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2015: The Year in Review

2015: The Year in Review

On the verge of a new year and the new opportunities it holds, I’d like to reflect on 2015, another successful year for our local travel/hospitality industry, and to thank a few of those who contributed to it. We knew we would be hard-pressed to match or exceed 2014 and its Best. Year. Ever. moniker. But, the local travel/hospitality industry and the Meet Minneapolis and Minneapolis Convention Center teams stepped up to make it happen again! Here are some of the highlights from 2015, taking us beyond just the numbers.

Minneapolis Visitor Information (MVI) has now officially opened. It took a lot of effort on many staff people to see this through, but especially Michael Hernandez and Michael Rainville have both gone the extra mile to make this partnerships with CenterPoint Energy a reality. And of course the extended appearance by Mary Tyler Moore – in bronze – is icing on the cake! She indeed turns the world on with her smile as visitors have flocked to see Mary in her new temporary home. Selfie sticks permitted.

We recorded nearly 32 million visitors to the MSP area – another new record. Our team’s strategy of focusing on leisure visitors from within Minnesota and the surrounding states has paid off. These regional visitors come to the area about twice annually, so keeping the destination fresh with new activities and experiences is essential. Bill Deef has been the architect of our terrific Signature Experiences initiative to do just that.

The announcement of new or expanded air service from Frankfurt, Reykjavik, and Rome to MSP in 2016 continues to raise our profile as a major international destination. There are many cities that are envious of both the domestic and international air service we enjoy. Like maybe Indy? Just sayin’ Leonard!

The additional new hotel development in downtown Minneapolis has confirmed the fact that we’ve passed the “cautiously optimistic” phase regarding our local travel/hospitality economy. Private investors are changing our hospitality landscape. As they say, make hay while the sun shines.

A paint refresh, Wi-Fi upgrade, carpeting and tile refurbishing may not sound sexy, but Jeff Johnson and the Minneapolis Convention Center team are determined to make sure our award-winning MCC is always ready to host guests! This dedication to constant MCC facility improvement makes sure we are always in the game when it comes to putting our best foot forward to customers.

Construction on the new Nicollet has begun, to be completed in 2017. Minneapolis is reimagining its main street, Nicollet, to create a must-see destination for anyone who visits our city! Thanks to our friends at the Minneapolis Downtown Council for their leadership on this project.

The Midwest Poultry Federation Convention will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center starting in 2018 for a five year run that we hope will be extended. Angie Kufus and Sue Murray of our sales team inked the deal after nearly 20 years of pursuit. Talk about persistence!

The launch of Minneapolis in 24 Hours opens the door to a personalized itinerary for clients to check us out for future events.  Michelle Russell, editor in chief of the Professional Convention Management Association magazine Convene, came to town to check it out for herself. According to Michelle, “Matt (Laible) and Alicia (Schindle) showed remarkable insight into my personality by taking me on the Parks to Prada experience, which incorporates two of my favorite activities — walking in the great outdoors and shopping in the great indoors — into a full day’s itinerary.”  

The Minneapolis Convention Center and Meet Minneapolis teams have collaborated to shatter the MCC revenue record in 2015. In a year with fewer high profile events, the teams used creativity and persistence to achieve this goal.  

Meet Minneapolis completed its Destination Innovation initiative which was designed to keep Meet Minneapolis prepared to market and sell the city as the Destination of Choice. We have streamlined our sales efforts, added communications prowess and organized ourselves to better communicate the value of travel and tourism to our local stakeholders. 

The Minneapolis market achieved another record year of hotel occupancy, average daily hotel room rate and revenue per available hotel room. I am sticking my neck out since we only have official data through the end of November. However, we are up in all three metrics year-to-date, so things are looking good.

Destination Transformation 2030 is our destination strategic plan that was launched in 2015 with the goal of determining what assets, policies, amenities and partnerships could be leveraged on a community-wide basis to ensure we are a viable national and international destination into the future.  Mayor Hodges and incoming Meet Minneapolis board chair Bob Lux will lead the effort. 

Longtime Meet Minneapolis team member Madonna Carr became president-elect of a major industry association, Event Service Professionals Association. ESPA is dedicated to elevating the event and convention service profession and to preparing members, through education and networking, for their pivotal role in innovative and successful event execution.

The official launch of Sports Minneapolis had a significant impact on our 2015 results. Along with the launch, we also announced the return of two of USA Volleyball’s premier events for 2017! Long before the launch, Scott Romane and Matt Meunier had been laying the groundwork for this exciting initiative. (Fill in your own favorite sports success metaphor here :_________________)

So please forgive the extended length of this week’s Message. There were a lot of 2015 successes to tout, although I still couldn’t get them all in. I couldn’t mention all of the outstanding people you can count on to make the 2016 version even longer. Happy New Year, friends, and thanks for your support of Meet Minneapolis.