With a walkable downtown area, a variety of accommodation options and unique venues, Saint Paul is the perfect gem for meeting planners in the Midwest. Convenient to get to and with a lot of big city amenities, attendees will be treated to what they like to call, “Minnesota Nice,” throughout their stay. Today, we talk to Eric Satre, National Account Executive with Visit Saint Paul about the benefits of working with a CVB in the RFP process, how their destination is different and unique and his advice to planners who have never worked with a CVB before.
What makes Saint Paul a great meeting destination?
Eric: I believe what makes Saint Paul a great meeting destination is our airlift as a hub for Delta Air Lines, our “big fish, small pond” convention package and our unique-to-Saint Paul restaurants. As a city, our identity starts with the Mississippi River.
What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about the Saint Paul area?
Eric: Saint Paul has all the amenities of larger cities while being more competitively priced.
What might we find you enjoying in the destination on your day off?
Eric: As a father of two, I enjoy taking my kids to family-friendly attractions such as Minnesota Children’s Museum, Science Museum of Minnesota and Minnesota History Center.
What advice would you give to a planner who hasn’t worked with a CVB before?
Eric: Get in contact with a CVB rep. No matter the size meeting, we are experts on our destination, a gateway for local partnerships and we genuinely support meeting planners. After all, we all want the same thing—a successful event for the organization and for the city!
What do you see trending in the meeting’s market? How is your CVB proactively addressing this trend or staying current?
Eric: While it’s been trending upward for quite some time, online meeting management software for sourcing meetings (such as Cvent) is beneficial; however, let’s not forget about the meeting planner-CVB relationship that’s so valuable in our industry. Don’t get me wrong, Visit Saint Paul understands the importance of reaching meeting planners through various online platforms and it’s a great way to launch connections, but face-to-face interaction will always be the best way to grow authentic relationships whether that’s through site inspections, trade shows, or industry networking groups, etc.
How does a planner benefit from consulting with you prior to sending out their RFP?
Eric: Connecting with a CVB first is imperative as we can assist with citywide availability, help direct and streamline the bid process, provide concessions such as a complimentary site inspection and we have the tools to enhance marketing for events.
What’s the latest news, developments, or events in your destination you’d like to share with planners?
Eric: There has been a lot of buzz about the 2018 Minnesota Super Bowl, and rightfully so, but in my mind there is something equally as special about local events that bring communities together such as Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Hmong New Year, Irish Fair of Minnesota, Rondo Days, Minnesota State Fair – among many others.
What differentiates your destination from your competitive set?
Eric: One thing that separates Saint Paul is that we have a unique story to tell – from 1920’s infamous gangsters to historic parks and neighborhoods, unique venues to historical figures. Hosting a convention in a city where history is both rich and preserved is quite fascinating for event attendees.
To connect with a destination expert at Visit Saint Paul or any of the other 150+ top meeting destinations, visit www.empowerMINT.com.