One of the signs of our industry getting back on track is our future group business activities. Lead volume continues to rise and the number of in-person customer site inspections is also increasing.
We have always found that hosting prospective customers, in-person and onsite to see how their event would work in Minneapolis, enhances our chances of ultimately securing the group.
With more than a year and a half pause on many in-person sales activities, we have worked to elevate the customer experiences when they are in Minneapolis reviewing our viability as a destination.
We have also taken to heart the need to show the customers the type of city we are and what we represent, not just the great assets and amenities we have.
Two local leaders recently made a difference in our ability to tell our story. Stephanie Grimaldi, Meet Minneapolis’ Director of Convention Sales, hosted two customers last week for a review of our city for a potential 2026 major citywide convention. The site inspection began upon arrival when Meet Minneapolis board member and Metropolitan Airports Commission Executive Director/CEO Brian Ryks joined Stephanie to greet our customers at their MSP Airport arrival gate. As a board member, Brian understands the importance a personal touch has in distinguishing our destination from our competitors. That personal touch set the tone for the rest of the visit.
Owamni by the Sioux Chef was the dining venue during the visit. Chef Sean Sherman took time out of preparing Native American culinary delights to greet our guests and autograph his cookbook for them. This genuine and organic experience impressed our guests and added to their experience. Some of you may recall that Chef Sherman and his business/life partner, Dana Thompson, joined our 2017 delegation to our Sister City of Tours, France. We were there for the Foire de Tours, a regional event that featured Minnesota culture and cuisine.
The site inspection culminated with a gathering of our hotel community to express its unified desire to secure this group. This was the first time that many of these hospitality professionals had seen each other in a very long time. The camaraderie and sincerity were palpable. These personalized sales strategies have always been a part of our approach. Moving forward, we will continue to work on delivering unique experiences for our prospective meeting and event professionals. These types of activities will give us the competitive edge we need.