courthouse pic from mike

A long-awaited vision is about to become reality. The Discover Denton Welcome Center got the thumbs up at City Council this past Tuesday!

What will it be like? Where? When? Read on, my friend, and get ready to be excited.

First, a bit of background. In today’s world of customized technology, there is no collective go-to for information. Gone are the days where we all heard the same thing on our small selection of local television channels. We don’t all read the same newspaper. We don’t all listen to the same local radio station. Every one of us has hundreds of channels, access to every news source in the world, and personally designed music stations with no commercial interruptions. Plus, social media has evolved into the word-of-mouth vehicle among peer groups. Tapping into every individual’s unique information source with “my piece of news” has become a monumental task.

Along this line of reasoning, the Leadership Denton class of 2012 birthed the idea of a uniquely Dentonesque, experiential welcome center. For their project, these future leaders benchmarked Denton against cities of similar size and proximity to major metropolitan areas specifically relative to their visitor interaction points. Their research resulted in the development of an impressive business plan for a welcome/visitor center and Denton store in the downtown district.

The CVB team seized Leadership Denton’s project with enthusiasm. One effect of being an original independent destination is the fact that visitors seeking the Denton experience are not always astute at discovering it on their own. Our brand promises this cool, customizable vibe. So, how do people find it? A truly experiential welcome center is the perfect solution. For the past three years, CVB leadership has been on a quest to identify a location in the downtown area with adequate space and visibility to accomplish this mission.

Our plan encompasses much more than brochure racks on a wall. Imagine a seven-day-a-week-twelve-hour-a-day Denton store selling found-nowhere-else Denton-centric souvenir items, local artists’ wares and tickets to local events. Daily showcases featuring Denton talent and characters. And friendly, well-versed staff trained to guide guests into fun and complete Denton adventures shaped to their interests.

The welcome center applies just as importantly to the citizens of Denton. It is a sad reality that there are those among us who are missing the whole Denton most of us take for granted as part of our lifestyle here. Anecdotally, CVB staff has encountered more than a few students, new residents and even occasional life-long Dentonites who have never even visited the square or heard of our festivals and events that have practically become signatures of Denton culture. The welcome center will engage locals every bit as much as visitors, injecting knowledge and pride about Denton, thereby enhancing local engagement and developing ambassadors for Denton at every level in the community.

The Discover Denton Welcome Center will not be static. What I mean is that more than a mere introduction to the city will happen here. This will be a place where things are happening and the Denton experience will actually begin. DentonRadio.com will be a primary feature, right in front, its deejays, hosts and guests visible from outside on the sidewalk as well as inside through window walls. One day a local artist will drop by for an interview and play a live acoustic set on our stage. Perhaps another day, we will host a local writer’s book signing. And yet another day, a local artist will create right on-site and visit with guests while they work.

We envision an interactive video wall showcasing what’s going on in Denton and where. In fact, the video wall will play a role in a totally original CVB idea and creation, a new digital concierge initiative that allows welcome center staff to interact with hotel guests directly from Denton hotel lobbies. This will take our Denton Originals customer service program to heights beyond anything we ever before thought possible.

Now you know what it will be like.

The “where” we have been searching for is on the Hickory Street side of the square, next door to LSA in what was formerly the Courthouse Collections store. And when? Work will begin immediately, and we plan to be up and running this fall. How cool is that?!

The Denton experience is not to be missed. It is tragic that anyone can be in our city, walk away and say, “I just don’t get it.” With a physical go-to location, people will have a place where they can discover the Denton they are looking for, even expecting. The CVB will finally fill the information gap and be able to ensure delivery of the promise we promote in the marketplace: We are Denton. Original. Independent.

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