Explore Minnesota Tourism Council
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Explore Minnesota Office
Saint Paul, MN
Present: Carolyn Aarsvold, Jean Bowman, Megan Christianson, Rep. Jack Considine, Kevin Cooper, Chuck Dougherty, Robert Herman, Bud Johnston, Matt Kilian, David Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Terry Mattson, Cynthia Messer, Sen. Carrie Ruud, Anna Thill, John Valliere, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka
EMT Staff: John Edman, Alyssa Hayes, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Mike Meyer, John Schultz, Erica Wacker
Guests: Megan Anderson, Brian Bellmont, Luci Botzek, Stephanie Busiahn, Joel Carlson, Sara Grasmon, Tony Kwilas, Dave Looby, Sue Mageau, Jaye Peterson, Robin Pfeifer, Sarah Psick, Anna Tanski
Call to Order: Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the meeting. Attendees were asked to introduce themselves.
There are five vacancies on the Council – retail, convention facility, southern, lodging and resorts. Met with Governor’s Office last week and hope to have announcements as early as next week.
Half of the Council’s terms expire in January 2019. An announcement will be sent from the Secretary of State’s Office in November to inform members and provide information on how to apply. An announcement will also be made in the EMT Express.
Minutes from the June meeting were sent separately via e-mail. Megan Christianson motioned to approve the minutes from the June meeting; motion seconded by John Valliere. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes as submitted.
Match Report – Mike Meyer: As stated in law, Explore Minnesota is “To develop maximum private sector involvement in tourism, $500,000 in the first fiscal year of the biennium and $500,000 in second year of the biennium must be matched by Explore Minnesota Tourism from nonstate sources. Each $1 of state incentive must be matched with $6 of private sector funding. Cash match is defined as 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.” In order to receive our $500,000 incentive funds, EMT much raise $3 million in cash and in-kind. For FY18, EMT raised $1 million in cash; almost $4 million in partnership cash; and over $9 million in in-kind, for a total of $14,031,934.
The Council was asked for their recommendation as to whether or not we should pursue changing the above-quoted statue. Council comments following:
· Do other states do anything like this? No, fairly unique to Minnesota
Council recommends leaving law as is, but deferred topic to Public Policy Committee for further review.
Events Program Update – Beth Helle: The new Event Grant program began as a pilot program in 2017 with $673,000 in available funds. In fiscal year 2017, a total of $673,000 in grants funds were awarded to a total of 22 new events, 14 of which were located in Greater Minnesota and 8 in the seven-county metro area.
In FY18, the Omnibus Natural Resources bill awarded $900,000 to Explore Minnesota for the continued funding of the new Events Grant Program through FY19. A total of $897,500 in grant funds were awarded, of which $248,146 was awarded to Greater Minnesota and $649,354 awarded to the seven-country metro area. The remaining balance of $2,500 is due to a BID grant that canceled on June 26, 2018, which did not allow enough time to award those funds before the close of FY18. Those funds have been rolled back into the grant fund pool and will become available when the grant pool reaches $20,000.
Explore Minnesota is compiling the economic impact of this program.
Public Policy Committee Report – John Edman/Terry Mattson: Brad Jones, who served as the chair of the Public Policy Committee has accepted a position in Washington state. Thanks to Brad for his work for this group. Terry Mattson has agreed to chair this committee for the immediate future.
The Public Policy Committee met yesterday. With the change in Administration (Governor) coming in January, we need to get in front of candidates to tell the tourism story.
The “White Paper” has been updated for FY20/21 and a draft was distributed to Council members. Tourism marketing and destination promotion is a critical element to the globalization of Minnesota’s economy, from increased visitation to infrastructure and business investments. Approximately one job is created in the leisure and hospitality industry for every $1 thousand invested in tourism marketing efforts, which helps to support a young and multiracial workforce. The face of Minnesota tourism is diverse, from first-generation family-run restaurants and century-old resorts to worldwide travel corporations and airlines. Tourism supports economic growth and vitality in communities spanning the state and virtually every county of Minnesota, generating state and local sales tax revenue of $969 million or approximately 18% of all state tax revenue. In the absence of the state and local taxes generated by travelers, each Minnesota household would need to pay an additional $625 in taxes to fill the gap.
Looking at possibility of hosting a legislative session at the Capitol on February 4, which is the Monday of the 2019 Tourism Conference.
The Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition continues to recommend a $20 million budget by 2020. All Council members should be receiving the email blast from the Coalition. The next edition will be sent next week and will include updated talking points, including tourism facts and figures. Tourism has a great story to tell in all corners of the state. All Council members and guests are encouraged to join the MTGC to broaden its voice.
The next meeting of the Public Policy Committee will be held immediately after the election.
Spring Summer Campaign – Leann Kispert, Robin Pfeifer and Jaye Peterson: Council members saw Adventure’s pitch creative at the June meeting. Council members provided feedback to EMT, which was shared with Adventure. Adventure completed television, video and photo shoots last week. Concepts were shared today; actual spots will be revealed at the December meeting.
The objective of the campaign is to increase travel to and within Minnesota. This will be accomplished by continuing to build off the success of the #OnlyinMN campaign by evolving the creative with “True North.” True North is being defined as what you feel when the world stops and you are present in that exact moment, place or time. It’s when you find and connect your journey’s purpose. This idea is all about those experiences and emotions coming together to culminate in the embodiment of a True North Moment. #OnlyinMN will be given context, allowing it to punctuate the True North promise and finding a balance between showcasing Minnesota’s known and hidden gems. Four stories will be used: family connection, feeling free, trying new things and discerning new passions.
Six-second niche videos will also be developed, based on passions. The first round will include arts & culture, cycling and hiking.
Print ads will highlight moments of joy/happiness.
The campaign will debut at the Tourism Conference. A toolkit/user manual will be developed and also available by the Conference. The True North campaign will fully debut next spring.
Fall/Winter and Dashboard –Jaye Peterson and John Schultz: Fall 2018 media campaign will focus on drive market, last-minute/spontaneous weekend getaways. Will use existing assets refreshed with new images and copy. It is intended to inspire people to travel and share their experiences. 30 percent will be within Minnesota, 70% outstate.
Fall 2019 planning is underway. Shooting will begin in a couple of weeks and will showcase :30 television spots that promote connecting with nature.
Six-second niche video will be used for this campaign as well and will highlight golf, cycling and hiking.
Winter 2018/19 will encourage both residents and visitors to get out and be active.
A media dashboard will be developed and will allow us to look at matrix in near real time to determine how effective the ad campaign is and determine how consumers are moving through our website. Explore Minnesota will need to determine what level of the dashboard is available to the public/industry.
Council members like the campaign and want to make sure it is diverse in all aspects – age, race, geographic, family dynamics, etc.
Website Audit and RFP – Mike Meyer: Miles Partnership did a website audit this past spring and shared their findings at the June Council meeting. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was posted on September 4 for the website development and ongoing maintenance for exploreminnesota.com. The vendor will be responsible for creating web solutions for the travel and tourism industry, and to smoothly and successfully transition Explore Minnesota’s current proprietary CMS to a more flexible, future-focused platform. Proposals are due October 2 by 2 p.m.
PR Results and Opportunities – Alyssa Hayes and Bellmont Partners: FY18 media coverage saw a record-breaking year, with nearly six billion media impressions. This is an increase of over 4 billion from FY17. Super Bowl LII had an estimated audience reach of 1.56 billion.
Explore Minnesota contracts with Bellmont Partners to assist in PR promotional efforts. They make media pitches every month and also assist with inbound media requests.
FY19 upcoming efforts and trends include: fall color splash, Governor’s events/openers, national media pitching trends, national media conventions, winter travel opportunities and press on tourism business (i.e. ROI study, summer survey). Will also be working in partnership with Adventure in the launch of the new ad campaign.
Council members/tourism industry are encouraged to send press releases and story ideas to Alyssa at Alyssa.email@example.com. The media is especially interested in unique and quirky stories.
Co-ops and Partnerships- Glori Rantz: The co-op program offers more than 30 different ways to reach potential visitors. By partnering, the Minnesota tourism industry receives deep discounts. The program is available to individual tourism businesses and organizations, lodging properties, attractions, outdoor recreation outfitters, theater/performing arts groups, museums, sightseeing companies, destination retail outlets, CVBs and non-profit tourism organizations. Print publications account for nearly 40% of the program. The #OnlyinMN monuments have been a successful addition.
Explore Minnesota also participates in several partnerships. Examples of partners include:
· Madison Mallards, average game attendance is over 6,300
· Minnesota Lynx, average game attendance is 10,000
· Star Tribune – Minnesota-themed crossword puzzle sponsorship
International Marketing Strategies – Beth Helle: Through Oxford Economics, Minnesota has statistics for overseas and total international (including Canada and Mexico) visits to Minnesota estimates through 2017 and projections through 2022.
Developed marketing strategies for the following international markets: Benelux, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Nordic countries and the United Kingdom.
Continue to work with Visit USA to leverage opportunities to reach travel trade and consumers in Australia, India, Italy and Korea.
Another important piece on the international marketing strategy is working with receptive tour operators. They are defined as U.S.-based companies which specialize in marketing and selling U.S. travel products to international inbound travelers.
Beginning in 2019, Aer Lingus will offer daily direct flights between Dublin and MSP.
Jake Juliot has been hired to promote international PR.
Explore Minnesota works with Brand USA to reach international consumers. John Edman serves on the Brand USA Board.
· Encourage business travelers to return to Minnesota with family/vacation here
· Communities are encouraged to lay out day trips for their area
· 20% of attendees to the women’s PGA come from Korea
Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference: The 2019 Tourism Conference will be held February 4-6 at the InterContinental Hotel in St. Paul. Save the dates have been sent. Conference will begin Monday at 2 p.m.; evening will be either a legislative or exhibitor reception, followed by St. Paul dine around. Conference will end around noon on Wednesday, with a grab and go lunch. A working group is meeting to develop topics.
The 2020 Tourism Conference will move north. Locations recommended by the Council include Duluth, Brainerd and Alexandria.
Other Business/Updates from Council Members:
· Congratulations to Paul Larsen, the incoming chair of National Tour Association (NTA)
· Alexandria update: home to the Carlos Creek Winery. 22 Northman Brewery is scheduled to open next year.
· Minnesota Arrowhead Association (representing Northeast MN) is meeting in St. Paul tomorrow. This provides NE Minnesota with an opportunity to meet with EMT staff.
· Grand Rapids: The Sawmill Inn closed in January. Best Western Plus plans to open in spring 2020 and will include a stand-alone restaurant. A microbrewery is scheduled to open the end of 2019/beginning of 2020.
· AAA Magazine has dropped about 10 locations in their 2019 edition of “places to visit in the US.”
· Cross Lake is looking in to opening a national loon center. One million dollars has been raised locally for this endeavor. This would be a research and education center, along with a museum.
· Robert Herman just returned from a travel agency conference and reports the following demographics are reporting growth in travel market: solo travelers, multigenerational travelers and luxury travel.
· Fergus Falls is hosting the Wissota 100 car races this weekend. Expecting 5,000 attendees both Friday and Saturday nights.
· Nick Leonard is attending the Ottertail 150-year anniversary celebration today.
· Rental car industry reports their best year ever. Has seen a spike in leisure travel.
· 2018 was a record year for the Minnesota State Fair, with over two million visitors. Children under 5 are not included in this count. Food sales were up 7%. Links to national coverage:
December 6, 2018 – Location TBD
Release Date: Sep 18, 2018
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Canal Park Lodge
Present: Carolyn Aarsvold, Omar Ansari, Megan Christianson, Rep. Jack Considine, Chuck Dougherty, Robert Herman, Brad Jones, Doug Killian, Paul Larsen, Nick Leonard, Terry Mattson, Cynthya Porter, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Thill, John Valliere, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka
EMT Staff : Tim Campbell, John Edman, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Mike Meyer,
John Schultz, Erica Wacker
Guests : Michelle Benson, Stephanie Busihan, Charley Howe, Nate Huff, Sue Mageau, Kathy McGrath, Scott Mitchell, Dave Schutz, Anna Tanski
Call to Order : Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked Visit Duluth for their hospitality for this meeting. Attendees were asked to introduce themselves.
There are currently three vacancies on the Council: Southern Minnesota, large resorts, and hotels. Explore Minnesota is working with the Governor’s Office to fill.
Minutes from the March meeting were sent separately via e-mail. John Valliere motioned to approve the minutes from the March meeting; motion seconded by Brad Jones. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes as submitted.
Website Audit – John Edman and Mike Meyer : Explore Minnesota underwent a website audit, looking for ways to improve the customer experience when searching for travel information on the web. Through legislative appropriation, EMT received $500,000 for web enhancements. Miles Partnership was hired through the state RFP process to review the site.
Preliminary Audit Review – Nate Huff, Miles Partnership : Miles undertook an in-depth audit to provide EMT with a comprehensive assessment, analysis and strategic recommendations for various elements of its existing digital assets and marketing channels. The objective of their report was to deliver assessment results and recommendations that are actionable, practical and achievable.
The audit focused on:
Goals & Analytics Framework – Summary of Findings and Recommendation:
Travel planning cycle could be improved by:
Group Exercise – Council Members:
The Council recommends that Explore Minnesota move forward with recommendations.
Spring/Summer Campaign – Leann Kispert: The spring/summer campaign was created by Colle + McVoy and will continue to market to the cultural explorer and the spontaneous adventurer, reaching both the outdoor and urban travelers. It will continue to drive awareness and consideration in the key markets (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Winnipeg and Thunder Bay), as well as our growth markets of Denver, Kansas City and Chicago.
Continue to advertise via digital, interactive mobile, paid social, TripAdvisor, weather.com and Pandora. Testing the OTT/streaming market (Hulu, AmazonFire).
Paid social includes text videos, which works best with Facebook. Videos have included Prince, SPAM Museum, fishing and Yellow Barn/largest candy store.
Top performers are Tiny Towns and Sunrise/Sunsets.
EMT has seen PR hits from media outlets such as Travel Channel, USA Today, Global News. Perham was recently named one of the “20 Best Towns to visit in 2018” by The Smithsonian.
Will continue the #OnlyinMN campaign for fall and winter.
Ad Agency RFP – John Edman and Nick Leonard: Explore Minnesota is required to bid out ad agency contract every five years. The Ad Agency Selection Committee consisted of EMT staff and a representative of each region. After written and oral presentations, Adventure was selected as the new agency. Their contract begins July 1. A press release announcing the new agency will be sent out today.
Agency Introduction: Welcome to Adventure. Scott Mitchell, Charley Howe, Kathy McGrath, Dave Schutz and Michelle Benson attended the Council meeting and introduced the Council to their agency and their pitch that won the ad contract.
Adventure will continue to build awareness by building on the #OnlyinMN campaign.
True North is the intent of the campaign. It is a way for the consumer to communicate what “True North”/Minnesota means to them. It is fresh, and meant to be emotional, not directional. It builds on the existing brand of “The North” that was used during the Super Bowl, in branding and in retail/apparel.
Provides an opportunity for consumers to share their Minnesota stories. This new approach will increase engagement and activation.
As time did not allow at this meeting, will follow up with specific questions as to what communities would like to provide for detailed information on their area, as they are the local experts; top five points of destination. Adventure is also pursuing creating a Playbook/Tool Kit for the industry. What is needed by communities to support and engage in this type of campaign?
Comments from Council:
Coop and Partnerships – John Schultz: As the state’s tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota is an iconic brand that promotes Minnesota as a premier travel destination. The coop program is designed to meet the industry needs and provide a significant discount when packaging advertising to a particular market. The entire Minnesota tourism industry can participate in this program. Industry participation is up nearly ten percent year over year. New programs have generated 43 participants. The print market is still very strong (39% of participation). Fifty-six percent of the participants are CVBs, 44% are tourism businesses. The new Coop Program booklet will be available in August.
Forty-six percent of participation is in the niche/activity-based program – i.e. fishing, golfing, motorcycling, snowmobiling.
Regional participation breakout:
Changes in FY19:
#OnlyinMN monument is currently in Little Falls and will be traveling to Bemidji.
International, Meetings and Sports – Beth Helle: The mature international travel markets continue to be Germany, the United Kingdom and Scandinavian markets. China is an emerging market with huge growth opportunity, but it is a very expensive market. For the third year, partnering with East West (consultant) to market in China. More of the international strategy will be announced in July.
Several Minnesota industry representatives participated in IPW in Denver this past May. Over 220 appointments were scheduled and leads were shared.
Jake Juliot has recently joined the EMT staff. He is responsible for PR and communications for the market development team and will be working primarily with international media and other international communications. He comes to us from Meet Minneapolis.
A German influencer/producer is in Duluth this week and will also visit the North Shore, BWCA and the metro. Next week, an influencer from the UK will be in Minnesota and travel to the southern and metro regions.
Meetings, Conventions and Sports Partnership will be combined as of July 1. Continuing partnerships to support the industry.
Grants will continue to be awarded to non-profits to support tourism promotion. Three entities must come together to support the cause, with a maximum of $15,000 awarded. Complete guidelines are found on industry.exploreminnesota.com.
Two years ago, EMT was given $600,000 for the Event Grant Pilot Program. The funds were used in the first year of the biennium. For 2018, EMT received $900,000 and that money was allocated in the first year of the biennium. 25% of the funds must be used in Greater Minnesota. The grant program was designed to generate economic impact and increase media awareness of the state as an event destination by securing or creating new events in communities throughout the state. Eligible events operate for a limited period of time and are open to the general public and like to be of interest to a broad number of travelers.
Explore Minnesota will request continued funding for the Event Grant Program. Council member recommendations:
FY20/21 Legislative Session – Brad Jones and Doug Killian: Several years ago, a 2020 document was prepared that challenged EMT to grow tourism to a $20 billion industry with a $20 million budget.
Council members and tourism industry are encouraged to talk to their legislators, and those running for office, this summer. Funding for events should continue as a separate budget time.
The Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition (MGTC) continues to lobby on behalf of the tourism industry. Information can be found at http://mntourism.net/
Group Exercise – Council Members:
A motion was presented by Brad Jones that will direct EMT staff to develop a white paper to bring funding to the $20 million level for FY20-21. Cynthya Porter seconded the motion. All members in attendance were in favor.
A second motion was presented by Brad Jones that charges Explore Minnesota to generate a proposal to fund the events promotional program for $1 million year, for a total of $2 million for the next biennium. Megan Christianson seconded the motion. All members in attendance were in favor.
Destination Capitol Hill was held in March. Paul Larsen, Anna Tanski, John Edman, Dave Looby and Doug Killian participated. Agenda items included infrastructure and the Visa Waiver Program.
Brand USA funding is not secured past 2020.
Other: Details for 2019 Tourism Conference are being worked on. Conference will be held in the metro in February or March.
May be an increase in the passenger fuel charges. There has not been an increase since 2000. These fuel charges go to help fund the airports in Duluth, Mankato, Rochester. Charge is currently $4.50; looking to increase to $8.
Release Date: Jun 26, 2018
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Meeting
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
121 7th Place East, 360 Metro Square, St. Paul
Present: Carolyn Aarsvold, Megan Christianson, Kevin Cooper, Chuck Dougherty, Bob Herman, Bud Johnston, Brad Jones, Doug Killian, Paul Larsen, Nicholas Leonard, Terry Mattson, Cynthia Messer, Senator Carrie Ruud, John Valliere, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka
Guests: Luci Botzek, Nancy Hanson, Allison Kuznia, Dan McElroy, Ryan Olson, Sarah Psick, Anna Tanski, Jackson (student shadowing Senator Ruud)
Staff: John Edman, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Mike Meyer, John Schultz, Erica Wacker
Welcome/Introductions: Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked attendees to introduce themselves.
Minutes from the December meeting were introduced. John Valliere motioned to approve the minutes from the December meeting; motion seconded by Doug Killian. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes as submitted.
Tourism Conference Recap – Beth Helle: The 2018 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference was held March 6-7 in Mankato. Approximately 315 registered. We saw several changes this year:
o We had a sponsor for the Conference bags and lanyards
o Had nationally-recognized keynote speakers
o Awards banquet was shortened. (Note: next year, will plan to show assets from winners)
o Flash drives distributed to attendees. Items on flash drive include grant program, annual report
o Tourism Conference app used this year. Approximately half of the attendees downloaded
o We were able to solicit real time feedback on sessions
o Great Debate
The 2019 Tourism Conference will be held the first week of February or the first week of March and will be in the metro area.
Comments from the Council:
o Changes were great
o Great energy
o Is a keynote speaker needed at the end of the conference? Is the second day lunch needed? Many attendees have a long drive and would prefer to hit the road earlier
o Is it possible to pack everything into one day and end with the award ceremony?
o Attendees want more collaboration time
At this time, the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition presented Senator Carrie Ruud with the “2017 Tourism Leadership” award.
Public Policy Committee – Brad Jones: The 2018 legislative session is underway. There have many several community days organized. Hospitality Day was held March 12. Tourism industry has been able to articulate events funding. Not a lot of state issues this session, using it as an opportunity to thank legislators for their support of the tourism industry.
Hearings will be held March 14 in both the House and Senate.
CMR Day on the Hill is March 13 and 14. Issues they are addressing are: rural broadband, service animals, resort building materials, promotion of EMT, Labor Day school start, Department of Revenue/property tax exemption (Class 1C), DNR, Department of Labor on youth employees, VRBO (watching Douglas County licensing). Megan Christianson provided some background information on Itasca County with VRBOs. The county is taking action on VRBOs. Ottertail County is regulating through the Health Department. Air DNA can track VRBOs and see how much revenue they have made. Another site is AirBNBwatch.org.
Senator Ruud added the service dog legislation is an important topic this session and affects tourism industry/properties.
Hospitality Minnesota is also following the Department of Revenue policy bill which addresses online travel agencies and inclusion of all taxes.
Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition thanked Sarah Psick for her continued support for the industry.
Destination Capitol Hill will be held March 21-22 in Washington DC. John Edman, Paul Larsen, Doug Killian, Anna Tanski, Brad Jones and Dave Looby will represent Minnesota and meet with our congressional delegation. Agenda items include visa waiver, TSA and funding for travel infrastructure.
The House will turn over next year so it is important to talk to candidates right now about tourism. Fact sheets/talking points are available at mntourism.net.
Explore Minnesota must have their budget proposal for the next biennium prepared by August. Council and industry input is important.
Events Program Update – Beth Helle: The first year of the events grant was funded at $673,000. All funding was used - in both metro and greater Minnesota. The program is now funded at $900,000 and almost all funding is spoken for ($200,000 remains). Funds are available for bids or for operations funding. Legislators should be made aware of how both small and large communities are benefitting from this program.
Super Bowl LII Results – Erica Wacker and John Schultz: The Super Bowl Host Committee expects to have economic impact results of Super Bowl LII available in late April. Smith Travel Research will have lodging impact numbers in late March. Airbnb reports that over 7000 rooms were booked through them.
Over 1.5 billion media impressions from Super Bowl, which was the total impressions Explore Minnesota had during the entire year in 2016.
‘SOTA POP: Explore Minnesota was represented at Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall with its ‘SOTA POP display. This was a way to show attendees that there is more to Minnesota than cold, through interactive displays. 35,882 visitors went through the display. #OnlyinMN was used 13,665 times throughout the 10 days. Over 7,500 social followers gained across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter throughout the event.
Some of the Super Bowl Live numbers available include:
o 1,055,000 attendees at Super Bowl LIVE
o 235,000 attendees at Super Bowl LIVE on Saturday, February 3 (largest one day attendance)
o 35,969 references to Bold North on Twitter during the ten-day festival
o 14,073 Instagram posts mentioning the Bold North during the ten-day festival
o 62,434 likes on Facebook for post mentioning the Bold North during the ten-day festival
o $2 billion earned media coverage
o 5,800 record number of credentialed media members for Super Bowl LII
o 25 different countries represented by the media at Super Bowl LII
o $5.5 million invested in community organizations across the state during Minnesota Super Bowl Legacy Fund 52 Weeks of Giving campaign to improve health and wellness for kids
o 1.4 million visitors to Mall of America, site of the NFL Fan Gallery, during the ten-day festival
o 61,000 record-breaking number of passengers at MSP International Airport on Monday, Feb. 5
Ottertail County was mentioned in Sports Illustrated as host for the world’s largest Super Bowl party on ice.
Lakeville CVB hosted eight journalists two weeks prior to event.
Winter/Spring Summer Marketing – Leann Kispert: Winter advertising focused on drive markets. Television spots ran in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha and Kansas City. As Minnesota ranks high for Olympics viewership, EMT did an Olympics sponsorship with KARE 11. Winter ads focused on beautiful winter photography. Added a successful sweepstakes promotion with Minnesota Theaters in November and again in March. Continued partnership with Minnesota Ski Association that ran on all four local television stations, movie theaters and light rail stations. Prizes were awarded to 32 winners throughout the sweepstakes.
Spring/Summer 2018: The Spring/Summer campaign will begin April 2 (which is tied to baseball opener). However, the spring/summer TV spot actually debuted during the Super Bowl. This ad campaign will focus on cultural explorers and spontaneous adventurers and will continue to drive action in core markets and increase awareness in growth markets. Will continue partnership with FSN and the Minnesota Twins to align the brand with a passionate and engaged fan base. New this summer will be advertising on OTT devices, which refers to content accessed via the internet without a television services provider.
o Wonderful work
o Is there a way to reach out to Olympians (curlers, paraolympian, skiers) to support winter campaign next year
o International travelers are becoming interested in Minnesota. Local areas need to create tours.
Ad Agency and Web Audit RFP – John Edman: Ad Agency RFP: Explore Minnesota is required by law to go through the RFP process every five years. The bid is currently out to the market. John Schultz is the contact and is providing answers to questions. Selection committee will consist of five EMT staff members and four regional representatives. Expect to have decision in May.
Web audit: Explore Minnesota will work with an independent third party to review our website. Proposals will be sent to selection team this week. Expect to have process completed in May or June.
Bold North Brand – John Edman: The Bold North brand was used during Super Bowl LII and there has been a lot of interest from the consumer to continue marketing Minnesota as “the Bold North.” We need to determine if this brand would work for all regions, does it work for all seasons? It is currently trademarked by the Super Bowl Host Committee.
o Worried about national perception. Minnesota is already seen as cold state.
o DNR completed a study of why people don’t camp. 24% of respondents said they do not camp because fear of wildlife. These perceptions are real.
o Travelers do not want to travel here in winter.
o #Onlyinmn is very well branded. Don’t lose that.
o Can see Bold North working in both winter and summer. It is a seasonal theme and can be embraced in every corner of the state.
o Confident it can be used in all four seasons. Likes the brand. However, we lose the word “Minnesota” in it.
o Use it selectively. Use the word Bold with other words such as Bold Spirit, Bold Adventure, Bold Fun.
o Bold North promotes a sense of pride. Can be used throughout the year.
o Can we get it trademarked? John Edman has asked and the Host Committee is considering.
o Two ad agencies ago, our ad campaign was so generic and could be used by any Midwest state. Sees the same issue with “Bold North.” Too generic and could be used by any Midwestern/Northern state.
Industry Website Survey – Beth Helle: Explore Minnesota is also evaluating the industry site. Working to improve search capabilities, organization of it. It is useful and valuable but needs to be improved. Need to determine what information belongs to Explore Minnesota. Projected completion timeframe of project is fourth quarter. Beth is leading the project.
o Is there a way industry can provide input during the process / work with industry segment before rolling out?
o Share best practices, best campaigns
o Suggested that we do educational webinars. Explore Minnesota already does, so need to make sure industry is aware.
o Helpful when EMT staff remind industry to update their listing information
o Entire website must be accessible on mobile device, as that is how consumers access the web
Brand USA/International Efforts – John Edman and Beth Helle: John Edman was appointed to Brand USA under the Obama administration and the term expired at the end of December. John was reappointed to the Board by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. This appointment will continue for the next three years. Minnesota has a letter of agreement with Brand USA.
Brand USA has been very beneficial to Minnesota in our international marketing efforts. They have produced films on national parks, music and innovation. They are also assisting us in creating a :90 Minnesota “sizzle” video.
Explore Minnesota is in the process of hiring an international communications person. Hope to have someone in place by May 1 (prior to IPW).
Fishing Opener – Beth Helle: Willmar Lakes area is host to the 71st Governor’s Fishing Opener, May 10-13.
We are actively seeking a community to host the 2019 Fishing Opener. We are looking to work with communities to fit to their area and make the bidding process accessible to communities of all sizes. May do a press release or some type of communication to chambers and CVBs to let them know there are changes coming. There is a need to manage expectations of this event.
Communications Tools – Erica Wacker: The cereal box has been updated and is available for distribution.
The 2017 ROI information is presented as a one-page info graphic sheet. It can be downloaded from the industry site.
The Public Policy Committee commented that some type of communication tool is needed at the local level – show in a way that is meaningful to local government officials. Industry needs to be speaking to local rotaries and other local meetings.
Summer Council Meeting: The next Council meeting will be held June 14. The meeting will begin the night before with a social gathering and the meeting will be held the morning of June 14. Will look at meeting in Duluth. Agenda would include assessment of goals and develop strategy for future funding.
Future Meeting Dates:
Wednesday/Thursday - June 13/14
Wednesday, September 12
Thursday, December 6
Release Date: Mar 14, 2018
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Meeting
December 7, 2017
121 7th Place East, 360 Metro Square
Present: Carolyn Aarsvold, Omar Ansari, Jean Bowman, Rep. Matt Bliss, Megan Christianson, Rep. Jack Considine, Bob Herman, Brad Jones, Matt Kilian, Doug Killian, Dave Langhoff, Paul Larsen, Nicholas Leonard, Terry Mattson, Cynthia Messer, Emmett Mullen, Cynthya Porter, Mark Ronnei, Senator Carrie Ruud, Anna Thill, John Valliere, Danyl Vavreck, Cindy Wannarka
Guests: Luci Botzek, Allison Kuznia, Dave Looby, Dan McElroy, Ryan Olson, Sarah Psick, Anna Tanski
Staff: John Edman, Beth Helle, Leann Kispert, Mike Meyer, John Schultz, Pat Simmons, Erica Wacker
Welcome/Introductions: Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the new Explore Minnesota office.
Minutes from the September meeting were introduced. Doug Killian motioned to approve the minutes from the September meeting; motion seconded by Cynthya Porter. All members in attendance voted to approve the minutes as submitted.
Strategic Direction – Erica Wacker: A final draft of the 2018-2019 Strategic Direction was presented. After the September Council meeting, EMT added a narrative that incorporated our organizational vision, mission, core values and budget, and described the planning process. It was sent to the industry for final opportunity to comment.
Industry Feedback – A few dozen comments were received.
o EMT integrated comments that helped clarify items listed in the chart and sustainable tourism.
o Other comments received too granular for this document, but will be taken into account where appropriate.
Based on these updates, Council was asked to approve Strategic Direction. Jean Bowman motioned to approve; seconded by Anna Thill. Motion passed unanimously.
Public Policy Committee – Brad Jones: The legislative agenda for 2018 centers around communications with legislators to foster the understanding of importance of travel and tourism, and economic impact to the state. Strategy to reinvigorate the bipartisan tourism caucus.
Industry Issues and Concerns – Dan McElroy, Hospitality Minnesota:
o Two special elections for legislative seats will be held Monday, Feb. 12.
o The legislature convenes on Feb. 20.
o Governor has agreed to sign a clean budget bill for the legislature immediately.
o Currently a nominal deficit is being reported for the biennium. Next forecast in February. Governor’s supplemental budget will likely come after the next budget forecast – no expectations for tourism funding, however the bonding bill is likely to have numerous tourism projects included.
o Hospitality Minnesota will try again to create statewide, uniform labor standards (e.g. minimum wage, paid sick leave, etc.)
o MN Lodging Association will draft a bill and build coalition around regulations for short-term vacation home rentals, defend local option lodging tax for tourism marketing. Fought three separate challenges last year.
o Luci Botzek - League of MN Cities is trying to tie lodging tax to local funding, e.g. amount of local aid to cities, reserves situations, etc. Cities need flexibility. Lodging tax is not the only target.
o Hospitality Day at the Capitol is Monday, March 12 at the History Center
MN Tourism Growth Coalition – Sarah Psick
o It is important to communicate successes of the event grant program, ROI, how it has helped regional areas and the state. Senator Ruud concurred that it would be good to have a committee hearing to discuss success of event money.
o CMR will be meeting soon to set their legislative agenda.
o Doug – funding for Sarah & MTGC. Please include in your budget on an annual basis.
o Destination Capitol Hill – March 21-22, 2018. Sponsored by USTA. Important to voice our feedback on issues on a federal level with national elected officials. There is still interest in putting together a delegation.
o If there are issues that the Chambers can assist with, they have a separate lobbying day in June. Forward info to Matt Killian.
Ad Agency RFP Considerations – Leann Kispert: EMT is required by statute to go out for bid every five years on contracts. The ad agency’s contract expires at the end of 2018. In order for the winning respondent to have ample time for gathering creative assets in the summer for campaign work in Spring/Summer 2019, the RFP process will happen this spring with a vendor selected and ready to begin a new contract cycle on July 1, 2018.
The process and timeline were reviewed, along with the agency current duties and services.
Council Breakout Exercise to discuss the following questions:
1. What key background attributes should EMT consider when hiring an agency?
2. What do you feel EMT should consider when looking at creative marketing approaches?
3. Looking at competitors, who do you think is doing an exemplary job to market their product?
4. Do you feel that it is more important to market in certain seasons or all year long?
5. What steps should EMT consider to make its advertising truly best in class in the U.S.?
o We’re looking for winners – best-in-class agency
o Good balance between fresh eyes & knowledge of Minnesota
o Nimble & responsive
o Identify new marketing trends
o Are they vested in Minnesota (how does the evaluation capture that)?
o Travel Oregon’s creative was referenced positively twice
o Michigan was referenced for brand
o Tennessee was referenced for digital
o Maine was referenced for social
o CA/FL were referenced for co-op marketing
o Liked the humorous angle from WI
o Year-long marketing with seasonal campaigns to support shoulder seasons and give destinations something to tie into
o Be willing to take risks and be bold
o Virtual reality was brought up
o Don’t be afraid to fail (but maybe not too often)
o Involve local communities – big and small alike
o Be highly targeted and not all things to all people
o Spokespeople/celebrities brought up (once)
o International brought up (once)
o Understand political considerations (be fair, without being stupid about being fair)
o “Shopping is a year-round sport”
o Instead of Television; consider going all digital
o Not the norm (could be a stand-out moment)
o All digital, all the time
o It’s invisible to many, but doesn’t mean it can’t be explained
o How does ‘Bold North’ continue in the future and is there a way for Minnesota to continue (is it sustainable?)
o Some tactics do not allow for the ability to precisely measure ROI – but does not necessarily mean they can’t be the most impactful. Can that be reconciled by throwing out ROI measurement as a requirement in everything that EMT does?
Spring Summer ROI – Pat Simmons: Reviewed methodology and high-level findings from the draft report of the ROI study of the 2017 spring/summer advertising campaign and accompanying Image Study.
o Awareness of the 2017 spring/summer advertising campaign: 60% aware vs. 40% unaware. Awareness 68% in traditional markets; 45% in expansion markets.
o 3.3 million incremental trips; 2.296 million travel intenders (overnight/daytrips) in the next year.
o Return Investment $9 to $1; Spending $92
o Discussion of out-state advertising spend versus in-state
o Image Study Summary – Perceptions of Minnesota against six competitors on 60 attributes. Review of the travel motivators and “Hot Buttons”
o Realize some tactics don’t have ROI. Also, need to recognize our contribution to luring people to move here and contribute to the benefit of the state.
Winter/Super Bowl Advertising – Ryan Olson, Colle McVoy:
o Fall review of markets, fall color creative strategy, and results.
o Winter – New winter TV spot debuting in January, digital creative that showcases winter activities with headlines that play off the “big game”. Opportunity to debunk misconceptions about Minnesota winter.
o Super Bowl Activations –
o New spring/summer TV spot launches during Super Bowl in MSP, KC and Omaha and continues through February via the Olympics media buy in MSP.
o Sota Pop window experience. Instagram-worthy walk through event. Rooms created by local artists. Strategy to draw media, social influencers and visitors. Located on 5th Street and Nicollet Mall, downtown Minneapolis
o Spring/Summer – consistent plan as last summer. New spring/summer TV spot will be integrated into rotation of last year’s event spot.
Sports/Meetings/Grants – Beth Helle:
o Meetings and Sports – Grants program to allow broader participation to support broader initiatives. Will take about six months to softly launch to the industry. Aligns more strongly with other internal partnerships.
Website Redesign Considerations
Legislature gave us a one-time appropriation of $500,000 to use towards technology. This is an opportunity to take a good look at the website and ask how it can be the best, while getting good value for our dollars.
Council Discussion Questions:
o What do you feel is the main purpose of the EMT website?
o Inspire travel – don’t try to be too fancy/cluttered. Need to connect with the visitor.
o Give people resources – make it the go-to authority site
o Create the links/interactions to create conversions with our partners/industry
o Ability to give more regional information with the umbrella of the state – tying everyone together – introduction to the state – invite people to journey through deeper layers
o Increase demand to the state – our job is to get people interested.
o What do you think are the best and worst features of the site?
o Imagery/visuals are good.
o Lots of information covering the entire state. Showcases regions well (better than previous site) – they have the ability to personalize their own information.
o Easy to search lodging.
o Social feeds and UGC good.
o Getting message to the website is more impactful.
Areas that need improvement:
o Regions would still like more flexibility to personalize their information.
o Southern region too big for destinations to get noticed.
o Some pages need to encourage you to keep scrolling down the page.
o Are sweepstakes a motivator? Not prominent on the site – elevate
o CVBs are not as easy/intuitive to find
o What changes in technology and behavior should the EMT site address in the years ahead?
o Virtual reality
o Augmented reality/Artificial intelligence – e.g. Alexa – searching is different!
o Autonomous vehicles and GPS/search – in near future, the most watched screen will be on people’s vehicle dashboards.
o Personalization – Google owns it and point it to their content. Content strategy is more important than website. How does Google determine the recommendation content?
o Do you feel the current website paid advertising program helps or hurts the site?
o Rates are reasonable.
o Does the consumer want sponsored ads? Can we get bigger page sponsors?
o It’s a pay to play society. Negative reflection of the site by smaller businesses.
o As a small business, EMT’s site is the only option to stand out.
o If EMT can find other means to capture the revenue, it’s more important to get consumers to the information they’re looking for.
o Look at paid content with partners
o Engage consumers in survey/focus groups first
o What steps should EMT consider to make its website a best-in-class state site?
o Does the site know where the person is located and customize the content served up?
Future Council Meetings
Proposed 2018 Meeting Dates:
o Tuesday, March 13
o Thursday, June 14
o Wednesday, September 12
o Thursday, December 6
o New Office Debut
o Meet EMT Staff
LUNCH with EMT Staff