existing center’s 50th anniversary. Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys agrees. "We need to maintain our courage right now,” Humphreys said. "The wisest investment you can make is when times are hard. You can buy a convention center cheaper during bad times than in good times.”

01-09-2009, 11:03 AM
Williams said spending on marketing is remaining steady while other cities are cutting back because of the recession.

I always think of an interview that was done with the Mathis Bros. years ago when our oil boom went bust. Many companies were cutting their budgets and marketing was often one of the first things to go. However, the Mathis Bros. kept cranking out tv spots. Their philosophy was that they needed to continue marketing because that's what brought in the customers and they needed new customers now more than ever before.

01-09-2009, 02:08 PM
Metro, touching on the subject of the convention center from that article...that is right on the money. There is a LOT we can do as a city to attract events here. Every industry has trade shows, and while we are not as attractive for the larger shows, the small-medium ones would surely consider us. There are some serious good points and bad points we must face, however.

On the good side, our airport situation is very much ideal in that the top carriers are now service all or most of their U.S. hubs out of OKC. This is a very good thing! OKC is no longer a 'typical' line station, unlike some that only hit the closest regional hubs. (off-topic but do you realize how many people actually connect in OKC now? especially with travel sites drilling for available seats, in the last few years we have seen more and more folks connecting in OKC than in the past when we didn't service all the hubs--we're like a mini-hub in some ways) The fact that a lot of the larger areas can get non-stop service into OKC is a huge plus for conventions/trade shows. For road travel we aren't too bad either, having 3 interstates intersecting here.

Having said all that, there are some realities we must face. Mainly transit. You're not gonna get 10,000 visitors to all rent cars or take the small amount of cabs to/from the convention center. We've got to have that quick "zoom-zoom" artery to get folks to/from the convention center/airport/parking. Even the convention centers we have now are not a quickly accessible point for visitors. Ever been to a decent size trade show? In vegas, even as poor as the monorail is designed, when a trade show is going on that thing is packed out going to/from the convention center. Even in the midwest/south, I've been to trade shows in Dallas and BART seems to be always packed out. Business folks like to simply fly in and get right in/out of the show and not be hassled with finding transportation. Our hotel situation is not that bad, so that's a plus. And with the Cox center, Bricktown offers a unique hangout for visitors that's right next door.

If we can overcome mainly the transit issues, I see no reason in the world why we wouldn't be just as good or a better (read: less expensive) choice for both the show and the attendees. Our city is pretty clean for the most part. While a new convention center would be nice, I don't think that the Cox center is that bad. I've been to larger shows at worse venues than ours!

01-09-2009, 02:25 PM
That is my fear right there. The city went through the trouble of creating a website where citizens could suggest projects for MAPS3 and the result was an overwhelming support for some sort of rail mass transit. Now we are hearing a "Father knows best" type deal from our leaders saying we need more space for conventions. The goal MAPS and MAPS for Kids was to improve the quality of life for our city, something a new convention center will not make much of an impact on. When our leaders starting ignoring what the people of this city overwhelmingly want, we will start to look like Tulsa...and that is not a good thing.

01-09-2009, 02:33 PM
Cuatro, actually we knew that a convention center would probably be one of the top MAPS 3 projects. I think we need 1.)transit, 2.)convention center 3.) river improvements and possibly core 2 shore. I strongly suspect we need and are getting a convention center in MAPS 3, let's hope Mick doesn't pull a move to save his political future and get mass transit out of MAPS 3 due to the economy/gas prices. Word is that he is gearing up again to run for the District 5 (Mary Fallin's seat) in 2010 and she is running for governor. He will need all the political clout he can get to take that seat and might not jeopardize something controversial like mass transit. Let's hope to God that he will put mass transit as a priority.

01-09-2009, 04:16 PM
My gut tells me the OKC leadership is going to blow the opportunity for stimulus money and abandon any plans for transit upgrade.

They want a convention center by God and that's what they are going to get. They don't ever talk about anything else.

Hope I'm wrong, or we will have blown a big opportunity.

01-09-2009, 08:27 PM

You don't think all the $$$ coming into the city from conventions and trade shows would have a positive impact on pushing projects for us as a community?

IMO I think that's a great deal of our problem with things moving so slow is that we are not acting on things like this that can bring lots of tax dollars into the city.

01-10-2009, 11:27 AM
I don't understand what's so wrong with the Cox center. Yes, it's old but like another poster said it's a lot nicer than many that have much larger conventions.

01-10-2009, 01:16 PM
The Cox Center is absolutely inadequate by any standard when compared to cities we are trying to emulate. Indianapolis has a HUGE relatively new convention center and is expanding it with the recent implosion of the Hoosier Dome

01-10-2009, 02:31 PM
Are there any potential locations for the new center? Not really any room for expansion at the current location unless you build up.

01-10-2009, 05:04 PM
The proposed location is directly south of the Ford Center, on the other side of the new boulevard.

MAPS 3 can and should include mass transit, a convention center, and the C2S public spaces.

01-11-2009, 11:27 AM
Do you think we will see a MAPS 3 announcement at the upcoming State of the City on 01/31/09?

01-11-2009, 03:16 PM
Do you think we will see a MAPS 3 announcement at the upcoming State of the City on 01/31/09?

Doubtful. I think the Mayor is now of the mind to wait until the current tax lapses. I was under the impression last fall that city leaders would push for a continuance, but now do not think the mood or the time is right. I think if the Thunder wins some more games, and people feel good about the FC upgrades, the mood might change.

If he does announce it, it would be a December 2009 election that would be announced sometime in October.

Still don't think the time is right, given that the data and research for the Alternatives Analysis on the downtown streetcar likely won't be done by then.

My three cents.

01-12-2009, 02:42 PM
My gut tells me the OKC leadership is going to blow the opportunity for stimulus money and abandon any plans for transit upgrade.

They want a convention center by God and that's what they are going to get. They don't ever talk about anything else.

Hope I'm wrong, or we will have blown a big opportunity.

I think you are wrong. Cornett and others frequently prioritize mass transit and walkability. This article is not about transit, the leaders at this time were meeting to discuss convention marketing and viability. Transit, they all know, is an important issue and they know it's related to convention viability, but a larger facility is also very important. Do we think that they are stupid? These people who over twenty years have brought Oklahoma City from zero to hero? They're all very smart, well informed, and well traveled people that we should very much trust.

From 2008 State of the City:

We are creating neighborhoods where you can live and not have to own a car. It will take time, but the future of Oklahoma City does not have to so dependent on the automobile. We have choices, and we will be working to improve public transportation in this city in the coming years through implementation of the Fixed Guideway Study.

From 2007 State of the City (My all-time favorite Mick quote is in here):

We are a city in which life revolves around getting into your car and going somewhere. Well, until this weekend. You know, here’s a prediction about Oklahoma City. Ask the typical resident of our community to go around the block. And I challenge you that the first thing they will do is go look for their car keys.

That dependence on the automobile is not all bad. Through the years, it’s led us to create a great network of roads. And that network of roads is the envy of cities around the country. We have very little traffic congestion. There is more good news for us. Generally, the cost of gasoline is affordable. And that combination - free moving traffic and affordable gas - are key ingredients to our quality of life. We are very mobile. We go where we want, when we want. And in many of our peer cities, those days are gone.

But we are kidding ourselves if we think this is sustainable long-term. Traffic congestion is going to increase. Fuel prices are going to increase. And there are other costs to an automobile-friendly lifestyle. Although we remain one of the largest cities in the country still in compliance with the Clean Air Act, that status is in jeopardy. The exhaust from the cars is polluting our air. Fifty percent of our pollution comes from automobiles. Plus, our reliance on the car has created a sedentary culture. As a community, too many of us are overweight, and the increased cost of healthcare is weighing on our economy.

Read that, and tell me that our mayor doesn't understand or care about public transportation issues. He goes on even longer in the full speech: City of Oklahoma City | 2007 State of the City (