Oklahoma City is a highly accessible, affordable destination with new restaurants, hotels and a surprising array of special event venues. There are 22 direct inbound flights from 19 cities, which is perfect for national groups seeking a central location. We spoke with Robin O’Conner, director of sales/services for Oklahoma City CVB to learn more.
Prevue: Can you tell us about Oklahoma City and the value proposition for meeting planners?
Robin O’Conner: Business is good for us. We are growing and finding a lot of interest in our city. With all the new hotels, restaurants and attractions, we are an easy destination to get to. No matter if people are driving or flying, we are very accessible. On both coasts there are 22 flights from 19 cities.
So, the price point is attractive?
Yes. Once groups get here they will discover how affordable it is. It’s because of where we are. It’s not expensive to get here and the hotel rates are within the range that they should be. Because we have decent occupancy, people are a little surprised that they can’t get a room for only $75, but it depends on the time of year.
What are some of the new hotel properties and meeting venues in the city?
The Colcord hotel is a historic hotel that is located walking distance from the convention center. It has been remodeled very recently. There are other new hotels coming on board like the new A-Loft Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn.
The hotels will be in Bricktown, the main entertainment area in Oklahoma City. The brand-new Devon Energy Center just opened a new restaurant/meeting/event space. It’s connected to the Colcord hotel, which makes it convenient for planners since they can use both spaces on the same property.
Vast is the new restaurant in the area, it has amazing views since it’s on the 50th floor. There’s a new convention center coming in 2018. It’s going to be 200,000 sf of exhibit space.
What exactly is the Boathouse District?
The Boathouse District is really one-of-a-kind. It’s an Olympic training facility for rowing, canoeing and kayaking. It’s comprised of two boathouses and the Finish Line Tower. The boathouses hold recreational equipment that groups can rent out. Athletes and groups use the boathouses for competition training and for recreation.
Devon Energy’s boathouse is a training facility for the Olympians. The venue has a weight room and a tank-chamber for rowing. The finish line tower is a state-of-the-art building located at the finish line of the race course. There’s 50-floors and event space that overlooks the river and downtown skyline. They are currently adding more boathouses as we speak. There a new zipline adventure being added as well.
What sort of activities are groups doing for teambuilding?
Groups typically race dragon boats, competitions and recreational rowing. There boats hold up to 12 people and it’s a great teambuilding activity because everyone has to row in unison. It’s very fun and a year-round activity.
Tell us about the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum.
Groups use the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum for events when they need an off-site space. We also provide passes/discounts to groups so they can explore the museum during off-time. The museum is known all over the world, it’s a huge attraction. They can take a free trolley or walk there from the convention center.
What’s the takeaway when visiting the museum?
The community. The people that are from here show what Oklahoma City is made of. When the OC Thunder basketball team is newly recruited, they take the team to the museum first, so they can learn about the city and what it’s really all about.
What is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum?
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is a state-of-the-art museum that is located within 15 minutes of downtown. They have several exhibits, some change throughout the year. They show cowboy/native American history films and live entertainment.
Prosperity Junction is one of the main attractions at the museum. It’s an old western town with a one-room school house, church and other places that put groups in an old-west environment. There’s fabulous event space inside the facility with the most beautiful ballroom in the region. The murals are breathtaking and a lot of people go because of the world-class artwork. It’ not just for western lovers, it’s one of those things you have to see. Once you do you’ll fall in love with it. The docents are very helpful and entertaining, it’s great for galas.
What about high-end restaurants and hotels?
The Hilton Skirvin is a beautiful hotel for convention attendees, along with the Colcord. Both are very high-end.
Some of the best restaurants include: Red Prime, Mickey Mantles and Kevin Durant’s new restaurant among many others.
What do groups like about Bricktown?
There’s a canal with a water taxi that goes right along all the restaurants and bars. It’s all very close and convenient. There are so many aspects to the city, sports venues, pub crawls, movie theaters, shopping and dinearounds.
Are there any myths about OK City?
The myth is that there is nothing to do here. Groups always walk away shocked and pleasantly surprised about the entertainment in the city. There’s a lot of construction for new things coming.
How far from the airport?
The Will Rogers World Airport is 8-miles away from the Cox Convention Center. Everything is all in one place. It’s walking distance from the airport and the Colcord Hotel and most other attractions are 15-minutes driving distance.