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April 20, 2014

Selling Norman is love at first sight

NORMAN — Meeting planners who make a site visit to Norman tend to fall in love, convention and hospitality experts said this week. The staff of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau are commissioned with the job of promoting tourism and selling the city to conference, convention and sports tournament planners.

Getting those planners to town is half the battle, Michelle Hohlier told board members in her sales report this month. Coming soon to Norman is the Granny Basketball League. Other groups being courted include youth and high school sports teams and several professional associations.

“Norman has so much to offer, we blow away their expectations,” NCVB Executive Director Dan Schemm said.

Since taking the helm, Schemm has altered which trade shows his staff attends, aiming at those most likely to bring the highest number of leads based on the room nights, convention space and amenities Norman can bring to the table.

“We’re never going to get the big national shows,” he said. “That’s not who Norman is and it’s not who we want to be.”

The completion of the Holiday Inn currently under construction adjacent to Embassy Suites Norman will increase the convention portfolio of rooms. Leadership at Embassy said that area in the University North Park is becoming a nice campus for events.

Taylor Mauldin recently serviced several events, including the National Toothpick Holder Convention, the Iranian studies Conference, The OU Graduate School of Communications Conference and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Schemm also is hoping Norman residents who belong to professional organizations and leisure or hobby groups will give those leads to his staff. It never hurts to have a local who’s involved when trying to recruit a conference to the area, he said.

The NCVB will say goodbye to Susan Bash, who has taken a job as the general manager of Sooner Suites.

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