ENID, Okla. — Drawing people to Enid to spend their time and money always has been a focus for Visit Enid.
But, another focus that has become more prominent is promoting Enid to members of the local community, said Rob Houston, director of Visit Enid.
“Visit Enid is promoting ‘quality of life’ — something tourism has always promoted,” Houston said. “If you pick a city or a community to live in, you’re going to look at the schools and at, ‘What can I do when I’m off the clock?’ What is that? It’s ‘quality of life.’ We’re selling to those outside of Enid, but — our locals — they’re the ones that we really should be marketing to so that they know what’s going on.”
Getting the word out
Established in 2010, Visit Enid is responsible for promoting Enid as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work.
The destination marketing organization, which is funded by the city of Enid through money generated by hotel and motel taxes, strengthens the city’s economic position and enhances quality-of-life opportunities to benefit local residents, as well.
Our Story 2023 ~ 130 years of Pioneer Pride is a special section that will publish in the Enid News & Eagle for eight Sundays in January, …
Houston, who served as communications coordinator until May 2021, when he became the director after Marcy Jarrett accepted another job position, said there are several ways Visit Enid promotes the city to community members and to out-of-towners.
Located in Red Carpet Country, one of Oklahoma’s six tourism districts, Visit Enid is featured in advertisements throughout Oklahoma, such as in Discover Oklahoma and Oklahoma Outdoor Guide.
Newsletters are emailed to recipients every Monday, and Houston participates in a local radio show on both KOFM and KGWA every week.
Visit Enid also works hand-in-hand with the city of Enid’s Communications Department. Videos promoting Enid are uploaded weekly to Visit Enid’s social media, and the newly revamped website even features a video created by the same team on its homepage that “captures Enid.”
The new website also features a gallery of photos uploaded by individuals, helping promote Enid through their own eyes.
Enid: ‘travel destination’
When people ask, “Why should I care about tourism?” Houston replies, “It brings in money into the community.”
Bringing people to Enid, which Houston said is more of a “travel destination” than a “tourism destination,” brings sales tax dollars.
“Let’s get people to come to our community and get them in front of our cash registers, get them in our stores, get them in our restaurants and get them to spend nights in our hotels,” he said. “They’re paying sales tax just like we are, so those outside dollars come into the community because of Enid’s public art, attractions and all of the fabulous events throughout the year.”
Conferences, meetings and sporting events are things that bring visitors to Enid.
American Kitefliers Association’s annual convention, held in Enid in 2012 and 2015, will return Oct. 9-14, 2023, one of many events that bring people to the city, with Houston saying about 150 people are expected.
Many who stay in Enid’s hotels do so for work, he said.
“What we try to do is provide (those hotels) with the information of, ‘Here’s what’s going on this weekend. Here’s what’s going on tonight,’” Houston said.
Visit Enid created a weekly newsletter to get that information into the hands of hoteliers so they could provide that information for guests.
Public art can attract people to Enid, which Houston said is recognized in Oklahoma as a “top arts community.” It is important to locals, too.
“We’re promoting public art — residents also like public art,” Houston said.
Keeping locals in the loop
Houston’s goals for 2023 at Visit Enid — which has a three-person team consisting of Houston, sales manager Jenna Spencer and service manager Meghan Haun — is to get the word out to local community members about what Visit Enid does.
“We’re the office that is promoting Enid outside the community, but we also want those things for ourselves — ‘I’m a resident. I want to know what’s going on with everything in the community,’” Houston said.
Visit Enid, 201 W. Garriott, is trying to do more within the community as far as speaking engagements for promotion.
One way Visit Enid promoted itself to residents last year was by sponsoring Main Street Enid’s downtown, outdoor, ice skating rink, Holidays on Ice, and the newly revamped website has more features to show what events are happening, along with the “when and where.”
“We’re here for you,” Houston said.
Locals, Houston said, can become a huge resource to promote Enid by spreading information themselves.
Another goal of Houston’s is for Visit Enid to have “travel ambassadors” — those who live in Enid or visit frequently who have a social media presence to promote Enid and be promoted by Visit Enid.
In the meantime, a newly revamped website features photos from people who have tagged Visit Enid, showing Enid through their eyes.
That user-generated content can entice out-of-towners, too.
“Travelers want authenticity,” Houston said. “And here’s a quote from somebody else: ‘If we succeed, travelers will encounter more well-informed locals as part of their visit, improving their experiences, and the community will get a broader, more resilient workforce.”