NORMAN — Probably the byproduct of being a kid who traveled long distances on the interstates in the summers as my family road tripped across the U.S., my eyes still lock on out-of-the-ordinary, out-of-state license plates.
As I travel 24th Avenue Northwest each morning on the way to work, I pass the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center. This stretch of road lends itself to this hobby.
For instance, in late April, the Baptist Missionary Association of America had a three-day event at the conference center. There were church vehicles from all over the U.S., and more than just the bordering states. I saw a Mississippi bus, a Tennessee van and more First Baptist Church-lettered vehicles than I could count.
The BMAA conference deciding to host their event in Norman was the result of the Norman CVB staff attending a conference and trade show years prior and building a relationship that eventually landed the event here.
In 2015, the Society of Environmental Journalists will have their annual conference in Norman. The CVB collaborated with the University of Oklahoma and the Embassy Suites staff to land the SEJ conference that will bring between 600 and 900 attendees to our city.
Earlier this spring, the CVB attended the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International conference in Chicago with our partners from the NCED Hotel and Conference Center for the first time and made contact with planners.
As part of its Fiscal Year 2014 projections, the sales staff has added more trade shows and conferences to its plans to market Norman’s many properties to new audiences of meeting planners and professionals.
Playing license-plate bingo could become a favorite pastime of a whole new generation of children who long for the thrill of seeing a Maine or Montana plate while traveling Norman streets near our lodging establishments as we continue to build relationships.
Stefanie Brickman, CTA, is the communications manager of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau.