Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Meeting Friday, June 13, 2012
Release Date: Jun 13, 2012
Present: Fred Bobich, Bonnie Carlson, Senator John Carlson, Bill Deef, Chuck Dougherty, Randy Gutzmann, Nancy Hanson, Denelle Hillard, Brad Jones, Doug Killian, David Langhoff, Deb Lloyd, Terry Mattson, Bill Morrissey, Mark Novotny, Lisa Paxton, Cynthya Porter, Mark Ronnei, Senator Tom Saxhaug, Ingrid Schneider, Kathy Silverthorn, Hank Todd, John Valliere
EMT Staff: John Edman, Leann Kispert, Peggy Lindquist, Peggy Nasby, Colleen Tollefson
Guest: Dave Looby
Welcome/Introductions: Chair John Edman welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked attendees to introduce themselves.
Approval of March 9th Meeting Minutes: John Valliere moved to approve the minutes from the March 9th meeting as submitted. Brad Jones seconded the motion. All Council members in attendance voted to approve the minutes as submitted.
Tourism Awareness Activities: The Governor's Fishing Opener was held May 11-12 in Waconia. This event received tremendous media coverage.
The Star Tribune ran a front-page story on May 26th on the economic impact of tourism to the state. This was a very favorable article.
The June 2012 Twin Cities Business also had a front-page story on tourism and how Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota are battling for the Minnesota vacationer.
On May 14th, John Edman and Terry Mattson were interviewed by Bert and Dick during the Minnesota Twins game on Fox Sports.
US Travel sponsored a "Vote Travel" wrapped bus that toured the United States. It made a stop at the Mall of America.
Public/Policy Committee Report – Lisa Paxton: The Public/Policy Committee met to discuss funding for EMT.
The Committee is recommending that we move forward with the motor vehicle tax dedication. This was adopted by the Council in 2011. Minnesota's tourism office budget has dropped to 30th in the nation and is back to funding equal to that of 2001.
The Committee and any other Council members interested will be scheduling meetings with key people and ask for a commitment to support this funding.
The Committee will meet again on July 10th via conference call.
A motion to re-approve the Funding Resolution from December 6, 2011, with an update to the figures used in that document, was brought forward by Lisa Paxton. Doug Killian seconded the motion.
Comments from the Council on the motion:
- This is a good resolution, but how is the message different? The message is different because it does not increase taxes, it is a reformed approach, it allows EMT to compete with other states, it generates jobs and economic development.
- Leisure and hospitality industry is leading in sales tax.
- There is a new tax coming from online reservation systems.
- Need to convince the Governor and tax chairs: tourism does not just happen. Our investment is in marketing our resources.
- States around us are marketing to our customers and pulling resources and tax revenue from us.
- This motor vehicle tax on car rental was implemented in 1992 to support the Final Four and Super Bowl. We are asking that this tax be redirected to EMT and not the general fund. With the new Vikings stadium, TCF Stadium, Target Field, Xcel and so many venues, now is the opportunity to promote these.
- This is a tax paid BY visitors to pay to get MORE visitors here.
- Updated Resolution will include paragraph about generating new sources of revenue for tourism marketing beyond state general fund.
After further discussion, all members in attendance voted to approve the Resolution from December 6, 2011, with the updates to the numbers.
FY13 Website Planning – Peggy Nasby: The linear listings project has been completed and is live. The mobile apps for the IPhone and Android have been successfully launched. The mobile website has been revamped for the consumer to use the "find things nearby" function. The Industry Website will be rebuilt with better search functionality; project should be completed by the end of July. Will renew the contract with current vendor, BarkleyREI.
Reviewing three options to integrate Trip Advisor Review within ExploreMinnesota.com. Option 1 would be a Trip Advisor link into the Tourism Manager that links to Trip Advisor. Cost is approximately $3500.
Option 2 would be a Branded Page, which is similar to Option 1, except the page would open into a "Branded Page." This option would cost approximately $5000-$6000. The opportunities for branding are minimal based on what EMT has been shown.
Option 3 is Full Integration. This feeds the Trip Advisor reviews directly onto the listing page. Cost is approximately $10,000. The displaying reviews within the details page would require a significant redesign of the details listing page, which could add some additional costs and impact design and page layout.
Any of these options could be turned on/off by the business.
Comments from the Council:
- Some of the smaller properties are not on sites such as Expedia, so it sends the consumer to another property. Option 3 would solve that issue. Some council members still see it hurting the smaller properties and are against it.
- Businesses are allowed to comment on negative reviews.
- Marketplace really wants this feature.
- TripAdvisor is widely trusted.
- Business must tell EMT to turn it on, otherwise it is defaulted to off.
- EMT should provide training on this feature at the Tourism Conference.
- This should be made available on the mobile website too.
There is a need to provide dining information on the ExploreMinnesota.com website. Vision: make it some type of specialty/culinary experience section that would include things as festivals and events (wineries, ribfests), lodging (properties with onsite dining) and gardens/farms. Looking to integrate and build the "unique/destination dining."
Comments from the Council:
- Brainerd Lakes area reports that their dining gets as many hits as lodging
- Dining is more of a navigational app – consumer will look for restaurant once they are at their location/destination
- Should restaurant pay to be listed?
- Traveler will go to local sites/communities for this information, not the state site
- Consumers are looking for dining
- Day trip market is huge. We should be promoting culinary experience
- Is it possible to migrate this information for local websites?
- What does the MN Restaurant Association have?
- Consumers want the local flavor
Explore Minnesota Tourism will continue to look into this topic.
2013 Advertising Plan – Leann Kispert: Spring/Summer ad campaign will continue the "More to Explore" theme. There will be monthly banners and e-mails, a radio ad and television ad.
The "Spin to Win" sweepstakes ran from May 14-June 10. Nine vacation prize packages were given away and each prize package included a new iPad. 93,000 entries were received, with approximately 20,000 opt-ins. The sweepstakes was promoted via Facebook ads, e-mails and banners.
The goals for FY13 include brand awareness, increase site traffic, lead generation and grow partnerships. Currently, EMT has 50,000 Facebook fans; looking to increase that to 75,000.
The MORE to Explore Campaign will evolve into the "More to..." campaign. Will use footage from TV shoot to create content videos, which will be category specific.
Would like to incorporate bloggers into our website. In order to maintain a top-level, professional content on blogging, EMT would compensate the bloggers. Comments from the Council:
- Response is overwhelming in local communities to blogging
- Fantastic idea
- Fun, hip way to connect
- Have foodie and retail bloggers
- Reimburse writers
- Check Attopical Aggragator/blogger site
PedalMN – John Edman/Leann Kispert: PedalMN website launched May 17, with media outreach beginning on May 21. Tune-up stations were up for three consecutive Saturdays offering a free bike tune up. The campaign vision is to "Get more people on more bikes, more often in Minnesota."
Several state agencies are partnering, along with Colle + McVoy and HealthPartners. The total monetary investment is $575,000. Continue to look for additional sponsors; Council is encouraged to provide contacts/ideas to EMT.
Campaign creative includes digital, bus sides and fronts, bus shelters and print. Print ads appeared in METRO, Minnesota Monthly, Minnesota Parent, and Minneapolis Saint Paul Magazine. Also promoted via a free bike tune-up station. It was suggested that these stations be brought around to local city and county kiosks.
Press kits were sent to the media, which included buttons and t-shirts. Partners are also distributing press kits.
Council suggested that legislators be educated on how Tourism is promoting PedalMN and getting so many state agencies working together.
The Tourism Center has completed some research on bike safety across the state. Ingrid will provide that information.
Branding Project Update: The RFP for the Branding Minnesota project is due June 13th. The selection committee, made up of approximately 10 representatives from various state agencies, will meet beginning next week to evaluate. Final selection should be completed in mid-July.
Research Update: Explore Minnesota Tourism is working with Longwoods on the ROI project. This should be completed by December 2012.
The University of Minnesota Tourism Center is compiling research on 4-day school weeks. Also working on a national assessment of pre- and post-Labor Day school start dates. This should be completed by the end of the month.
EMT will send out a "How are We Doing" survey this summer to access how the industry is viewing EMT.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS): EMT is working with the MN Department of Natural Resources to communicate with business and consumers about AIS. The goal is to coordinate with tourism organizations and businesses on a systemized and sustainable approach to communicate AIS laws, what water users can and must do to prevent the spread of AIS, and the consequences of infestations and not following the law.
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council: EMT has tried twice to change the number of Council appointments. The bill did not pass either time. Looking to invite others as ex-officios and bypass the legislative approach.
Governor Dayton and his staff hope to have Council appointments made shortly.
Remaining 2012 Council Dates: Tuesday, September 11 and Tuesday, December 11.