Many of the messages we received during the DMAI conference related to authenticity in marketing. For example, we heard various marketing and communications experts speak to how potential visitors make destination buying decisions. Those decisions are made using resources that are perceived to be authentic and pure. Visitors are also looking more and more to experience a destination like a local. The rapid rise of Airbnb is evidence of this fact.
Another aspect of storytelling last week during DMAI came as Andrew Zimmern anchored a strong cast of conference presenters as the closing general session keynote speaker. He candidly shared aspects of his well-chronicled bouts with substance abuse. His story of overcoming addiction and homelessness led to his becoming a world-renowned culinary artist and compelling storyteller.
It was, however, the entire Minneapolis hospitality community that excelled in telling our community story to the more than 1,500 travel industry professionals who were in attendance for DMAI.
The story we told is one of an organically formed, vibrant center city. We have often described this phenomenon as a compact urban experience. We told the story of a city on the move that is making strides to become an even more desirable destination. Our meetings and convention planning customers have come to understand this story through our sales and marketing initiatives and now our competitors and colleagues in the industry have experienced it firsthand.
Destination marketers who are paid to promote their respective locales don’t easily dole out praise to competitors that potentially snatch event booking victories away from them. But there was a competitive cease fire called as they enjoyed the great destination in which we are all blessed to live, work and play. Not only were they envious of the destination, many of our colleagues wanted to take Minneapolis City Councilmember Jacob Frey home to their cities after the rousing and proud welcome remarks he delivered to the group.
Minneapolis more closely resembled a City under Construction instead of a City by Nature due to the many pieces of heavy equipment involved in construction or deconstruction projects that are under way in our city. Our fellow destination marketers could see beyond our short term disruptions to the many new and improved assets we will soon enjoy for ourselves and be able to share with our visitors. In spite of envy, those in attendance for DMAI made positive comments and bestowed accolades too numerous to mention.
Not only were they in awe of U.S. Bank Stadium, which was the site of the opening reception, but they also wandered throughout our downtown to discover shopping, dining and entertainment with very little direction from our volunteers and staff. DMAI special events were held at such venues as Mia, Hell’s Kitchen, First Avenue and Murray’s. One attendee mentioned that he took in a Twins game, savored a steak dinner at Manny’s and enjoyed a performance at the Dakota all in his spare time here. I wonder how many DMAI sessions he was actually able to attend?
So we should all be proud of the story we tell to our visitors every day. It is exciting to see the new and exciting chapters that are being written as we watch.