Biz Buzz: New vision for the tourist season – Brainerd Dispatch
NISSWA — Lauren Bennett McGinty, new director of Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion agency, takes over the role following the retirement of longtime director John Edman.
With a host of eye-catching marketing campaigns over the years aimed at attracting tourists to Minnesota and attracting state visitors to Lakeland, a new campaign was recently launched following a thought-provoking move national.
McGinty spoke in April at a tourism summit at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.
Explore Minnesota’s role is to both elevate Minnesota as a travel destination and facilitate visitors. The state reported a loss of $12 billion in travel spending over the last two years of the pandemic. Explore Minnesota has provided more than $3 million in tourism crisis and recovery grants.
Typically, Explore Minnesota unveils its marketing campaign as part of the travel season kickoff. This year, the campaign is called Dream State and aims to invite people to “revisit the magic of travel again as the world continues to recover from the pandemic. The all-new marketing effort will convey a mystical take on some of the state’s most popular attractions.
The campaign will target travelers from the state, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado. This year, the state reports that the campaign will also expand further east and west to include Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Montana, Wyoming and Utah, as well as key markets in St. Louis, Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Milwaukee and Canadian cities. from Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.
Asking people what they look for when they travel, McGinty said the comments were about a more reflective experience, an internal feeling that stems from the pandemic. This reflective message was found in other states that were about taking more time to experience the world after being away from it for so long, McGinty said.
“So we saw this as a strategic opportunity to really change the message that we were doing for Minnesota, and to try to capture that moment right now and really show people that Minnesota has everything to offer. And we want to show you that in a truly magical way,” McGinty said, noting the Dream State campaign, which focuses on experiencing nature to food, activities and events. The music video begins with the narrator asking if the moon has really filled the entire night sky.
“It’s magic,” McGinty said. “It’s beautiful and it feels like something you’ve never really experienced in this world. And that’s what we want. We want people to take stories from their visits to Minnesota, and come out and say to everyone how amazing, magical, really expanding that story, over time and so it was a really wonderful way to capture, you know, that feeling of stepping out into the world for the first time .
McGinty said the response has been positive and she thinks the spots have the right tone.
McGinty said Explore Minnesota is currently involved in strategic planning and is now in the early phase of creating many differences in how the agency does things. .
“And that’s a huge initiative that I took when I started because we’re going through one of the toughest times in our lives, as a world,” McGinty said. “And for the most part, the hospitality industry has never seen anything like this before. So I really wanted to take all of your voices and put them into what a new plan for tourism in Minnesota is and I make sure we hear what you had to say, hear what you want to see from us, and put that into action.”
McGinty said the new plan is expected to be implemented in July.
Closer is the Governor’s Fishing Opening. McGinty said when they planned it, they really weren’t sure what they would be able to do, but now they’re adding activities they didn’t think were possible.
“So it’s coming back in a wonderful way,” she said.
Asked about spending in terms of marketing, McGinty said Minnesota is in last place in terms of neighboring states for those budget dollars, but she also noted that Minnesota has kept its tourism budget while other states lost theirs during the pandemic and are now getting it back. Explore Minnesota Tourism had a total two-year budget for fiscal year 2020-21 of $28.4 million in general fund appropriations and $1.4 million in revenue through advertising sales and marketing programs. The agency also reports that it partners with public and private organizations to maximize resources.
RENEE RICHARDSON, editor of Brainerd Dispatch, can be reached at 218-855-5852 or
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