Woodward, Okla. — By Gary Goetzinger
I have purposely not written an article to you for several months. I was waiting for that spark that initiates motivation, inspiration and gets your attention.
Well the time has come. Over the past many months I have been listening to people. In particular, people talking about the new Conference Center. I wanted to hear both the good and bad comments. I wanted to hear the pros and cons. I wanted to hear of success and failure…all regarding the new Conference Center.
In these past several months this is what has been said…and I will address each comment individually. First, “We don’t need a Conference Center in Woodward.” Remember, I said as a headline, AN IDEA READY FOR ITS TIME. When the Conference Center opened we told the Woodward CVB that if they could book 18 to 25 new conferences in the first year (March 2012 to December 2012), it would be considered a success. Since the March opening a total of 101 events have been booked through the end of December 2012. An idea ready for its time shows itself by being successful in the numbers. If we do not need a Conference Center, somebody forgot to tell 101 different groups of people who booked the facility.
The second words I heard were, “it is too expensive to book at the Conference Center for people from Woodward.” My first thought was, “this is not the Josie Adams or Pioneer Hall.” This facility has drop down projection screens, segmented sound system, programmable lighting, a beautiful kitchen, break out rooms and a banquet hall that can be divided into 1/3rd sections. It has radio communication between staff members, wireless internet, and offers complete place settings including stem glassware. In comparison to halls of similar size it is reasonably priced, well maintained, professionally staffed, and capable of producing such shows as the Tri-State Oil and Gas Show, Rotary Wine and Cheese Event, The Premiere of the movie “Dust Bowl, Weddings, safety meetings, seminars, rodeo banquets, proms, dances, and so on. So I ask the question, “too expensive in comparison to what?” This is a $7 million Conference Center, it is generating between $10,000 and $11,000 a month, and it’s just getting started. The fact that it is generating at this level means it is an IDEA READY FOR ITS TIME.
Let me clarify one point. This facility is not designed for all events. Some events will not be able to afford the conference center. Some events will not be able to use the space at the conference center. There are other facilities in Woodward that can handle these groups.
Third, I hear that some think there are only small groups using the Conference Center. We did a study of attendees from March thru August. Here is what we found. There were 48 events booked between March opening and the end of August. These events produced billings of $52,767 over 5 months or $10,553 in revenue per month. The 48 events were divided by market as follows; 21% were government based organizations. 23% were corporate based. 18% were associations from around the state. 25% were community and social based organizations. 13% were weddings, birthdays and similar events. The average size of a group coming to the Conference Center is 226 people. This includes safety meetings of 15 to 20 people and tradeshows of 600 people. The Conference Center does very well handling all of these groups. There is no other similar facility that can handle 500 to 600 people in Woodward. Again, I would like to say that these different markets using the Conference Center show that the Center is an IDEA READY FOR ITS TIME.
The fourth comment regarding the Conference Center, “It doesn’t make money.” Well, the figures so far show that it makes money, even though some would like us to reduce the charges. Actually, everyone who walks through the doors of the Conference Center is worth $6.01 on the average. The cost basis is $4.40. So if I said to you, “every time you give me $4.40, I will give you $6.01…how many times a day would you make that trade?” The Conference Center is making that trade with every meeting. It is an IDEA READY FOR ITS TIME.
The amazing part of this center is the comments we get from attendees. Here are a few; a) WOW!!!! b) This is perfect for Woodward, our group would not drive to OKC. c) We appreciate the quality of this venue for our event. d) This was the perfect site for our trade show. e) There is nothing that compares within a hundred miles of Woodward. f) We were blown away…we thought we were coming to Woodward…this is metropolitan in scale. g) We will be back next year. i) A wedding site like this would cost 4 times as much in OKC. j) Your staff is great, professional and very helpful. k) We couldn’t go to our prom…this (rodeo) prom is even better. The comments go on and on…the Conference Center is definitely an IDEA READY FOR ITS TIME.
Continue to let me know what think.
Gary Goetzinger is chairman of the Woodward Convention and Visitors Bureau