Minneapolis has hosted numerous meetings industry events over the years, including Sports ETA, Meeting Professionals International and the American Society of Association Executives. Hosting groups that contain large numbers of our customers and industry peers is very hard work, but we have found this to be one of the most effective means to create new viable business opportunities.
Such was the case when our community hosted Connect Marketplace on August 22-24. The smooth execution of the trade show, education sessions and social functions was the culmination of many months of planning. When Meet Minneapolis crafted our industry recovery plan in 2020, hosting a major event such as Connect Marketplace was identified as a priority in reestablishing the awareness and trust of our meeting professional community that had been negatively influenced by widespread media misperceptions over the last few years.
Meet Minneapolis SVP of Destination Sales Brent Foerster has worked extensively with Connect Marketplace (even prior to joining our team) and was aware of the value of the event. He noted, “Connect Marketplace is a rare opportunity to meet with buyers from multiple vertical markets. When you are the host city, you get the added benefit of these customers experiencing your destination firsthand. What was most rewarding was hearing multiple buyers indicate that now that they have seen city, they want to consider Minneapolis for one of their future events.”
Our team had a goal of securing 30 new RFPs for future meetings and events. We will exceed that goal. In addition, several of our hotel partners have reported new leads and bookings because of us hosting Connect Marketplace.
Early feedback from Connect attendees has been very positive. So far, the most common words meeting planners have used to describe Minneapolis are “fun,” “welcoming” and “easy.”
We are thankful for the internal collaboration of the Meet Minneapolis team that brought every single person together to participate in some aspect of the event, even our team members who live and work out of state. And we also saw great support from our local hospitality industry in executing this event. We offer our gratitude to:
Bloomington CVB Canopy by Hilton Delta Air Lines Delta Hotels Do Good Events Explore Minnesota Tourism Event Lab Green Minneapolis Hilton Minneapolis Hyatt Regency Jayded AF Kelber Catering Mall of America Marquette Hotel
Marriot City Center Millennium Minneapolis Minneapolis Convention Center MSP Airport Nine Mile Brewing North Mallow Orchestra Hall
O'Shaughnessy Distillery Smack Shack Smart City Tattersall Distilling Tempest iDSS The Depot Minneapolis Utepils Brewing Visit St. Paul
These partners allowed us to put our community’s best foot forward to a group of meeting planners that have not seen us for a long time, if at all.
There were more than 32,000 individual appointments between meeting professionals and suppliers during the three days of the trade show. Connect Marketplace had more than 800 hosted buyers, including 100 first-time attendees at the event. And buyers clearly benefitted from the efficiency of being able to meet with many potential suppliers and destinations in one place.
As much effort as our team put into the planning and execution, the real work has just begun. Our team is poised to aggressively follow up on the prospects for future group business we developed on behalf of our local industry.