Error message

Notice: Use of undefined constant value - assumed 'value' in include() (line 27 of /var/www/meetingsmags.com/htdocs/themes/stark/meetings/templates/views-view-field--block--field-hide-main-image.tpl.php).

Minnesotans have no trouble rattling off the reasons they love this place: abundant lakes, top-notch restaurants, a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, and, of course, the new U.S. Bank Stadium. But all out-of-towners often hear about are the harsh winters. 

“We’re underappreciated,” says Brent Foerster, senior vice president of destination sales at Meet Minneapolis. He’s responsible for enlightening meetings and events professionals about the charms of the city to lure conventions, meetings, sports events and global tourism here. “These events are creating a significant amount of tax revenue that those of us who live here benefit from,” Foerster says. 

At Meet Minneapolis, Foerster strives to understand the needs and goals of meeting and event professionals. He then puts together the best proposal to set Minneapolis apart from similar Midwestern metropolises. “It’s a very competitive industry and you have to be on your game,” he says.

Among recent successes is landing the summer 2017 and 2018 X Games. Previously held in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and Austin, the extreme sports event owned by ESPN will be a substantial media coverage opportunity. It will also attract many millennials to Minneapolis for the first time.

The city also booked the Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod for the Fourth of July in 2019. The event will bring over 30,000 people to Minneapolis for the organization’s youth conference. “Ten years ago, we weren’t even on their radar screen. We didn’t have the ability to host them,” Foerster says. 

While Foerster grew up in Bloomington and graduated from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, his decades-long career has taken him all over the country. During his 15 years with the Hilton Hotel Corporation, he held positions in sales, marketing and operations, at one point relocating to New Orleans to be general manager of the Hilton New Orleans Airport hotel. Foerster was later recruited to be vice president of sales, marketing, and communications at Visit Milwaukee. It wasn’t until 2014 that he was able to return to his home state to land his current position. 

When he’s off the clock, the father of two boys likes to sample the local restaurant scene and spend time running, biking, golfing and participating in other outdoor activities with his family. It’s those same activities that win people over when they visit Minneapolis. As Foerster says, “If we can get the meeting planners and those that are making the decisions here to experience the city, that’s half the sell.”

1. The building that is now the AAA Four Diamond-rated Kimpton Grand Hotel Minneapolis was originally constructed in 1915 as the Minneapolis Athletic Club—a high-end athletic and business club. The Grand Hotel opened in 2000 after a major renovation, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants took over management in 2010 and underwent a full renovation that completed in 2011.

 

Here’s the one question you might want to avoid asking Robbie Harrell when you see one of his sculptures at an event: “Is that real ice?” The CEO of Minnesota Ice Sculptures says his com - pany’s sculptures are so clear and precisely carved that they prompt that question at every event they’re displayed. “Once people realize it really, truly is carved from ice, they’re excited about it,” he says. “There are always lots of selfies with the ice sculpture.”

 

Associations North, the association for associations in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, infused excitement, creativity and innovation into its one-day Meeting Planners Symposium on Nov. 9 at Hyatt Regency Minneapolis with its open layout, new room sets, quick 30-minute sessions, hub groups and more. Keynote speaker Tamara G. Kleinberg disrupted the status quo with her “Think Sideways” presentation that introduced new tools to and generate inventive ideas.