Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Meeting Minutes, March 9, 2012
Release Date: Mar 09, 2012
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council Meeting Friday, March 9, 2012
Present: Fred Bobich, Bill Deef, Randy Gutzmann, Nancy Hanson, Denelle Hillard, Brad Jones, Deb Lloyd, Julie Lunning, Senator Tom Saxhaug, Ingrid Schneider, Kathy Silverthorn, 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 December Meeting Minutes: Nancy Hanson moved to approve the minutes from the December 11th meeting as submitted. John Valliere seconded the motion. All Council members in attendance voted to approve the minutes as submitted.
2012 Tourism Conference: The 2012 conference was held in Rochester. Thank you to Brad Jones and the entire Rochester community for their hospitality. Approximately 300 attendees. The conference officially started at noon on Tuesday and ran through mid-afternoon on Wednesday. Several meetings and training opportunities were held prior to the conference and were very well attended. The awards banquet was shortened and did not include a separate entertainment venue; focus remained on awards. Comments from the Council on this year's conference:
- Conference felt more relaxed; more time to network
- Trade show seemed very well attended
- Stevie Ray did a great job
- The content and energy of the conference was great
Senator Klobuchar received one of the "Friend of Tourism" awards. She was not able to attend the conference, but provided a thank you message, which was shown to the Council.
The 2013 bid has not yet gone out for solicitation. EMT is requesting input from the Council on the 2013 Conference. Comments from the Council:
- There has not been one in the metro area for a few years.
- When held in the metro area, there is broader attendance; more of an opportunity for smaller organizations in the metro to participate in the conference without the expense of lodging.
- Lose people in the metro area if they go home in the evening.
- If in the metro, it needs to be specific to the downtown area, not the outskirts
- Must have entertainment that will keep the "locals" at the conference
- Metro area tends to have costly parking. That could be addressed in the bid process.
- Suggested to make conference bid only for meeting location and food; make available a list of hotels available nearby, downside is reduced opportunity for networking
- For future meetings, there are new facilities. These should be showcased as part of the conference
- If the goal is to spread the conference around the state, then the metro area is overdue.
After a brief discussion, a motion was made by Brad Jones to hold the 2013 Tourism Conference in the downtown metro area and the 2014 Tourism Conference north of the metro. Denelle Hillard seconded the motion. With no opposition from the members, the motion carried.
Public Policy Report: The pubic/policy committee met on February 8. Several agenda items were addressed at that meeting, including:
- Funding Request: EMT budget was reduced by $500,000 during the previous legislative session. EMT budget has dropped to 30th in the nation. Brad Jones has been meeting with Senate leadership. Proposed legislative action must be revenue neutral. Looking at reforming tax that is undesignated to designated (from hosting SuperBowl in 1992). Do not expect any activity this legislative session. Will need to hold meetings this summer and be ready for next session.
- Mall of America Expansion: While the Council supports the expansion of Mall of America, the public policy committee felt an actual resolution would open the door to numerous requests for resolutions of support for different types of projects.
- Vacation Home Rental: Four years ago, Explore Minnesota Tourism was asked to put together a task force to address this issue. A bill was amended this year by the Vacation Home Renters Association, exempting such properties from local and state zoning laws. The Public Policy Committee reviewed draft language proposed by the Vacation Home Rental Association. They felt the language and limits on local control were not consistent with the task force recommendations. Development of vacation home rentals in Minnesota remains a concern and an opportunity.
- Online travel taxes: Legislation was passed last year to tax online travel companies. Several questions remain on the interpretation/writing of this, particularly as it applies to local option lodging tax. There are four communities (Biwabik, Duluth, Minneapolis and Rochester) where local lodging tax comes through the Department of Revenue. Clarification in local option lodging tax needed in a future session.
- Invasive species: The Tourism industry needs to be involved in the communication on invasive species; the message needs to be delivered to travelers. The Tourism Center is involved in accessing the economic impact of invasive species. This issue involves the aquatic and terrestrial aspect.
- Fishing license fees: A series of new license fees is proposed to replenish depleted funds and to create more opportunities for recruitment and retention. DNR is currently evaluating a surcharge on fishing licenses for aquatic invasive species. Tourism industry wants to make sure the fee increases do not overly impose upon non-residents and that the invasive fees should be on the boating licenses, not fishing license fees.
- Expansion of Tourism Council: The bill to expand the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council was heard this week in the Government Operations Committee. Representative Howe is carrying the bill.
- Labor Day School Start: This continues to be a hot topic at the legislature. Council wants to maintain the post Labor Day school start. There is a new bill in the House that states schools can start whenever they choose, but cannot hold class the Thursday and Friday prior to Labor Day.
Following up to the Post Labor Day school start, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center will be doing some analytics. They recently reported some finding on the four-day vs. five-day school week: the four-day school week saw an increase in day trips and 4-5 day trips; there was no change in extended weekend vacations. This information can be found on the University of Minnesota Tourism Center website and will also be included in a future edition of the EMT Express.
This discussion needs to be broadened to look at year-round schools.
Senator Saxhaug provided these additional legislative updates:
- Vikings Stadium: Yesterday's bill was dropped in the Senate.
- Bonding bills for convention center/facilities in Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud have been introduced. This provides economic development to the community and surrounding area. These are important steps to move the economy forward.
- Fishing licenses fees: Needs modest increase.
Branding Update: The Branding group met this week to discuss how organizations and agencies can work together to market the state as one. The common message is Minnesota is a place to work, live and play. A perception survey was completed in the fall of 2011. Four positioning statements were developed:
- Vibrant and Exciting
- Quality of Life
- Natural Appeal
Key findings include that Minnesota is viewed as unique for its mix of sophisticated urban and outdoor activities, emphasizing a wide range of opportunities.
The three creative directions that the agency has come up with are:
- MINNESOTA. Do great things.
- MINNESOTA. Think Minnesota.
- MINNESOTA. More to Minnesota.
A new round of creative will be developed over the next month.
The approach should be a branded house or a house of brands.
Comments from the Council on the Branding initiative:
- Likes the branded house approach
- Agencies do not want to be dictated to change
- Is it possible to use a typeface for the word "Minnesota" for everyone to use
- Most likely, there is some strong brand equity with all the logos
- It is going to continue to evolve
- We see the example from Michigan with "Pure Michigan." That was a $90 million project that included significant marketing.
Grants/Coop Program Review: Approximately one year ago, the discussion was held on how grants fit into the mission of Explore Minnesota Tourism. A task force was created and looked at various options for the grants program. As a result, some changes and reductions were made to the program. How the program has changed from 2011 to 2012:
- Approximately one-half as many grants in 2012
- There is a smaller cap on requests. The cap is now set at $4,000.
- 95 organizations still participated
The industry task force suggested that some minor revisions be made to the program. After just one year with the changes, it is too early to make significant changes again or to evaluate impact of current changes.
The Council would like to address again at the June meeting if Explore Minnesota Tourism's budget changes as a result of this legislative session.
PedalMN Campaign: The biking campaign continues to move forward. The goal is to promote health, travel and bike safety. To date, $325,000 has been committed by state agencies to develop biking. Health Partners has also signed on as a cornerstone partner. Working to develop website (www.pedalmn.com) and consumer marketing; website to be launched in May.
Continue to reach out to possible partners for this campaign. Specific industry segments to meet with are banking, construction (road/trail) and food/hospitality. Also suggested that we look for a retail equipment partner. Council members suggested that Tourism contact Trek manufacturer and water/beverage/energy drink manufacturers.
2012 Advertising Plans: The spring/summer ad plan has been approved. Will continue to run the "Joe Mauer" commercials in Winnipeg, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Des Moines markets. Minnesota Broadcasters Association will air radio spots in Rochester, Duluth, Mankato and border cities. Minnesota musicians recorded the radio spots. Still pushing to move into the Chicago market. Working with Fox SportsNet on Twins ad buys.
The Facebook buy has been extremely successful and will continue. Will also do another "Spin to Win" sweepstakes. The winter sweepstakes brought in 12,000 consumers who chose to opt in to receive additional travel information.
Will run monthly banners and e-mails through the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press websites.
A return-on-investment study will be conducted on the spring/summer ad campaign.
Partnering with Minnesota Monthly to use their magazine content on our website and newsletter; this will provide out site with more information on dining, arts and entertainment.
Partnering with Anderson Race Management on the Explore Minnesota race challenge; this is a year-long partnership which will have runners sign up for eight races throughout the state.
We are a premiere partner with Minnesota Historical Society.
Will promote and work with Legacy Destination weekends.
Partnering with Minnesota Lynx.
Update on digital plans:
Beta testing began last week on our mobile website. Expect to go live around the first of April.
The mobile app for IPhones is out, but has not yet been marketed. The Android app came out approximately two weeks ago.
A complete rebuild of the industry site will be done. It will be the same platform as the consumer website. There is a large amount of content to migrate.
Usability testing will be done by web vendor to make the website more user-friendly.
The events for the PedalMN website will come from the exploreminnesota.com website.
Tourism Awareness Plans: U.S. Travel has produced a toolkit with many suggestions for National Travel and Tourism Week. A copy was distributed to the Council.
The 2012 Governor's Fishing Opener will be held in Waconia on May 11-12. There is already a strong media presence scheduled for the event.
The American Association of Museums annual meeting will be held in Minnesota in May. This association includes approximately 5,000 museums, zoos and aquariums. Museum Month is scheduled for the month of May. The Tourism Center is conducting research on the economic impact of museums.
Minnesota will host the Active America China Summit in May.
Explore Minnesota Tourism Council: New appointments to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council have not yet been made. Council members whose term expired in January are: Fred Bobich (Chambers), Chuck Dougherty (B&B), Nancy Hanson (trails), Brad Jones (convention facilities), Julie Lunning (convention & visitors bureaus), Mark Novotny (resorts), Ted Siefert (counties), Kathy Silverthorn (southern region), Charles Skinner (lodging), Sam Thompson (tour operators) and John Valliere (golf).
Remaining 2012 Council Meeting Dates:
Wednesday, June 13
Tuesday, September 11
Tuesday, December 11