On the heels of Minnesota's picture-perfect fishing opener weekend, the summer travel season is shaping up to be a strong one for the state's tourism industry. A pre-summer survey of Minnesota lodging businesses revealed a positive outlook for summer travel statewide, continuing an upward trend over the past several years.
Close to half of respondents (46%) expect summer revenue to be up, and 41% predict increased occupancy compared to the already strong summer of 2016. By contrast, only 11% of respondents expect decreased occupancy, and 12% expect revenue to be down. Overall, 84% of respondents rated their current financial health as growing (25%) or stable, but positive (59%).
Respondents cited various reasons for their positive outlook, including: the number of reservations already on the books for this summer; a good economy; their own advertising efforts (particularly online via social media and online booking engines); and new or renovated rooms or facilities, with some citing business from weddings and groups.
"We are very pleased, but not surprised, to hear that Minnesota's lodging industry is expecting another strong summer," said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota. "Successful marketing, increased social engagement and high-quality customer service are leaving a lasting impression on visitors. Combined with a good economy, we expect these trends to continue throughout the summer."
The survey was completed by 234 Minnesota lodging businesses, including hotels and motels, resorts, bed-and-breakfasts, campgrounds and vacation home rentals.
This positive outlook for Minnesota is in line with national trends. AAA projects more than 39 million Americans will travel over Memorial Day weekend alone, the highest travel volume since 2005, with higher confidence and more consumer spending as driving factors. While road trips will account for 88% of travel this weekend, the number of airplane, train/bus and cruise vacations are all up over last year.
"With last fall's Ryder Cup, the upcoming X Games, and many other events big and small scattered all over the state, it's clear there is something happening in Minnesota," Edman said. "The excitement about Minnesota as a destination continues to build and, in turn, helps contribute to a $14.4 billion leisure and hospitality industry."
#OnlyinMN Campaign Continues in 2017
The award-winning #OnlyinMN travel marketing campaign continues this year after achieving impressive results the last two years. An independent study found the 2016 spring/summer campaign generated 3.5 million trips and $388.8 million in spending that would not have occurred otherwise. In addition, 2.85 million people who did not visit Minnesota in 2016 indicated they intend to do so in the next year.
In partnership with Minneapolis-based ad agency Colle+McVoy, the 2017 campaign features one new TV spot (along with three returning spots from 2016); rotating digital billboards; robust digital advertising; inspirational social media efforts; plus print and radio ads to tell the story of all the premier events and unique festivals taking place across the state. A targeted effort is also in place to specifically reach Hmong and Somali residents in the Twin Cities.
To date, the popular #OnlyinMN hashtag has been used more than 560,000 times, and Explore Minnesota has amassed more than 375,000 fans on social media.