The Greater Minneapolis Convention &
Visitors Association has announced that 2005 represented a marked
shift in the size and kind of conventions booking Minneapolis. Convention
sales efforts that filled in “gaps” in hotel occupancy and short-term tourism
sales and marketing strategies contributed to an incredible 82 percent hotel
occupancy rate from June through October.
“Downtown Minneapolis was jammed during the summer of 2005,” said Greg
Ortale, GMCVA president & CEO. “Convention-goers at events like the Microsoft
Worldwide Partner Conference with its 10,000-plus attendees flooded area
hotels, restaurants and attractions.” For the year, hotel occupancy finished
at a strong 71.5 percent and nearly 340,000 convention attendees spent
$265.5 million in the metro area.
Same Number of Meetings, Smaller Size
At the organization’s annual meeting, association leaders noted that
while GMCVA sales efforts last year were unprecedented and it booked the same
number of future meetings as in past years, the size of groups choosing to
host conventions in Minneapolis has slipped to an all-time low since the
expansion of the Minneapolis Convention Center. This, because Minneapolis can
no longer offer the compact downtown hotel inventory to attract many large
“Meeting planners rave about the quality of our convention center and
hotels. They are some of the best in the industry,” said Ortale. “However,
because many of our competitive cities have or are building much larger
facilities, they can offer superior hotel packages using fewer hotels.” For
example, Minneapolis is competing with Denver for a future convention. While
the meeting planner prefers Minneapolis, the group would need to use 14 hotels
to house attendees. In Denver, they’ll need to only negotiate contracts with
New Convention Hotel Needed
As a result of situations like this, the city is losing many large
conventions that would otherwise book Minneapolis to competitive cities. It
demonstrates a strong need for a new, 1,200-room convention headquarters hotel
in close proximity to the Minneapolis Convention Center, said GMCVA leaders.
Several studies have proven a need. In addition to a hotel feasibility
study conducted in 2004, the GMCVA entered into two research projects in 2005.
Recently released results demonstrate the urgent need to come up with a hotel
solution. Both showed that Minneapolis is losing business due to several
— The lack of a large convention headquarters hotel in close proximity
(preferably attached) to the Minneapolis Convention Center
— Little awareness about Minneapolis and what it has to offer as a
— Perception of Minneapolis as a “second tier” city
Despite the challenges, the GMCVA created nearly a third of a billion
dollars in future convention business for Minneapolis by shifting its sales
efforts to focus on smaller meetings, short-term business, niche selling, and
high-potential geographic areas.
Other 2005 Highlights
— Minneapolis Arts Explosion—As five major arts institutions began to
unveil $500 million in new arts infrastructure, the GMCVA spearheaded
a collaborative public relations effort with all the arts
organizations that were expanding and building. Numerous initiatives,
impressions in publications like Travel + Leisure, Boston Globe, New
York Times and more than 130 others.
— Online leisure booking engine—Event and special offer-focused tourism marketing and sales efforts brought hundreds of thousands of
visitors to GMCVA-hosted websites, generating a 93-percent increase in
sales through an online hotel booking engine.
— Wedding service—The GMCVA’s unique service that helps brides find
hotel room blocks and reception spaces continued to be in demand.
With a lift from an online advertising campaign, the service booked
more than 16,000 rooms and contributed to the tourism sales
department’s successful year that finished 14 percent ahead of 2004.
— A focus on quality service—The GMCVA received praise from meeting
planners, clients and partners. In 2005, the convention services
department won two coveted awards for the ninth time. This level of
quality and service helped the GMCVA secure two respected local
corporations as “Premier Partners.” American Express Cardmember
Services and Metro Transit will work with the GMCVA in 2006.