In May of 2016, we stated the availability of commercial air service in Stillwater would be a game changer for local visitor development efforts. In fact, we have now expanded from two daily round trip flights a day to three daily round trip flights on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. In addition to expanding the primary targeted geographic market for group meetings and leisure visitors from a 300-mile radius of Stillwater to virtually anywhere in the world, we have further benefited from the ability to connect directly with visitors while in the sky.
We met David and Reid Duncan while traveling back to Stillwater on American Airlines. Reid, and his dad David, sat across the aisle and were coming to Stillwater from Concord, North Carolina for a site visit of the Oklahoma State University campus. While David was excited for Reid, he wasn’t quite sure he was ready to see his oldest son move almost 1,200 miles away to attend college. David and Reid later stopped by the Visit Stillwater office, met the whole team, and now they both make regular stops to chat with the Visit Stillwater team. Reid for the occasional meal, conversations, and advice. David stops by when in town and we have now met Reid’s grandparents and his two younger brothers.
A few months ago, a couple sat across the aisle and we couldn’t help but notice they were looking through a copy of the Stillwater Visitor Guide. When one said there must not be any golf in the area we couldn’t help but interject, “Check out page 27!” They then noticed the logo on our jacket which started a long conversation in regard to the activities and local events over the upcoming week. They actually had the letter they received with a personal note written by a Visit Stillwater team member wishing them a safe trip to our community.
Very recently, we flew back into Stillwater Regional Airport and, as always, walked out of the airport and asked those standing outside if they needed a ride back to their dorm, house, or hotel. After taking us up on our offer, we learned our passenger was the Executive Director of Up with People as we drove him to his hotel accommodations. Imagine his surprise when we named off all three of his advance team members we had been working with for months to market and promote their upcoming performances.
Our offer of a ride typically creates a few interesting looks and conversations. However, Visit Stillwater team members travel wearing a Visit Stillwater logo and have provided transportation when coming home after virtually every flight back into town. Small gestures of Stillwater hospitality have created long-lasting relationships with repeat visitors as well as powerful positive word-of-mouth recommendations by others to visit our community.
It is indeed a small world and one never knows when and where one can promote a visit, or return visit, to our community. Economic development in all forms starts with a visit. We can all very effectively contribute to economic development efforts by ensuring those living or working outside of our community are made aware of the assets available within America’s Friendliest College Town!
To learn more about competitive pricing, shorter lines, free parking, and easier access to Stillwater through American Airlines’ largest hub, go toFlyStillwaterOK.com.