As competitive as we are as a destination, we want to help our city and partner businesses create even more memorable experiences for our respective visitors. In addition, we continue to activate strategic plans to assist with our lagging industry recovery.
Recently, several of our Meet Minneapolis team members attended the Destinations International (DI) annual convention. DI describes itself as “the collective voice of destination organizations, empowering destinations on issues big and small.” It has more than 800 global destinations as members and the recently held convention in Dallas attracted 1,600 DMO professionals.
- One attendee to DI on behalf of Meet Minneapolis was Charlie Carlson who began as our Public Affairs Program Manager just a few weeks ago. Having worked for Minnesota Governor Tim Walz for four years, Charlie is adept at the inner workings of state government. He is now adapting those skills to his work in advocacy for our tourism industry. Some common themes he heard throughout the sessions he attended were issues around funding, the importance of effective advocacy, and the importance of talking about how a DMO impacts the entire community.
- Another new team member, Damon Riddle, is our Senior Manager of Visitor Services for our visitor center at Nicollet and 5th Street. He was energized by connecting with his peers to share ideas and learn best practices on how destinations deliver visitor services.
- Ka Vang, our Vice President of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access (EDIA), noted that her peers were advocating for more focus on access. We need to ensure that our work takes into account people with disabilities as well as our aging population. Demographers agree that the 65+ age group will continue to grow at a rapid rate in the coming years, and an aging population will likely lead to more people with some type of disability. This is a trend we should note in our infrastructure and capital plans.
- Bill Deef, our Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Research, was able to learn about new and more impactful ways to advocate for the organization and our industry with our stakeholders. This is critically important as we move toward implementation of our Tourism Improvement District (TID) over the next year after the passage of statewide legislation enabling TID establishment.
Artificial intelligence (AI) was also front and center across multiple disciplines at the DI convention, including discussions on replacing humans in various roles at hotels and restaurants as well as for meeting and vacation planning.
As the CEO of Skift shared, destinations need to be more intentional in determining how best to incorporate AI into all aspects of destination marketing. One example of where Meet Minneapolis has been an early adopter of AI is through our partnership with WeSparkle, a locally owned business that offers a suite of AI-powered tools, including conversational AI technology.
Those of us in attendance will continue to aggregate our learnings from the DI event, as we are in the midst of 2024 strategic planning.
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