2021 Guide to Meeting and Event Venues
With Covid-19 vaccination rates continuing to rise in Minnesota, event venues can finally reopen—some for the first time in more than a year and a half. The industry is on the road to recovery.
“We’ve seen a gradual return to normal for event bookings,” says Dawn Westermann, venue sales manager for St. Paul-based Union Depot. “Our lead numbers are way up for all kinds of events, and our daily calls and web inquiries for private events have been coming in steadily as well.”
She adds that as of mid-July, Union Depot was already receiving holiday party requests for 500 to 1,000 guests—a great sign for the venue and the industry.
Anne Spaeth, owner of The Lynhall restaurant, bakery, and event studio, with locations in Minneapolis and Edina, says her business is experiencing a similar resurgence. From June to September 2019, The Lynhall hosted 264 events, bringing in $360,000 in revenue, compared with 30 events and $22,000 for the same period in 2020. As of mid-July 2021, however, it already had 77 events worth $150,000 in revenue on the books for June through September.
Morrissey Hospitality is also seeing an uptick in event inquiries, particularly for leisure (social events such as weddings, birthday parties, celebrations of life, bar mitzvahs, etc.) and corporate events. Morrissey operates several Twin Cities venues, including The St. Paul Hotel and Saint Paul RiverCentre. Company owner and operations manager Elizabeth Morrissey Brown says that event totals are still down 45 to 70 percent at urban venues and 35 to 50 percent in suburban venues compared to pre-Covid 2019, but the industry is definitely on the mend, with a distinct air of hope.
“There is no on-off switch for post-pandemic,” Brown says. “It will be a gradual increase in business for us, and our patience and commitment are there. Success in our industry cannot be measured by defining a return to 2019 [metrics] as ‘normal,’ as we—as communities and as individuals—are in the process of building the new normal in this next chapter.”
But all progress is worth celebrating. “The pent-up demand of being together again, combined with the security of vaccinations, has made each event more memorable,” Brown says. “For our operating teams and the guests, it almost feels like you are experiencing things for the first time, and that brings a lot of joy.” —Tess Allen
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