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Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference Highlights

by Melissa on February 20th, 2015


Conference-Photos (1)

John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism

The Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference was held February 3-4 at the St. Paul River Centre.  Hundreds of chambers, business owners, hotel/resort owners, and others gathered to share and learn new marketing strategies that our society is now turning to. From utilizing Instagram, to targeting audiences via Facebook, to going digital, the marketing strategies have changed drastically over the past few years.  John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, discussed industry trends and how tourism is changing today. You can view Edman’s and other keynote speakers here.

Edman stresses the importance of the positive economic impact tourism has on every county in Minnesota. Shown below you’ll find the economic impact tourism had on the state of Minnesota in 2013.

Minnesotas Economic Impact: Sales and Jobs (2013)

Travel/tourism in Minnesota generates:


  • $13 billion in gross sales
  • More than $35 million a day


  • 250,000 full and part-time jobs
  • 11% of total private sector employment
  • Almost $4.5 billion in wages  


  • $840 million in state sales tax
  • 17% of state sales tax revenues

Growth in the tourism industry

Sales at leisure and hospitality businesses grew 49% from 2003 to 2013, including 4% annual growth for 2013.
2003 ($8.7 Billion) ——– 2008 ($11.8 Billion) ———- 2013 ($13.8 Billion)

Impacts of state tourism advertising

  • 3.1 million Minnesota trips
  • $320.2 million traveler spending
  • $29.7 million direct state and local taxes
  • 2.0 million additional intended trips in next 12 months
  • $68 to $1 traveler spending return on ad investment
  • $6 to $1 state and local tax return on ad investment

Economic Impact by County
Minnesota’s Leisure and Hospitality Industry, 2013

Counties Gross Sales Sales Tax Private Sector Employment
Big Stone $4,442,658 $316,833 129
Chippewa $14,980,984 $1,049,987 381
Lac Qui Parle $3,951,985 $282,207 95
Swift $8,758,191 $621, 633 229
Yellow Medicine $13,002,744 $503,744 199
TOTAL $45,136,562 $2,152,771 1,033

 The Leisure and Hospitality industry consists of Accommodations; Food Services and Drinking Places; and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation. Sources: Minnesota Department of Revenue; Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Interesting Marketing Ideas…

There are three different types of groups you should focus your marketing around:

  • Baby Boomers: (61+) focus your marketing around the months of April, May, Sept, Oct and between Thursday and Monday.
  • Millennials: Interested in topics such as Culinary, Art in Action, Culture, and Home & Gardens (Farmers markets). ** Skew marketing younger and the boomers will follow the millennials.
  • Women: women make up 80% retail spending, 70% travel decision, and use the internet 80% of the time before buying (want to feel safe before making a decision)
  • Create multigenerational trip ideas for your visitors and website, give them unique options – they are looking for the unusual
  • What makes you different or clearly better – everyone has that charming café that serves homemade food, but why does yours stand out from others (ex. Beef commercials – unique food that you generally only see in Western Minnesota)
  • Don’t try and be a destination that you aren’t, embrace what you own (Fishing, Hunting, Stargazing, unique museums and landmarks, etc.)
  • Focusing events and driving traffic downtown is key
  • Follow the 7 – 8 – 7 Rule
    • 70% retail spending takes place after 6:00pm
    • 80% are women’s sales
    • 70% is curb appeal – make your downtown and outside of your store appealing

You can visit the Explore Minnesota Tourism website for the full speaker presentations and conference highlights, but below are some interesting facts and ideas to share and to think about.

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