The success of this major asset has actually prompted other destinations to replicate it, including the cities of Oklahoma City and Chicago, and the Gaylord, Texas Hotel that contains a scale model within the confines of the hotel’s lobby. Today, major developments are making this already-unique destination into something even better. And it’s not happening by accident. These are the kinds of changes that can happen when you have a tourism master plan (TMP) that sets a strategic course for improvements.
San Antonio is just one of many cities getting on board with creating TMPs, and I think Minneapolis should be next.
Last week in this column, I explained that a TMP is a long-term development plan, covering ten or even 20 years. It’s an organized and structured framework for a city’s tourism development and promotion, covering things like accommodations, transportation, tourist activities and marketing. This week, I’ll explain the steps Meet Minneapolis is proposing we take to move forward with creating a TMP here.
San Antonio is just one success story. Winnipeg’s TMP has helped guide the expansion of air access to the city, and it’s helped drive forward the city’s efforts to attract major sports and special events. Vancouver recently completed a TMP, and one of our key competitors, Indianapolis, is developing one now.
Closer to home, the Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center plan is an excellent example of a TMP. It includes clearly defined objectives that will benefit the residents of Rochester, as well as visitors and patients. Significantly, it leverages Mayo Clinic’s economic impact to increase jobs, tax base, and business and economic growth throughout the state.
So, we have a lot of good models to follow for our TMP here in Minneapolis. What we’re proposing is a four-step process to develop a plan.
First, our grounding phase will include collecting and analyzing data to provide a baseline assessment of tourism in Minneapolis today. During this time, we’ll also establish the timeline and process for moving forward, including taking steps to establish a steering committee to oversee the planning process.
Second, the outreach stage will include workshops with key constituent groups to get their thoughts. This includes cultural institutions, the business community, government, the hospitality community, metro area destination marketing associations, neighborhood associations and residents. This process is similar to the one used to develop and launch our City by Nature brand.
Third, a set of committees will tackle the planning in a variety of areas, including accommodations, marketing and promotion, policy, sports and recreation, transportation and wayfinding, and the visitor experience. Over the course of several months, these committees will review the baseline assessments and create strategies, tactics, and guidelines for developing the tourism industry in each area of focus. Importantly, they’ll set performance metrics too.
Finally, we implement the plan. As we work to bring the plan to life, an implementation task force will help monitor and guide its execution. We’ll also want to be very transparent in reporting out our performance.
We’ve had early conversations with the Mayor and some members of the Meet Minneapolis board about moving forward to develop a TMP, and if we get the go-ahead, you’ll start to see us doing a lot of outreach. We’ll use workshops, town hall meetings, surveys, focus groups and social media to engage the community in setting our priorities and goals for the future.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s a task I believe is vital to ensuring Minneapolis is a vibrant, attractive destination well into the future. Like anything you undertake, if you have a plan at the beginning, you’re more likely to be successful in the end.