The Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, to be held in downtown Minneapolis February 12 and 13, will focus on marketing trends and tactics for an industry that generates almost $12 billion in sales annually in Minnesota. Governor Mark Dayton will greet the conference during the Wednesday luncheon.
Other conference speakers include Adam Sacks, of Tourism Economics, on economic trends and the outlook for travel; Shaun Aukland, of Google, on digital marketing; and travel author Doug Lansky, on learning from common mistakes in travel marketing.
"The Minnesota tourism industry is very optimistic about the upcoming spring/summer travel season," notes Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state's tourism promotion agency. In fact, a January survey of lodging properties in the state found that well over 40 percent of survey respondents expect spring/summer occupancy and room revenues to surpass those of last year. There has been a growth in travel each of the past three years as the tourism industry in Minnesota and across the country has recovered from the recession.
The conference will introduce the 2013 Explore Minnesota marketing campaign, a fresh take on the "More to Explore" theme with a series of new television ads and a fun, customizable vacation video app for Facebook. Sessions will cover a range of other topics, including sports marketing, cultural travelers, outdoor adventure travel, managing traveler reviews, and recent tourism research. The conference includes a tourism awards banquet, as well.
"Consumers have a pent-up demand for travel," said Edman, "and Minnesota aims to attract more visitors as they select destinations in the highly competitive travel market."
The annual tourism conference draws about 300 participants from around the state, including representatives of convention and visitors bureaus and other tourism promotion organizations; hotels, resorts and campgrounds; and a variety of attractions, such as museums and historic sites.
The conference is being held at the Hilton Minneapolis Hotel, and Meet Minneapolis is sponsoring a pre-conference social media learning lab on Monday afternoon, Feb. 11. Conference registration is $319, with lower rates for single day attendance. For more details, go to www.industry.exploreminnesota.com.
Tourism is an $11.9 billion industry in Minnesota, a key sector of the state's economy. The leisure and hospitality industry, a major provider of tourism services, employs almost 240,000, representing 11 percent of private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17 percent of state sales tax revenues.