OTTUMWA — It takes two southeast Iowa communities to yank the opportunity to host the Iowa Tourism Conference from Des Moines.
Ottumwa Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Mark Eckman was stunned by how quickly the Iowa Tourism Office came to the decision that Ottumwa should host the 2015 Iowa Tourism Conference, after a team of officials visited town only a week ago.
"They liked our enthusiasm, first and foremost, and they liked our interest level, as well as the creativity that we brought to our particular bid," Eckman said.
Conference attendees won't only experience Ottumwa; Fairfield has also been incorporated into the mix. While attendees will stay overnight in Ottumwa, and the conference will take place at Bridge View Center, they'll be able to venture to Fairfield restaurants for the "dine-around" function and entertainment afterward at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
"It seemed to be a great fit to partner with Ottumwa and really give both communities an opportunity to shine and welcome such a large conference," said Rustin Lippincott, executive director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. "Fairfield would never be able to host the tourism conference based solely on the fact that we don't have enough hotel rooms and meeting and conference space. But we have that eclectic dining scene, and we know how to do the entertainment part."
Ottumwa and Fairfield were up against the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines for this opportunity and used the combination of different amenities in both communities to make their bid "look decidedly different from the Des Moines bid," Eckman said.
"The Iowa Events Center is not something you want to draw as a competitor," he said. "It's new, shiny and very appealing, but then we have some great things we can counter with."