Finding those new-and-improved practices takes work and intentionality. For Meet Minneapolis, this mandate extends to both staff and our board of directors. That is why we recently participated in an event named “Board Leadership for Destinations Symposium.” Lester Bagley of the Minnesota Vikings, our current board chair, and Robert Lilligren of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), our vice chair, joined me for this event.
Our time together allowed us to interact in formal, facilitated sessions as well as in social settings with board officers and CEOs from more than 30 cities across the country. We learned from and shared with our counterparts from cities such as Anaheim, Cincinnati, Dallas, Milwaukee, Monterrey, Reno, Savannah, and Seattle.
This diversity of destinations allowed us to explore creative problem-solving in a number of critical operational areas. The themes of the sessions resonated regardless of our differences:
- Board Diversity and Succession Planning – Board members should represent a diversity of backgrounds and business types. Their selection should be strategic and provide support for organizational objectives. Any board member recruited should be considered as a potential chair.
- Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Relevance – According to one of our session leaders, the business case for our relevance in the community is “not just a head thing, it’s a heart thing.” In other words, telling stories about a DMO’s role requires more than just empirical data.
- Board Member Engagement – The major role of a board member is engaging with the community. Board members can bring a fresh and genuine perspective that paid staff can’t always provide.
- Organizational Culture – An organization’s culture is its brand. Organizations should look at the recruitment process as a sales process for prospective team members. Organizations should also have a growth mindset and invest in their teams.
Lester and I had the opportunity to participate in a panel during the symposium with our counterparts from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. The discussion allowed us to address misconceptions about the current state of our public safety and how our board has proactively helped Meet Minneapolis navigate our multi-faceted industry recovery.
Our colleagues from Milwaukee spoke on how they were successful in securing the 2024 Republican National Convention, belying that community’s political leanings. The Visit Albuquerque CEO explained how that organization managed through the crisis of being asked to respond to a competitive RFP process for destination marketing services, threatening the very existence of that organization.
I am anxious to do a complete download of the symposium content with our team and our board to determine what specific tangible actions we can undertake to make us better. I hope, as leaders, we can all take a hard look at how we are operating and have some difficult conversations to make sure we have not let the ups and downs of our last three years pass without learning from them. We owe this honest evaluation to our organizations.