EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM COUNCIL
In Person EMT Office St Paul/Virtual Meeting
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
10 am – 12 noon
Council Members Present: Megan Christianson, Steve Dowling, Maureen Failor, Alison Fogarty, Robert Herman, Senator Susan Kent, Marianna Khauv, David Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Molly Luther, Terry Mattson, Peter Mihajlov, Xinyi Qian, Senator Carrie Ruud, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff Present: Amy Barrett, Lauren Bennett McGinty, Lisa Havelka, Beth Helle, Michael Hernandez, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Julie Ramer, Glori Rantz,
Guests: Michelle Benson, Laura Cederberg, Matt Cerar, Kallie Hagerman, Meredith Kessler, Meghan McCollum, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick
Welcome: Chair Lauren Bennett McGinty thanked Council members for their attendance both in-person (for the first time since the pandemic) and virtually.
Approval of Minutes: Minutes from the June Council meeting were previously emailed. Terry Mattson requested that reference to the $552,000 funds for the recovery grant program that was requested, but not passed, be added to the June meeting minutes. With this addition, Terry Mattson motioned to approve the June meeting minutes; Peter Mihajlov seconded the motion. All members in attendance voted to approve minutes. Motion carried.
Agency Administration Update: EMT staff continue to telework. “Together Tuesdays” has been introduced for St. Paul staff to encourage them to come together to the office on a monthly basis. All staff meet quarterly, with the next all staff meeting scheduled for September 20.
Council Seats Expiring January 2023: Half of the Council seats expire in January 2023. An outreach is underway (via EMT Express, industry meetings, etc.) to fill. Current Council members can reapply, and they will continue to serve until new appointments are made. Jean Bowman has accepted a new job and resigned from the Council. Information on when terms expire and how to apply for the Council can be found at Tourism Council / Tourism Industry Minnesota (mn.gov)
Budget & Legislative Discussion: FY23 began July 1. EMT has submitted baseline budget documents. Specific budget recommendations will not be known until after election. EMT has not had a budget increase in 10 years. Requesting a minimum increase of $4 million to cover inflation during that time in addition to other agency-wide requests including newly-proposed positions within EMT. As a reminder, Director Bennett McGinty noted that EMT can only advocate for what is in Governor’s budget.
To stay competitive, EMT is requesting that state general funds dollars be increased to replace money we received through EDA. This money would be spent by the end of 2022. Niche campaigns continue to perform extremely well and new funding would include funding into these campaigns. EDA funds allowed us to do onsite ‘Experiential Campaign’ in St. Louis and Chicago. Also, with the upcoming loss of cookies, we are having to become much more engaged/rely on research.
EMT/tourism industry relies on our grant programs to support evolving needs of industry. The current funding for grants is $500,000. At one point, the grant program was funded at $3 million.
Welcome Centers: Looking at how to best serve our customers. How to expand network and better technology.
EMT will continue to expand industry partnerships.
Would also use additional funding for interagency projects. Lauren is working with other agencies on projects, including the Governor’s “Thriving Economies Economic Roadmap.”
Fostering destination stewardship is part of our strategic plan. Explore Minnesota is connecting with Coraggio to look into the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Destination Assessment. The assessment would set a baseline for EMT to review current sustainability achievements in the state, sustainability risks and set a plan with targets and best practices.
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition – Terry Mattson: MTGC is supportive of budget increases. Tourism and travel are a big contributor to Minnesota’s economy. Sarah Psick continues her work at the Capitol. As EMT can only lobby for what is in the Governor’s budget, additional funding request needs to come from the tourism industry and the industry needs to be a voice at the Capitol.
Cereal box: may be new or different moving forward. Need to determine what type of information needs to be shared with legislators, as this is a communications/educational piece.
Council members want/need to be a strong voice in supporting Explore Minnesota’s budget increase. Members want to be more active and involved in helping with budget increase and legislative needs. EMT should create a “ call to action” for Council members. Members need to take an active role in one-on-ones with legislators and provide testimony during hearings.
Industry Relations – Beth Helle
Staff working on Governor’s Opener events:
· The Pheasant Opener will be held October 14-15 in Worthington. Lisa Havelka is lead. Location for 2023 event will be announced in Worthington.
· Governor’s Fishing Opener team meeting September 13. Event will be held May 12-13 in Mankato. Nicole Lalum is lead.
· Twin Cities Pride took place in June. #OnlyinMN monument placed and some brand awareness surrounding event.
· #OnlyinMN monument was at the Minnesota State Fair.
· For the first time, EMT partnering with Twin Cities Marathon (October 1-2). Event draws 300,000 and creates over 80,000 lodging nights. Working on ultimate marathon guide. Will have some promotional opportunities throughout the marathon, as well as with Twin Cities in Motion throughout the year. Michael Hernandez is point person.
Michael Hernandez is EMT’s new metro regional manager. He was recently at Meet Minneapolis and worked at Visit Saint Paul.
Hiring of Market Development Manager has been postponed, but international work continues with several partners including Brand USA, Rocky Mountain International, Mississippi River Country and Great Lakes of North America. Minnesota is starting to see the return of international media fams, including one coming prior to the Minnesota Vikings game in London.
Co-op program will soon be announced to industry.
Grant program is an industry partnership program and begins January 2023 with $500,000 available. Staff working on guidelines and will announce in a few weeks. One change is that any open/existing grants must be reconciled to apply for new funding.
Marketing – Leann Kispert
Spring/Summer Campaign Recap : Dream State campaign launched in April and ran through end of June. Campaign saw 17% lift in favorability and 34% indicated it lifted their intent to travel.
How campaign drew website results:
Niche campaigns for summer were paddling, golf and events. All performed well.
Participated in St. Louis PrideFest in late June and Maggie Daley Park’s Fourth of July weekend Chicago. Included giveaways and sweepstakes. This had great PR and media exposure. Experiential Activation saw 30.3MM impressions and 476,000 social engagements.
Fall Campaign: Launched mid-August. First rendition of fall Dream State campaign. Primary effort is to build first party data collection (cookies going away), converting users with fall color report, drive to Dream State landing page, continue to build awareness through tv.
Fall creative will show diversity and accessibility in all campaign spots.
Fall niches focus is biking and hiking.
ESTO Award: Explore Minnesota won an ESTO award from US Travel. Recognized for True North “Just Add Water’ spot.
Brand USA Video Award: Won an award for our special series on culinary campfire that highlighted Yia Vang. Showcased Hmong cuisine throughout the state.
ADARA Partnership: – this new partnership includes three elements including the measuring of attributable ROI, future-proofed targeting, activating on EMT’s first-party data.
Winter Preview : in production. Will start mid-November. Creative covers regions and activities and will convey warmth. Winter niche will include winter rec and adding performing arts.
Partnership Campaigns – Glori Rantz: Information is shared regularly in EMT Express. Launched three new passports this past year: MNSips, HikeMN and MNFall. MNSips ran April 1-Sept 12. Very successful. Over 300k pageviews, 8722 registrations and 3,338 redemptions.
MN Winter Rec Passport: Launching December 2022 - March 2023. Will reach out to those with EMT listings. Feature winter deals by participating in winter rentals, ice fishing rentals, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, dogsledding, skating rinks, snowtubing, etc.
MN Aurora new partnership ran November 2021 through June 2022. EMT held exclusive jersey sponsor that included EMT logo on jerseys.
Saint Paul Saints partnership ran April – September 2022. Lots of opportunities available with this partnership, including Wednesday sponsorship. Participated in sweepstakes with them and Visit Roseville provided prize package.
Gopher Sports - took year off but returning August 2022 - June 2023. Targeting Gopher fans living in Iowa and Wisconsin.
Iowa Wild program runs October 2022 - May 2023. Fifth season of partnering. EMT logo appears on helmets through this partnership. Provides nearly 5:1 of in-kind value. Visit Lakeville has provided prize for sweepstakes.
MN Slopes will begin in late November or early December 2022 - March 2023. Get people ready and excited for winter. Continue ski reports with KARE 11 and KSTP.
EMT partners with EMGA and MGA. Create new golf guide for 2023. Will discuss in spring.
Communications – Amy Barrett
Excellent national coverage throughout the summer, including 35 stories in national coverage. Collectively reach was 850 million.
Partnered with WGN radio on their newly launched ‘Best in Midwest’ program. Lauren did live interview. Provided giveaway of $200 gift cards to MOA.
BuzzFeed visited this summer and sent crew in early August. They visited Niagara Mystery Cave, Lanesboro, Minneapolis, Northfield, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Owamni. Reach of their travel account is 50 million travelers around the world.
EMT is aiming to position Minnesota as top 10 destination. List of some Top 10 lists provided and we will add that MSP International Airport is #1 best airport in the country/North America.
Fall and winter pitches to national media: Dark Skies/Northern lights, small towns with big lights, new year’s resolutions, winter activities for friends and family.
Recently sent out news release on summer industry survey conditions. Lauren was interviewed by KSTP TV on this story.
Sent fall cover report press release in partnership with DNR.
First edition for fall color report sent out September 8 and will be sent out on Thursdays throughout the season. 50k subscribers.
‘Trip on a Tankful ’ is a series of articles on where you can go on one tank of gas. Reached out to the industry for story ideas and received about 25 responses.
No longer publishing the Explorer in any season. We will focus efforts on the Calendar of Events listings to make it a more complete calendar.
Continue coops with Star Tribune. They published article on 10 cost saving activities for thrifty Minnesotans.
Partnered with Thrifty with a Compass, two friends who travel and published story on Duluth area. They also wrote story on 48 hours in Duluth for 2023 Travel Guide.
Strategic Plan Update – Lauren Bennett McGinty: Strategic Plan was sent to Council for review. Also shared with Governor’s Office, DNR, DEED.
Timeline: Initial Strategic Plan completed at end of July and approved by Governor’s Office in August. Currently reviewing and aligning existing programs and new initiatives.
New initiatives include:
· Develop strategy to increase cultural community outreach and engagement
· Utilize resources from other state agencies/state associations to advance diversity in tourism messages
· Develop a strategy around opportunistic partners and coop marketing
· Increase visitation by prioritizing new and existing high-yield market opportunities outside of the state, based on travel trends/data
· Develop a marketing plan to highlight the benefits of a career in leisure and hospitality
· Conduct global and local assessment of MN’s stewardship activities
· Develop an action plan of education and best practices for industry, with other state agencies
· Along with other state agencies, create guidance for tourists to ensure safe and sustainable travel practices
EMT staff participating in Native Nation visits. Recently met with Fond du Lac and Grand Portage. Discussed how we can work together. Much of the strategic plan includes working with other state agencies to complete projects and bolster existing program. Feedback from the industry during the strategic planning process showed that the industry wants EMT to be leader in trends, diversity/inclusion. The new plan outlines significant resources dedicated to that leadership.
Next steps: Finalize integrated marketing strategy/plan; finalize new initiatives and owners; implement new systems to organize staff; hire new employees to help carry out initiatives.
Q & A :
Strategic plan is based on money available. This is dependent on legislation. Council members should be very active. Use energy from Council members. Engage Governor and legislators. Find a way to get Council’s support. Council willing to meet with legislature.
Council could create subcommittees to work on specifics, how to market tourism at legislature. Lauren to send out additional information after meeting.
This Council meeting can be viewed at h ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCBFATniUjo
Next Council Meeting Dates:
Thursday, December 1, 2022
2023 Proposed dates:
Tuesday, March 7
Tuesday, June 6
Thursday, September 7
Tuesday, December 5
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM COUNCIL
June 1, 2022
10 am -12 noon
Council Members Present: Bo Bigelow, Megan Christianson, Chuck Dougherty, Steve Dowling, Alison Fogarty, Sen. Susan Kent, Dave Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Molly Luther, Terry Mattson, Peter Mihajlov, Cynthya Porter, Xinyi Qian, Sen. Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Cindy Wannarka, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: Amy Barrett, Lauren Bennett McGinty, Lisa Havelka, Alyssa Hayes, Beth Helle, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Leann Kispert, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Gretchen Nussbaum, Julie Ramer, John Schultz
Guests: Michelle Benson, Joel Carlson, Doug Carnival, Matt Cerar, Kallie Hagerman, Tony Kwilas, Meghan McCollum, Danni Melquist, Gina Nacey, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Julie Wearn
Welcome – Lauren Bennett McGinty: Lauren welcomed members to today’s virtual meeting.
Moving forward, Council meeting invites will be sent to Council members only. Guests are welcome to attend and can find meeting announcements at Tourism Council / Tourism Industry Minnesota (mn.gov)
Approval of Minutes: Minutes of the March Council meeting were previously emailed. Cynthya Porter motioned to approve minutes as submitted. Chuck Dougherty seconded the motion. All members in attendance voted to approve minutes as submitted. Motion carried.
Agency Administration : Saint Paul staff continue to work in a hybrid environment. This is a permanent change. Metro Square is open to staff who prefer to come in, but it is not required. Quarterly in-person meetings will begin this month. The agency is currently working through the strategic planning process and will likely have some staffing changes in the future. We have started to refill some open positions, specifically Welcome Centers and in marketing and communications departments.
Legislative Update – Lauren Bennett McGinty : Environmental bill (which holds EMT funding) did not pass during regular session. This had included $552,000 for recovery grant program.
MN Sports + Events funding of $1m/$450k for subsequent years would be pass-through money through EMT’s budget. This is not additional funding to EMT’s budget.
Yet to be determined if/when Special Session would be scheduled.
MN Tourism Growth Coalition leads the charge to request increased funding for EMT, as EMT cannot ask for more than what Governor proposes in his budget. This year, the Governor did not include tourism funding in his budget recommendation. Tourism industry needs to continue to promote ROI message, tourism benefits entire state, big and small businesses. Meeting with MTGC and Lauren to be scheduled.
EMT is looking into possibility of hiring an internal policy and government relations position. Currently, we contract with DNR for these services.
Hearing from restaurants that the state tax of restaurant revitalization funds is a hit to Minnesota restaurants, who have already been hit hard from the pandemic. If special session is held, would like pressure on state to not tax federal dollars received.
Online hospitality training program did make it into final jobs bill, funded at $250k. If this does not pass, Hospitality MN and the U of M will need to think creatively to make this happen.
Industry Relations & Market Development – Beth Helle :
Governor’s Opener Events & Recap: The 2022 Governor’s Fishing Opener took place May 12-14 at Lake Winnibigoshish. For the first time, a tribal nation (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) hosted the event. Seeking community host for 2023. RFP is open through June 24: https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/about-us/tourism-council.jsp
RFP for 2023 Governor’s Pheasant Opener will be out soon.
Industry Partnerships: Several key partnerships in the works, including Twin Cities PRIDE, Twin Cities in Motion (Twin Cities Marathon), Minnesota State Fair, Target USA Cup. EMT monument will be on display at these events in addition to other partnership engagement.
Hiring : Interviews for Metro regional manager will be held in June. August is the target start date; position has been open since retirement in January 2022.
International Marketing Update: IPW will be held next week in Orlando. Expecting 4000 attendees. EMT, MOA, Bloomington and Minneapolis attending. EMT has 40 media interviews scheduled and approximately 100 appointments with travel trade representatives. Reports and lead sharing will be posted in EMT Express.
MSP Airport reports that many international flights are now returning – operating at 83% capacity when compared to 2019. We are returning to primary/mature international markets beginning with UK, Germany, Nordic, Benelux, France utilizing Brand USA programs. UK, German and France (postponed from 2019) multi-channel marketing programs are slated for spring/summer 2022.
Communications & PR Report – Amy Barrett:
Communications : Web content features the ‘Dream State’ campaign. Will continue to add content to the site.
MSP Junior: This is the second edition on MSP Magazine’s “Junior” edition. EMT worked with MSP Magazine to highlight fun kids’ activities from around the state, inspiring family travel. This is a popular piece and will be distributed at Welcome Centers.
Summer Explorer: Will be available June 15. The look will change, as it is no longer in newsprint tabloid format, moving to StarTribune Magazine format. Will feature paddleboarding, dining, golf, festivals & events. EMT to receive 60k overruns to distribute.
Cory Lee who is a travel blogger and advocate for accessibility to accommodate disabilities of all kinds, will be traveling to Minnesota to cover accessible travel experiences.
Public Relations Recap – Alyssa Hayes:
· 4.5 billion in estimated audience reach; over 1,100 earned media placements; generated coverage locally, regionally, nationally, internationally. EMT contracts with Weber Shandwick on this outreach.
· National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW) was held May 1-7. We received a lot of media attention during this time, including leading stories on local tv newscasts. Fun week to highlight summer tourism.
· Governor’s Fishing Opener was held May 12-14. Hosted 25 media outlets and 100+ interviews at media row. Partnered with Governor’s Office and DNR.
Trending topics include summer travel, bucket-list trip planning, luxury glamping getaways, green travel, festivals + events.
Marketing Updates – John Schultz:
Canada Update: Promotion executed late last year when borders reopened. Targeted Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.
Brand Campaign Update – Adventure:
Spring/Summer campaign highlights include the launch of the “Dream State” campaign. So far, campaign has 22% lift in travel intent. EMT website traffic has surpassed 2019 levels – page views up 45%, website visits up 42%, e-newsletter signups increased 199%.
This summer, travelers will have the opportunity to experience the ‘Magic of Minnesota’ interactive display in the heart of Chicago and St. Louis.
Spring/summer niches: Paddling, golf and events.
Key media partnerships include Paddling Magazine, TripAdvisor, Outside, Golfweek, Backpacker, African American Golfer’s Digest and AFAR.
Testing new innovative strategies by expanding platforms across campaigns via TikTok, Pinterest, Spotify and Pandora). Testing new digital partners with ADARA, DATAFY, Sojern, Illumin. Beta testing will be done through theTradeDesk.
FY23 Fall Campaign:
Niches markets for the fall campaign are biking and hiking which has historically been our best performers.
Q: Is the “Find Your True North” campaign still in market?
A: No, that campaign has been sunsetted and out of market. When tested in the market, agency saw more emotional tug with ‘Dream State’ campaign, as it brings in new emotional layer.
All Find Your True North items have been removed from the website and are no longer in circulation in the market.
Strategic Direction Status – Lauren Bennett McGinty:
‘Know Minnesota’ took situational assessment.
Listening sessions were recently held. Common themes are excitement, hopefulness, natural resources, workforce, diversity and inclusion. Will continue to work with DEED on workforce issues/opportunities. We have also developed an Outdoor Recreation Working Group with DEED and DNR to continue to find opportunities to promote and support the outdoor recreation industry in Minnesota.
Marketing, Communications, and Industry Relations are currently auditing their marketing efforts to better understand what programs and projects we are doing and why. Once the audit is completed, we will be able to categorize each project and program into the new strategic direction to ensure that they are in alignment with where we are going.
We are working to broaden cultural community engagement including our efforts to expand Council (which did not pass this legislative session). In addition to that, we are being more intentional about how we promote various cultural communities and activities.
Lauren recently presented to Indian Affairs Council and will set up meetings with Tribal Nations around the state to discuss how EMT might work with them to promote tourism in their area. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Explore Minnesota has a great experience working together to put on the GFO and are looking forward to finding additional connections with LLBO and other tribes. Furthering the discussion of expanding our EDIA (equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility) work, we have committed to our largest PRIDE partnership ever, and will have both LGBTQ+ and an accessibility influencers travel through Minnesota in a few weeks. There are also ongoing conversations at the senior leadership level about cultural awareness, sensitivity training and inclusivity and diversity in marketing, EDIA efforts will be one of the major cornerstones of the new strategic direction.
Continue to strengthen interagency relationships with DNR and DEED. Will be visiting communities this summer to promote outdoor rec, job growth and other issues.
Proposed Commitment & Active Council Engagement – Council Discussion:
What are Council goals? What do you want to contribute? Council members are voice of industry and community. What is needed in Council meetings? How can Council be more engaged?
· EMT work environment: Is the goal to work remotely forever? EMT will continue to be hybrid teleworkers. Will continue to have office space, but perhaps less physical space will be needed moving forward. Currently office space is leased through Ramsey County. We will have all staff, in-person meetings quarterly where we will have special presentations and workshops for staff.
· Like role of proposed new EMT position responsible for government relations. MTGC may have some ideas of needs from that position.
· Dream State – very creative. Likes this approach. True North campaign was never well received by southern Minnesota.
· Will still be challenged by budget. In the past, various funding options (ie. Car rental) were looked at to break away from general funding.
· Council is here to give reaction to ad campaign before rolling out to entire world.
· Would like return of in-person Council meetings. Miss the connections.
· Likes the idea of having subcommittees. Council members have different areas of expertise. Meeting with various EMT staff would be helpful. All have different skillsets. Council members interested in serving on subcommittees should reach out to Lauren.
Link to Explore Minnesota Council meeting: https://youtu.be/9fu74dQITz8
Link to Explore Minnesota Power Point: TourismCouncil_June1Mtg_2022.pptx
Link to Adventure Power Point: Here is a download link
Link to FY22 Competitive report from Adventure: https://we.tl/t-iK9LlLapRT
Next Council Meeting: Tuesday, September 13
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM
COUNCIL MEETING (Strategic Planning Session)
Thursday, March 10, 2022
10 am – 12 noon
Members: Bob Bierscheid, Rep. Matt Bliss, Jean Bowman, Chuck Dougherty, Steve Dowling, Allison Fogarty, Robert Herman, Bud Johnston, Sen. Susan Kent, Marianna Khauv, David Langhoff, Nick Leonard, Molly Luther, Terry Mattson, Cynthya Porter, Sen. Carrie Ruud, Maureen Scallen Failor, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: Amy Barrett, Lauren Bennett McGinty, Alyssa Hayes, Leann Kispert, Jared Laabs, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Julie Ramer, Derek Ramthun, John Schultz
Guests: Michelle Benson, Joel Carlson, Doug Carnival, Matt Cerar, Ninwa Hanna, Kallie Hagerman, Michelle Janke, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Liz Rammer, Shannon Thomasser, Julie Wearn, Ben Wogsland
Welcome – Lauren Bennett McGinty:
Approval of December 2nd Council Meeting Minutes: Minutes from the December 2nd Council meeting were previously emailed. Motion to approve the minutes as submitted was introduced by Terry Mattson and seconded by Cynthya Porter. Motion carried.
Agency Status: Teleworking, Hiring: Welcome Jared Laabs to EMT. He was recently hired as our marketing coordinator. Also hiring multimedia editor this month. Hiring underway for Welcome Center vacant positions. St. Paul staff continue to telework. MMB has announced return to work can begin in late April and that a hybrid workplace will be the norm. Senior management team will discuss what that looks like for staff. Will be finalized before next Council meeting.
Tourism Conference Recap – Nicole Lalum: This year’s conference was held March 1 and was a hybrid event. Estimated attendance saw 230 in-person attendees and 673 virtual unique views (524 consistent viewership, indicating viewer remained on for one-plus hour). Sponsorships were sold out. Keynote speakers included Governor Walz, Lauren Bennett McGinty, PJ Fleck, Peter Slatin, Adam Sacks and
Amanda Brinkman. Congratulations to all award winners. Media coverage included two dozen placements and 2 million in estimated audience reach . Coverage highlights included KSTP-TV and Minnesota Live, KARE-TV, WDIO-TV, MPR, El Minnesota de Hoy and Minnesota News Network radio. Recap of the conference can be found here:
Live on the industry website including video of the day and presentations as well as photos of award winners
Governor’s Opener Events – Nicole Lalum: Planning for the 2022 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener is underway; more information available soon. Although organizers will be considerably scaling back certain elements of the event, due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual occasion will continue to promote the excellent fishing and travel opportunities throughout Minnesota.
State agencies are already in discussions about the 2023 Governor’s Fishing Opener as well as all of the Opener events to ensure they are serving the people of Minnesota and gaining targeted media coverage.
Legislative Update – Lauren Bennett McGinty and Sarah Psick:
Tourism Industry Recovery Grant Program (SF2769 Ruud / HF3616 Hansen): MTGC put forward a $6 million bill to aid tourism after the pandemic; amended in the house to $10 million. Passed in House and referred to the Ways & Means Committee. Senate hearing held yesterday; $6 million ask was laid over. Good legislative support with excellent testimony from tourism industry. Senator Ruud and Representative Hansen are chief authors of the bill. Tourism recovery affects all parts of the state and the support from the tourism industry during these hearings is appreciated. Senate may keep in budget bill. Several budget recovery bills out there. Senators Ruud and Kent have been excellent advocates for the tourism industry. Cereal box continues to be a big hit with legislators. Important to have county information on back as legislators are interested in their area. Cereal box and county factsheet can be found at:
Cereal Box PDF
County Data Factsheet PDF
Additional Surplus Funding Proposal: EMT recently submitted funding proposal to the Governor’s Office for budget surplus funding.
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Membership Modified (HF3708): Representative Christensen introduced a bill to increase Council membership from 28 to 35. Additional seats would include three additional representatives of statewide associations representing craft beverage establishments, chambers of commerce for underrepresented communities, and Tribal nations as well as business representing outdoor recreation, sports, arts & culture, Native American community.
Lauren meeting with legislators to update them on impact to tourism industry and sharing research and comparison of other states tourism budgets. Committee received cereal boxes; will send out to all legislators soon.
Online Hospitality Workforce Training Program – Ben Wogsland (SF3771 Ruud / HF3550 Baker): Thank you to Senator Ruud who has authored a bill that would offer an online training program modeled after South Dakota’s program that creates an online training program for hospitality workers/cert program. Expect to train 4,000 students each year to address workforce shortage.
Portion of Lottery Allocation Appropriated through Explore MN to MN Sports & Events (SF3738 Rosen):
A bill was introduced that would help fund sports and events to Minnesota (funding would be for proposals and to put on events). The original funding proposal was for funding from Lottery revenue. Now looking at other options to fund. MNSE is meeting with Senator Ruud to discuss.
Doug Carnival serves on the MNSE board and added that the intent of the bill is to add money into the tourism world and find a way to have a long-term plan to attract large events to Minnesota. Suggested MNSE make presentation at a future Council meeting.
Communications/PR – Amy Barrett & Alyssa Hayes:
Since January 2022, estimated audience reach is 570 million. Working with our PR vendor (Weber Shandwick) to pitch events and destinations across the state to national and regional publications.
PR activity includes outreach on NCAA Women’s Final Four, spring activities, summer activities, opportunistic pitching and national desk side meetings. Working to promote Minnesota during National Travel & Tourism Week, May 1-7. Also producing Minnesota Hotdish which is a quarterly newsletter providing timely news, seasonal topics, etc. to our media contacts. Trending topics include focus on US domestic travel, inspiring bucket list trip planning, accessible travel, sustainable/eco travel, wildflower viewing, seasonal events.
Publication highlights include the distribution of the 2022 Travel Guide, which received an Adrian award (excellence in hospitality advertising award). Work will begin next month on 2023 guide. Ad sales for the 2022-23 Fishing Guide went great. 2021 Annual Report is digital only and can be found here:
Cereal box featured the mammoth (mammoth on display at Bell Museum) to show that the pandemic had a mammoth impact on tourism industry.
There will not be a Spring edition of Explorer. This is moving to Star Tribune Magazine (June edition), which has a circulation of 174,000. EMT will get 60k copies to distribute. As an added value, content will also be included in Twin Cities Values.
International Marketing Return - Market Development Update – Nicole Lalum:
Strategy for International Marketing 2022 – Future: Explore Minnesota will be working with Brand USA for current and future international activities. EMT has already done multichannel digital ads and are bringing an influencer to Minnesota through Brand USA’s program. Other strategies include working with Visit USA committees that we are a member of and continuing to work with our rep firm in China to do social media activities.
Group Tour Strategy Activities: In January, Explore Minnesota attended the American Bus Association’s trade show in Texas , the first trade show we have been to since March 2020. We continue to work with group tour companies and our DMO partners in this sector. Explore Minnesota will also be putting out a quarterly newsletter for the group tour market to give updates about what is happening in Minnesota for groups.
Upcoming Shows & Activities:
· Presentation to 200 German operators at Visit USA Germany virtual roadshow on March 10th
· Quarterly newsletters for both international media and group tour operators coming in March
Industry Relations – Nicole Lalum:
Industry Opportunities for 2022: EMT is contracting with Miles Partnership to sell our 2023 Travel Guide. Miles will also be involved in our digital opportunities, banner advertising on the consumer website, featured business listings and the online lead generation program. E-newsletters will continue to be trafficked by Explore Minnesota staff and there are still avails in Events, Fishing and Birding but the others (Travel, Winter Trails and Fall Colors) are either sold out or close to it.
Website Changes/Community Brochure Program: The online lead generation program is moving to a paid program on the consumer website effective April 1, 2022. 58 current participants and recent past participants have been notified of the change. New in the program is a thumbnail image for the DMO on the order page along with the option to have a digital download or link only. Prices range from $300 - $1,500 annually.
Review 2022 Marketing Grant: One million dollars in funding with a 1:1 cash match and no geographical requirements. Solicitation was open from 12/8/21 to 3/1/22 but funding was exhausted on 2/18/22 (10 days before close).
Marketing grant breakout: 104 Recipients/35 Southern; 23 Central; 20 Metro;11 Northwest;
11 Northeast; 4 Statewide.
Co-ops: A second round of co-op programs is available with expanded opportunities. Added a Meetings & Conventions category that includes four new programs. There is also additional availability in some of the most popular digital programs as well as another issue of Mpls/St.Paul Magazine .
Beth and Lauren participating in Destination Capitol Hill in Washington DC in April. DCH is organized through U.S. Travel and is a national effort to bring tourism to the forefront. It is an opportunity to meet with Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to discuss the important of tourism to Minnesota.
Marketing –Jaye Peterson, Adventure and Kallie Hagerman, True Media:
Campaign Launch: To date, the campaign has seen the following increases after consumer has seen the ad: 9% awareness; 18% favorability; 23% consideration; 41% travel intent; 70% familiarity.
Website traffic continues to improve winter over winter. Pageviews, website sessions, and e-newsletter sign ups have all improved significantly when comparing to FY20 and 21.
Media and Creative Strategy: Key current geographic markets are MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, MI, NE, SD, ND and CO. Expanding into the following markets: MT, WY, UT, IN and OH.
Priority niches are paddling, golf and events. Returning to national market with these niches.
Key partnerships will include Paddling Magazine, TripAdvisor,Outside Magazine, Golfweek, Backpacker, and African America Golfer’s Digest. Will also work with AFAR on LGBTQ+ focused articles for spring/summer.
Testing new innovative strategies and expanding platforms across TikTok, Pinterest, Spotify and Pandora.
Testing new digital data partners with ADARA, SOJERN, DATAFY and illumin.
Will also Beta Test for targeting with theTradeDesk. This will use first party data to target users in campaigns. Testing to set up for success when third party cookies are phased out.
Campaign Evolution : Is Find Your True North still the most resonant message? Went through strategic process on this campaign to evaluate.
Findings: slow travel is about entire journey, not just destination; conscious travel is purpose-driven;
wellness travel is for both mental and physical wellness; multigenerational travel is especially attractive among diverse audiences.
Also held focus groups in spring 2021 to understand motivation for travelers.
Always monitor competitors and watch where they are moving their campaigns.
FYTN moved toward emotional messages. Competition has caught up to a similar message.
Strategic Opportunity: Travel trends show more thoughtful connections and shared experiences.
Travelers dream of feeling part of a bigger story.
Brought FYTN modifications and new concepts to focus groups and are now modifying the campaign toward an emotional response.
Campaign framework was thoughtfully designed to achieve macro goals of deepening emotional connections, increasing differentiation and driving traveler engagement.
Dream State campaign has been created and will feature one :30 and two :15 spots. Print ads will include QR codes.
Dream State Toolkit
Dream State Ad
Strategic Direction Status – Lauren Bennett McGinty:
Know Minnesota; Go Minnesota; Grow Minnesota.
Council members are asked to complete the strategic planning survey which can be found at:
Will use input to mold EMT’s strategic direction, which will be announced around July 1.
At this time, Explore Minnesota staff were excused from the remainder of the Council meeting.
Coraggio facilitated the remainder of the agenda to walk through strategic planning exercise with the Council.
Future Council Meetings:
Wednesday, June 1
Tuesday, September 13
Thursday, December 1
A recording of this meeting is available https://youtu.be/KQmotGHkaKE .
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM
Thursday, December 2, 2021
10 am – 12 noon
Members: Bob Bierscheid, Rep. Matt Bliss, Tracy Boldt, Jean Bowman, Rep. Shelly Christensen, Megan Christiansen, Chuck Dougherty, Steve Dowling, Alison Fogarty, Robert Herman, Sen. Susan Kent, Marianna Khauv, David Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Molly Luther, Terry Mattson, Cynthya Porter, Xinyi Qian, Sen. Carrie Ruud, Maureen Scallen Failor, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: Amy Barrett, Lauren Bennett McGinty, Lisa Havelka, Alyssa Hayes, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Gretchen Nussbaum, Lori Peterson, Julie Ramer, Derek Ramthun
Guests: Michelle Benson, Joel Carlson, Laura Cederberg, Matt Cerar, Annalee Garletz, Kallie Hagerman, Meredith Kessler, Tony Kwilas, Meghan McCollum, Gina Nacey, Elisabeth Nowak, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Liz Rammer, Kallie Quinn, Jessica Tabbutt, Anna Thill, Shannon Thomasser, Julie Wearn, Ben Wogslund
Proposed 2022 Council Meeting Dates
Introduction of Executive Director Lauren Bennett McGinty: Welcome to Explore Minnesota’s new Executive Director Lauren Bennett McGinty! Lauren has worked in nonprofit management for over 10 years. Most recently, Lauren was the Executive Director and lobbyist for the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.
Introduction of Council Members: Council members and guests took the opportunity to introduce themselves and their affiliations.
Approval of September Council Meeting: Minutes from the September 14th Council meeting were previously emailed. Motion to approve the minutes as submitted was introduced by Maureen Scallen Failor and seconded by Cynthya Porter. Motion carried.
Agency Status – Leann Kispert:
Teleworking: Return to office has been pushed back again. Currently, there is not a specified date on when Explore Minnesota staff will return to the office.
Staff may now travel to meetings if vaccinated or test negative for COVID. Virtual meetings preferred if this option is available. State employees attending meetings in person must follow state protocol of masking and 6-foot distance.
Hiring: Vacancies that need to be filled now that hiring freeze has been lifted:
Governor’s Opener Events: Explore Minnesota played a significant role in openers with Governor’s office. Currently, reviewing process of hosting the 2022 GFO. 2021 Pheasant Opener took place, but EMT did not play a role. Future of Deer Opener to be determined.
Review Legislative Priorities Leading up to Session – Beth Helle: EMT provided our legislative requests to the Council via email on October 22 which included:
· Housekeeping: Seeking six additional Council seats. These seats are for: Tribal Nations, Sports, Arts/Culture, Outdoor Recreation, Chambers of Commerce - Underrepresented Communities; Tourism Business – Underrepresented Communities.
· Fiscal: $6 million to create Tourism Recovery Grant Program. Specific to meetings and conventions, group business, events and general tourism marketing. We received $750,000 last year for recovery grant program for small, no match grants. All funding was awarded within first 8 hours of application opening.
EMT met with Council legislative representatives to discuss priorities. Council legislative representatives stressed the importance of more face time as we move forward. Share stories at statewide and local level. Plan is to have 2022 Senate hearings in person. Can make appointments in senate offices if comfortable doing.
Public Policy Committee will meet January 12 at 10 a.m. Terry Mattson chairs this committee.
EDA Update – Mike Meyer : EDA approved application for $9 million, which includes $4 million to EMT. Legislative advisory committee reviewed and approved. A kickoff meeting with EDA will be held December 13. Working with DEED to go through reimbursement process.
What is needed from Council for legislative priorities:
· We already need to start planning for 2023 session.
· There is a strong need to tell a better story about importance of tourism industry. What data points are needed to help support this story?
· Legislative members serving on the Council recommend strong messaging. EMT’s bills go through Environmental Committee (both positive and negative).
· Promote the health and wellness message. Tourism plays a vital role in this.
· There is a lot of good data available. Need fresh way to share. It is statewide. Talk about jobs, ROI. Show this data every year. ROI is good data but need to freshen up how we say it. Need PR, research assistance. Events funding received good feedback because it was a new idea.
· Opportunity to add human element. Example: lodging revenue dropped by 90% in one month
· Share community level stories that are impactful from business/community impact. Without tourism spending, how would that impact every Minnesotan?
· We have included valuable information in the past. Tell in different way. Tourism is an investment for every resident in the state. EMT is a statewide asset. Enhancing state image. Our efforts open so many other doors for the state. COVID and reputation management is needed.
· Need great testimonials from around the state. Encourage all to send stories in soon.
Listening Sessions Recap and Industry Survey – Beth Helle: Strategic Direction was discussed at the September meeting. Since then, four listening sessions were held October 7 & 12, with approximately 175 industry participants. Followed up with industry engagement survey; received approximately 236 responses to the survey. Summary deck of industry engagement survey was shared. Recordings of the listening sessions can be found at Listening Sessions / Tourism Industry Minnesota (mn.gov)
Strategic Direction Status – Lauren Bennett McGinty: Moving forward, the Strategic Direction will align with our fiscal year (July 1- June 30) and not the calendar year. Will have an outline for next 6 months. In June, we will have a broader strategic direction for following year.
Marketing – Jaye Peterson, Kallie Quinn, Meghan McCollum from Adventure:
Fall and Winter 2022 : strong seasonal growth and continue optimization:
· Double digit lift results across key brand measures
· Maintaining and growing digital channels despite significant drop in spend year over year (YoY)
Fall Campaign Highlights
· Awareness, familiarity and favorability: Exceeding benchmark in all three areas.
· Despite significant drop in spend, the campaign is growing momentum.
· Google will be taking away third-party cookies. In 2022, EMT must focus on first-party lead generation strategies.
· Top campaign performer: Hiking. Saw 30% brand awareness lift
· 24% of consumers reached with our media have traveled to/in Minnesota. Top geographies impacted by our ads: Denver, Missouri, South Dakota.
· Diverse audiences saw the highest behavioral lift: Asian travelers- 26% lift; Hispanic travelers saw 31% lift.
FY22 Winter Campaign
· Winter spot has been running since 11/15. Strong performer for video engagement.
· Also featuring niche creative through museums and winter recreation.
· Working to connect with diverse audiences. Partnering with AFAR (travel publisher) to connect these audiences.
· Driving engagement with digital display and social presence. Facebook and Instagram are top performers.
FY22 Spring/Summer/ Campaign
· Has been filmed and captured. In production and editing stage.
Public Relations – Alyssa Hayes:
PR Highlights for CY21:
· Included in outlets that cover travel, food, leisure entertainment, general consumer, business and trade
· Seeing coverage returning to pre-pandemic numbers.
· Generating coverage by inbound media requests and working with Weber Shandwick on desk side meetings.
· Final Q4 media outreach underway: Holiday activities press release going out December 2.
· Holiday shopping, holiday attractions and towns, Minnesota winter adventures, national side desk outreach
· 2022 Q1 stories include: Minnesota winter adventures, NCCAA women’s Final Four, Minnesota in bloom, continued opportunistic pitch and desk side outreach planned.
· Trends seeing for spring travel: safe and affordable, outdoors, socially distanced. Focusing on domestic travel. State and national parks. Inspiring, bucket-list trip planning; new and noteworthy announcements continue to grab national attention, such as MN’s recent International Dark Sky certifications.
· 2022 topline goals: continue to position the state in local, regional and national travel conversation. Move MN’s destination brand and travel economy forward. Reach new audiences across demos and locations; align PR with niche marketing efforts in target markets.
Weber Shandwick and EMT have produced the Minnesota Hotdish newsletter that promotes latest travel tips, destination news and stories from the Land of 10,000 lakes.
International Marketing Return/Market Development Update – Beth Helle, Leann Kispert and Alyssa Hayes:
Canada “Welcome Back” Campaign : Border reopened on November 8. EMT was ready to welcome tourists back. Created a targeted campaign that was promoted in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. Campaign elements included search engine marketing, targeted billboards, and print insertion in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay newspapers (including insertion of 20k MN Travel Guides in Winnipeg). Shared creative with Minnesota Welcome Centers for digital messaging. Paid social media began around November 1 with several messages and creative elements. Used to track consumer sentiment in Canada. Sent media kits to Canadian media which were well received. Conducted media interviews all week. Senator Klobuchar held a press conference and Governor Walz proclaimed Canadian Travelers Day on November 8. Results are already showing Canada up 300% YoY; up over 36% from 2019.
As Canadian travelers leave the U.S., they must take a COVID test to reenter Canada. This is a major issue as testing facilities are not readily available. A task force has been created to work on this. EMT’s role is to communicate the correct resources for travel planning and testing requirement.
International Marketing : Restarting international marketing with our target markets, with the exception of Asia. Entering with caution as some target market countries are returning to lockdown/partial lockdown, limiting travel. U.S. estimated recovery time for international travel is about 24 months out. Connecting flights are returning. International travelers are so important as they typically stay twice as long as domestic travelers and spend three times as much, also bring new dollars into state. Our primary partner in international marketing is Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the U.S.
International recovery will be led by national parks.
Group Tour: Group tour has been paused for several months. This has been an important market segment for Minnesota and has changed dramatically over the years. Need to evolve our approach and integrate group opportunities into our overall consumer messaging – publications, website, etc.
Upcoming Shows and Activities: Attending American Bus Association (ABA) show in early January. This show attracts several thousand attendees. EMT is expecting approximately 40 one-on-one appointments and leads will be available and shared with the industry.
Industry Education – Beth Helle:
Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference: Will be held March 1 at the Sheraton Minnetonka. Registration is $99. Keynote speakers include PJ Fleck, Amanda Brinkman and Adam Sacks. Awards will be presented during luncheon. Space is limited to 250 attendees. Registration will be open soon – more information shared in EMT Express and through dedicated emails. Tourism Conference / Tourism Industry Minnesota (mn.gov)
Educational Webinars: Two sessions have been presented. Remaining sessions will be held January 11 “The Power of Hospitality in Leadership, Business and Life” by Taylor Scott and on February 8 “No Budget? No Problem! Digital Marketing Moves to Make Now that Get the Most Bang for Your Nonexistent Buck” by Shelia Scarborough.
Industry Opportunities for 2022 – Beth Helle:
2022 Marketing Grant Program: Applications will be accepted beginning at 9 am on December 8 and closes in March, or until all funds are used ($1,000,000 available). This program is funded solely from our general fund budget. Previously, the max award was $7k; increased to $15k this round. All matches are all 1:1. Trying to promote collaborate initiatives. New tactics are included in guidelines. Training webinar was held December 1. Marketing grant webinar was recorded and available
Grant application can be found at MGP22 Application_tcm1135-509975.pdf (mn.gov)
Co-ops: Will be taking a different approach. Committed to evolve program through the year. Launching several new meetings and coops in January.
A full recording of this meeting is available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M7-C2Q5hQU
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM
Tuesday, September 14
10 am – 12 noon
Members: Bo Bigelow, Jean Bowman, Megan Christianson, Chuck Dougherty, Steve Dowling, Maureen Failor, Bob Herman, Bud Johnston, Sen. Susan Kent, Marianna Khauv, Dave Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Molly Luther, Terry Mattson, Peter Mihajlov, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: Amy Barrett, Lisa Havelka, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Mike Meyer, Sean Lydon, Gretchen Nussbaum, Lori Peterson, Julie Ramer, Derek Ramthun, John Schultz
Guests: Joel Carlson, Matt Cera, Kallie Hagerman, Meghan McCollum, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Jessica Tabbutt, Anna Thill, Xinyi Qian, Julie Wearn, Ben Wogsland
Welcome & Approval of Minutes: Minutes from the June 9th Council meeting were previously emailed. Motion to approve minutes as submitted was introduced by Maureen Failor and seconded by Steve Dowling. All council members in attendance in favor of passing the minutes as submitted. Motion carried.
EMT Staff and Office Status – Leann Kispert:
Director Search & Hiring: Leann Kispert continues to serve as Interim Director for the agency. Interviews are being held with hiring committee. The committee will make recommendations to Governor/Lt. Governor and top three candidates will interview with Governor. Hope to have announcement in October.
Hiring freeze for State of Minnesota has been lifted. EMT currently has two postings for Welcome Centers – one at Thompson Hill, the other at Moorhead. Also hiring a marketing coordinator. Working on position description for content creator for communications team; this position was vacated by Brian Fanelli.
Congratulations to Derek Ramthun on his appointment to NE Regional Representative. He will also continue his duties as EMT’s marketing strategist overseeing our co-op marketing program.
Introduction of New Research Analyst : Welcome to Gretchen Nussbaum, EMT’s new research analyst.
Status on EMT Return to Office: Pushed back to January 2022, at the earliest. Staff are only allowed essential business travel; travel is very minimal. State implemented vaccination policy – staff who are required to be in the workplace must be vaccinated or test weekly.
Marketing – Adventure/True Media – Callie Hagerman and Meghan McCollum:
Spring Summer Campaign Recap:
· Over 187 million impressions as a result of the campaign. 17% were added value.
· Drove over 734k pageviews from paid media.
· MN Scoop - one of the most efficient & best received campaigns of the year by the metrics
· Diversity efforts – generating strong engagement
· Search Campaign – outperforming benchmark
· Food & Drink - 40% more efficient than average. Culinary campfire series, featuring chef Yia Vang, contributed to the success of the food & drink niche.
Visitation Study Results: 15% of consumers reached with our media have traveled to/in Minnesota. Reached 3.1 million travelers with our media.
Summer Website Traffic up well beyond pre-pandemic 2019 levels:
· + 11% website sessions
· + 33% pageviews
o Seeing pageviews vastly outpace session volume growth at this clip demonstrates an appetite for travel content from visitors, along with underscoring some potential successes of the new website vs. old site
Fall Overview :
· Previewed brand and dining spots, which are presently in market
· Sponsored content: Backpacker Hiking article, AFAR Articles (supporting black businesses and best hikes with Dudley Edmondson)
Mercury Award @ ESTO: Congratulations to EMT for its ‘ Best of Broadcast Advertising: TV ’ recognition, edging out some State DMO competitors with significantly larger production budgets.
Public Policy Report:
Industry Survey Recap – Gretchen Nussbaum : Summer 2021 Tourism and Hospitality Industry Survey. Full recap can be found at https://mn.gov.tourism-industry/research/reports.jsp
· 74% of firms growing or in a stable but positive financial position.
· Summer customer demand varied by region. Summer 2021 customer demand relative to supply capacity varied by region.
· Summer lodging revenue up strongly, except in southern region. Higher summer 2021 revenue relative to summer 2020 for 81% or more of overnight accommodations.
· Food and drink establishments’ summer revenue more varied by region.
· Return to pre-pandemic levels varies by business (and season). 34% of firms at or close to pre-pandemic business levels and 41% more expect to be by end of 2022.
· Tight labor availability continues to pose a challenge. Very tight labor availability reported by 63% of firms.
· Fall 2021 lodging revenue expectations differ by regions. Accommodations’ fall revenue outlooks range from 73% of metro to 49% of central MN firms expecting higher revenue relative to 2020.
· Somewhat higher fall 2021 revenue expectations for food and drink establishments in 4 of 5 regions.
· Travelers are frustrated with impacts of understaffing at restaurants.
· Outside of metro travel: when talking to guests, there is a feeling of safety when they leave the metro. Huge trend for summer travel to out of metro (may be temporary).
· Ability to staff is an enormous issue; not sure how that will trend. EMT will ask questions about labor availability on future surveys.
· Hospitality Minnesota notes that survey data showed regional differences/across sectors, i.e. Hotel/motel vs resorts/campgrounds.
· DEED projecting 80k workers coming off unemployment with the expiration of expanded benefits.
· In full report, did call out comments about customers’ expectations from the business perspective.
· Labor shortage was a talking point in press release and media interviews.
· Asking customers to be patient. Industry is working to provide best possible experience possible. Tried to get messaging out to general public.
Minnesota’s allocation on non-competitive EDA funds is $9.194 million
· DEED is designated lead agency and coordinating the application.
· Governor Walz has approved the following allocations and purposes:
o DNR: $4 million for paddling infrastructure projects
o EMT: $4 million for out-of-state tourism marketing
o DEED: $1 million for talent recruitment campaign
A look at the competition: Wisconsin received $5.56 million in EDA and $7.5 million in ARP; North Dakota received $2.7 million in EDA and $7 million in CARES; Michigan received $10.3 million in EDA; Illinois received $18.4 million in EDA; Wyoming received $2.7 million from EDA.
Please note: this information is preliminary and pending approval in some states; final funding amounts may differ.
EDA competitive grant :
· $240 million available through competitive grant program (must be used for construction/infrastructure projects, job creative, economic development initiatives, etc.)
· Applications directly through EDA. First priority deadline is January 2022
EDA competitive grant updated from University of Minnesota Tourism Center: Need clarification if project can cross EDA districts. Minnesota designated to Chicago office. Goal is to work with design team members to pull together a proposal. Hope to cross to make it a national proposal. Otherwise, Great Lakes grant colleagues will submit grant proposal before end of 2021.
Minnesota State ARP Funds: How state will use/divide available funds will be debated during the next legislative session. State of Minnesota/MMB has sent out a survey to gather input on how to use ARP funds. Survey closes Sept. 17. Encourage tourism to take the survey and recommend how money can continue to support tourism in Minnesota. Governor will make supplemental budget recommendations and legislature must approve/vote. Want tourism and hospitality at the top, so encourage all to take the survey! Survey can be found at: https://mngov/mmb/arp/
2022 Legislative Housekeeping and Budget Requests – Beth Helle :
· Housekeeping request: Additional Council seats – 6 seats - Arts/Culture, Sports, Tribal Nations, Outdoor Recreation, Chambers of Commerce - Underrepresented Communities, Tourism Business Owner – Underrepresented Communities
· Not seeking change to revenue / match funds language this session
· Budget requests - In 2019, EMT dedicated $950k to industry programs (grants, coops) aside from new events grant money. Last year, this was tripled to $3 million (20% of overall budget) because many of EMT’s programs were paused. Last session, we asked for $6 million for recovery grants; we received $750k. Our request for next legislative session is due in early October.
What is industry looking for/support through next session?
o So many success stories to point to. Need to share stories about how crisis grant program impacted every corner of the state.
o Fragility of recovery.
o We are at a vulnerable time. 2/3 of food service/restaurants took on debt during COVID. There is a real need for this industry. Will continue to advocate for direct relief to those operating right now (Hospitality Minnesota).
o Need to expand the workforce.
o Council/industry needs to drive this. Cannot just be lobbyists asking for money. Need industry support.
o Industry survey results: some of the industry (resorts) may be back at pre-pandemic numbers. Not everyone is recovering equally. Southern and metro are hurting. Show/share more data that full recovery has not happened equally. Tourism is front door to economic recovery. Show how dollars benefit other areas of the economy. Need to show strong message of why this investment is still necessary. Still need state assistance. Need Council and industry to speak in united voice.
o General recovery grant money is what would be best in this budget year. (Last request: Requested $2 million last year – one in each year of the biennium.)
o Local units of government were added to new grant language.
o What is dollar amount request EMT should make, and do we have right supporting data for request? $1 million should be the floor.
o Areas that still need direct help: Lodging industry in metro; events; DMOs. Funding is going to public safety, unsheltered residents. Destination marketing doesn’t seem to be a priority. Tourism has immediate needs - staffing is cut, struggling to bring conventions to town. Need marketing dollars and help in guiding EDA opportunities through Chicago office as far as we package capital approvement, infrastructure. Need to learn more and act quickly.
Industry Relations – Beth Helle:
Recovery Grants : EMT received $750k for use in immediate projects. Guidelines posted this week, also hosted webinar to review guidelines with the industry. This is a totally different program. Information can be found at: Grant Programs / Tourism Industry Minnesota (mn.gov) Grant awards up to $20k. Funding limits based on overall budget. No match required. On first come, first review basis. Application is available and regional team can answer questions now. Accepting applications beginning September 15. Projects must be completed by June 30, 2022.
International/Market Development Update : Boarders for international travel again restricted to the United States. IPW taking place in Las Vegas at the end of September. EMT will not be participating but some partners are still attending. Also had to cancel BrandUSA Travel Week in UK due to travel restrictions for staff as well as those of clients attending this event. Uncertain of NTA (National Tour Association) in November. Cancelled Group Tour Showcase in October. Continue to be in close contact with international partners. Currently running print in domestic trade publications to maintain our visibility. Working on international coop marketing (Rocky Mountain International + North Dakota) to create new international itinerary to launch when the time is right – Great Lakes to Great Plains.
Explore Minnesota Speaker Series : Kicks off October 5th leading up to the 2022 Annual Tourism Conference. Each of the 30-minute webinars will be followed by a live Q&A as an opportunity address some of today's most relevant professional development and marketing topics. They will take place on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. CST.
Oct. 5: Uncommon Connections: Cultivating a Trusted Network presented by Thom Singer.
Nov. 9: Cultural Sensitivity for the Accidentally Insensitive presented by Shannan Paul.
Jan. 11: The Power of Hospitality in Leadership, Business and Life presented by Taylor Scott.
Feb. 8: No Budget? No Problem! Digital Marketing Moves to Make Now That Get the Most Bang for Your Nonexistent Bucks presented by Shelia Scarborough.
2022 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference : Conference will be held March 1, 2022. RFP has been issued, to be held within the 7-county metro area. This will be a one-day, hybrid conference. Tourism marketing awards will be presented at luncheon. Review RFP here . All questions to be directed to MMB and proposals due October 1, 2021.
Fall Listening Sessions : Currently scheduled for October 6 and 7 but may be changing dates due to MACVB conflict. There will be a total of four listening sessions; two for DMO/Lodging specifically; two where everyone is welcome. This will help to inform agency priorities for strategic planning. Would like Council members to be involved. Please let Beth Helle know which sessions you can attend so that we can introduce you as a member of the Council.
Strategic Planning – Leann Kispert and Beth Helle:
Thank you to those who responded prior to today’s meeting. Additional comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Will prepare an initial, abbreviated plan for 6 months (January – June 2022) and update in spring of 2022 for July 2022-June 2023.
· Draft plan available by November 1, will send out for review.
· Public posting and input from November 15-November 29.
· Council will review final draft at December meeting.
· Council strategic planning session will be moved to December (used to be held at June meeting).
Following are the questions Council members are asked to respond to:
· Biggest obstacles to industry recovery that EMT can address with its scope or influence
· How can EMT best help to accelerate industry recovery within its scope or influence
· Research or metrics to strengthen the perception of tourism as an essential industry in Minnesota: (What data do we need to strengthen our story telling; strengthen the perception of tourism in Minnesota.)
· What could EMT do to support or engage your constituency that we are not currently
· What do you see as the most important action EMT should take as a marketing organization in the next year?
Council Comments to above questions:
· NEW: meetings and conventions industry: road to recovery. What is EMT’s space in helping with meetings and conventions recovery: Please share your thoughts with EMT on this.
· Opportunity to help remind planners about Minnesota as a safe, affordable and desirable meeting location. Does impact resorts/hotels with meeting space, not just convention centers. Definitely a role for EMT. How can we be effective partners?
· Tremendous opportunity to work together. Most of the focus is on tourism and travel but must maintain meetings/conventions sector. Need EMT’s help to assist in brand image.
· Every destination (particularly metro) scrambling to book/rebook business. Little less cooperation right now. Need to have cooperative effort to partner with bigger image.
· Area where EMT can assist: Co-op for data/software tools (similar to EMT dashboard), track credit card spend in the area. Powerful tool for DMOs to have in order to educate elected officials on the power of tourism. Research firms are starting to get into dashboards and monitoring. Could be more options on the table. Very expensive but all need to tell our story around data points.
· Explore Minnesota and MN Department of Natural Resources meeting in early October to learn intentions of 2022 fishing opener. Liked statewide fishing competition like at the Ottertail County opener in May 2021.
· Deer Opener in November: EMT has not heard anything
· EMT is not as the lead agency but as support and community liaison for openers.
Future Council Meeting Dates :
December 2. Will be virtual.
Return Strategic Planning questionnaire to Leann Kispert this week.
Retirement Party for John Edman:
Invitation to all Council members for John Edman’s retirement party: October 5 (MACVB conference). Will be held from 5-7 pm at Radisson Blu at Mall of America.
View the recording of the Council meeting here: https://youtu.be/XnWqjcg1vHw
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Members: Bob Bierscheid, Bo Bigelow, Rep. Matt Bliss, Jean Bowman, Stephanie Busiahn, Megan Christianson, Steve Dowling, Maureen Scallen Failor, Alison Fogarty, Robert Herman, Senator Susan Kent, Marianna Khauv, Dave Langhoff, Molly Luther, Peter Mihajlov, Terry Mattson, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: Amy Barrett, Lisa Havelka, Alyssa Hayes, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Lori Peterson, Julie Ramer, Derek Ramthun, Glori Rantz, John Schultz
Guests: Mary Anderson, Rep. Dave Baker, Michelle Benson, Laura Cederberg, Matt Cerar, Annalee Garletz, Todd Hill, Meredith Kessler, Tony Kwilas, Megan McCollum, Gina Nacey, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Kallie Quinn, Liz Rammer, Anna Thill, Julie Wearn
Welcome & Approval of Minutes – Leann Kispert: EMT Director and Council Chair John Edman retired last week. Leann Kispert introduced herself and is serving as interim director. Explore Minnesota’s Director position is posted through June 28 at www.mn.gov/careers, Job Opening ID: 46215.
Approval of Meeting Minutes: Minutes from the March 10 meeting were previously emailed. Motion to approve minutes as submitted was introduced by Peter Mihajlov and seconded by Jean Bowman. All council members in attendance in favor of passing the minutes as submitted. Motion carried.
Council Appointments: Welcome to our new Council members: Representative Matt Bliss, Senator Susan Kent and Molly Luther (representing retail).
Thank you to Stephanie Busiahn who is resigning from the Council effective June 9.
New EMT Communications Manager: Welcome to Amy Barrett, EMT’s new Communications Manager. Today is her first day with Tourism. She recently worked at MN Department of Human Services. Prior to that, she worked at DNR with State Parks and Trails.
Research Position : Pat Simmons retired April 2021. Hoping to have someone on board by mid-July. Contact Leann for any research items during this time.
Welcome Centers : Some staff layoffs occurred in December. Several staff have now returned. Welcome Centers reopened prior to Memorial Day. Hours of operation are Thursday through Sundays, 9 am – 5 pm. Staff are also working on several behind the scene projects. Putting together brochure packets; travelers can simply pick up and go. Very popular.
Public Policy – Sarah Psick, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove:
Legislative Report - Sarah Psick: Legislative session ended, moving into special session on June 14. Capitol building reopening.
No proposed cuts to funding. Both the House and Senate bills included increased grant funding. Sent letter to Governor and legislators that federal ARP dollars should be used for tourism/hospitality industry.
EMT put in request for ARP dollars; $10 million for targeted marketing for communities such as metro and NW angle. Also requested for group business/group tours, conventions, sports marketing.
Government shutdown would begin July 1 if budget is not finalized.
MTGC Report – Sarah Psick : Seeking additional funding for EMT to cover recovery and additional grants for tourism. Introduced bill for recovery of tourism funding. Funded through environment committee.
· Workforce issue is a crisis right now. Federal dollars are needed in this industry. Getting applicants for jobs, but applicants not showing up for interviews. Need to provide bonuses for those working rather than rewarding those who aren’t working. Government cannot be part of problem of keeping employees from working.
· Recovery is not uniform across the tourism industry. NW Angle is in crisis with the border closing. Cannot get guests from U.S. or Canada. Lost 90 percent of bookings.
· 18% of job applicants are responding to openings. Need to do something about staffing issues.
· Restaurants opening at 100% is visual, not reality due to staffing issues. Most recent survey shows that 58% of restaurants and 57% of hotels may collapse due to pandemic. Lost $11 billion in sales in hospitality and tourism.
· Hearing same things in Brainerd Lakes area. A few years ago, legislation was created to allow high school students to work at area venues. Now having difficulty hiring anyone, including students. Paul Bunyan Land is closed two days a week due to lack of staffing. Local resort offering $25 an hour for weekend cabin cleaners.
DEED Commissioner Steve Grove: Thanks to this Council for their work during this time. Need to promote state to the rest of the world. There is a huge link between economic recovery and tourism. Remaining $1.2 billion (ARP funding) will be going through supplemental budget process.
· Recovery is happening but can’t find employees. Bill 2648 introduced that allows for bonus to pay out if you stay with your employer, in lieu of additional $300 for unemployment. DEED is hearing this worker shortage especially in hospitality industry. Other issues that are causing employment crisis are health concerns, childcare assistance needs.
· $300 in unemployment is keeping people at home. Childcare/daycare in rural MN/heavy regulation for them: Family center child centers have dropped off.
· Metro recovery is open, back to business but things are far from normal. ARP dollars are very much needed in the metro. Brand challenges in Twin Cities. Putting health first was the good/right decision. Need resources to get back on track. Not business as usual.
· What is Administration’s decision on ARP funding? Commissioner Grove indicated that these discussions will pick up after budget discussions. Advocacy from tourism industry is needed to let Administration know where money is needed. The need is now.
· Budget is so critical to this industry. Peter Mihajlov referenced $250,000 grants for educational purposes. Currently there are 100 schools offering the ProStart grants, which engages and educates high school students interested in exploring restaurant and food service jobs and careers.
Industry Survey Recap: Results of the Spring industry survey can be found at https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/assets/Spring%202021%20Hospitality%20Survey%20Recap%20FINAL_tcm1135-484117.pdf
Marketing – Jaye Peterson, Meghan McCollum, Kallie Quinn/Adventure:
Spring/Summer Campaign Highlights ; Staggered launch in April and May with video, general, road tripping, camping, food + drink (niche markets). Over 81 million impressions served from April 1- June 8 with 1.1 million site sessions.
Website traffic: 140 % increase in new users; 144% increased website sessions. When compared to 2019 increase of 6.3% new users; website sessions down 4.7%.
Initial results from visitation study: 16% of consumers reached with our media have traveled to/in Minnesota. Groups most impacted:
18-24 years: increase 11 %
25-34 years: increase 7 %
African American: increase 10%
Hispanic: increase 7%
MN residents: increase 12%
Mn Scoop Promotion : Summer experiential campaign. Promotion launched on June 1 across FB, Instagram and MPR. Nearly 100 ice cream shops are participating. Great response received already! Audience excited: over 36k page views on shop list. Was the top viewed page on site this past week.
FY22 Strategic Planning : COVID has hit many industries and communities. FY22 brand campaign goals are to deepen emotional connections, increase differentiation, drive traveler engagement.
Find Your True North: Is Find Your True North still the most resonant message for our audience? Addressing travelers desire for self actualization (finding yourself, introspective journey and cultivating inner peace).
Council comments: Group travel is big/powerful. Minnesota offers a diverse experience in what we have to offer. Need to stay relevant. Don’t want to throw out all of the work that has already been done. Good to look at FYTN 2.0. Difficult to figure out what the future will be.
Industry trends point to a desire for deeper, more thoughtful connection: slow travel, conscious travel, wellness travel, multi-generational travel.
Quality study reveals the importance of shared experience: sharing with grandchildren, spouses, friends, extended families. The thing travelers missed most about trips was meeting, interacting with new people.
FY22 Niche Campaigns : Fall focuses on food + drink, hiking. Winter will highlight skiing/snowboarding and museums. Spring/summer is live music, golf, and paddling.
Industry Relations – Beth Helle:
National Travel & Tourism Week Recap : Created our own campaign with Power of Travel message presented in the menu format, along with message of gratitude. Yielded 3 million impressions.
Governor’s Fishing Opener Recap – Nicole Lalum: 2020 event cancelled in Otter Tail County. Otter Tail agreed to host in 2021 in a much different manner. Invited media to fish and showcase host community area. Worked very closely with MN Department of Health. Governor Walz attended media row, fished and visited with local businesses. GFO netted 376 million in estimated audience reach and 399 media hits across print, broadcast, radio and online. Had a record number of 17 social media influencers attend. DNR and EMT discussing future of all openers. Fairmont has withdrawn their bid to host the 2021 Pheasant Opener. Deer Opener: No community on board.
Brand Reputation Survey – Laura Cederberg: Weber will survey potential travelers from key domestic markets and MN market on current attitudes towards traveling to Minnesota. Goals: Deepen understanding of top compelling reasons for visitors to travel to MN , and understand impacts the events of COVID and civil unrest and ongoing recovery from these events may have on traveler options toward planning a visit. Identify top destinations to promote via ongoing earned and paid media opportunities through 2021-22.
Editorial Strategy and Priorities for Summer/Fall : Seasonal pitching to include:
· The Road Less Traveled (hidden gems/off the beaten path)
· Summer in the Twin Cities (museums/lodging/attractions/sports and events)
· MN Scoop (explore the state/stop for ice cream to earn reward)
Industry Speakers Bureau – Alyssa Hayes : EMT is always looking for unique story ideas to be pitching. Updating key media spokespeople for various sections/attraction/associations/region, etc. Role is to participate in local/regional/national media stories as needed. Have been doing this all along but now formalizing this. If interested in participating, contact Alyssa Hayes at Alyssa.email@example.com.
Industry Relations – Beth Helle:
Annual Report : The 2020 Annual Report can be found here.
FY22 Grants: Due to pandemic, created two-phased crisis grant programs. We are currently in the middle of phase 2. Will roll out another program in January and run for calendar year. Will share in the fall.
Community Leads: Leads have been provided free during pandemic. Will continue at no cost through end of 2021. Will announce changes in the fall.
Travel Guide Sales : Kicking off ad sales for 2022. Any ads are eligible under Crisis Grant 2. Website banner advertising is also eligible.
International Update : Borders starting to open but not reciprocally. International flights slowly opening. All scheduled to return in fall, except for Dublin which will open in 2022.
BrandUSA: Continue to work closely with BrandUSA. Preparing for return to international markets.
IPW: Put on by US Travel in September 2021. All buyers come to the U.S. for international travel marketing show. Explore Minnesota will be participating, as the travel ban for state employees has been lifted.
Strategic Planning: Plan will cover 2022-2023. Will start process in August. Conduct listening sessions this fall to form plan. Full plan to be shared at September council meeting.
2022 Tourism Conference : The 2021 Tourism Conference was virtual this year. Industry is anxious to get back face to face. Benefit of virtual tourism conference is that attendance doubled, meaning we had a much broader reach. Intend to do hybrid for 2022 Conference. Will be one single day. Cost will be $100 or less. Full day would be three keynotes, three breakout sessions, three networking breakouts and tourism awards during lunch. Virtual sessions would be available for keynotes, awards and agency overview. RFP not yet created; needs to be created around event space and hotel room needs. Will be surveying past participants. Plan to hold in metro.
Other – Leann Kispert:
Office Reopening Plans: EMT staff still working at home, except for Welcome Center staff. Most state agencies are phasing staff in over the summer. Beginning July 6, EMT staff will be coming in one day a week. Anticipating that after Labor Day, EMT would go to permanent hybrid schedule. Decisions to be made in early August.
Future Council Meetings: Will continue to have remote option for future Council meetings.
2021 Council Meeting Dates:
Tuesday, September 14
Thursday, December 2
The full Council meeting recording can be viewed at https://youtu.be/BHQ1I3R9Z3Y
Explore Minnesota Tourism
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Virtual – 10 am – 12 noon
Council Members: Bob Bierscheid, Rep. Matt Bliss, Bo Bigelow, Jean Bowman, Stephanie Busiahn, Megan Christianson, Rep. Shelly Christensen, Steve Dowling, Maureen Failor Scallon, Allison Fogarty, Robert Herman, Marianna Khauv, David Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Terry Mattson, Peter Mihajlov, Xinyi Qian, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster, Danyl Vavreck
EMT Staff: David Bergman, John Edman, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Julie Ramer, John Schultz, Pat Simmons
Guests: Rep. Dave Baker, Melissa Bartalos, Joel Carlson, Laura Cederberg, Scott Mitchell, Gina Nacey, Lara Ortiz, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Kallie Quinn, Lara Ortiz, Julie Wearn
Call to Order – John Edman, Chair: Chair John Edman thanked all members and guests for joining in today’s virtual meeting. Minutes from December meeting were previously emailed. Motion to approve minutes as submitted was introduced by Megan Christianson and seconded by Jana Webster. All council members in favor of passing the minutes as submitted. Motion carried.
Tourism Conference – Beth Helle: 2021 brought Explore Minnesota its first virtual tourism conference on March 2 and 3. 650 registered attendees. Included five keynote speakers and a speed session. Had people from around the country listening in. Presentations were recorded and now available on the industry website. https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/industry-opportunities/learn-with-us/tourism-conference.jsp
Planning is now beginning for the 2022 Conference. We reached a broader audience through the 2021 virtual conference but missed the valuable face-to-face interaction. Looking at hybrid forum for next year. Hope to have more information on this at our June Council meeting.
Council members provided the following input on the conference:
Explore Minnesota will begin quarterly educational presentations in addition to webinars we already offer.
Explore Minnesota would like to thank and congratulate David Bergman, our Northwest Regional Rep for the last 31 years, on his upcoming retirement.
Public Policy Overview – Terry Mattson and John Edman: EMT budget status – testimony has been provided. Governor Walz will provide supplement budget recommendations next week. Thank you to Sarah Psick and tourism industry for their leadership and testimonies during session. Had two positive hearings in Senate. Waiting for hearing in House in next week. It is important to continue to keep tourism message out there.
Senator Ruud and Representative Christensen introduced bill to request funding for grants for one-time funding for recovery, meetings/conventions, events assistance, and funding for business coop marketing program. The Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition is sending a letter to Governor Walz today asking that Governor consider these grants in his supplemental budget.
Rep. Baker mentioned that this is his last official meeting as a Council member. Representative Bliss will be replacing him. There is bipartisan work being done to get businesses back open. Working hard to get a bright future for the hospitality and tourism industry. Must get things back open before it is too late for hiring for summer season. As other states are opening back up, it puts more pressure on Minnesota. We don’t want to lose meetings/convention business to states that are open.
Roundtable meetings: Commissioner Grove leads these meetings for events, restaurants, large venues, etc. As things continue to improve with vaccine, we are seeing gradual improvement in reopening. Hope to announce more incremental movements relatively soon.
Outdoor Rec Task Force: Last year there was a bill to create this within EMT. A task force was created and has been meeting for a year. Their report to be finalized next month. Not likely that there will be any legislation to create this office. Report is available online at DNR website. Discussions continue. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ortf/index.html
Industry Survey Update – Pat Simmons: Federal Reserve, Hospitality Minnesota and EMT conduct quarterly surveys of financial health of tourism businesses. Current survey will close today. We know that metro is hurting the most during this time. Received decent response, but down since the last survey. Once the results are all tabulated, the report will be available on the industry site.
Some preliminary responses:
Pat Simmons is retiring at the end of the month. Thank you for your years of service!
Spring Summer Marketing – Jaye Peterson: As COVID cases are dropping in Minnesota and throughout the U.S., and consumers are adapting and getting comfortable with new safety routines, we are looking at the return of travel. Consumers are experiencing “revenge travel” making up for lost time and their right to travel. Expect mindset to focus on wellness, not going to return to rat race lifestyle. When choosing a destination, travelers will increasingly want to know how this trip will contribute to their happiness and well-being. As travelers are adjusting their own behaviors to reduce risk, they will choose destinations and activities that demonstrate safety as a priority, reviewing CDD guidelines and Google trends.
Spring and summer creative campaign highlights – Gina Nacey : The marketing goal of the campaign is to use the Find Your True North campaign to communicate that Minnesota is a safe, welcoming place to explore and inspire people to reward their curiosity by planning a vacation here. The “It’s But a Blur” campaign did not run last year due to COVID; will be used this year. Adds energy, optimism and focuses on family connections. There is also a new “Just Add Water” spot with emphasis on welcoming. This spot was concepted with input from our Black and Latino focus groups, with new assets shot last September. Reflects more diversity. Offers great new library of images that will also be used in print and digital ads.
Spring summer niche markets are camping, family road tripping and food & drink. New content series called “The Culinary Campfire” featuring Chef Vang will feature six videos produced and hosted on EMT website.
The Minnesota Scoop: Ice cream shops around the state will create and promote their favorite “Only in Minnesota” treats. EMT will publish a list of all participating ice cream shops. Consumers will fill a punch card for prizes.
Media Strategy – Kallie Quinn : 49% of our target market said they are spending more time with connected tv compared to traditional tv. Promoting more budget for those platforms.
Diversity is always an important part of campaigns. Results show that much more engaged than general traveler. Increase budget against these audiences. Also supports local diversity organizations.
Expansion into podcasts: This is a growing market. 35% of the U.S. population will be listening to podcasts in 2021, with 26% listening on a weekly basis. 49% of podcast listeners agreed that podcasts are a good way to reach them.
For Spring/Summer campaign - will be using a visitation study to help measure travel from campaigns. This will help determine which tactics are driving people to the state.
Taking a regional approach to our niche strategy until COVID situation improves.
Q&A: Didn’t see any golf within the campaign. Golf resorts could say that golf saved us last year. The one thing that drew people into our state. Answer: Golf creative will be visible and present in the digital campaign and overall messaging. Producing new golf guide this year.
A digital copy of this presentation is available at https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/assets/KatharineKelly2021_Tourism%20Conference%20web_tcm1135-471559.pptx
PR Updates – Laura Cederberg, Weber Shandwick: Unique and positive situation in inbound inquiries from reporters and appetite for travel reporter has increased in the past six weeks. Going to be delicate balance between safety but highlighting Twin Cities and how much there is to do in Minnesota. Trend we need to communicate is cleanliness and safety. Types of trips that reporters want to report on: last minute getaways and bucket list trips. Another focus for travel writers is traveling with families and group travel/multigenerational, outdoor. Travelers are ready to roam. Continue to tell story of opportunities to travel through road trips, camper van trips, remote work settings. Let Laura know if you have such opportunities to promote.
Tourism Awareness piece: For several years, the tourism story was shared through the cereal box. This year, it is presented as a menu. It has been delivered to our legislators and will be used during Tourism Week. A digital copy is available at https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/assets/Explore%20MN%20Menu%20Web%20%28Interactive%29_tcm1135-469580.pdf
National Travel and Tourism Week is May 2-8. The core messages that Explore Minnesota will promote is gratitude and economic power of travel. The approach we will use will include regional pitches with broadcast and print with opportunities for industry/stakeholder engagement.
Q&A: With timing Chauvin trail in Minneapolis during peak tourism season, how will EMT address/message? Answer: There is a constant conversation with Meet Minneapolis on messaging. May go dark on paid social for a period of time. Continue to market to out of state and marketing travel statewide. PR is working on general holding statement if necessary, for media. Working on language around messaging. Meet Minneapolis is taking lead on 400 media who will be here during trial to create narrative of work being done on all that MN has to offer. Dial back in April. Conscientious of public safety messaging. EMGA wants to receive messaging.
Website and Digital Update – Melissa Bartalos and Lara Ortiz: Website launched February 6, 2020. Key objectives of the site: destination awareness, destination affinity and travel intent. Audit reveals that architecture was highly focused on surfacing low-funnel, partner-level listings. Did not engage the audience. Proprietary nature of the system made it difficult to integrate with commonly used marketing technology platforms, and bound EMT to a specific service provider for website/digital application services. Wanted to create a stronger sense of place about Minnesota; use editorial and visual content to guide visitors through a journey; provide high-value opportunities of the industry; make it easy for site editors. Due to COVID, overall site traffic was down 20.6% year over year.
Engagement: time on site has increased by 15%; pages per session has increased 9%; bounce rate decreased by 13%. 18.07% of all sessions to the site included at least once scroll to 75% of page depth (how far down the page the user goes) on an editorial page.
Organic engagement: time on site 20% increase; 14% increase in pages per session; bounce rate was down 20%. Scroll depth 75% conversion rate.
Top searches were for: COVID information, road trips and scenic byways, exploring Minnesota at a safe distance, MN digital puzzles, individual puzzle, and events going virtual this summer.
Social integration helped share experiences around the state. Curated social galleries with links to related editorial content.
Improved accessibility and inclusivity with keyboard accessible interface, high-contrast text colors, and proactive scanning and proactive scanning and issue resolution.
Partner Advertising Program: Google ad manager ads average click through rate of .44% on 5.7 million impressions, an increase of 270%. Featured listings average two times the pageviews over the average non-featured listing.
Complete power point can be found at https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/assets/Explore%20Minnesota%20-%20Tourism%20Council%20-%20Annual%202020%20Reporting%20Deck_tcm1135-471471.pdf
Governor’s Opener Considerations – Beth Helle and John Edman: Explore Minnesota works on fishing, pheasant and deer openers. Will not look the same as they have in the past. Having conversations with DNR and Governor’s Office to determine plans. 2021 Fishing Opener will take place in Otter Tail County, preparing for three possible scenarios.
Future Council Meetings:
Wednesday, June 9
Tuesday, September 14
Thursday, December 2
The full Council meeting can be viewed at https://youtu.be/5aYXJtXHnGo
Explore Minnesota Tourism
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Council Members: Representative Dave Baker, Bob Bierscheid, Jean Bowman, Stephanie Busiahn, Megan Christiansen, Chuck Dougherty, Steve Dowling, Maureen Failor, Bob Herman, Marianna Khauv, David Langhoff, Terry Mattson, Cynthia Messer, Peter Mihajlov, Paul Larsen, Cythnya Porter, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster, Danyl Vavreck
EMT Staff: David Bergman, John Edman, Alyssa Hayes, Lisa Havelka, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Julie Ramer, Glori Rantz, John Schultz, Pat Simmons
Guests: Michelle Benson, Joel Carlson, Laura Cederberg, Eric Johnson, Katharine Kelly, Tony Kwilas, Gina Nacey, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Kallie Quinn, Liz Ramer, Anna Thill
Call to Order – John Edman, Chair: John Edman thanked all members and guests for joining in today’s virtual meeting. If you have any comments, concerns or suggestions, please forward to Beth Helle or John Edman.
Approval of Minutes – the minutes from the September Council meeting were emailed to Council members. Terry Mattson submitted a motion to approve the minutes as submitted; motion seconded by Jean Bowman. All council members in favor of passing the minutes as submitted. Motion carried.
Industry/Consumer Overview – Pat Simmons: Congratulations to Cynthia Messer, University of Minnesota Tourism Center and Council member, on her upcoming retirement. Thank you for all her contributions.
HM/Fed/EMT Survey: Reengaging / launching next week; will be in field for approximately a week. Questions will focus primarily on pandemic. Hoping to do quarterly to reach out to industry. Will replace the survey we had been sending to the industry.
Consumer Sentiments – National Studies: Research has been especially helpful during this time. EMT relies heavily on U.S. Travel Association website which provides a summary on a weekly basis. Travel spending levels aren’t expected to return to 2019 levels until 2023/2024. Travel spending declines – lost $6.5 billion in travel spending. Minneapolis /Saint Paul pulling down statewide averages. U.S. Travel is expecting 2020 to show 45 percent travel decline.
Destination Analysts – Americans remain concerned about contracting COVID. 80% of Americans have plans for travel in 2021.
Longwoods – biweekly survey. Reports that Americans are still traveling. Half of trips are to see family. Outdoor Rec is high. Average length of trips is down.
Pandemic Impacts on Minnesota lodging, travel spending: State budget forecast looks much better than anticipated. Still anticipate large budget shortfall for next biennium.
Public Policy Meeting Overview – Terry Mattson: Public policy met December 1.
EMT Budget: EMT budget remains intact for this fiscal year. Recovery grant program badly needed. Put forward those requests.
Legislative Relief Efforts: Thank you to EMT in extending grants (phase II) to DMOs. There is a larger package being discussed. Industry is hurting.
Representative Baker provided an update on what is being done on the House side. There is a real effort to get package out to industry seeing downturn in revenue. Needed prior to federal stimulus. May not be perfect, but there is reason behind it. Some of the factors will be size of business, how their business has been impacted, decline of at least 25-30% plus in sales. Also working with counties to see how they delivered CARES money. Looking at fees state imposes. Amount of package is approximately $350-400 million. Looking closely at guidelines/suggestions put forward by Hospitality Minnesota. Need to pull together to get Association of Minnesota Counties to determine reasonable caps of property values, otherwise many will sell off. Senator Ruud stated that this information has not been shared with the Senate.
Friends of the Falls Letter or Support: Agreed to provide a letter of support. It is a statewide asset. No dollars committed.
To help move things forward legislatively, the Public Policy has drafted the following resolution, which was passed at today’s meeting:
IN SUPPORT OF COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE(S)
FOR THE MINNESOTA LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Res. No. F2021-1
DULY PASSED ON DECEMBER 3, 2020
WHEREAS , in a meeting held on December 3, 2020, of The Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, on motion by Megan Christiansen and duly seconded by Cynthya Porter moved for the approval of Resolution No. F2021-1 in Support of COVID-19 Relief Package(s) for the Minnesota Leisure and Hospitality Industry Support of COVID-19 Relief Package(s) for the Minnesota Leisure and Hospitality Industry; and
WHEREAS , The Explore Minnesota Tourism Council consists of 28 representatives from all sectors of hospitality and tourism appointed by the Governor to serve in an advisory capacity to Explore Minnesota and for the purpose of serving the broader interests of tourism in Minnesota; and
WHEREAS , Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry annually generates over $16 billion in sales and generates $1 billion in state sales tax, representing 18% of Minnesota’s total state sales tax revenue; and
WHEREAS , Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry annually supports more than 273,000 direct jobs representing 11% of all private sector employment in the state of Minnesota; and
WHEREAS , Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry supports economic development and community prosperity for all Minnesotans by providing crucial jobs and generating critical tax revenues; and
WHEREAS , Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry has been catastrophically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset in March of 2020, resulting in losses of over $6 billion in travel spending and almost 70,000 jobs through October; and
WHEREAS , Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry consists of hotels, resorts, attractions, restaurants, events, service providers, and other businesses which play a vital role in Minnesota’s overall economic recovery and must not be allowed to collapse.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council supports immediate Federal and State COVID-19 Relief Package(s) to address the economic needs of all leisure and hospitality-related contributors in the State of Minnesota; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council supports further legislation to allow Minnesota’s Leisure and Hospitality Industry to survive and prosper, so that the industry can continue to substantially contribute both to Minnesota’s economic recovery and its future economic expansion.
PR and Social Updates – Leann Kispert:
Publications Update: 2021 Travel Guide is in proofing stages. Miles Partnership is new vendor. There will be two versions this year. One with, another without lodging listing. Available the first of March.
Minnesota Explorer continues to be published but did not include events listing. Early discussions of what Spring Summer edition; will come out in mid April.
New Golf Guide: Redesigned and done in partnership with EMGA. Will continue with directory; adding in editorial features and additional advertorial space.
New bike map being produced. Headed by MnDOT. New map being developed. Will assist in distribution this spring.
Shop and Eat Local Social: Talking about this throughout pandemic. Governor’s Office and DEED launched #gettakeoutmn. Explore Minnesota is now promoting. Would like to encourage others to promote as well by sharing content, photos, stories, especially on Instagram. Hashtags do not work on Facebook.
Shopping local is huge talking point during the holiday season – including purchasing restaurant gift cards as a means of support.
New EMT PR Agency: Contract was awarded to Weber Shandwick. Welcome to Laura Cederberg, VP of Public Affairs. WS recognizes that this is a critical moment in the hospitality and tourism industry. First assignment is to reimagine the cereal box. Cereal box as it exists is not appropriate to explain the tourism industry in 2020. Weber is working on project to emphasis devastation and power of tourism. Concepts will be forthcoming. Goal is to launch at tourism conference. Any ideas on cereal box future should be forwarded to John Edman.
Marketing Update – John Schultz/Katherine Kelly: This is a very challenging time to be promoting tourism.
Gratitude Campaign: This campaign ran in November as a way to say thank you to Minnesotans for supporting tourism throughout the pandemic. This was a :30 spot that ran in Minnesota. Campaign saw nine million impressions.
Winter Marketing Campaigns: COVID safe spot campaign will run for winter and will promote spending time with loved ones safe and outdoors. It is a :30 spot. Scheduled to run in Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Omaha and Illinois (not Chicago). Will also run banner ads. New niche spot will promote museums. Shot creative with visitors wearing masks.
Bridge Campaign: Will run from January until no longer needed.
COVID Scoring Model: This model aims to provide suggestions on geo locations that have acceptable risk of COVID 19 and certain level of interest in travelling to Minnesota. With data for COVID 19 and travel interest updated on weekly basis, media targeting can be adjusted and executed in a timely manner. Make responsible choices when making media buying decisions. Holding all out of state advertising for now. Winter Rec campaign in Minnesota begins December 12. Determine when to begin general and museum campaigns in Minnesota, pending COVID situation and Governor’s Orders.
Spring Summer Campaign Early Preview: Travel is expected to begin to recover in 2021. “Revenge travel” is predicated to create a trend toward longer, more expensive trips during which consumers seek new experiences to make up for lost time. Research also suggests that Americans will place greater priority on seeing more in the US and taking trips with family. Communicate that Minnesota is a safe, welcoming place to explore. New assets shot in September reflect more diverse families. Overall campaign messaging is currently in development. Niche markets: camping, family road trippers and food & drink.
Marketing is difficult during the pandemic but need to keep pushing. New tagline is “Today is the day to start planning your adventure for tomorrow.”
Industry Relations Updates – Beth Helle:
Listening Sessions Recap: Held October 20 and 22, four sessions, approximately 200 attendees. Deck can be found at https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/assets/Explore%20Minnesota%20Listening%20Sessions%20102020_tcm1135-457177.pdf
Phase I and II Crisis Grant Program: Repurposed from marketing grant program. Phase I was introduced this summer and runs through early 2021. Specifically for DMOs. Award levels based on previous partnerships, includes new partnerships and tourism promotion agencies too. First phase was funded at $1.2 million. Funds can only be used for marketing, not operational. Phase II has been introduced and is also funded with $1.2 million; will run from December 1, 2020 – December 31, 2021. These funds are EMT funds, no new money. Going to aid communities statewide. There are 130-140 grant recipients. For the first time, we allowed advance of grant funding.
Phase I and II Co-op Program: Program is for both nonprofits and for profit businesses. Buy down advertising opportunities at discounted price. Phase I launched in July and runs through December. Phase II will run January through June 2021. Tactics for phase II are not yet finalized.
2021 EMT Virtual Tourism Conference: The 2021 conference will be virtual on March 2 and 3. Both half days. Approximately 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Will include four keynote speakers, EMT presentation. Finalizing production aspects now. Watch for upcoming information.
Operations and Welcome Centers – Mike Meyer:
EMT Current Budget Overview: State of Minnesota continues under hiring freeze. Teleworking through June. Submitted flat budget for 2022-23. Governor’s budget recommendation comes out in January. EMT submitted five change item requests. Crisis grant programs were recognized by Governor last week.
Distribution Center – EMT’s space on the first floor of Metro Square was released back to Ramsey County. Brochure fulfillment has been subcontracted out.
Welcome Center Pause - For the safety of our employees, effective December 9 our Welcome Centers have been paused. This results in lay off of eight staff. Other staff will continue to work behind the scenes. Distributed 30,000 prepackaged brochures each month through this self-serve method.
Other: Senator Ruud extended her thanks to this industry for its creativity to support businesses. Will take creative community and statewide support to get tourism back.
2021 Council Dates:
Wednesday, March 10
Wednesday, June 9
Tuesday, September 14
Thursday, December 2
Public Policy Committee - Tuesday, February 2 at 10 am
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM COUNCIL
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Present: Bob Bierscheid, Stephanie Busiahn, Rep. Shelly Christiansen, Megan Christenson, Chuck Dougherty, Steve Dowling, Alison Fogarty, Maureen Failor, Marianna Khauv, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Terry Mattson, Cynthia Messer, Peter Mihajlov, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
Guests: Mary Anderson, Michelle Benson, Joel Carlson, Nick Frohnauer, Annalee Garletz, Todd Hill, Katharine Kelly, Nick Frohnauer, Bob Meier, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Liz Rammer, Kallie Quinn, Jessica Tabbutt, Anna Thill, Julie Wearn, Ben Wogsland
EMT Staff: David Bergman, John Edman, Lisa Havelka, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Lori Peterson, Julie Ramer, John Schultz, Pat Simmons
Call to Order – John Edman, Chair: John Edman thanked all members and guests for joining in this virtual meeting. If you have any comments or suggestions, please forward to John Edman or Beth Helle.
Introduction/New Appointments – Welcome to six new Council members!
Maya Hua from Mall of America resigned, leaving the retail sector vacant. Please let John Edman know of anyone who may be interested in serving in this capacity.
Approval of Minutes – the minutes from the June meeting were emailed to Council members. Paul Larsen submitted a motion to approve the minutes as submitted; motion seconded by Cynthya Porter. All council members in favor of passing the minutes as submitted. Motion carried.
Industry/Consumer Overview – Pat Simmons, Explore Minnesota:
EMT Summer Lodging Survey: End of summer survey was sent out to the industry. Resorts and campgrounds had a much better season than hotels/motels. Greater Minnesota showed much better results than metro. There is a long road to recovery – 33% of respondents do not think levels will return until second half of 2021. Sharp business declines – 21% of respondents are down more than 50% for summer, with another 21% down between 26-50%. Metro suffered greatest decline. State Parks and campgrounds reported 17% occupancy increase. Minnesotans made up most of their summer guests. Received numerous comments on how much extra work it was to stay open – extra cleaning, laundry, cancellations, accommodating guests’ needs, workers not returning. When asked how EMT can support the industry, answers were through education, reinforce nation that Minnesota is open for travel.
National Consumer Sentiments : We receive information from Longwoods International/Miles Partnership. These reports indicate a higher number of people feeling safe to travel this fall. Outdoor activity (parks, hiking, biking, fall foliage). 43% travelers support businesses opening up to travelers. 50% of consumers feel safe traveling outside of their community. 53% feel safe shopping, eating in restaurants.
Links to all of Explore Minnesota’s COVID-related survey reports can be found on the research/reports page of EMT’s industry website ( https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/ ), under the “Business Impacts/EMT Support and Consumer Sentiments” option.
US Travel/Tourism Economics has been tracking lost business during COVID. Minnesota is over $5 billion in lost travel revenue.
MN DMO Survey Results : Explore Minnesota sent a survey to 120 DMOs; received 44% response rate. Resorts doing well compared to other lodging sectors. A lot of event cancellations – almost 90% experienced cancellations or postponements for events in their community. 86% contribute travel to their events.
Discussion Question: What is the status of your industry sector and what are the biggest challenges you will face in 2021?
· Festivals and Events: All but shut down, no return in sight. Vendors down 70-100%. A lot of confusion on reopening of events.
· Golf – up 20-30%. Demand for golf is high. Golf resorts overnights are down, but golf is up 20%. People in metro can work from home at resorts – traveling from Twin Cities to resorts to golf. 76% of avid golfers are willing to travel four hours or more. How to retain customer as we move forward; enthusiasm now, need to continue that.
· Restaurants – fast food chain restaurants doing well, dining areas remain mostly closed. Fast casual (Panera, etc.) pick up doing ok, locations within malls struggling. Full service dining reopened at 50% capacity in mid June. PPP close to running out. How will they stay open with patios closing? Customers choose to dine outside. PPP funding is slipping through the cracks. 60% said they would close if PPP does not continue or changes made. There are fixed expenses regardless of sales volume. Facing substantial change in full service restaurants.
· Convention bureaus – Some have had success, much different story in metro. Major urban cores are suffering. Saint Paul started actively messaging safe travel to destination, marketing within 120 miles. Let’s Go There! campaign national effort is good. Saint Paul occupancy hotel is 40%; increasing slowly throughout the summer. Minneapolis hotel occupancy around 20%. Civil unrest has been situation for metro. It is budget time – difficult to run convention center right now with cap at 250 (can do in pods up to 1500). Trying to be creative. CARES Act funding would be extremely helpful.
· Duluth CVB - Duluth and NE MN have fared better – 85% occupancy on weekends. ADR went up 2% compared to last year. Visit Cook County has had exceptional year. Iron Range Tourism has also seen solid year. Visit Duluth was unfunded May 1 through end of year. Restaurants closing; anticipating more to come as outdoor dining wraps up. Without meetings and conventions and special events, feeling pain.
· Southern MN has seen dip from last year. Holding own.
· Trails: Use of trails throughout Minnesota has significantly increased with most of the travel within two hours from home.
· Visit Grand Rapids received $143k from Itasca County under CARES Act funding.
Explore Minnesota Operations Update:
Crisis Grants and Coop Program : First phase out now. Great response; a lot of interest. Google DMO has been popular.
Distribution Center and HQ Changes : Explore Minnesota was presented an opportunity to terminate the lease for our Distribution Center. Will move brochures and mailing services to AccessAbility.
Welcome Centers and Staff Update : Welcome Centers are open.
Staff Vacancies: State agencies are under hiring freeze. The following staff have left and not replaced: Erica Wacker, Kim Kinsler, Tim Campbell, Gayle Junnila, Dana Hernandez. All remain vacant. Existing staff filling roles.
Explore Minnesota Marketing Update – Katharine Kelly, Adventure Creative:
Summer Recovery Campaign : The :30 spot was shared at the June Council meeting. It has a cautious, optimistic message. Ran June 29-August 16 and generated 13.6 million impressions. Drew more subscribers to YouTube channel than any other month on record. In August, integrated a limited number of Find Your True North summer ads into recovery media buy to speak to those who were ready to move from dreaming about travel to planning a trip. Summer niches highlighted fishing and golf.
Fall Campaigns – Fall ads began September 1 and will run through November 11. Shared :30 spot which is the same as last year’s spot. Telling consumers to rediscover activities that you love. Running advertorial in Midwest Living. Fall niche: dog lovers (exploreminnesota.com/MNtails). Working with four dog influencers, participating in dog-friendly activities around the state. Campaign begins this week and runs through mid-October. Other niche market is family road trippers and includes Road-Trip’n Bingo (Bingo cards for all five regions, available at Welcome Centers or through exploreminnesota.com website).
Winter : Still in planning stages. Not everyone is ready to travel, but those who travel are prioritizing spending time with loved ones and getting away from crowds. Tentatively planned for December 14-February 28, 2021. Market to MN, WI, IA, ND, SD and Omaha. Potential to appeal to outdoor and indoor enthusiasts. Bring back winter recreation. Museums are open, hoping to include in winter promotion.
Diversity Marketing Focus Groups : Attract more people of color to travel to and within Minnesota. Adventure engaged multicultural research firm to conduct consumer focus groups with Black and Latino travelers to better understand perceptions of Minnesota, travel motivations, and capture feedback on existing and future advertising creative. Received good feedback – marketing should include multiple ethnicities, food is powerful indicator of culture and signifies diversity, children was a positive, including multigenerational, safety is important, try new things on vacation/want range of indoor and outdoor, more likely to visit in summer. MOA is viewed as iconic Minnesota destination.
Spring/Summer 2021 : Reflects a deliberate and authentic effort to engage to a more racially diverse audience. Not just for 2021 but moving forward.
Future Brand and Creative Strategies:
US Travel Domestic Campaigns: US Travel Association Let’s Go There! Campaign – aired spot on Monday Night Football last night.
Public Relations RFP – Explore Minnesota is nearly doubling our efforts because PR is so vital right now.
Discussion Question: What does success look like for tourism right now and in upcoming seasons and does EMT need to shift strategies and goals to get there?
· On right track with messaging. What is marketable travel that will convert to actual visits?
· Stay in touch with national associations who measure weekly pulse.
· Working with tight budget for 2021 (not a lot of money available for state).
· Recovery/uncertainty. Not willing to travel as far as we normally would.
· Market close to home. Make a call on who is primary, secondary markets. What is message that will get primary market to visit nearby?
· Communities telling travelers NO travel to their area. Travel stories more difficult. Important time to be putting out good pitches for your local area. Direct outreach to media and feed them stories.
· Opportunity and success staying and doing things locally.
· Resorts – cancelled and replaced 65k room nights. A lot of family travel. Conventions cancelled. Minnesotans stepped up to support their state. New experiences.
· Need a “thank you Minnesota” for supporting Minnesota. 17K room nights gained on social perspective.
FY22/23 Biennial Budget Planning: Explore Minnesota’s current budget is $14.4 million. This falls in about the middle of the pack when compared nationally to other states.
State Revenue Forecasts – rather dire. $2.7 billion deficit, with projections almost doubling this.
Industry Requests and Considerations – Explore Minnesota has not been asked to offer up any budget cuts, but we are anticipating that we may have to.
Discussion Question: What should be EMT’s budgetary ask/reduction for the next biennium and what rationale will most resonate in the current budget environment?
· Don’t look at new events now. Sustain/support existing events.
· Advantage is that tourism is one of our economic engines. Generate sales tax, major employer of the state. Be respectful that budgeting is a challenge. Go in with request for slight increase to promote tourism for above-stated reasons.
· Wisconsin’s Governor just set aside $8 billion for tourism recovery. Leverage that.
· Tourism can be counted on to jump start the economy.
· January - $6 billion budget deficit. Can ask, but if there is no money, it’s very difficult to get more.
· Legacy amendment – now collect taxes on internet sales, which helped.
· Make generous ask. Would be bipartism support in tourism economic engine. Agreement statewide.
· Pent up demand and there will be a flurry activity.
· Tool for economic recovery. Travel and tourism also helps with mental health, helps to heal. Can be done as emergency fund such as Wisconsin.
· Budget deficit growing bigger every day. Asking for modest increase may help you maintain budget.
· Investment state has made into EMT actually selvedged Minnesota’s tourism season. People did the “trip on a tankful” within MN. The investment that was made, paid off.
· Difficult session with projected budget deficit. Request for additional funding must be specific – not just for EMT operating increase. (Crisis grant, recovery grant, events grants). New events not what we need to fund in next biennium.
· MTGC – one of the challenges to discuss in early October is reality of partners who supported and funded efforts. May not have resources to fund.
· What can Council do to support EMT’s strategy? We should ask for modest increase. Using what we’ve done this past summer that saved our industry. Try to put together an outline of ask of what we need and why (specifics). Success on these initiatives really depends on getting Governor’s buy in. Get a few Council members to meet with Governor. MTGC has been a tremendous support for these efforts. Need industry to step forward of why Explore Minnesota Tourism is so important. Help with Governor, legislature, hearings.
· CARES ACT dollars into tourism? Wisconsin, Georgia are using it. Townships and cities across the state – those unused dollars go back to state. County dollars go back in November. Lots of states are using for tourism efforts. Tourism and safety messages. JFE spoke with DEED and Health - $8 million went to Department of Health that were used for safety messages (Mask Up campaign).
· CVBS and Chambers go to their county to request funding of tourism initiatives. No money should be left on table.
· Businesses have big appetite to help with tourism. Tap into them. Can’t do fiscally but their voices would be very loud at the Capitol. This is very helpful to legislators.
A Public Policy meeting will be scheduled within the next two weeks to discuss further.
Listening Sessions : Planning to hold online listening sessions October 13, 14 and 15. May be regional/sector approach.
State Tourism Conference: Currently scheduled for March 1-3, 2021. Survey sent to previous attendees as well as past sponsors. Still collecting responses. We have to make plans within next month. EMT staff under travel ban. Strong interest in two half-day virtual meeting.
Next Council Meeting: December 3.
This meeting can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-hYltkOfew&feature=youtu.be
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM COUNCIL
Thursday, June 11, 2020
10 am – 12 noon
Present: Jean Bowman, Stephanie Busiahn, Megan Christianson, Chuck Dougherty, Robert Herman, Marianna Khauv, Matt Kilian, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Terry Mattson, Cynthia Messer, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Anna Thill, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: John Edman, Lisa Havelka, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Mike Meyer, Julie Ramer, John Schultz, Pat Simmons
Guests: Michelle Benson, Joel Carlson, Douglas Carnival, Commissioner Steve Grove, Katharine Kelly, Ann Kirby McGill, Tony Kwilas, Gina Nacey, Sarah Psick, Kallie Quinn
Call to Order: Chair John Edman welcome everyone to this virtual Council meeting.
Minutes: The minutes from the March and April (special session) meetings were emailed to Council members prior to this meeting. Jean Bowman motioned to approve the minutes as submitted; motion seconded by Robert Herman. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes.
Council Appointment Status: Half of the Council appointments expired in January 2020. Several applications have been received by the Governor’s Office. Expect announcements soon. Council members continue to serve until they are reappointed or new appointments have been named.
Minnesota Stay Safe Plan – John Edman and Commissioner Steve Grove: Thank you to DEED Commissioner Steve Grove for joining in for the first part of this meeting.
Commissioner Grove stated that they are aware how difficult the COVID situation has been for the tourism industry. Phase III, which began on June 10, is a big step for this industry. There have been several advisors helping in the reopening process. It is important to get dollars back into the economy. Council members were given the opportunity to ask questions:
· Ben Thuringer: Thank you for the hard work to get Minnesota slowly reopening. Resorts seeing return of consumer confidence. Good to see consumers out golfing and on the lakes. People seem to be approaching the situation as how to live with COVID. Summer camps: Any indication on when overnight/summer camps may be able to reopen?
· Response: Phase IV could include overnight summer camps. However, because of the resemblance to congregate care facilities, it is challenging. Is there a go/no go date: at what point does it become useless? Industry deals with 9 week timeframe while schools are out. Definitely cancelled first two weeks in June. Commissioner will take back to group to discuss.
· Terry Mattson: Shed some light on venues with larger crowds?
· Response: Limit of 250 now. Speaking with places such as MN Zoo, Valleyfair. Very difficult; reopening date not known. Definitely two weeks out and beyond.
· Anna Tanski: Phase III was critical for Duluth. Youth sports and tournaments are also critical to this area. What guidelines are needed to get this moving?
· Response: Sports are the most vocal group now. Following guidance set forth by Olympic Committee. Some guidelines have been shared. Very fluid conversation right now. Expect further clicks of the dial for sports.
· Matt Kilian: Summer season is urgent to get things open. Businesses are on life support. Relief programs aren’t enough to sustain them. Sharing preparedness plans among businesses. Brewery – 50% cap – demand is there. People are out and about, traffic is there. Resorts are at 50-70% capacity. People are there and willing to get out but businesses do not have opportunity to welcome them. Cannot make up these loses in November, December.
· Dave Langhoff: Campground opened up June 1. Overwhelming, everything is booked which also causes people to be nervous. The month of May was disastrous. RV sales off the chart, record year. Some campgrounds closed for the season. Guests do practice social distancing, aware of it. Consumers follow guidelines but don’t believe in the spread.
Thank you to Commissioner Grove for his assistance in getting Explore Minnesota’s advertising message to the Governor’s Office for approval.
COVID-19 Industry and Consumer Trends – John Edman and Pat Simmons: A consumer sentiment survey was sent out, which is the first one since COVID era. Survey questions were pulled from some national surveys. Survey was sent to sampling from e-newsletter list. Received a strong response (approximately 1,000). Responses included an opportunity for open-ended comments.
· Skewing older than our travelers/heavy on retirees
· Almost 2/3 with tentative plans for travel during summer months
· Thinking/feeling about: always take summer trip, taking a trip will help me get over feeling cooped up.
Full report of results out next week.
EMT has surveyed the tourism industry four times since COVID. Need to make sure messaging is right, as well as the right timing of messaging. Will do another survey in a couple of weeks to reassess.
National level: Destination Analysts report – increasing number (70%) of Americans are ready to travel. Half expect to travel in fall. Hesitant for air travel (not good for convention/group travel). Feeling more confident in social distancing instead of vaccine. More comfortable as their communities start to reopen.
Longwoods: Also feel safe as they travel outside their community.
Harris Poll: There is a desire to reconnect with family and friends. Need change of scenery.
Addressed George Floyd killing in recent survey. Asked how recent events have impacted how you look at MN for a leisure trip. 1/3 said no impact; safety considerations more important (40%). 2% will never again consider coming to Minnesota. Quite a few respondents did submit concerns on this issue. There is much work ahead to stay on top of Minnesota image.
Feedback from Council:
What are recent affects doing to our brand?
· Rural MN does not hear too much about it. There will be people that will not come, but hoping that is not the majority. This has become a national /global issue now.
· Explore Minnesota has received quite a few calls. From June 8-10 - 84 calls, 206 emails, 14 chats. Topic is safety concern in Minnesota. Now receiving calls/e-mails regarding Sauk Rapids restaurant. Spike in calls and chats due to civil unrest.
· Things are still unfolding. Visit Saint Paul is planning some research specific to their area. Would like to see EMT questionnaire. Spent last couple of weeks responding to customer concerns that Xcel, Rivercentre are safe. Business is slowly improving. Crisis on top of crisis has been difficult.
· Travel agency perspective - Always have certain percentage of people who say they will not travel to a destination. Some of the recovery takes years. Once it moves off news cycle, travel does come back. Does not help to focus on people who are “terminally scared.” Focus on those who will travel.
Explore Minnesota Stimulus Plans – Leann Kispert and Beth Helle: Just this week, we received approval from the Governor’s Office to move forward with the soft messaging advertising campaign.
As discussed on the last call with Council, creative was “True Nature” playing off outdoor recreational activities. In light of recent killing and unrest, talking about our true nature may be invitation for troubling feedback. Agency reworked television spot. Overall strategy is soft sell approach to kick start local economies. Focuses on outdoor spaces. No voice over, only music lyrics by Minnesota musician. Spot can be viewed at f.io/zwjz5YWG (best viewed in Chrome or Firefox). Will air in Minnesota, surrounding states including smaller markets. TV will run in Omaha. Digital campaign will be in Chicago area. Timing will be phased approach, beginning June 22 with digital and summer radio spot in MN in partnership with MBA. Week of June 29, will launch all paid social in all markets. Traditional broadcasts in as possible. All markets the following week. Need to be fluid due to COVID situation.
Supplement PR campaign developed by our PR agency, Bellmont. Agencies have been collaborating in order to maximize efforts. PR and social efforts are most flexible. Will align messaging with turning of dials. The overall goals are to inspire and encourage travel. Bellmont working on PR toolkit. When marketing campaign is ready to launch, a press release will be sent out to media. Also researching ideas for virtual familiarization tours.
Internal staff working on new and repurposed website content.
We have done a lot in diversity arena in past years. Looking at ways to further efforts. Position state to be welcoming to all who travel to and within Minnesota.
Tourism Crisis Marketing Grants and Co-Ops: Explore Minnesota has traditionally had a grant program. Heard the need for crisis grants during these times. Recalled/ended program for CY20, paying out programs that met eligibility through June 8. Beginning July 1, the tourism crisis marketing grant program will launch. This program is funded at approximately $1.1 million. There is no match requirement, nor geographical guidelines. There are 125-140 communities and association that utilize the program. Predetermined awards based on usage over past three years; can be claimed between July 1 – December 31, 2020. Previous maximum awarded was $7k. This has been increased to $14k. Also award amounts for those who have not previously used the program. Funds can be used as soon grants are awarded and approved. Will run through April 30, 2021. The program was announced to industry on June 1 with guidelines. Grant guidelines available on industry website.
Coop Program : Typically, this program has been run on a fiscal year. Coops available to wider group of people. Currently looking at how we can buy down programs. Reviewing 47 proposals from vendors. Many price points and includes print, digital, connected tv. Taking phased approach. Will look for additional funding as needed and demand. Launch on July 1.
Website opportunities remain. The lead share program is an opportunity to connect consumers from website to community. This was available on previous website. Currently available at no cost. Approximately 40 participating. Last week we received 1,200 leads. Will be free at least through end of calendar year.
Explore Minnesota continues to look at ways to assist industry.
Questions/Comments from Council :
· Meetings and conventions - now more than ever we have opportunity to really help put MN out there for meeting planners. Goes beyond metro area. Opportunities statewide, impacts all areas of state. EMT would love to form a group to discuss moving forward with meetings and conventions. So many communities are depending on lodging tax dollars from meetings and conventions.
Public Policy Update – John Edman and Terry Mattson:
· Priorities were determined last year. Need to think about next biennium. Will be topic of our next meeting. State revenue has decreased.
· Explore Minnesota staff continue to work from home. Looking at re-opening plan for Welcome Centers and Distribution Center.
· Outdoor Recreation Task Force – led by DNR Commissioner Sara Strommen and John Edman. Megan Christianson serves on the task force. Work groups starting to work independently on SWOT analysis. Come up with recommendations for Governor by end of year.
· What is correct approach to look toward future? Economic stimulus for tourism may be a battle during this time. State is looking at $2.3 billion budget deficit. Haven’t had for several bienniums. Will really need to use our ROI numbers. Budget deficit makes tourism even more important. Need to do repair work on Minnesota image. EMT can be very important in this. Tourism is how we get back. Make a strong message on how important tourism is to the economy.
Future Branding – Katharine Kelly and Gina Nacey: What is brand for Minnesota? Working on brand platform since before pandemic. More important than ever to have solid foundation to move forward.
See Minnesota’s shared values as:
· Shifts the focus from just being about Minnesota to what Minnesota will do for you.
· It forces us to stand for something and requires focus.
· It is challenging for Minnesota to differentiate purely at an attribute level while continuing to represent the breadth of our offerings. Shared values allow s to find a universal theme and meaningful differentiation.
Explore Minnesota’s brand platform:
· Curious. The most memorable experiences are those we invest in, those we earn.
· Renewing: We pursue growth that transforms us and improves us.
· Welcoming: People are at their best when the can be themselves.
· Balanced: In a world of extremes, Minnesota is a state of balance.
Brand purpose: We exist to reward the curious with boundless discovery.
Brand personalities: Nice, optimistic, confident, engaged and empowering.
The intent of this exercise is to provide the foundation for next spring/summer campaign. Doing work now.
Comments from Council:
· Likes direction. A lot to take in. initial reaction too much in the fact that it needs to be simplified, streamlined. Need compelling, motivating sentiment behind it. May get lost because it is so much.
· Hopes that sentiments are correct about Minnesota, move into concepting.
· Need to find what it means as end result. So much there. What makes Minnesota unique?
Timeline: move in to creative as soon as possible. Begin concepting this month. Next six weeks, start thinking about creating and shooting spring/summer campaign for next year. How much to invest in new campaign since haven’t used yet this year?
Next scheduled meeting: September 15.
May schedule a meeting prior to September meeting. Please let us know if virtual meetings do/do not work for you.
Need to think of budget planning for next year. Need your thoughts/ideas.
In partnership with Miles Media, a “Google My Business” webinar will be held June 25 at 1 p.m.
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Explore Minnesota Tourism Office
121 7th Place East, Suite 360, Saint Paul
Present: Carolyn Aarsvold, Representative Dave Baker, Stephanie Busiahn, Jean Bowman, Chuck Dougherty, Robert Herman, Marianna Khauv, Matt Kilian, Paul Larsen, Terry Mattson, Cynthya Porter, Anna Tanski, Anna Thill, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannerka
EMT Staff: John Edman, Brian Fanelli, Lisa Havelka, Gayle Junnila, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Peggy Lindquist, Mike Meyer, Lori Peterson, Glori Rantz, John Schultz, Pat Simmons
Guests: Tim Aarsvold, Michelle Benson, Luci Botzek, Katharine Kelly, Jaye Peterson, Sarah Psick, Kallie Quinn, Lisa Xiang
Call to Order: Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the meeting. Attendees were asked to introduce themselves.
Minutes: The minutes from the December Council meeting were emailed to Council members prior to this meeting. Terry Mattson motioned to approve the minutes as submitted; motion seconded by Anna Thill. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes.
Council Vacancies: The Governor’s Office has notified Explore Minnesota that our appointments will be reviewed in April. Council members remain on the Council until they are reappointed or a new person named.
2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference – Lori Peterson: The 2020 Conference was held at the Arrowwood in Alexandria; approximately 250 attendees. The Awards banquet on Tuesday night included a more casual feel and included a meat raffle and bingo.
Congratulations to Council member Marianna Khauv on her “Tourism Person of the Year” award.
The Request for Proposal is out for the 2021 Conference, proposals due March 24. Requested meeting dates are February 22-24 or March 1-3.
International Marketing Update – Gayle Junnila: International strategy is being closely watched and changes on a daily basis. Marketing in China was paused back in January due to the Corona Virus situation. New message will be that we are supporting them, a sense of welcome, and will be open for business when international travel returns. We are closely monitoring the situation and following direction from Brand USA and US Travel. East West Marketing in China provides us with a weekly update, this information can be found on the industry site. Also, U.S. Travel led a call last week with updates. That call was recorded and can be found at https://vimeo.com/396005537. Additional information can also be found at www.ustravel.org/coronavirus . Explore Minnesota also has Talking Points and will update as information changes.
Purchasing international travel research from SMARI.
A survey will be sent to the industry asking how this is affecting them.
This has a significant impact on travel and tourism. Explore Minnesota must promote responsible travel. EMT has not changed their creative advertising, but may change the timing.
Council members were asked to provide updates from their sector:
· National Tour Association surveyed their members. Of the 104 responses, more than one half have received cancellations.
· International Inbound Travel Association saw a much bigger cancellation rate of 78%.
· International Festivals & Events being closely monitored. A lot of events are being postponed. Have not heard of cancellations for Minnesota. Spring/summer events are a go. Need to make sure events/communities/venues are aware of insurance coverage.
· Colleges/universities pulled back short term international travel. Their groups are still on for the summer.
· Resorts hire employees from around the world for summer employment. How will these positions be filled if they cannot travel?
· May be an opportunity for car trips/drive market – especially outdoors/golfing.
· Travelers cancelling spring break, more likely to book summer travel. Need to be prepared with that message.
· Corporate travel postponing trips, cancelling hotels.
· University of Minnesota cancelled all non-essential travel for staff. Preparing to move to online classes. Looking to the spring/summer, this could affect graduations, summer camps and campus tours.
· Airlines are communicating to travelers with a message that is telling consumers what they are doing to protect travelers.
· Last two reports received from China indicate that the number of new cases has dropped.
· A lot of talk about this health issue at the legislature. Need to be aware of the situation and be in front of it. Encourage John Edman, as the director of Explore Minnesota, do a press conference to reassure travelers that we are care and are here to serve you.
· EMT is working with regions on PR message. This will roll out in early April. EMT would provide social media posts, video, tools to talk about their region specifically.
· This will have a longer term effect on the economy.
· Be situationally aware. Take advantage of advertising and messaging opportunities, but don’t be overly aggressive.
· For the short term, Saint Paul is business as usual.
· Corporate travel cancellations will hurt hotel bookings
· Resorts and campgrounds would appreciate EMT moving forward with the “staycation” message.
· Need to continue marketing, but must be the right message. Be ready because when this passes, people are going to want to travel.
· Mayo Clinic has cancelled all non-essential international and domestic travel until April 30.
Explore Minnesota will move forward with their planned marketing. Will tweak the message. Message will be positive, yet balanced.
Public Policy Update – John Edman, Terry Mattson, Sarah Psick: A request for $1 million for the Event Grants was submitted.
Governor’s Supplemental Budget will be released March 12 but has put caution on any supplemental budget requests.
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition continues to meet with legislature on behalf of tourism funding. There is even more of a need now for economic stimulus. Met with Commissioner of Minnesota Management & Budget to discuss Event Grants, how it has been used by the communities and the economic impact of this program. Also met with Governor’s Office. Industry has been very supportive and provided testimony and letters of support. If Council members are at the Capitol for meetings, be sure to share Events Grants talking points.
Cereal boxes have been distributed to House and Senate. Continue to receive positive feedback on this promotion.
Explore Minnesota has contracted with legislative liaison from MN Department of Natural Resources. This is a natural fit, as both agencies are part of the Environmental Resource Committee.
Office of Outdoor Recreation: During the 2019 legislative session, a bill was introduced to create this office that would be housed within Explore Minnesota. The bill did not pass. DNR and Explore Minnesota have been meeting to get ahead of legislation this session. A 20-member task force has been created and will begin meeting in April.
Destination Capitol Hill is scheduled for April 1-2. Anna Tanski and Paul Larsen will be joining Explore Minnesota for these meetings.
Explore Minnesota worked with Minneapolis Federal Reserve and Hospitality Minnesota on an occupancy survey. This will be done on a quarterly basis, with the next one scheduled for May. Will share additional information as it becomes available.
New Website – Brian Fanelli: Explore Minnesota began a content audit with Miles approximately 18 months ago. The new website launched February 6. Site has a stronger “storytelling” presence. It is much more mobile friendly. User-generated content makes the site much more conversational. The new site is showing that users are much more engaged in the new site. The new personalization software can identify new users. Interactive maps are offered. Listing pages are all immediately available.
Short videos make the site much more dynamic. If you have videos to share, please reach out to Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International landing pages have been created and include an overview of what to find in Minnesota. There are 45 Spanish language articles.
DMOs user roles let them create and edit listings on the Extranet.
Monetization plans include the lead share program with over 25 communities participating. Banner advertising is picking up and performance is being recorded. Over 30 partners on featured listings.
Consumer Marketing Update – John Schultz, Katharine Kelly, Michelle Benson: Welcome to Katharine Kelly with Adventure. She is our new Brand Strategist.
Spring/Summer creative campaign includes television, banner ads, print, radio and social (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest). Television spot includes footage from Crow Wing Park, Quarterdeck Resort, Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Bar Harbor Supper Club and Gull Lake. Niche markets are fishing, golf and arts & culture (performing arts, eat & drink, fairs & festivals, live music). Research uncovered that people from Indiana were 27% more likely to visit Minnesota than the average U.S. consumer; we will warm the market within the general campaign for future campaigns using digital tactics to engage a new audience.
Continue with Find Your True North. Will extend beyond Minnesota and the Midwest region to a national audience with hyper focused targeting. The current plan excludes targeting Minnesota but may revisit this due to the conversation held earlier in this meeting.
A breakout session on Artificial Intelligence (AI) was held at the Tourism Conference. Currently testing advertising creative that can change based on who is seeing the ad. Testing in both general campaign and arts & culture niche. AI can make us more effective and efficient with marketing and shows what drives action with different consumer segments.
Preliminary plans for fall/winter advertising includes fall advertising running from July through October. Will leverage existing assets to make most efficient use of smaller budget; optimize based on last fall’s performance; will include banners, social, rich media. Winter shots were done this past February at the Convention Grill, Prince Mural, First Avenue, Orchestra Hall, Nicollet Mall, Hyland Hills, Hidden Falls Regional Park and Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub.
Partnership Marketing Update – Glori Rantz: Explore Minnesota and Minnesota Ski Areas Association partnered again on the MNSlopes campaign. Results include over 80,000 combined page views, over 2,400 sweepstakes entries, and over 1,000 new EMT Travel e-newsletter subscribers. Ads were run in movie theaters, Lifetime Fitness, KARE 11 and KSTP/KSTC. Television partners also sponsored ski reports. There was a sweepstakes component and partners that donated prizes were provided with an ad within the email.
Another partnership is with the Iowa Wild, Minnesota Wild’s farm team. This partnership includes radio, television broadcast, streaming sponsorship in arena and in game television spot, public distribution (3 times/season), fan engagement digital sweepstakes, Minnesota night section giveaway and social sponsorship. Added value items included EMT logo on players’ helmets.
Partnered with MN United FC. This partnership included FSN “Only in Minnesota” live broadcasts, Allianz field signage, Explorer distribution, :15 web pre-roll, “Coffee with Kyndra” – 6 videos total with pre-game, web, social and e-news inclusion.
Gopher Sports partnership included over 100 radio spots on KFAN, partner of National SIgning Day, two-week social media engagement campaign, GopherSports.com ad impressions, TCF Bank Stadium Marquee at Williams Area for 30 men’s and women’s basketball games, #OnlyinMN monument on display at TCF.
Future partnerships may include Saint Paul Saints, ROKKR, Schuler Shoes, Peace Coffee and newspaper print.
Any suggestions for future partnership opportunities should be forwarded to Glori Rantz at email@example.com.
Social Media Update – Caitlin Hannah: #ChillOutChallenge was our social media promotion this winter. Worked with four influencers to reach their audience. More than 965K social impressions; drove nearly 5,000 landing page views to campaign page on new site; reached new audiences. Will continue to do storytelling though social media outlets. Will also be completing a Pinterest overhaul.
Looking at Facebook and Instagram opportunities in international market.
Partner Relations – John Edman: New strategic plan and cereal boxes are available.
This past fall, discussions with all four regional partners were held to discuss future role of Explore Minnesota in the regional marketing arena. Initial conversations started conversations within each of the groups regarding their mission. As a result of the conversations within each individual group, Arrowhead dissolved as an association but will come together as a committee for marketing purposes; Heartland will dissolve effective June 30, after spending down its fund balance on marketing, with the help of Derek Ramthun; Southern will remain an association and the metro committee will continue status quo. Explore Minnesota remains committed to partnerships with the regional marketing groups. Explore Minnesota staff will remain in the regions for continued outreach work.
Fall Listening Sessions will be held around the state the week of October 12.
Future Council Meetings: The next Council meeting is Thursday, June 11. At the advice of the Council, this will be a longer meeting to discuss the next legislative session. Tentatively scheduling June 10-11 in Central Minnesota.
Explore Minnesota staffing changes include:
· Tim Campbell retired in January. Hope to fill this position by June.
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM COUNCIL MEETING
December 3, 2019
Mall of America Executive Center
Present : Carolyn Aarsvold, Jean Bowman, Megan Christianson, Chuck Dougherty, Maya Hua, Robert Herman, Bud Johnston, Marianna Khauv, David Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Cynthia Messer, Cynthya Porter, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Tanski, Anna Thill, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Jana Webster
EMT Staff: John Edman, Lisa Havelka, Alyssa Hayes, Beth Helle, Gayle Junnila, Leann Kispert, Nicole Lalum, Mike Meyer, Pat Simmons, Erica Wacker
Guests: Michelle Benson, Renee Crawford, Sue Mageau, Denise Miller, Jaye Peterson
Call to Order: Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the meeting. Attendees were asked to introduce themselves.
Minutes: The minutes from the September Council meeting were emailed to Council members prior to this meeting. Megan Christianson motioned to approve the minutes as submitted; motion seconded by Jana Webster. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes.
Council vacancies : 11 open positions for January 2020. Notices to go into EMT Express with open position notifications. Interested parties may access the application portal through the tourism industry website or Secretary of State website. We have been notified that with so many openings to be filled on boards throughout the state, Explore Minnesota positions will probably be appointed in/around March 2020.
The following terms expire in 2020:
Statewide Association Representative – Bed & Breakfast
Statewide Association Representative – Chamber of Commerce
Statewide Association Representative - County
Statewide Association Representative – Golf
Statewide Association Representative – Lodging
Statewide Association Representative – Minnesota Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau
Statewide Association Representative – Restaurant
Statewide Association Representative – Trails or Trail Associations
Statewide Association Representative – Resorts (#2)
Business Tourism Representative – Convention Facilities
Business Tourism Representative – Tour Operator
SMARI Tourism Research – Pat Simmons and Andrea Huisden: Pat Simmons introduced SMARI Insights Tourism Research to present the traveler profile. Previously we had been working with Longwoods. An RFP was issued for a new traveler profile earlier this year and SMARI Insights was chosen as the vendor. Preliminary results presentation by Denise Miller. Overall niche strategy investment performed better from an ROI standpoint.
Regarding the discrepancy in the reporting of the number of “trips” reported in SMARI’s report versus our strategic plan: SMARI research counts “trips” as one trip, no matter what size the group 1+; EMT plan reflects individual trips. We will consider how we present this difference when reporting.
Finalized presentation will be available in the near future and posted on the industry site.
Advertising Update – John Schultz and Jaye Peterson : Review of winter 2019-20 campaign deck– creative overview. Previewed spring 2020 advertising.
Jaye Peterson then conducted a group ideation session around brand strategy for FY21. Share your point of view of how the brand of “Minnesota” is perceived currently. The group shared these perceptions/ideas:
New Website Update - Mike Meyer, Erica Wacker and Beth Helle: Design and content update presented by Erica Wacker. At the last Council meeting some mock-ups of what the new site design, and now there is a lot of content flowing into the frame of the new site. It is designed for mobile use being 60-70% of users are viewing on phone. The website is engineered to inspire and serve up a lot more feeling of the destination, big images, galleries, videos.
Listing content is not yet live or loaded – will be coming in January and extranet will be available for the industry to create their own enhanced listings for free including photo and video carousels. Training will be offered by Miles in the coming weeks and recorded for reference. Current listings content will migrate over in early January.
Beth Helle reports web opportunities overviews launched December 3 rd as a preview to the industry. Miles Partnership will walk through these opportunities for the industry in a webinar scheduled for Monday, December 9 from 10-11 a.m. The call will be recorded and available on the industry website. Media packet is available on the industry website and sign-on forms will be deployed by December 15th.
Public Relations Efforts – Erica Wacker, Alyssa Hayes and Gayle Junnila: Year-to-date earned media overview by Alyssa Hayes (domestic) and Gayle Junnila (international) – topics, reach and notable outlets, both local, regional, national. Key strategy for international marketing is media to lift consumer awareness. Familiarization tours hosted and results from market development were shared – Italy, The Netherlands, Ireland, China, Germany, etc. Two winter fams are scheduled from China in the coming months.
NYC Media Week event was held October 28-31 in New York City, organized by Meet Minneapolis (with Carmichael Lynch relate) and metro tourism partners. Explore Minnesota was invited and attended desk side media calls with writers and editors, and events over a three-day period focusing on Minnesota stories. Justin Sutherland was the guest chef and attraction at the key media event. We have already had results in Lonely Planet and various publication. Fam tours are scheduled for Forbes and Washington Post for stories with more to come over the next few months.
Public Policy – John Edman and Terry Mattson: A Public Policy meeting was held in November.
Supplemental budget request (second year of the biennium) has been made for $1 million for the new events grant program. Still unsure of how this request fits into the Administration’s priorities and what budget is available. We are working with our legislative liaison from DNR on this initiative, as well as a Housekeeping change request for additional Council member seats to better represent the current industry. New proposed seats include Outdoor Recreation, Native American, Arts/Culture and Sports.
Long Range funding for events was discussed at the meeting. Bill Deef from Meet Minneapolis and Megan Christianson, Grand Rapids, will plan an initial meeting to talk about how the short-term request for events grant funding can work toward a longer-range and potentially larger statewide initiative.
Funding for Explore Minnesota was also discussed. A document with a grid showing how other state tourism offices are funded was distributed and explained by Pat Simmons. We do need to take a look at alternative funding models suggested by other state structures to evaluate other options. Megan Christianson and Terry Mattson have volunteered to organize a committee to talk about future funding. Results and recommendations to be shared by or at the June Council meeting.
Office of Outdoor Recreation Update – the formation of a council has been approved by Executive Order of the Governor to assess the current state of the outdoor recreation industry and promotion of outdoor recreation and natural resources. John Edman and DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen (and respective teams) have worked to formulate the work of the council. Position and position application information will be forthcoming in the next month, with the goal of appointing members by the end of January and initiating the first of 10-12 meetings in early February.
Destination Capitol Hill is an annual tourism industry event organized by US Travel, which takes place in Washington, DC April 1-2, 2020. Meetings to be scheduled with Minnesota’s Congressional delegation by Explore Minnesota. If you are interested in attending this event and joining the Minnesota delegation to Washington, please contact Beth Helle.
The annual report of the power of the Minnesota travel industry will be presented again in a cereal box format. The box will be designed and printed by the Tourism Conference, end of February. Copies will be distributed to elected officials in Saint Paul and Washington, DC as well as made available for use by the tourism industry.
Sarah Psick shared that the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition is available and will be supporting the supplemental budget request. The MTGC is there to lobby on behalf of EMT funding and budget. They will make the case for the events funding across the state, and will try to make the case appealing and amp up the message for the program. It is important for everyone to put their voices together to show support of this program.
Strategic Plan draft – change on the metrics reflecting the new ROI report by SMARI to be edited. Motion to approve with minor edit. Anna Thill moved to approve; Megan Christianson seconded. Motion carried.
Tourism Conference registration is now live and a special rate for Tourism Council members is extended to all for $299 for the full conference. The 2020 Minnesota Tourism Conference is scheduled to take place at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria February 24-26, 2020.
Future Council Meetings:
Wednesday, March 11
Thursday, June 11
Tuesday, September 15
Thursday, December 3
Public Policy Meeting
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Attendees : Amy Barrett, Lauren Bennett McGinty, Bo Bigelow, Jean Bowman, Joel Carlson, Rep. Shelly Christensen, Bill Deef, Lisa Havelka, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Tony Kwilas, Paul Larsen, Peggy Lindquist, Sean Lydon, Terry Mattson, Mike Meyer, Peter Mihajlov, Sarah Psick, Xinyi Qian, Derek Ramthun, Laura Stengrim, Anna Thill
EDA Grant – Leann Kispert : EDA grant has been approved, paperwork in process. EMT has entered into an Interagency Agreement with DEED. Given provisional green light to expand winter media campaign (starting January 24). Intend to get money into marketplace as soon as possible. Expanding national niche strategy – talk to those out of state residents to promote Minnesota travel. Will do ROI research to track performance of dollars. Have money for spring/summer for creative and media, and experiential activations.
Also setting aside funding for research project for Welcome Centers. How can we make Welcome Centers more attractive to visitors and meet their needs. Look at ways to prepare Welcome Centers for the future.
Will update halo effect research.
Explore Minnesota Grant Update – Beth Helle : One active grant program right now, funded at
$1 million. Opened January 1, 2022. Approximately $58,000 remains. Grants are capped at $15,000. Grant use is for DMOs and tourism promotion to be used for general marketing.
Crisis Grant Program 1 is complete.
Crisis Grant Program 2 is being reconciled.
Legislative appropriation provided $750,000 for recovery grants. Funds were out within 8 hours of opening program. 51 grants awarded, with max award of $20,000. Twenty-three applications were received but not funded either due to the funds being exhausted at the time of the application or the organization project did not qualify.
Hospitality Job Training Program – Xinyi Quin, University of Minnesota Tourism Center: This training program will help address labor shortages. Hospitality Minnesota, U of M Tourism Center and Explore Minnesota have had conversations. Addresses workforce training and education programs, particularly customer service programs. Goal is to provide virtual, flexible program for customer service program, free of charge. This is part of larger effort Tourism Center is putting together as part of other grants. Working on letters of support.
Bill Deef reports that Meet Minneapolis internal team is meeting to discuss workforce. Big year ahead. Hospitality community in real need of employees. Need is immediate. What is best way to reach folks right now (job fairs, social media)? Meanwhile, UNITE HERE and UMTC, HM, EMT looking for way to develop workforce for the future.
Current Legislative Requests Overview
Have requests for the following for this session:
1. $6 million EMT budget increase request
2. Working with DEED – they have request for some of the surplus money, which includes an additional $6 million for marketing Minnesota
3. Last year, bill was put forward to expand Tourism Council. EMT reintroducing.
Other key points:
· There is such an immediate need, as the latest variant continues to grow
· Need to have conversations – ARP money at legislature, relief packages
· EMT staff putting together cereal box – do have 2020 annual stats at local level. Nearly $12 billion dollar loss since January 2020
· Lauren plans to have one-on-one conversations with legislators
· Continue to monitor omicron as well as labor shortage
· Need anecdotal report. Having stories of folks in their legislative district
· EMT put together marketing plan – there were expectations for recovery/already different now. EMT continues to monitor both consumer sentiment as it relates to travel, not seeing significant changes. Aren’t seeing huge variations in intent to travel. 3-5 month outlook continues to look strong. Media placement: have COVID scoring model that looks at county by county case counts, vax rates plus desire to travel is figured into modeling. That is driving a large portion of our digital ad placement. Information is updated every week. Continually look at data points. Total flexibility with EDA money and can amend plans if needed.
· Helpful to have recovery mapped out by county because it is very different for each county.
· Tourism provides tax revenue at state and local levels
· MTGC – will bring bill forward; working on letter to Governor urging him to include. EMT is waiting for response from Governor. Would be helpful if Council members and Sarah met with Governor or policy staff on budget request. New person on policy team from Governor’s Office.
· Following participants expressed interest in participating in legislative meetings: Sarah, Xinyi, Terry Mattson
· EMT conference is March 1 and will have a session on how to talk to your legislators
· Laura Stengrim (Executive Director of Visit Thief River Falls) is new public policy committee chair for MACVB. They are holding a board meeting this week
· NOW is the time to dial up tourism’s importance to the state. Council members appointed by Governor; this is time to write/call Governor to get $6 million
· Need to hear from DMOs, private sector. Recovery is not equal. Dire for some areas still today
· CMR: Another issue to be on tourism’s radar is the push being made to require boater certification and training for those who boat on Minnesota lakes. Issue with outstate boaters. Will continue to watch this issue. Making sure this doesn’t have a negative impact on tourism in Minnesota
· West Central MN has a coffee meeting with legislative reps on January 26. Contact Jean Bowman if you are interested in participating.
· EDA competitive grant application: Xinyi to provide sample letter to EMT for consideration/letter of cooperation and support.
Session begins in few weeks. Public Policy will meet mid session, if not before.
Recording of this meeting can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4ocWydP1rs
Public Policy Meeting
August 25, 2021 – 11 a.m.
Participants: Isabel Anderson, Mary Anderson, Matt Bliss, Tracy Boldt, Joel Carlson, Doug Carnival, Bill Deef, Chuck Dougherty, Annalee Garletz, Beth Helle, Bud Johnston, Leann Kispert, Tony Kwilas, Nicole Lalum, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Peggy Lindquist, Terry Mattson, Bob Meier, Mike Meyer, Gretchen Nussbaum, Lori Peterson, Sarah Psick, Xinyi Qian, Jessica Tabbutt, Anna Tanski, Julie Wearn, Ben Wogsland
2021 Legislative Session Wrap-up - Annalee Garletz
· Information not yet provided on supplemental budget process. Typically due October 15.
· MMB is seeking input on how American Recovery (ARP) dollars be spent. MMB gathering comments from the public on how to use funds. Open through September 17. State agencies asked to share with stakeholders. This is an opportunity for the hospitality and tourism industry to voice their concerns. Survey can be found at https://mn.gov/mmb/arp/
· Preliminary policy proposals due September 15 to Governor’s Office; final October 15.
· Council seat increase request and match language was not addressed during session. Consider adding to wish list.
· Still a strong need for direct grant relief. Restaurant/hotel took on significant debt during pandemic. Other states distributed CARES act funds more specifically to tourism-related businesses.
· Help those who did not get Restaurant Recovery grants. Grant relief for those who were left behind. (DEED)
· Various associations and organizations are in need – DMOs, CVBs, EMT.
· Need to be strategic in request. Minneapolis was the most heavily impacted area in US and Canada last year. Much has to do with lack of business travel. Need to recognize that there are good stories about success and rebound being told about tourism in greater Minnesota – but our industry is still hurting, especially in metro area.
o Terry Mattson, Sarah Psick, Doug Carnival, Joel Carlson, Tony Kwilas and Anna Tanski will meet separately to craft messaging for hospitality industry to complete the MMB survey.
o Can promote this message in hospitality and tourism communications and newsletters, including EMT Express to urge participation to voice need from industry.
EDA Grants – Leann Kispert:
· Applicants can apply for separate projects (NOFOs).
· Recipients cannot be for profit. Must go to non-profit, government or sovereign nation.
· $750 million on national level for travel and tourism. Competitive and non-competitive buckets:
o $510 million for non-competitive state tourism grants. Eligible uses: tourism marketing and promotion; workforce training; economic development planning/coordination; technical assistance projects.
§ Approximately $9.2 million earmarked for Minnesota.
o $240 million for competitive EDA tourism grants. Very competitive; mainly for recovery; must big/inclusive project; outcome should include job creation. Applications are made directly to the EDA, not the State.
· (Non-competitive) Invitation sent to Governor’s Office end of July. Governor designated DEED as lead agency. DEED, DNR, EMT meeting next week.
o If the State allows sub awards, they have to each be approved by EDA.
· DEED as lead agency would need to apply for money by late September.
· Copy of EDA Power Point distributed to attendees and available from Leann Kispert or Peggy Lindquist at Explore Minnesota
ARP Grants – Leann Kispert:
· EMT worked with DEED this past spring to put together a proposal for these funds.
· We requested $10 million. (Request made with/through DEED).
· Have not been notified if we received any of these funds.
· MN Tourism Growth Coalition also sent letter to Governor supporting the request.
Explore Minnesota Grants – Beth Helle:
· $750K appropriation for industry Recovery Grant Program – tourism marketing, meetings and conventions, new & returning events promotion and operations
· Grant guidelines and applications will be made available on September 8
· More information in upcoming EMT Express articles
· As we prepare for 2022 session, there is a real need to put together a strong selling message
· While the challenge is to talk about statewide benefit, MSP/metro is the vital tourism gateway to Minnesota. We need a resilient metro to be that gateway for domestic and international visitors.
· Delta variant has really delayed the rebound for the meetings and conventions market.
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. and will include a recap of today’s Public Policy meeting.
Explore Minnesota Public Policy Committee
Wednesday, August 25, 2021 – 11 a.m. CST
Terry Mattson, Chair
A G E N D A
1) Review/recap minutes from Feb 2021 Public Policy Meeting; Public Policy portion of minutes from June 2021 Council Meeting
2) EDA Grant Funds Update – Leann Kispert & Mike Meyer
3) Legislative look ahead – Annalee Garletz and/or Sarah Psick; All
4) Legislative priorities discussion EMT:
EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM $15,434,000 $14,523,000
(a) $500,000 the first year and $500,000 the second year must be matched from nonstate sources to develop maximum private sector involvement in tourism. Each $1 of state incentive must be matched with $6 of private sector money. "Matched" means revenue to the state or documented cash expenditures directly expended to support Explore Minnesota Tourism programs. Up to one-half of the private sector contribution may be in-kind or soft match. The incentive in fiscal year 2022 is based on fiscal year 2021 private sector contributions. The incentive in fiscal year 2023 is based on fiscal year 2022 private sector contributions. This incentive is ongoing.
(b) Money for marketing grants is available either year of the biennium. Unexpended grant money from the first year is available in the second year.
(c) $100,000 each year is for a grant to the Northern Lights International Music Festival.
(d) $1,000,000 the first year is for a recovery grant program, including grants for local and Tribal governments, for tourism, meetings and conventions, and events assistance and promotions. This is a onetime appropriation. Of this amount, $250,000 is for a grant to the Grand Portage Band to focus tourism to Grand Portage.
Last year’s budget requests included:
1. Event grant program - $2 million / $1 million each year
2. Crisis marketing grant program - $2 million / $1 million each year
3. Meetings & Convention support - $1 million 2022
4. Cooperative Marketing program - $1 million 2022
Other requests not included:
(b) Proposed 6 council seats: Arts/Culture; Sports; Tribal Nations; Outdoor Recreation; (new) Diverse Chamber of Commerce; (new) Diverse Owned Tourism Related Business
(c) Biennial Budget Change requests
1. Incentive match language – proposed to amend cash contributions to unlock $500K annually
a. (a) $500,000 the first year and $500,000 the second year must be matched from nonstate sources to develop maximum private sector involvement in tourism. Each $1 of state incentive must be matched with $6 of private sector money. "Matched" means revenue to the state or documented in-kind, soft match, or cash expenditures directly expended to support Explore Minnesota Tourism programs.
Up to one-half of the private sector contribution may be in-kind or soft match. The incentive in fiscal year 2020 2022 is based on fiscal year 2019 2021 private sector contributions. The incentive in fiscal year 2021 2023 is based on fiscal year 2020 2022 private sector contributions. This incentive is ongoing.
5) 2022 Legislative Priorities
(a) industry priorities
(b) next steps
6) Other issues
Public Policy Committee
February 2, 2021, 10 a.m.
Terry Mattson, Chair
Present: Bob Bierscheid, Bo Bigelow, Tracy Boldt, Stephanie Busiahn, Douglas Carnival, John Edman, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Tony Kwilas, Paul Larsen, Peggy Lindquist, Terry Mattson, Mike Meyer, Peter Mihajlov, Cynthya Porter, Sarah Psick, Jessica Tabbutt, Ben Thuringer, Danyl Vavreck, Julie Wearn, Ben Wogslund, 651-775-3063
Review and Approve December 1 Meeting Minutes: A motion to approve the minutes from the December meeting was introduced by Tony Kwilas and seconded by Sarah Psick. All attendees in favor to approve the minutes as presented.
Status Legislative Priorities: John Edman reported that the Governor’s budget proposal for Explore Minnesota is flat. Additional grant program funding did not make it into the Governor’s budget. John testified to the House Environmental & Natural Resources Finance & Policy Committee. Testimony was well received.
Sarah Psick reported on behalf of the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MTGC) which is an industry-led coalition to be the voice of the tourism industry outside of EMT. Once the Governor has made budget recommendations, EMT needs to follow those recommendations. The MTGC advocates on behalf of the tourism industry beyond these recommendations. MTGC worked with Senator Ruud on an appropriation to fund additional initiatives:
· $1 million for events assistance (no longer needs to be a new event)
Once legislative Council appointments have been made, will work with them to introduce legislation. Next step is to wait for February budget forecast. There is bipartisan support to help tourism industry. The Senate does have a bill that directs all state agencies to take 5% across the board cut, this includes EMT.
Additional Council Seats : House File 590 was introduced on February 1 that includes four additional Council appointments (outdoor rec, sports, culture and tribal nations). This was probably introduced as a carryforward bill from last session and doesn’t include current proposed language. EMT will set up a meeting with Rep Christiansen to discuss an amendment to include diverse chamber of commerce and diverse owned tourism related business.
Biennial Budget Change Request : This is a proposed change in EMT’s match language that unlocks $500,000. Working to change formula to eliminate the word “cash.” As EMT has changed a number of our programs to require no match, free leads, etc., our cash intake has been impacted. EMT to work on finding an author for this bill and to get it jacketed for introduction.
Legislative Priorities – Industry and Next Steps:
Tourism improvement districts : Meet Minneapolis, Visit Duluth and a few other areas are moving forward legislation that would authorize communities to establish a tourism improvement district. This has been done in other states. This is a service charge on hotel night stays and those funds collected would be used to benefit hotel marketing. This is a very focused effort. Hotels in area must work with their local DMOs. Lot of discussion with MACVB and Hospitality Minnesota. Language is for promotion only, not bricks and mortar projects. This is an effort to collect additional resources to promote destination. Gives control back to local community. Concern is that putting this in place may give legislature opportunity to dilute or redirect existing lodging tax. Industry has banded together to fight this off. If this is put in place as optional funding source, may give legislature opportunity to change existing lodging tax. Intent is not to replace; it is an additional funding source for more economic activity for tourism promotion. TIDs in outstate Minnesota
is in are more of a county issue and language is being proposed to be more inclusive than just municipalities, in the event other communities would want to adopt in the future.
Relief/Recovery Support Initiatives: EMT is working with their PR firm on a new tourism awareness piece. A “menu” concept will replace the previous cereal box. This four-page piece is used to remind our audience of the value of tourism and for all to present the same facts/figures. It will also be available in digital format. New concept is an outline meant to emphasis power of tourism as well as deep revenue and jobs losses. Challenge to get real time data. Menu done in fun way. Also added logos from state hospitality associations.
Tourism Week – May 2-8, 2021. We have a real opportunity to bring attention to tourism during tourism week, and as an extension to the above menu concept. Will have more information at full Council meeting.
We have also used the Governor’s Fishing Opener as big PR effort to talk about travel and tourism. We do not know future of openings, but don’t expect large community events, and perhaps will not give us the opportunity as in the past to talk a lot about tourism. These efforts may be much more focused.
Hospitality Minnesota legislative initiatives:
· Pleased to see potential for $50 million for tourism loan program. Been in conversation with Commissioner Grove. As they are shaping the program, pushing for more resources. Advocating for higher employee cap (currently available for less than 50 employees).
· Working with legislature on tax relief for equipment/PPE. Looking at state tax levy.
· Working on conformity to federal tax laws on PPP to be tax free for income purposes.
· Working to get money for Prostart for hospitality management programs. Members still have challenges in hiring/workforce.
Ben Thuringer reports they are seeing great demands for 2021. Reservations are coming in and staff that were furloughed are being called back. Social market grew immensely last year. Seeing that happening again for repeat guests. Minnesotans sticking in Minnesota. Corporate side – getting a lot of inquiries. Business returning from 2020; wedding market is busy. Working with Governor to make sure we don’t have to turn away business due to EO. There is a workforce issue in the Brainerd Lakes area that needs to be addressed at a federal level in order to have the return of international workers. Consumer confidence: Met with Grandview and Craguns. Seeing 600-700 people on weekends at either resort for winter market. Consumers want to head to resorts and social distance.
On a legislative front, this is a very confusing story for legislators. Many resorts did great, others did not. Economic recovery in hospitality industry is not consistent throughout the state. Still a need for help from the state, and the touting of booming business in a few cases could be problematic to securing support/aid/relief funds for most.
EMT, Hospitality Minnesota and Minneapolis Federal Reserve surveyed the industry. Survey tells the picture of what is happening especially when talking about resorts/campgrounds vs hotels . Available online. https://mn.gov/tourism-industry/assets/Late%202020%20Hospitality%20Survey%20final_tcm1135-463078.pdf
Full Council meeting is March 10.
EMT Public Policy Meeting
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Meeting held virtually via Zoom
1. Terry Mattson, Chair
2. Stephanie Busiahn
3. Joel Carlson
4. Bill Deef
5. John Edman
6. Maureen Scallon Failor
7. Beth Helle
8. Jeanette Hill
9. Leanne Kispert
10. Sam Kroeger
11. Peggy Lindquist
12. Terry Mattson
13. Mike Meyer
14. Pete Mihajlov
15. Sarah Psick
16. Jennifer Schmid
17. Pat Simmons
18. Anna Tanski
19. Anna Thill
20. Ben Wogsland
21. (+ unidentified call-in number)
Legislative priorities - EMT
State budget forecast released this morning. Important to note that there is no new money.
Prioritizing for EMT initiatives? Discussed and agreed the order as presented should be kept.
As submitted by EMT/legislative changes:
Expand EMT Council to add six new seats: Arts and Culture, Sports, Tribal Nations, Outdoor Recreation, Diverse Chamber of Commerce, Diverse Owned Tourism Related Business. Hoping to move through next session.
Match incentive language: Change match from cash match to cash or in kind. We would not be able to meet this this year if these were the specifics.
Priority order of additional funding:
1. Crisis grant (recovery): $1 million each year of biennium
2. Support for meetings and conventions: $1 million 2022
3. Event grant program: $1 million each year of biennium
4. Cooperative marketing program: $1 million 2022
Requests have gone through. Won’t know until January if approved
Crisis grant program (Phase I and Phase II) was funded by repurposing unspent dollars from paused or suspended programs. There has been no additional money or appropriations to the agency for these programs. This may have been confused by the recent press release about this program from the Governor’s office.
Industry Legislative Priorities
Discussion between Governor and legislative leaders for relief package for hospitality industry. Special session would be called if they come up with some type of proposal.
December 12 is next legislative special session.
· Advance report of budget projection looks ok with a surplus versus a deficit as originally forecasted.
· The state has money to compose a relief package.
· Biggest issues: want to support industry as a whole.
· Problematic when some of the industry is served, i.e. help for resorts may hurt hotels.
· Likely to be primary aid to those businesses who have been directly affected by the recent Executive Order - bars/restaurants, gyms/fitness centers that are closed.
· Need to include hotels – half may fail within the next six months.
· Tax credits are not a heavy lift in most cases. Long term effect on lodging properties – they are not affected by current Executive Order.
· Federal package is specially targeted to live entertainment, tourism – that is their direction.
Any action required for Explore Minnesota Tourism Council to put forward a resolution in support of relief package? Council probably will not want to embrace one proposal over another. Not picking winners and losers over policies. Council needs to provide broad support focusing on the devastation of the tourism industry. Beth and John will draft a resolution which will be introduced at this week’s Tourism Council meeting by Terry Mattson.
Tourism Growth Coalition has always drafted bill to introduce funding priorities of EMT. They intend to do again. Sarah Psick will provide draft.
Hired Weber Shandwick as new public relations firm to work on various PR efforts. Recovery, messaging, travel safe when able, reach media locally. First project is “cereal box”. This piece lets legislators/elected officials know impact of tourism to economy. Ask WS about messaging this year to demonstrate power of tourism as well as hit to industry. Use to ensure consistent messaging, same facts/figures to stakeholders and legislators.
· Always helpful to have this information when doing outreach
· Should be new form this year – cereal box was a different era
· Something crafted to carry forward message how hurt this has been for tourism industry
· Chance to tell our story – tell how big our industry is and how much COVID has hit us
· Needs to be clear message (it is negative) / Tourism is needed to move economy forward
· Value in having something legislators keep out – however legislators may not be in their offices now
· Regardless of format, opportunity to come up with something different. Message is important.
· Not good news but Include good news – how important tourism is to the economy.
TID Legislative Discussion
Community initiatives: Minneapolis looking at this; city attorney feels it is best to do this at legislative level. Duluth views differently but supports. Looking to bring forward to legislature next year. Pathway for communities to pursue. About a five-year time period before returning to numbers prior to COVID. Focused on lodging sales but open to other mechanisms. Feels it should be available to every community’s toolbox. MACVB priority is to ensure that it does not affect local option lodging tax. Legislative language is for lodging only, not restaurants/bars. Legislation is drafted to include only cities, no requirement to have local lodging option tax in place. Ordinance would establish rates – could be based on percentage of hotels/lodging night stays. Must have 51% of local hotels agree to move forward.
CIVITAS: Reached out to Explore Minnesota to inform us of services they offer (expertise in this field, serve as consultant to draft legislation). Concept at state level where it would require state legislation -“tourism improvement district”. Would need statewide buy in for businesses affected. California does this for car rental. Accommodations, restaurants, transportation sectors also included in their assessments. CA must recertify every five years. Would be major shift of how to fund tourism. Takes tourism funding out of the hands of legislators.
Friends of the Falls Endorsement Request
Joel Carlson overviewed the project – not endorsing, just informing.
Discussion about letter of support as requested from the Friends of the Falls. This request does fall within the parameters of projects considered for endorsement since it does have a statewide impact -enhancing the Mississippi River as an attraction for visitors. Governor’s office reviewed prior and suggested it go to public policy committee for consideration. Committee discussion and approval. Letter will be drafted in general support of tourism infrastructure and signed by John Edman.
Governor’s budget recommendations will be released mid-January.
Next meeting of the Public Policy Committee will be held February 2, 2021 at 10 a.m. via Zoom specifically to discuss Governor’s budget recommendations and strategy forward. Notice will be sent out two weeks prior.
Public Policy Committee Minutes
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Saint Paul, MN
Call-In Participants :
Legislative Priorities Update
Housekeeping bills – uploaded and assigned to Revisor’s office for bill draft. This will not be an official administrative recommendation because it is a direction of the Explore Minnesota Council. Will be seeking authors for the proposed bill.
Supplemental budget request – is not yet ready for submission into budget priorities. The request has been submitted for consideration. Governor’s office contact is Charles Sutton.
Office of Outdoor Recreation Update
Bill did not get passed in last session; but likely will resurface in the next session. Tony Kwilas indicated that he has been contacted by parties indicating that this will resurface.
EMT and DNR jointly submitted a letter of request for a Governor’s Order to form a Council to assess current activities and voids across Minnesota agencies directly cited in the bill’s language introduced in the last session. The intention of the Council is to assess activities, identify voids and gather public input and it is important that the industry and stakeholders provide perspective addressing the need of this office. The Council will likely be led by DNR with EMT and other agency support if accepted.
Request for Loon Center Letter of Support
Efforts in Brainerd continue to create a Loon Center; $4million state funding was secured, they are required to raise $6million in private money. Rick Nolan and his daughter are involved in this project and have asked for a letter of support from EMT. They have also sought letters of support from other agencies. There is concern about setting a precedent for letters of support for individual fundraising efforts.
Similar request came from Mall of America several years ago seeking a similar support letter. This request was denied as it was seen as a conflict.
Public policy feels it is more appropriate for the DNR to sign onto since it is more for the promotion of natural resources. Request for letter from EMT will be denied.
DNR Legislative Liaison
Annalee Garletz and Nick Farlou from DNR – every year with permission from the Governor’s office - have meetings with individual committees. They just met with Representatives Purcell, Hanson and Becker-Finn from the Finance Committee. Walked through DNR policy proposals and also talked about EMT policy proposals. Not a lot of conversation or comments on those policies, but were made aware.
Long Term Models for EMT
Pat Simmons shared a state tourism office budgets dashboard from US Travel’s website comparing state budget breakdowns. Other states may have funding models that include a combination of lodging tax, car rental or other tax sources. There are a lot of different ways that state tourism offices are funded.
Are we going to try to grow tourism funding by fighting for state dollars or find a different mechanism for funding? What are the next steps forward? What’s the path for making recommendations?
Committee decided to form a task force to dive deeper into the issue; Terry and Megan agreed to spearhead and participate in the committee. For the next budget cycle, next recommendations need to be done by July. June council meeting needs to be the target. We will mention it in the December council meeting.
New Events Grant Funding
Tourism Growth Coalition may be used to advance this effort and raise awareness for the need of this program. If it is not in the budget recommendations for this cycle, it is up to the industry to raise awareness to reintroduce prior to next biennium.
Long Term Events Funding Update
Bill Deef: will talk about this issue at MACVB this week at the strategic planning. There is an appetite for discussion around the state, and recommended a task force needs to be formed and will be initiated by Bill.
Sarah recommends the new events grant and long term funding discussions should start in the same committee discussion since they will likely utilize the same funding source.
In short term, the MTGC is ready and willing to advocate for the new events grant funding and will be prepared to introduce.
Recommending joint discussions over the next 5-6 months to present recommendations to the Tourism Council.
$7K creation and printing cost is an effective way to communicate the impact and power of tourism to elected officials and stakeholders statewide. We will continue for the next year.
John is the new chair of Brand USA. If Brand USA fails to get reauthorized by September 2020, it will dissolve. Plans for gradual de-escalation of programs will begin in early 2020. The two MN Senators have signed on to the bill; has gone through House and Senate in relatively similar bills; there has been good support but has not yet passed either body.
Explore Minnesota Tourism
April 15, 2020
Call to Order – John Edman:
Thank you for participating. The Explore Minnesota Tourism Council met on March 11 when the COVID situation was somewhat new to Minnesota. Since then, a lot has changed. Governor’s “Stay at Home” Executive Order currently is in effective through May 4.
COVID-19 Industry Impacts - Pat Simmons:
Tourism Economics reported travel to Minnesota is down 35% over prior 8-week period, ending April 4. Numbers going down now. MN down 85-90% on travel spending.
Industry survey indicates business losses down between ½-100%. Businesses indicated it may be 12 months or more before they see uptick. Some are changing marketing for foreseeable future while others are canceling marketing or changing methods.
Destination Analysis reports nearly 70% respondents say they miss travel and will jump back in. 90% will approach travel more carefully. Will soon have link for Destination Analysis information.
Council Perspectives Recovery - Beth Helle/Council:
Held first call with industry last week; over 400 people called in. Opportunity to provide overview on marketing, industry outreach and communications. Questions must be submitted prior to the call to: Questions.firstname.lastname@example.org . Will hold another call on Friday, April 17 at 11 a.m. Kevin McKinnon, DEED, will present. Questions being taken in advance. Promoted in EMT Express and another reminder tomorrow. Will schedule calls as appropriate.
Council Updates :
Danyl Vavreck - Festivals & Events: Events and festival business at standstill with no end in sight. April through July events have been postponed or cancelled. When events do come back, anticipate issues with scheduling things such as portapotties and police. No one wants to be first event and take that chance. Don’t want to be cause of resurgence. Don’t expect to return to normal until vaccine in place. No one has received funds yet. Some payroll stimulus in process. 20-30% of breweries may not survive this. Economic impact disaster loan – reduced their eligibility by 70%. Event planners had control of their story line; now they do not. EMT can assist to help define industry code for festivals/special events. Stumbling block when applying for loans. Still no decision on MN State Fair.
Dave Langhoff – Campgrounds: Participated in a number of webinars. Campgrounds – not open yet for season, waiting to see. Seasonal – wait and see approach; in tune with owners. Overnight camping – kicks off Memorial weekend; have some time. Closing playgrounds; game rooms shutting down; cleaning schedules updated. Primarily social distance.
Outfitters, business travelers up north – seen incredible cancellation rate of 40-50%.
For his own property: Relaxing cancellation policies. Can’t afford to lose money. Take deposits. Big financial commitment to guests. Deposits will be good for next year, refund with booking fee (keep on books for next trip). Understands Governor’s Stay at Home policy. County does not have any cases to date. Can’t overwhelm their hospital. Also have problem how to get back to work if all seasonal employees quit their job and come to his resort to work for the summer. Cannot afford unemployment plus $600 and cannot compete with that. Restaurants cannot compete. How will they afford employees to come back? Employees receiving more to not work. Need to address this issue. Guests are waiting - season is only 3 months. If Stay at Home orders go through June, it will be a huge failure for the industry.
Anna Tanski – Convention Facility: Weekly call with MACVB partners, also U.S. Travel and Destinations International calls. Duluth positioning itself to market with EMT timeline. Plan to ramp up. Not laid off staff yet. Working with city administration to identify what that may look like. Purchased year-long contracts with media, pressed pause, will have some resources. No food/beverage, lodging tax collections taking place at this time. City is not getting funding. Applied for Economic industry impact disaster loan. Notified that Bayfront Festival Park events for June cancelled; some looking to reschedule. Given permission to extend season into October, overlaps with set up for Bentleyville. Significant cancellations of meetings and events into September; trying to rebook but availability becomes issue.
Terry Mattson – Metro: Devastating to metro area. Continue to monitor data/research. Base decisions on assumptions. Process to heal. Visit Saint Paul is fully functional. Rivercentre – no paying customers; maintain leadership staff; taking this time for maintenance. Redeployed staff into community service. Working with Morrissey Hospitality to feed front-line in community. Saint Paul hotel occupancy around 10-20%. New normal is unknown.
Cynthya Porter – Travel Media : Very dramatic effect for area. Cancelled summer festivals. Visit Winona furloughed most of its staff. Survival mode.
Stephanie Busiahn – Southern: Taking more of a local approach. Martin County hotbed for COVID. Supporting small businesses and restaurants in community.
Cindy Wannaka – Resorters: Concerned about obtaining cleaning products when they return. Staffing not willing to come back; making more by staying home. How do they survive if they give deposits back to guests? Grants pulled for 2020. Some businesses PPP going through and approved.
Bob Herman – Travel Agencies : Devasted. Kept people employed but only doing cancellations – into June. Keeping stats on staffing. 60% of travelers asking for refunds. All spring break sales had to be reversed – accounting, policies tough. We applied for economic injury loan and PPP. Have to resubmit because form has been changed. Travel agencies frustrated with PPP loan process. Would start staff back at reduced hours; they would rather not work and collect unemployment. PPP tried to automate process and it failed; as of Monday had 60k applications; had to process manually. Doing surveys as well. When things get better, #1 thing people said they would get in their car and drive; last is cruise. Domestic trips interested; not international.
Marianna Khauv - Lodging: Received PPP yesterday. Calling back staff for deep cleaning, prototypes for check-in process. Property taxes due May 15 – will there be pushback? Competing with UI with staff. Lodging in MN providing safe and clean place to stay. Offering essential worker rate to guests.
Operations Update – John Edman : EMT staff in telework environment. Welcome Centers closed until further notice. Hiring freeze for State. Budget unknown. Myron Frans reported less revenue coming to state. Staff working hard to get messages out at right time.
Explore Minnesota Marketing Changes – Leann Kispert : Marketing and communications team working to change existing media buys. Meeting regularly to assess situation and how to react. In parallel, working on transitional campaign. Title is “True Nature.” No graphics from True North campaign. Reintroduce in early summer. Message is “When things get tough, we stay strong.” Will acknowledge situation, yet optimistic. Invites consumer to come and visit when ready using :30 tv spot. Uses existing footage and upbeat music. Will show real posts from Minnesota with voice over “During these times you have shown us your true nature - We can’t wait to show you ours.” Activities highlight fishing, biking hiking, paddling. Spot will close “When you’re ready - We’re ready.” Close with EMT logo and See you soon. Paid social will correspond. Between now and staging, organic social posts running highlighting what they love about Minnesota and what they are looking forward to. Currently all creative being sent to Governor’s Office for review; new step for us. Launch date May 11, may change. Gives nice presence going into Memorial Day weekend. Will be doing network and cable tv. 500 mile radius/comfortable day drive. Will have buy with MBA to reach other markets. Network and cable on for 3 weeks. Will have digital for 5 state region for 5 weeks. Hope to reintroduce ‘Find your True North’ by Memorial Day. Will also post resource guide for industry to customize/localize efforts for yourself. Includes headline overlay for social/digital posts. :30 second spot, share on social channels with local touch.
Feedback from Council:
Dave L: May 11th start. Bipartisian legislative – special budget to get MN back to normal. Golfing, hotels, restaurants. Secondary program for special funding when allowed to open back. Major marketing campaign – in addition to current budget?
Dave Baker – owns hotel. Feels pain. Legislatively talking about House GOP members to signal Governor to look at things to keep people safe. Hospitality Minnesota trying to come up with ideas. Need to lead to advise Governor’s team. 17 counties not yet reported COVID cases. Lot of opportunity to open slowly and get Governor behind. Best way to help businesses ($ going to healthcare and public safety). Open slowly/regionally so that industry can slowly come back – get people back to work. Legislative wants to be in conversation in how to get Minnesota back to work. Let legislators know. Rural Minnesota getting anxious to get back to work. How to slowly open state back for hospitality: Seasonal campgrounds, smaller cafes? Loves true nature project – soft/nice tone. Push harder in safe zones to get back to work.
Terry – thanks to EMT for thoughtfulness of campaign. Hearing all five regions represented (even densely populated metro).
Leann Kispert– media talking points and social best practices on COVID 19 can be found on industry website and is updated regularly. If you need other things, let us know.
Theme for 2020 Tourism Week is Spirit of Travel. Working with industry to amplify. Providing tools to industry.
Public Policy Update – Terry Mattson: Request for $1 million dollars for events grant is not in Governor’s budget. There was legislation proposed. Probably on pause/hold now. Hope to get back in future budget.
Expansion of EMT Council: nothing to report. Thank you to Representative Christiansen and Senator Ruud who introduced bills on this. Session moved to COVID 19, health. Will look at next year.
Stimulus Package Funding. There is an opportunity for industry. Tourism industry and EMT need to play big part in Minnesota’s economic recovery. Starts with funding. More than ever, need to spend money to make money.
Sarah Psick discussed events funding. Did have bill and great hearings. Requested one time funding. Legislative is focusing on funding for COVID 19 funding. $1.5 billion surplus is basically gone. Decline in sales tax revenue/economy. Could be looking at budget deficit. Labor Day school start: Senate education chair reached out on language to start before Labor Day. Worked with Senators Ruud and Gazelka, put stop to that.
Task force on outdoor recreation – DNR/EMT met to work on task force applicants. 21 members appointed. First meeting will be held at the end of April. Looking at opportunities to enhance outdoor recreation. Recommendations to legislators by end of December.
Summer Board Meeting – John Edman: Planned in June. Under consideration. May be virtual meeting. Good time to access where we are in recovery. Discuss future legislative requests. Stay tuned.
Things are changing rapidly. May need to meet again between now and June meeting.
Any further comments reach out to Explore Minnesota staff.
Thank you so much to this Council.