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May 14, 2014

Tourism industry is economic driver for city, state, nation

NORMAN — Oklahoma visitors generate about $1.1 billion to federal, state and local governments annually. Norman wants its share of those dollars, and the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau is charged with helping the city get them.

On Tuesday, the NCVB hosted its annual tourism luncheon at the National Weather Center.

NCVB Board Chair Suzanne McAuley passed the gavel to incoming chairman William Murray, and NCVB Executive Director Dan Schemm gave the keynote address.

Schemm came on board just three and a half months ago and has been working to bring even more vitality and life to the agency.

New strategies for promoting Norman in the coming year include working with local residents and business leaders to engage the community and find hometown heroes who are involved with civic, hobbyist or professional groups who might want to come to Norman.

One of the biggest changes will be how the NCVB targets trade shows. Schemm said staff will focus on appointment-based trades shows where Norman can find groups and organizations that fit with the community and the conference and hospitality availability within the city.

Large national groups will not come to Norman — the city doesn’t have enough hotel rooms and other large-scale facilities to serve those groups.

Instead, NCVB will target the SMERF market — social, military, education, religious and fraternal groups. Those groups would appreciate Norman’s smaller venue and family friendly atmosphere, he said.

Appointment-based trade shows are not just setting up a booth at a big show and hoping the right people stop by and learn about Norman. Instead, meeting planners and community tourism professionals can go online before the show and ask for meetings with each other.

“It’s kid of like speed dating,” Schemm said. “They can request appointments with us or we can request appointments with them.”

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