Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Meeting Minutes, June 4-5, 2013
Release Date: Sep 16, 2013
Present: Sunny Bhakta, Bonnie Carlson, Bill Deef, Chuck Dougherty, Senator Paul Gazelka, Randy Gutzmann, Lisa Havelka, Denelle Hilliard, James Hey, Brad Jones, Doug Killian, David Langhoff, Deb Lloyd, Bruce Martinson, Terry Mattson, Bill Morrissey, Mark Novotny, Lisa Paxton, Mark Ronnei, Senator Tom Saxhaug, Ingrid Schneider, Hank Todd, John Valliere, Representative John Ward, Julie Wearn
EMT Staff: John Edman, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Peggy Nasby, Colleen Tollefson
Guests/Colle + McVoy: Allison Kuznia, Kerry Moore, Ryan Olson
Facilitator: Katie Anderson
Welcome and Overview: Chair John Edman thanked all members for their continued support of the tourism industry and taking the time to attend this strategic planning session. Explore Minnesota Tourism received an annual funding increase of $5.5 million.
Katie Anderson is the strategic director at Colle+McVoy and facilitated this planning session.
Five topic areas were introduced throughout the meeting. These topic areas were: (1) programs and funding; (2) marketing position; (3) markets and research; (4) partnerships and grants; (5) trade and niche. Each topic was addressed in a broad sense and Council members then broke into small groups to further discuss. The small group results follow.
The Council discussed the importance of showing the results of the increased funding for Tourism. After discussion, Lisa Paxton moved that Explore Minnesota Tourism should proceed with a Request for Proposal (RFP) for their advertising contract. John Valliere seconded the motion. All Council members in attendance voted that Tourism should proceed with an RFP. Motion passed.
Next steps for Explore Minnesota Tourism and the Tourism Council include forming one task for partnerships, grants and coops and another task force on measurements.
The next Council meeting is September 12.
The Strategic Plan will be updated by December.
Issue Area 1: Programs & Funding
What are some of the activities you would like to see for statewide tourism marketing efforts in the next year, using existing staff?:
- (24) Educate younger audience about state tourism industry - importance of state hospitality. Tap into Department of Education to develop curriculum. Promote in-state vacations in your own backyard. Offer hospitality classes at high school level (diversity involvement).
- (12) Statewide brand initiative update. Clarity around the perception of what Minnesota is. In state vs out state messaging.
- (9) Public and media relations heavy-up/focus. Midwest travel writers, national, international
- (3) More seasonal marketing/winter grants
- (3) Chicago - outward vs inward
- (3) Activities for statewide efforts (revitalize grant program, Chicago market expansion, expand geography to new market opportunities, partnerships to allow for doing things together that we can't all do alone)
- (2) Increase national exposure/presence/niche group outreach
- (2) Is the breakout of Minnesota into regional still a good approach (5 regions)?
- (1) More in-state marketing
- (1) Brand USA opportunities
- (1) Al Linder TV show: "Minnesota as a state"
- Marketing to minorities is a big opportunity
- What are we going to do to drive the statewide brand initiative if it happens? (PR, advertising, etc.)
- TV strategy - focusing spots within appropriate content
- Do we use FY14 dollars on MN statewide brand?
- Research on diverse markets/execute custom campaigns w/ROI
- Consider different ways people travel
- Reach out to diverse associations to promote in-state tourism. Different ethnic festivals.
- Promote cross-cultural activities across the state
- Take advantage of diverse/cultural opportunities across the state
- Geo-caching contest around the state
- Target other organizations to proactively help spread the word about tourism
- Program specific marketing - think "resorts to southern Minnesota" etc.
- Are we "woods and water" too much in our messaging?
- Attack "niche" markets
- Use social media
- Lose grants and plus increase partnerships
What do you feel have been some of the most successful programs that EMT has accomplished?:
- (3) Grants (needs reworking)
- (2) Regional programs
- (1) PedalMN coalition
- Private/public partnerships
- Ad campaigns given additional funding
- International success
- Meetings/conventions results
- Travel writing
- Travel shows
- Coop programs
What do you feel are some of the greatest threats to achieving our goals of growing statewide tourism in the future?:
- (13) Getting too complicated - trying to be all things to all people; not doing everything in one year
- (8) Is office nimble/staffed adequately? Skills?
- (1) Common expectation/definition of success (fairness vs effectiveness)
- Invasive species
- Not setting measurable goals and not achieving them
- Money-grabbing new money
- State education process
- Downturn of economy
- Time - shorter trips, lose a day
- Gas price issues
- State fiscal policies/gas tax
- How do we hit the younger demographics to ensure they are hitting greater MN like previous generations have?
How would you define success in future promotion and development of tourism in the next two to four years?:
- (19) ROI. How it's defined by different segments/airport arrivals/heads on beds/lodging tax collection/education/dedication of tax to tourism
- (5) Need to ensure we are pushing sales, documenting, etc.
- (4) Partnerships
- (4) Define success/ROI and track against it
- (3) Topline results/reports to legislature
- (2) Bold initiatives
- Expanding reach to bring new money and tourism to Minnesota
- Ensuring awareness and revenue
- Create broad goals. Use results with legislature
- Promote lifecycle (best place to live, best schools, best medical facilities, great employment)
- Establish baselines in sports industry
- Need to target results so we can show performance with new funding
Issue Area 2: Marketing Positioning
What do you like most about the Minnesota More to Explore creative platform?:
- (12) Open-ended, limitless. Can change with different strategies; highlights numerous activities (needs more); lends itself to our situation/ability to expand
- (4) Flexible/adaptable: by activity/region with one consistent brand
- (1) Liked the radio - music is a connector and Minnesota has great artists to feature
- (1) More to Explore works better for a Minnesota audience than outside the state. Is it too folky and not hard-hitting enough?
- (1) Do we need more shots of the compelling things our state has to offer (think SD)
- Imagery emphasizing statewide activities
- Fast paced, combination of urban and nature
- Can you marry up the imagery of the television spot into the URL it is driving people to?
- Would the state brand be built into future considerations?
In what ways do you feel that the More to Explore creative platform could better deliver results for your industry sector or region?:
- (13) Market testing: is it worth it to test creative in new markets?
- (5) Get the niche message out more that gets more ROI
- (9) Need to expand to fall/winter: winter Minnesota based, spring/summer/fall regional based
- (1) Niche markets: more messaging focus - think Zimmern and food and Food Network. Craft message by market.
- Be more specific - touch on niches
- Are we focusing on the right things that yield higher ROI
- Identify brand more
- Testimonials: use 4-5 celebrity spokespeople to push the niches
- Seasonal marketing needs to be focused on attainable activities
- Seems that other states use one thing to sell (mountains, horses)
Do you have any suggestions for Minnesota notables or spokespersons that can help connect with target audiences to encourage travel?:
- (11) State fictional characters: Paul Bunyan, Jolly Green Giant, Betty Crocker. Develop a character as a state mascot - animal/family of animals, humor
- (7) Huge opportunity to utilize via social media (segmentation, engagement)
- (3) Huge opportunity to exploit the great music and culture (help overcome bland perception)
- (3) Seems like notables would be much better for social media vs. mainstream
- (1) What do we like? More to Explore is adaptable, works great instate
- (1) Tom Lehman/Ryder Cup
- Comic book about Minnesota
- Someone who isn't tied to one specific thing - to cover all Minnesota has to offer
- Kent Hrbek
- Partner with industries for coop advertising
- Andrew Zimmern
- Kristi Yamaguchi
- Lindsey Vonn
- Vince Flynn
- Flip Saunders, Glen Taylor
- Tim Herron
- Bob Dylan
- Hans Ray
- "Funkytown" movie shown on national German television. Will be in other international markets/Cynthia Johnson
What key themes or market niches do you feel need to be better addressed in future creative More to Explore messaging?:
- (16) Not necessary - only if free
- (13) Water is life
- (3) GLBT - from wedding to honeymoon
- (3) RV industry groups - connect them to Minnesota's first-class campgrounds
- (2) Wineries/breweries (statewide view)
- (2) Extreme adventure/sports (i.e. Sandstone ice climbing)
- (1) Biking (recreational and mountain)
- (1) Beyond drive radius - summer birds, east/west coast, places where Minnesotans retire
- Show more fun
- Target all economic levels
- Active lifestyle
- Racial/ethnically diverse
- Cabin fever getaways
- More to Explore - Food and Drink
- Hikers/outdoors people and outdoor adventure, city products
- Youth gatherings - church, athletics, 4H, FFA, State Fair
- Cultural groups/events
- International concerts/festivals
- Different regions - to get southern states out of the heat
- Explore Minnesota in different languages and different channels
Issue Area #3: Markets and Reach
What domestic geographic and demographic markets do you feel have the greatest potential to bring travelers to Minnesota?:
- (17) High potential/low cost: Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, Denver, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Winnipeg, North Dakota, South Dakota, St. Louis, deeper into Wisconsin
- (10) Market research shows have the highest propensity to visit the state (Minnesota branding study
- (5) Markets within 500 miles
- (3) Go into key markets (OKC, Dallas, San Antonio) as an escape from their hot temperatures
- (2) Drive and fly markets. Get 10% + of 25mm people in drive markets
- Consider who has good air service to all-around state
- Do we need to go into smaller, out-state Minnesota markets?
- 20-30 years old
- Baby boomers
- 40% of heads of households in US are women
What existing or new media tactics do you think we should consider?:
- (8) Jefferson Bus Line/all motorcoaches/trucking companies. "Follow me to Minnesota" campaign
- (6) Bloggers strategy - influencers hire?
- (6) Expand mobile
- (5) Pandora, Weather
- (5) Bikes on taxis - then give them away
- (3) TV with international channels (Indian, Spanish, etc)
- (3) Marrying up tactic by activity and location/demographics
- (3) Marry up the call to action to ensure it caters to target audience interests. URL supplies suggestions by target audience interest. Create onsite experiences very much around out targets.
- (3) Consumer generated photos to be featured in advertisement
- (1) Message with no sales tax on clothing
- Could we message around locations, i.e. "Madison loves xxxxx about Minnesota." Could it be smart to invest in the research to understand this?
- Pinterest and Instagram
- More mobile
- Wrap "el"
- Mall of America
- Como Zoo/Conservatory
- Mass transportation
- Airports (non MSP)
- Inflight magazines
- Bus wraps
- Major sports teams
- Target low-cost air carriers
What seasons are most important to you in driving travelers to Minnesota?:
- (10) Summer is important. Don't assume that only winter growth is key
- (7) Winter
- (1) Spring/summer/fall. Regions have to be factored by season
- (1) Niche is key. Seasons are activity based, so investment should be based on niche importance
- Event driven (Red Bull)
- Consult convention calendars
- Shoulder season
What do you feel is the right mix for in-state vs. out-of-state media placement?:
- (11) In-state supplemented by industry. Skew more out of state with new money. 70% outstate; 30% instate
- (1) Further out = larger customer base
- More outstate than current
- High potential/low cost
- Expand with additional funding from private businesses
Issue Area #4: Partnerships and Grants
What do you see as the value of the grant program that benefits destinations and non-profit tourism organizations in the state?:
- (25) Augments budgets, especially for smaller communities, yet should be realigned with state tourism goals
- (10) Innovative grant program - bring it back
- (6) Top 5 things EMT is marketing and regions can identify those things and choose to engage in them
- (3) Coop media program valuable for both for-profit and non-profit
- (3) Can we be leaning more on organizations like the Minnesota Vikings that currently receive significant tax dollars
- (1) Gives opportunity for groups to advertise who couldn't afford to otherwise, but needs to be modified
- (1) Allows for local regions and organizations to participate where EMT cannot (time/staff)
- (1) Value is there for small communities. Allows them to promote their specific areas
- Important to distribute money across the state
- Put money in coop to buy down ads - helps all profit and non-profit
- One size does not fit all
- Bed & Breakfast Associations - produce a guide. Would not happen without grant
- Regional/organizational programs that would go away without funding
- Extend Explore Minnesota brand. Getting additional advertising into marketplace
- Grants align well with special projects (Owatonna example)
- Strategic plan should drive partnerships. Be opportunistic
What goals should be considered in considering whether to take on new statewide marketing partnership programs?:
- (17) Believe that state tourism office should establish goals. Local offices then should work to align those goals in grant participation"
- (17) Seek out bigger partners (Delta, Caribou Coffee, hotels, gas stations, Pearsons, General Mills, Schwans, other local companies)
- (12) Partnerships with business (meetings/conventions) community. Extend beyond leisure.
- (9) Consider additional partnerships to increase fall/winter promotion
- (6) Invest money with bigger players who can maximize our spending and reach - both in and out state.
- (2) Could existing media budget be allocated the same 60/40 . . . but apply more of the new money to outstate, landing at 70/30 total
- (1) Revenue sharing opportunities
- (1) Innovative grant program: let's revisit this with more parameters around this
- " Statewide marketing partnership
- Create a task force dedicated to expand ideas
- Seasonal grant program. Could align well with niche offerings
- Priority given to the activities and areas not covered by advertising
- Measurable/reports for programs; fair distribution across state; seek out those willing to "Pay to Play"
- Database building/data collection
- Appropriate staffing to grow/expand partnerships and coop programs
- Create more succinct CTA's with grant participators
- Consumer intelligence
- ROI/sales, brand extension, brand awareness and to goals of EMT
What should be the primary considerations in developing a state coop program that benefits private sector businesses and organizations?:
- (1) Revisiting regional designations - are they useful to consumer - do they care?
- Look at regions. Look at functions - how do they support overall and enhance?
- Option to buy into advertising at discounted rate
- Ask industries input for types of coop opportunities
- Firmer/clearer criteria for who our partners are
- Needs to align with overall strategy, geography and target markets. Avoid the "one-off"
What specific opportunities do you feel have not yet been fully addressed in the state's grant, partnership, or coop programs?:
- (16) Research needed (U of MN Tourism Center, regional functions, ROI, regions - consumer perceptions of state)
- (7) Ensure with increased funding that partnerships with other state agencies are leveraged to the fullest (think DNR, Health, MnDOT, U of MN, etc)
- (5) Large coop partnerships sit at table earlier in deals (2 year agreements)
- (2) Coop marketing programs need to reflect new markets
- (2) Allow regions to apply for matching dollars to do larger initiatives, similar to innovative partnerships
- (2) Need to consider attraction-based messaging/grant opportunities (i.e. could apply for a grant for a unified website, guide by activity - PedalMN model for many other activities, each region creates an "activity matrix)
- Talk about what we can do
Issue Area #5: Trade & Niche:
Which new or existing international markets have the greatest potential to grow travel in the state?:
- (14) Representation within key international markets
- (8) Research needed. Target international destinations/flights
- (7) China
- (5) Canada. Align with common MSP flights
- (2) Create web based concepts - golf, shopping, biking, niche packages. Don't spend huge amounts of time on it.
- (2) Push transportation - high speed - Duluth and Rochester
- (1) India
- Mexico/Mexico City
- International opportunities around consumers wanting to flea inclement weather
- Care of our mature markets needs to make a bigger impact (rep firms)
- Further Brand USA opportunity. Partner where it makes sense with Brand USA
- Is packaging the way to go?
- Website in international languages
- Airline partnerships
What is the potential to increase group travel in Minnesota and what should be the state role?:
- (2) Communicate group travel conveniences when your group arrives in Minnesota. Package that with specific package for the state visit.
- (1) Meetings and sports. Cross promote leisure with meetings. Extend stay and explore
- (1) EMT brand umbrella. Give platform
- Individual meeting planners. Low cost fam type trip
- Targeting international school travel tips (i.e. India travels to America except Minnesota)
- Be in the marketplace with itineraries and trip ideas
- Promote EB5 (green card if you invest a certain amount of money)
- This is a great place to do business
- Education-based, student-based travel. Align our activities offerings with group interests
- Active group tours - family, friends (wine, breweries, etc), outdoor rec/sports
- Group travel markets shifting. Specialty group travel (Ducks Unlimited, Hiking Sierra Club). Low rates.
- Baby boomers - demographic change - they don't do bus travel
In what ways should the state work to help promote meetings and sports travel throughout Minnesota?:
- (10) Increase contribution to events. Opportunities: Meeting Professionals International and National Senior games. Increase presence and funding. Continue current participation.
- (2) Meetings/sports travel. Star of the North games: streamline it, push it statewide, traveling the state (promoting travel through sports); can we do a couple of sports really well?
- (1) Telling the sporting story "Do we know what we host yearly?" How can we craft that story for advancement?
- (1) Identify national or international bid opportunities, communicate it, ensure overtures of interest are made.
- "Proactive prospecting"
- Actively bid (dream) for big events (sports, senior games, more Red Bull events)
What niche opportunities or specific tourism programs should the state pursue to help accomplish statewide tourism goals?:
- (10) Ryder Cup promotion in 2014 to help 2016
- (8) Travel Agencies
- (6) Webcams to show how active Minnesota is in winter
- (4) Media relations and PR to help promote the state
- MLB All-Star game. Educate on Minnesota
- Ambassadors statewide to submit goings-on
- Attracting international students to Minnesota
- Partnering with universities
- Hockey programs playing internationally
- Alumni associations - international
- " Rotary clubs
How do we measure impact?:
- (12) Establish a baseline of hotel occupancy/rate and note incremental changes based on events/meetings
- (8) Establish international goals before budget is decided. Goals for all markets/opportunities
- (3) Have EMT/state identify national, regional and international conventions and meetings that Minnesota can bid on in the future. Identify and communicate not direct sales
- (2) Meetings and convention communities report back leads and room nights
- (1) Lack of communication on results of participation in events after the fact
- Pre/post research
- Intercept surveys at MSP with Minneapolis and EMT - international
- Hotels/CVB to share information on increased travel
- International culture organizations
Parking Lot Items (Items that were mentioned but did not fall in to any the discussion categories):
- Measuring success - pick on measurement (i.e. sales)
- Consumer shows
- To what degree can we empower consumers to give specific business recommendations?
- Careful consideration of celebrities/notables (to do or not to do)
- Government studies, rate, time spent, other meetings, conversions
- Transportation for groups