Things look grim for convention centers in Minnesota, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The management of the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center is now resorting to promotion of its ventilation system rather than the “facility’s proximity to Lake Superior.” And in Minneapolis, Melvin Tennant, CEO of Meet Minneapolis, estimated that the city’s almost entirely empty convention venue will see a revenue drop of 75 percent this year. Terming the Minneapolis Convention Center “a catalyst for our hospitality industry,” Tennant joined his colleagues in seeking both federal government aid and some word on when state guidelines limiting the size of indoor gatherings would be eased.
In the interim, Meet Minneapolis is doing what convention centers and destination marketing organizations typically do — having a sale. With the bold headline “Get More for Less in Minneapolis,” Meet Minneapolis has been offering a host of incentives for groups meeting in Minneapolis next year. The convention center is offering a 20 percent discount on both rent and AV equipment, a $3.00 per room night rebate to the group for every hotel room used, a three percent rebate on hotel bills, and even a free round-trip Delta airline voucher — just to check out the city.
Whether the promise of sale prices and the boast that “Minnesota currently ranks #1 in takeout, curbside and delivery dining” are enough to get folks to Minneapolis appears seriously open to question as the coronavirus surges through the upper Midwest. But the city’s hotel business has been incredibly hard-hit so far this year between George Floyd’s death and the pandemic. Overall hotel revenue is down by 62 percent compared to last year — a drop just like destination cities in Hawaii. Maybe a half price sale next?