Kim Phillips: On Denton’s horizon

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DRC Denton Original

A convention center suitable to a city with the population and scope of Denton has been an initiative for the CVB, the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Denton for nearly a decade.

This past December 10 the Denton City Council, the University of North Texas and a private developer, O’Reilly Hospitality, formally approved an agreement, a partnership, to build an approximately 100,000-square-foot convention center with a full-service hotel attached. This facility is a game-changer for Denton, one that will absolutely advance Denton tourism with remarkable impact.

The Denton Convention Center (DCC) will be built on UNT land next to the Apogee Stadium. For Dentonites familiar with this location, the Radisson Hotel once stood there. The center, along with a multi-story Embassy Suites by Hilton full-service hotel, will overlook Apogee, its topography and design complementary to that which is already there. Outdoor space and verandas will offer guests coveted views of the stadium and beautiful vistas of Denton.

The Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau will play a major role in the convention center piece of this new amenity. Already, CVB staff are actively involved in shaping the floor plans for the convention space, offering advice on everything from ballrooms to break-out rooms. A prime role of the CVB sales team will be utilizing the convention center as a tool to attract meeting planners and conventioneers to hold their events in Denton, the most exciting, up-and-coming Texas destination.

The CVB’s emphasis is always to tout the entire city. The size of the convention center will allow CVB sales to focus on meeting and event populations up to 750 and large banquet and seminar events of more than 2,000 — unheard of in Denton until now. Conventions of this size will impact many more than the one convention hotel, making guest room overflow and overall economic impact a citywide benefit. This project will open the door to convention business currently directed to other cities because of lack of adequate space in Denton.

As magnificent as the DCC will be, it is still just a building. What attracts delegates to converge in a specific building is its location. Denton is and always will be the draw. Our foothold in the tourism marketplace where Denton is perceived as cool, different, funky and fun is what conventioneers will choose. The awesome building, though vital, will be secondary. This is why furthering our brand and delivering it upon arrival will remain the secret of Denton’s success.

Along that line of reasoning and on the near horizon is an experiential visitor center for Denton. This vision was born from the Leadership Denton class of 2012. For their class project, these future leaders elected to benchmark Denton against cities of similar size and proximity to major metropolitan areas specifically relative to their visitor interaction points. Their final presentation was an impressive business plan for a Denton CVB official visitor center and Denton store in the downtown district.

The CVB team seized the project with enthusiasm. An effect of being an original independent destination often lost on Dentonites is the fact that visitors seeking the Denton experience are not always astute at finding it. Our brand promises this cool, customizable vibe. So how do they get into it? A truly experiential visitor center is the perfect solution.

Since the class presentation, CVB staff has been on a quest to find a location in the downtown area that allows space and visibility to accomplish this mission. The vision set forth in the business plan encompasses much more than brochure racks on a wall.

The class envisioned a Denton store selling found-nowhere-else Denton-centric souvenir items, local artists’ wares and tickets to local events as revenue to fund the project. The concept involves fun and engaging visitor experiences that introduce guests to the Denton vibe leaving them hungry for more. Additionally, the center will engage Dentonites, injecting knowledge and pride about Denton, thereby enhancing local engagement while developing ambassadors for Denton at every level in the community.

These are two grand initiatives for the CVB as we look to the future. Already, the world is naming us the Texas destination to watch. Denton has an original independent sense of place that our brand promises and our city delivers. The CVB’s goal is to provide the best possible access to and management of the Denton experience for every guest. The convention center and visitor center projects are the optimum vehicles for growing tourism in Denton and plugging all visitors into their own Denton adventure.

KIM PHILLIPS is vice president of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Denton Chamber of Commerce. She loves promoting Denton’s original, independent spirit through the city’s sense of place and cast of many characters. She can be reached at kim@discoverdenton.com.


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