2014 was declared the “most successful year in hospitality” that Minneapolis has ever seen by Meet Minneapolis, which serves as the convention and visitors association.
That characterization wasn’t hyperbole. The organization has metrics to back up its claim. It reported that the city hosted a record 534 meetings and conventions, and the annual average daily rate charged by hotels also set a record at $148.
Hotel occupancy levels were robust, with 72 percent of hotel rooms filled in Minneapolis during 2014.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2014 brought thousands of people to the Twin Cities, and the hospitality sector is focused on attracting more new travelers to Minnesota.
“Over 70 percent of visitors return at least once within three years upon visiting,” says Kristen Montag, marketing communications manager for Meet Minneapolis. “And our visitors data is showing the number of leisure travelers has increased over the past three years.” Within the city of Minneapolis, hotel occupancy reached 72 percent the past two years, which is up substantially from 59 percent in 2009 during the recession. That’s according to STR Inc, which conducts research on the hotel industry.
“When you reach a certain level of hotel occupancy, builders get interested,” Montag says.
Three hotels are being built at or near the Mall of America in Bloomington—a JW Marriott, a Hyatt Regency and a TownPlace Suites. Several other new hotels are planned around the Twin Cities metro area. Some projects are new construction and others are conversions of existing buildings, such as The Conrad in downtown Minneapolis.
Meet Minneapolis estimates that 71,000 total room nights will be booked for the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis, which is the biggest event on the Minnesota hospitality calendar. West and east metro hospitality leaders are predicting that 2015 will be a good year, with hotel occupancy figures similar to 2014. “Lodging hotels and service demand aren’t simply created; we have to continue bringing in world-class entertainment opportunities,” says Terry Mattson, president and CEO of Visit St. Paul. “Success breeds more success.”
The recent Hockey Day Minnesota and the Red Bull Crashed Ice events bolstered visitor traffic in the east metro this winter, and Mattson is optimistic about visitor counts for spring and summer activities as well.
Light rail transit lines have ushered in a new era of connectivity between the downtown districts, as well as the Mall of America and the airport.
“The centrality of downtown in relationship to the Green Line and Blue Line has been a great boon to downtown Minneapolis,” says Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “I don’t think a week goes by where someone doesn’t comment on how convenient it is to have the light rail available.”
Mobility associated with light rail is among the factors that promoters are using to brand the Twin Cities as a hot spot for large conferences and special events.