Focusing on the Next 90 Days
Minneapolis, like other major destinations, is urgently working to stimulate group and individual travel. We have discussed how all of our typical demand generators – corporate travel, live music and theater, as well as amateur, collegiate and professional sports – disappeared during the pandemic. Urban destinations such as ours have had a more difficult recovery than suburbs and rural areas. Compared to Minneapolis, other urban destinations have fared better due to the earlier loosening of pandemic meeting size restrictions.
As we enter the time of the year when we would normally see our highest hotel occupancies, our Meet Minneapolis sales and marketing team members have joined with partner businesses on many levels to stimulate travel to Minneapolis. Our greatest short-term opportunity to drive business in the summer months is aggressive leisure marketing. Last week, we launched our “Top 8 Reasons Why Minneapolis” campaign, which runs through Labor Day on multiple platforms. This campaign is designed to communicate the confidence that Minneapolis is open and ready for visitors this summer and the importance of supporting the Minneapolis economy. We anticipate that this campaign will build on the consistent higher weekend hotel occupancies we have seen in recent months by focusing on our local and regional markets.
In the mid-term, we are focusing on stimulating the resumption of meetings and conventions. We have had great success in confirming events for 2022 and beyond, and we have reason to believe that our in-the-year-for-the-year bookings will increase. One way that we have bolstered our meetings and events solicitation efforts is participation in industry events where we can interact directly with customers. This was the case at the recently completed Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – World Education Congress (WEC). The event’s theme was “Make Your Future.”
The host city of Las Vegas welcomed more than 1,200 in-person meeting professionals and suppliers. It was one of the largest industry events to take place since the start of the pandemic. MPI held a smaller and modified WEC in November of 2020 with about half the Las Vegas in-person attendance. I had the opportunity to join Meet Minneapolis sales team members Brent Foerster, Sue Murray, Savannah Fargen, and Madison Rhode for this year’s event. We intentionally enhanced our presence at this event to reach more prospective customers and shared our message of our meeting readiness as well as our leadership in social justice issues facing our industry. We hosted WEC in 2014, and we tracked a significant number of prospects and definite bookings because of hosting that event. We are exploring future WEC hosting opportunities.
Our team has an aggressive schedule of client-facing events for the balance of this year. These direct sales activities are a necessary complement to the extensive marketing initiatives our team is executing.
All of these activities will set the tone for our much-needed recovery over the second half of 2021 and into 2022 and beyond.