Partners and stakeholders of Meet Minneapolis count on us to provide the tools to help make sound business decisions during continued uncertainty in our industry. Our monthly webinars, our recently held annual meeting and updates in the Meet Minneapolis Minute are examples of ways we connect with you.
Our team also has regular interactions with industry peers and colleagues in both sales and professional development forums. It is through some of these channels that we gain additional industry insights. I would like to share some data and insights from some of my recent industry events.
Geopolitical Issues Impact Us at Home
The U.S. Travel Association is the lead organization advocating for policies that impact our industry. Its board is currently chaired by Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Lines. In her comments at the most recent U.S. Travel Association board meeting, she recounted that her own devastated industry is clawing back to pre-COVID profitability as cruise line masking requirements are loosened. She reported that her company recently had its best booking week in the history of the company. On a challenging note, many of her team members are Ukrainian nationals who have a range of issues as the war in their country grinds on.
On the energy front, U.S. Travel officials reported that the current elevation in gasoline prices at the pump has not significantly curtailed travel. This is good news for us as most of our Meet Minneapolis leisure marketing efforts have focused on visitors from greater Minnesota and contiguous states. The challenge for Minneapolis, and other destinations that are counting on a strong spring/summer travel season, is that travelers may offset the additional expense for fuel by spending less money at the destination once they arrive.
The key takeaway: We are not immune to what happens around the globe.
We Are Not Alone
Our community has continued to process the trauma of a police killing that served as a catalyst for substantive social change. In addition, we are still impacted by subsequent tragedies interspersed with protests and unrest that, at times, turned violent and destructive. The intensity and reality of those experiences has served to galvanize our community and lead us into the realm of values-based marketing.
This was already a pre-pandemic industry trend. Travelers and consumers continue to look for more authenticity in their travel experiences by gaining a better understanding of the destination’s identity as opposed to just its assets. Travelers, increasingly, are asking the questions, “What is that I can do at a destination that I cannot do anywhere else?”
A shining example is the Travel Wyoming focus on Wyoming’s historically strong stand on elevating women leaders. Here is how they describe their approach: “For Wyoming women, trailblazing is a way of life. As the first state to guarantee women the inherent right to vote and hold office – a full 50 years before the rest of the nation – Wyoming earned its Equality State nickname. We invite all who visit to find inspiration in our women’s stories and push their boundaries.” (https://travelwyoming.com/wyoming-womens-suffrage/)
Minneapolis’ historical place as the birthplace of another movement for justice and equality continues to be refined in our messages. We told the world that we are a community leading the path forward. As we have shared previously in the Meet Minneapolis Minute, “Our social justice core value of ‘A Community Leading the Path Forward’ is the #1 reason, and it helps communicate the vital importance this has to our city's story and our commitment to collaborating with our community moving forward.”
Many other destinations are rethinking their marketing messaging to appeal to the hearts and minds of visitors in a more substantive manner. Our team has been on this path for some time, and it is paying dividends.
Our Most Precious Asset
Among my peers in other destination marketing organizations (DMOs), recruiting and retaining staff was paramount in our discussions. While peer DMOs have implemented a wide range of hybrid working environments, team care remains a vital part of future success.
I recently shared a panel with my Rochester (Minn.) counterpart Joe Ward. During our time together, we agreed that the path forward for our long-term success as destinations is an enhanced and authentic focus on our team members. Well-known writer Peter Drucker described this focus by saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Meet Minneapolis has focused heavily on ways to meet the needs of our team.
We know that many of our stakeholders have opportunities within their professional circles to gain unique insights. I hope that you will share them with your colleagues, and we would welcome them here at Meet Minneapolis.