A workshop sponsored by VisitNorman brought Destination Business expert Jon Schallert to Norman, Oklahoma to help businesses owners and regional tourism leaders boost traffic from distant visitors and consumers.
Dan Schemm, Executive Director of VisitNorman, and Kelli Payne, General Manager of the Oklahoma National Stockyards Company, said Schallert’s workshop is already inspiring changes and accelerating excitement with long-established tourist attractions.
Schemm, who brought Schallert to Norman for a luncheon presentation during National Travel and Tourism Week in May, said he brought Schallert back for his full-day workshop to introduce businesses and communities to his message. Schallert’s 14-point Destination process, developed across more than three decades of interviewing thousands of independent business owners, provides economical ways to create broad attention by highlighting unique businesses and experiences available to visitors.
“Our organization is selling Norman as a community,” Schemm says. “With Jon’s expertise, we now look at it on a broader level. How do we turn our districts, how can we turn Norman as a community into a destination? I think we can take Jon’s principles and values and focus them on our commercial districts and our city as a whole.
“Everybody who attended Jon’s workshop thought it was outstanding. People left the workshop ready to start implementing his 14-step process right away and some might attend his Destination BootCamp class.”
Michael Jones, owner of Gasoline Alley Classics in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, attended Schallert’s workshop because he is preparing to open his first retail shop next month. His store will be filled with man-cave memorabilia located in a former 1917 Ford assembly plant located on historic Route 66.
“Jon knows his stuff,” Jones said. “He’s helped a lot of businesses. You can see what he’s done, and those businesses who followed his advice, I can see where it’s a game-changer. With these steps, you’re going to be a Destination Business.”
After leaving the workshop, Jones has already changed his displays, moved product to his front windows created target mailings, and created online videos that will make him the face of the business. He has placed a vintage photo of his historic building at the cash register so customers can take a last-minute selfie before leaving.
Jones is also planning for Route 66 Highway’s Centennial in 2026 by positioning his business as Route 66’s only dealer in upscale mancave décor such as restored parking meters, replica oil cans, and drive-in speakers that connect to stereo systems.
“I’ve never done this retail side,” he says. “I’ve only run a wholesale business and gone to car auctions and trade shows. By creating my business into a Destination, I’ve got something that will draw people to me.”
Payne, who recently completed a master redevelopment plan for the four-square-mile Stockyard City, said Schallert’s workshop will boost efforts to implement the plan.
“The value of Schallert’s workshop was certainly there,” she said. “The excitement was there. His common-sense approach to revitalization and development was very welcome. Our momentum is headed in the direction we want it to be and the information we learned compels us to keep heading in that direction.
“We are a destination, but how can we improve on that? What are other steps to get there incrementally that will bring forth positive results? With this information, we’re taking what’s working well and making it great.”