The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

September 24, 2013

Consultant: Enid needs leisure attraction

ENID, Okla. — A tourism consultant told Visit Enid Advisory Board one thing the city lacks is a major leisure attraction that will draw visitors from the major metros in the region.

Berkeley Young also said the city must target travelers in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

In a special meeting of the board Tuesday, Young — who has advised the city on previous travel and tourism issues — said there already are a lot of good shopping and dining options, but nothing that stands out enough to have people drive several hours for a visit.

“You’ve got a lot of good restaurants, but I don’t know if you’re ready for a feature on the Food Network,” he said.

So far, though, he thinks the city is on the right track.

To push the city past where it now is, Young said, city officials and civic leaders should focus on improving the city’s “gateways,” basically what visitors see as they come into Enid along U.S. 81 and U.S. 412.

“You’ve got your big pieces in place now. You’re working on your gateways. You definitely need to focus on arteries,” he said. “It’s like good teeth and bad teeth. You’ve got a few good teeth and in the middle of every block there’s something that’s just hideous and it kills it.”

Another bad visual he cited are vacant shops.

“Research shows that people don’t walk past a vacant building. So if you have a vacant lot in a street, when you come to an empty storefront you kind of feel like it’s all over,” he said.

Young believes the city also needs to work on improving front-line encounters visitors have. That would include an effort by retail store owners to improve customer service skills of their employees. Hospitality, he added, is like a train.

“If the first car jumps the track it pulls the whole train with it. If your first impression is not right, then everything else is off,” he said.

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