Woodward, Okla. —
The Woodward Conference Center continues to be busy.
"Our goal this year is to have 240 events, right now we're sitting at 219 events for the year," said Jim Curtiss, director of the Woodward Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).
Curtiss gave this update on the conference center schedule during the monthly CVB board meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Curtiss then told the CVB board that he is confident that his staff will be able to book at least another 21 events and even more.
"I think we'll hit about 300 events this year," he said, adding "that's about the maximum for this staff."
And if the conference center looks to continue to grow in the number of events it holds each year, Curtiss said his staff will have to grow as well.
In fact, he said he has already had to hire temporary staff to help deal with the current event schedule. He said he has used Express Personnel to hire both an assistant to help with banquet services and an additional event coordinator to "help pick up the gap" so that his full time staff aren't so overworked.
But the busy schedule has not only meant bringing in extra help, it has also made the CVB staff learn new ways to organize and juggle multiple simultaneous events.
For example, Curtiss said the with 4 events going on Thursday, his staff set up fencing to help direct people into the proper meeting rooms, so that attendees for one event weren't accidentally interrupting a different event while trying to find their way around the conference center.
"We're getting smarter about how we do things," he said.
A busy conference center also means increased revenue, with Curtiss noting that he anticipates the conference center will generate around $140,000 in revenue this year from all the various event fees.
The conference center isn't the only venue that the CVB staff is working to keep busy and booked. Curtiss said his staff continues to try and sell all of Woodward.
For example, he said currently the staff is working to bring in more baseball tournaments to the area, including some contests for younger players.
And with the current renovations that are being made to the softball fields at Crystal Beach Park, he said that softball tournaments are another target area. Especially as "in other cities, these softball tournaments are bringing in thousands, not hundreds, but thousands of people."
To help bolster these sports recruitment efforts, Curtiss said one of his event coordinators, Jennifer Newton, will soon be attending a sports conference where she will learn about how to attract a variety of sporting events from baseball and football to ping pong and video gaming.
However, one issue that the CVB is facing when trying to recruit some of these events, Curtiss said, is concern over the availability of hotel rooms.
"When trying to bring in these baseball tournaments with teams coming from Stillwater and places like that, the one question they have is 'can we get hotel rooms?'" the CVB executive director said.
However, with a new hotel expected to be open this coming fall, Curtiss said that should help with some of the room availability issues.
It will also help increase the CVB's income as the new hotel "will increase our revenues to roughly $1.1 million" from the hotel/motel tax collections, he said.
"This will bring us to the point where we have money to grow and do the things we want," Curtiss said of the anticipated additional tax revenue.
For example, with more and more events being scheduled, he said the conference center needs more equipment including more tables and chairs.
There is also equipment such as lighting systems and additional spotlights that would be nice to have to help make creating the perfect mood lighting for different events easier, he said.
Currently obtaining this new equipment is a matter of "managing your resources and money," Curtiss said. "I would like to say 'let's put it all in place at once,' but we have to do a little bit at a time as we can."