During Shawnee's City Commission meeting, Chairman Ken Stafford this week officially announced Danielle Rains' transition from Visit Shawnee Inc.'s (VSI) interim to president/CEO.

During Shawnee's City Commission meeting, Chairman Ken Stafford this week officially announced Danielle Rains' transition from Visit Shawnee Inc.'s (VSI) interim to president/CEO.

Employed with VSI since August 2016, Rains was promoted this year to head the VSI mission of boosting travel and tourism in Shawnee.

VSI provides things like support in the form of event funding, tour arrangements and assistance with hotel rooms and rates.

“Our goal is to highlight Shawnee as the perfect city to host an event or meeting,” she said.

VSI had a busy 2017.

“We provided over $109,000 in event funding support to 40 events,” she said. “Visit Shawnee provided $70,000 of that event funding support to events held at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center (Expo), including the Triangle Horse Sales — which sees about 5,000 visitors per event — and the International Youth Finals Rodeo (IFYR), which brought 10,000 visitors to Shawnee last year.”

She said the IFYR celebrated 25 years last July and VSI provided an additional $10,000 in sponsorship to help with special events held in conjunction with that anniversary.

Visit Shawnee also is proud to support Safe Event For Families (SEFF), she said.

“In 2017, Visit Shawnee provided $12,500 in event funding for events such as the Redbud Festival, Trail Days, the Christmas Parade and their largest event — Boo on Bell, which brings about 30,000 visitors to downtown Shawnee each October,” Rains said.

Last Spring, Visit Shawnee launched a brand new website, complete with new content, photos, a blog, an interactive shop option and a book direct link that makes it simple to book their hotel rooms online, she said.

“Our efforts were recognized when we were awarded Best Website by Frontier Country Marketing Association,” she said.

Rains said VSI also partnered with the City of Shawnee to host a photo contest in an attempt to collect new photos of Shawnee and the surrounding areas.

“We received more than 500 entries and awarded $2,500 in prizes,” she said. “The next year promises to be just as productive for Visit Shawnee.”

She said VSI has already launched a brand new hospitality training program for frontline employees who directly interact with the area's visitors.

She said their first training was March 29, and approximately 30 participated.

“We hope to continue this program and encourage a sense of pride in the community of Shawnee,” she said.

Some other major goals for 2018 include:

• developing a sect analysis for determining direct and indirect economic impact at events and meetings in Shawnee

• developing a longterm vision for VSI

• making a concentrated effort to recruit new events and meetings to Shawnee

• increasing Shawnee's presence in local and national media

VSI is the official destination marketing organization for the city of Shawnee and works to promote the culture, business, history and attractions of the city to out of town visitors and groups, according to its website.

VSI's services include:

Event planning assistance including available entertainment, caterers, venues and more

Site inspections

Hotel event rates and group planning assistance

Media and promotional assistance

Press release writing services

Welcome bags complete with local information, coupons and goodies

Group welcome speakers

Group tour planning including itineraries, step-on guides, and more

Also, the new Shawnee Visitor Guide can be downloaded online or picked up in person at the VSI office at 231 N. Bell Ave.

Brochures are also available in bulk for any local business who would be interested in distributing them.

For more information, call (405) 275-9780 or visit the website at VisitShawnee.com.