Advocate. Align. Develop.
One way we accomplish that is to interact with industry experts and with our peers from other DMOs, and we recently did that in attending the Destinations International Advocacy Summit in Philadelphia. From that two-day intensive session came some key learnings that implore us to renew our focus on advocacy, alignment and development.
DMOs are under siege, nationally, for a variety of reasons. Mismanagement and poor results will always attract attention. But political pressures or personality conflicts can also be detrimental. Meet Minneapolis is not immune. Such challenges often come because of the lower local profile DMOs have since their marketing and promotional efforts are, by definition, directed outside the community. The key learning from the discussions in Philadelphia is that local advocacy must be consistent and comprehensive. This advice was forcefully shared by Phillip Jones, my Visit Dallas counterpart who led his city's and state's efforts to defeat Texas' bathroom bill. As challenges continue to emerge for DMOs, we must continue to deliver the strong message of our relevance and integration into the business mainstream. Our stakeholders can also play a key role in this messaging.
Another common thread of the discussions at the Summit was the need for DMOs to make sure that the tourism/hospitality industry is recognized as a part of the mainstream business community and not an appendage. This is accomplished by aligning with other organizations that have expertise and influence in areas that impact a DMO's ability to provide a high-quality visitor experience. These areas of influence may be public safety, homelessness, substance abuse, affordable housing or related issues. Our Meet Minneapolis team works with other local business associations like the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, Minneapolis Downtown Council and BOMA to influence policies. Cities, with more resources than we currently have, are actually leading the charge to fund initiatives focused on major social issues.
DMOs across the country are becoming DMMOs, destination marketing and management organizations. Cities such as Asheville, Charlotte, Houston, Indianapolis and others are taking destination development into their own hands. Visit Houston is part of a lager non-governmental organization that has the ability to bond and has expanded their convention center and built two much needed hotels. Asheville operates an infrastructure grants program for tourism projects. Indianapolis, through its Capital Improvement Board, recently announced a major convention center expansion and more than 1,000 additional and closely situated hotel rooms. Charlotte is in the midst of a major convention center expansion initiative.
At Meet Minneapolis, we are also advocating for much-needed infrastructure through our Transportation, Wayfinding and Infrastructure Task Force. Our Destination Transformation 2030 tourism master plan identified some infrastructure deficiencies like poor signage and limited place making. Co-chairs Steve Cramer of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Brian Lamb of Metro Transit have led this broad and influential group toward developing a comprehensive signage program that will help ensure visitors explore our vibrant center city and also the unique neighborhood offerings that offer the authentic experiences visitors desire.
While we heard some unique ways in which our fellow DMOs were representing their communities, we also affirmed that many of our initiatives are on the right track. We will keep you posted as we continue to advocate, align and develop on behalf of you, our stakeholders.