By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Executive Director Stephen Koranda at the monthly board meeting on Wednesday.
“We appreciate the work Stephen has accomplished during his time in Norman and wish him and his family the best for their future,” NCVB board chair Suzanne McAuley said.
Koranda took the reins of NCVB in December 2008. During his tenure, he led the agency through rebranding, the launch of a new website and the relocation of the NCVB offices and the Norman Visitors Center.
The NCVB board appointed Stefanie Brickman as interim executive director. Brickman will continue work started by Koranda on wayfinding signage, a mobile visitor center and a satellite visitors center at Sooner Mall.
“We trust Stefanie to guide us through this time of transition as we identify the best candidate to build on the existing vision of the NCVB,” McAuley said. “We know that Norman is a wonderful place to visit and host meetings and events, and we will all continue to work hard to attract visitors to our community.”
Web hits to the VisitNorman.com website increased from 1,500 per month in 2009 to more than 11,000 hits during this July during Koranda’s tenure. Koranda came to Norman from the Olathe Convention and Visitors Bureau in Olathe, Kan. The board is conducting a nationwide search for his replacement.
Brickman is a Norman resident and University of Oklahoma graduate with a degree in journalism and a major in public relations. She worked in the media market for more than 15 years, including time at the Oklahoma Gazette, The Norman Transcript and OETA. She came on board as NCVB communications manager in September 2011.
“We’re really excited going into the fall with a lot of our initiatives including FanFest and other Sooner sports opportunities,” Brickman said. “We’ll make our FanFest debut Aug. 31 at the first home game alongside the ‘Duck Dynasty’ crew.”
Looking beyond that, Brickman said the staff will continue its work of bringing groups and travelers to Norman.
Susan Bash and Michelle Hohlier reported that nine leads were sent in July. Of those, four were booked, two are pending and three were lost because local hotels do not have enough space.
Some of those space concerns will be addressed when the Holiday Inn Express opens. The new hotel is under construction next to Embassy Suites. NCVB staff has done a direct mail postcard to get the word out that the Holiday Inn is coming to the University North Park and will expand available hotel rooms for events.
Bash and Hohlier reported that the estimated economic impact of the four booked events is $672,787 using industry standards via an estimated economic impact calculator.
Taylor Mauldin reported that the NCVB received 41 phone calls in July, most inquiring about the Toby Keith concert. There were 33 walk-in visitors. Mauldin attended the Ditch Witch Road Show in cooperation with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, where she distributed 400 Norman Visitors guides and other literature.