Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oklahoma Today: The Rock & Roll Issue

Oklahoma Today, the official magazine of Oklahoma since 1956, is now the official magazine of those about to rock, releasing a Special Collector’s Edition for May/June to coincide with the Oklahoma History Center’s Another Hot Oklahoma Night exhibit.

The Rock-and-Roll Issue acts as both history lesson and a how-to manual, guiding readers to explore Oklahoma’s rich music scene. The comprehensive feature “State of Rock,” written by Oklahoma Today associate editor Jake Adamson, covers the biggest Oklahoma names to top the charts in the last fifty years. Readers also can learn the history of an Oklahoma original genre, red dirt, in “Songs in the Key of Home.” In addition, the magazine pays homage to the state’s audiences in the portfolio “Fanatic” and helps build better fans with “50 Rock,” a discography of the fifty essential rock and roll albums from Charlie Christian to Kings of Leon.

“This special issue of Oklahoma Today captures the spirit of creativity and cultural vitality of our great state,” says Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma History Center, where Another Hot Oklahoma Night opens on May 2. “As readers will discover, rock and roll is not just music. It is a reflection of the last fifty years of our history. I think many people will be both surprised and inspired by this historic issue of a historic magazine.”

Elsewhere in the issue, rockers and fans alike can read a Q&A with Wanda Jackson, a profile of Leon Russell, and a history of Tulsa’s legendary Cain’s Ballroom. The Flaming Lips are ever-present, from a story on how “Do You Realize??” became the Oklahoma State Rock Song to an essay penned by front man Wayne Coyne and an original poem by Steven Drozd, who is considered the “musical brains” of the Lips.

Guides to the state’s best independent record stores, music festivals, venues, radio programs, and rockin’ eateries help music fans find their way around, while Expert Advice from promoters gives aspiring rock stars a foothold in the scene and Marketplace items from Ida Red, a Rock n’ Roll Boutique, shows rockers how to look—and sound—the part.

“Bold, meaty, reverent, headbanging,” says Louisa McCune-Elmore, editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Today. “This is how I would describe what is surely our staff’s favorite issue of the magazine in at least a few years. The Rock-and-Roll issue is a once-in-a-lifetime offering from the state magazine, and we know music lovers of all ages will go crazy for every single page. This may be our most collectible issue yet.”

As the official magazine of “Another Hot Oklahoma Night,” this issue would not be complete without an article whetting readers’ appetites for the exhibit. The Oklahoma History Center has put together a masterful collection of rock memorabilia and fascinating interactive displays to immerse visitors in Oklahoma’s rock-and-roll experience.

As always, Oklahoma Today, a division of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, offers readers top-notch writing and photography from cover to cover. This issue is sure to be an essential item in any Oklahoma rock fan’s collection. The Rock-and-Roll issue of Oklahoma Today is currently available at Steve’s Sundries in Tulsa, Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City, Best of Books in Edmond, and Borders Books and Music, Homeland, Hastings, Waldenbooks, plus many other stores across the state. Single issues and subscriptions can be purchased via phone by calling (800) 777-1793 or online at The magazine hits newsstands across the region on May 4.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This Week on Discover Oklahoma

We hope you'll take time to catch Discover Oklahoma this weekend. They have a great line up of people and places that you won't want to miss!

Brookside District in Tulsa
Contact: 918-260-7680
Come join in the fun at Brookside! This District's eclectic mix of upscale chic to seriously bohemian has something for everyone. So if you've grown weary of the run of the mill choices offered at department stores and hum-drum chain restaurants, escape to Brookside. You'll be glad you did.

Cafe Ole in Tulsa
Contact: Paula Underwood and Candy Dunn, owners 918-745-6699
This restaurant serves a menu of fresh home-cooked Santa Fe style cuisine that is handmade daily. In business for 22 years, this Brookside District establishment knows what it takes to keep their customers coming back for more... great food, good service and a wonderful ambiance. Mon-Thurs, 11a-9p
Fri, 11a-10p
Sat, 9a-10p
Sun, 9a-9p
3509 S. Peoria Ave., Suite 100, Tulsa, OK 74105

Civic Center Music Hall and The Lion King in Oklahoma City
Contact: 405-297-2584
Our beautiful Civic Center Music Hall has gone through many transitions since its inception as a WPA project in 1936. The outside of the building exemplifies the austere architecture of those government funded projects, while the interior is a work of modern design and technology. Dino Lalli takes you on a fascinating tour of this Oklahoma treasure as they prepare to present "The Lion King" on their stage.
201 N. Walker, Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Festival of the Child in Yukon
Contact: Jason Beal 354-8442
This is a whole day set aside to celebrate children. There are 50 different areas for children to explore, which include an obstacle course, crafts, storytelling, animals to pet and animals to ride, face painting, puppets, kayaking, archery, magic shows and just about any other activity you could dream of. So grab the kids and head out to Yukon.
Sat, May 2nd, 10a-4p
Yukon City Park
2200 S. Holly, Yukon, OK
Call for ticket information

Miss Blues performing in Oklahoma City
Contact: 405-535-7300
Lots of people who never really had the blues, sing the blues... and a lot of them make a pretty good living at it. But if you really want to sing the blues with passion... you have to have lived them... and Dorothy Ellis has really earned the title of Miss Blues.

Wheat Harvest in Frederick
Contact: Cassidy Grain Company 580-335-2104
Amber waves of grain--wheat grain, to be specific--rustle serenely in the rolling fields of Frederick. Farmers flock to this Oklahoma town every year to harvest one of our state's biggest crops, and pass the tradition on to the next generation.

Integris Health's Discover Oklahoma is shown Saturdays at 6:30 pm on KOTV-6 in Tulsa, KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City, and KSWO-7 in Lawton. Also check local listings for show times on these cable outlets: Cox Communications in OKC, Tulsa, Muskogee, and McAlester, CUTV in Lawton, KWEM-TV in Stillwater, Edmond Cable, Fort Sill in Lawton, WIRE-TV in Norman, KOMI-TV in Woodward, CMS in Ponca City.

Friday, April 10, 2009

March Travel Research Shows Good News

Like you, I get at least one e-mail a day making predictions or providing new stats on how the current economic conditions impact the travel industry. So now it's my turn to jump into the middle of the conversation. I hope this post provides you with "news you can use" as you navigate through this new terrain.

Our department is committed to providing you with relevant data and trends regarding the strength and health of tourism in Oklahoma. To that end, we are conducting quarterly "Consumer Travel Pulse" research which surveys 500 primary or joint vacation decision makers in our in-state and out-of-state market areas. This online study measures intent to travel, reasons for traveling or not traveling, destination choice and other key indicators to help us all make informed tourism marketing decisions.

In March, we completed our first survey round and the news was positive. The bottom line: Our regional market offers potential for the summer travel season - 40% surveyed said they would consider a trip to Oklahoma this year and 11% said they have already traveled in the state or are still planning to this year.

Below are some highlights from the March survey. Click here to view the entire report on The survey will be reapeated in June and early September.
  • Half of those surveyed are planning a vacation or get-away in 2009.

  • 21% haven’t decided if they are taking a trip. This group shows potential as they could still be persuaded to come to Oklahoma in 2009.

  • 12% already took a trip in 2009.

  • 7% don’t plan to take a trip in 2009.
    Economy (47%) is the biggest reason cited for not taking a trip this year.,

  • Of those who said “no or haven’t decided yet,” 53% say there’s a chance they may still take a trip.

  • Of those who said they were planning to take a trip in 2009, 11% said they went or plan to go to Oklahoma (TX 24%, MO 23%, FL 17%, AR 15%, Don’t Know 15%)

  • 42% of all surveyed said they had vacationed or taken a get-away in Oklahoma before.

  • About 40% of all surveyed said they would consider a vacation or get-away in Oklahoma.

In a time when many are saying "flat is the new up," our March 2009 visitation numbers for the Oklahoma Tourism Information Centers and inquiries for travel information are tracking above last year's numbers. For spring break, visitation at the TICs was up 11.79% over last year. Overall, total March visitation at the centers was up 50% over February.

We have also created a monthly "Monthly Snapshot of Economic Indicators" report to track statistics important to our industry, such as the sales and use tax collections which fund our advertising efforts, hotel occupancy, leisure and hospitality employment and airport traffic. We will be posting this report on the industry section of every month.

As for inquires into our call center, phone volume is up about 30% over last March and brochure orders are up about 22%. Unique visitors to increased 37% in March 09 over February 09, with 85,707 people coming to our site in March. (Year to date comparison is not available because of the new analytics now in place.) Our Oklahoma tourism commercials hit the air on March 23, so we will definitely be monitoring these trends closely to see how we move the needle. All of our advertising this year will carry the "value" message which we know will resonate with consumers who are looking for ways to stretch their travel dollars. I'll keep you posted on the results.

We would love to hear from you to learn what special programs and promotions you have planned for this travel season, or to find out how your numbers are tracking so far. If you would like more information on the Consumer Travel Pulse or other programs, please e-mail me.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Upcoming OTIA Events

The Oklahoma Travel Industry Association is organizing several events and educational opportunities in the coming weeks. Please see below for all the details.

TulsaFest 2009 will be held Monday, April 20, 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and will feature speaker Lane Cardwell presenting two seminars, "15 Things that I have Learned So Far" and "What the Big Chains are Doing in 2009 and What You Should Do Differently.” We’ll also hear a lunch Keynote from Scott Shaw, CEO and Founder of Fishbowl, Inc., and the Taste of TulsaFest will be full of wining, dining, dancing and karaoke, and rockin' with live music from MidLife Crisis at the Cain's Ballroom. Join us for a "Pumped Up" evening!

National Tourism Week Educational Conference to be held Thursday, May 7, 2009 at the Oklahoma City Zoo Education Center. Dr. L. Lee Manzer, Marketing professor at Oklahoma State University, will share his "The Game is Played Away From the Ball" lessons, which will focus on satisfying and retaining “old” customers through enhanced relationships. Also enjoy a networking luncheon as OTRD Director Hardy Watkins gives an overview of tourism trends and a "state of the industry" report. Register today!

National Travel and Tourism Week will be celebrated May 9th - 17th. During these challenging times, it is particularly important that you join industry colleagues around the country in this annual salute to the power of travel to help amplify our voice for why travel matters. Click here for a toolkit of resources to help you plan local events and activities, including details on U.S. Travel Rally Day and special promotional opportunities offered by and AOL® Travel in conjunction with National Travel and Tourism Week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Oklahoma Travel Publications: Opportunities & Challenges

Between the Oklahoma Travel Guide, Events Guide and many specialty brochures, our department is constantly working on one or more print pieces at a time. In addition to the day-to-day publication management, we keep our finger on the pulse of print trends, evaluate guides from all 50 states, and continually look for ways to improve our travel publications.

For those of you who produce your own print brochures or guides, you know how challenging it can be to develop fresh and creative copy year after year, while also being as comprehensive as possible without losing the readers' interest.

Recent white papers and travel blogs have discussed the increasing importance of online travel planning tools and how they are changing the landscape for printed guides. One trend is to use a print guide as a lure piece and direct customers online for more specific information. While we still recognize the need for community listings and attraction information in our travel guide, we understand the changes on the horizon and are evaluating strategies for the best way to adapt in the years to come.

One important tool we rely on is research. We've commissioned a regional survey to take an in-depth look at our state travel and events guides. It asks travelers and potential travelers about how they use travel publications, what information they are seeking, and how they want to receive that information. The results won't be in for a few more weeks, but we are excited to see the feedback and incorporate it into our 2010 publication strategy.

In the meantime, we're conducting business as usual in terms of gathering community, lodging and attraction updates for the Travel Guide and events for the 2010 Events Guide. The official deadline for updates was April 1, but we realize the challenge of gathering the information (especially for setting 2010 event dates), and we'll continue to accept your updated information beyond this deadline. That said, the sooner you submit your information the better your chances of either being included in the guides or having corrected information printed.

In case you've missed our multiple mailings and e-mails about this topic, the forms can be downloaded here. Just a reminder, listings are free so there's no reason not to participate!

We're also offering some new advertising options in our publications this year. All of the details on that can be found here. You may notice that for the first time you can advertise on and in a Destination Dining & Accommodations Guide. This guide is something new that we have not produced before. Several other states produce an accommodations guide separate from their travel guides and we are testing this idea in our publication research. If the results show that it does not make sense to produce a separate piece and keep the information in the main travel guide, we will contact the advertisers and make appropriate changes to their order.

The same goes for the Oklahoma Events Guide. We are one of a few states that still print a calendar of events. It is not only a costly endeavor but a challenging one, since many events change their date or location after printing and can only be updated on We see the value of having a printed Events Guide, but will look to the research results to see how or if we need to adapt to meet current customer demand.

I realize these changes can be scary and exciting all at once. Our department wants to be very candid and transparent about our decision making. It is likely that this information will seem alarming to some and welcomed by others. It is my intention to keep you informed about the tough decisions we are facing -- both fiscally and for consumer demand.

Once our publication research is complete we will share more details on how and if our travel publications will be impacted. We very much appreciate your understanding and patience during this transition. The end result will always be to streamline our guides so that they lure visitors to your area and our state.

Warmest regards,
Lindsay Vidrine
Director of Public Relations, Travel & Tourism Division