2022 was a 12 months of change, and with that change got here alternatives for a daring new method ahead. With the pandemic slowly receding, individuals needed to get out and journey but once more. However with components like inflation and excessive gasoline costs, they needed to remain near house. Outside recreation continued to be a major driver, as individuals had been in search of budget-friendly journey concepts. And guests had been in search of extra methods to expertise native favorites and hidden gems.

Enter Duluth.

Gary Meader / Duluth Information Tribune

Early this 12 months, the brand new Duluth Tourism Collaborative took form to reintroduce Duluth to vacationers in Minnesota and past. The collaborative — consisting of the town of Duluth, Bellmont Companions, Lawrence & Schiller, and Go to Duluth, in partnership with the DECC — labored collectively to supply assist and assets for the native tourism trade.

The crew at Bellmont Companions and Lawrence & Schiller hit the bottom operating Jan. 1, constructing out Duluth’s advertising and marketing technique for leisure journey. This included in-depth analysis and model growth, creating the brand new inclusive Duluth brand and the “Find it irresistible Like We Do” marketing campaign that encourages potential vacationers to expertise Duluth like an area, target-audience mapping, and the creation and implementation of a data-driven advertising and marketing plan.

In the meantime, Go to Duluth started work on its new organizational focus of attracting occasions and conventions to Duluth. The board employed Daniele Villa as its president of gross sales and operations, and it developed a brand new strategic plan, mission, and imaginative and prescient.

The town of Duluth labored in partnership with all entities. Our plans prioritized relationships and assist to trade members, which included common communication methods like month-to-month newsletters, quarterly occasions, and the launch of the Duluth Tourism Advisory Board. The Tourism Advisory Board is comprised of 10 representatives from the native tourism trade who present suggestions and recommendation to the town on its advertising and marketing contract with Bellmont Companions and Lawrence & Schiller. The board additionally contributes to the dialogue across the metropolis’s broader tourism technique.

This work has contributed to Duluth tourism seeing a robust bounce-back, persevering with the success we noticed in summer time 2021. All metrics have elevated, proving that the brand new mannequin is delivering optimistic outcomes for Duluth. We’ve seen development in tourism tax income (up 11.3% 12 months up to now), lodge occupancy (up 6.7%), and lodge demand (up 4.5%). Duluth space lodges’ occupancy is outperforming all different Minnesota markets, together with St. Paul, Rochester, and Minneapolis. And the Duluth Customer Middle has seen a exceptional improve in customer visitors, up over 700% from 2019.

Consciousness of Duluth is rising as properly. So far, now we have seen greater than 525 million impressions with earned media protection in Minnesota, regional, and nationwide retailers. This work enhances and highlights the efforts of our native sights, a lot of which noticed an extremely sturdy fall. That included record-breaking years for the William A. Irvin Haunted Ship and Boo on the Zoo.

Conventions and conferences are making their method again to Duluth, which noticed 75 occasions in 2022, with 53 already confirmed for 2023. The Duluth Leisure Conference Middle alone initiatives greater than 47,000 attendees subsequent 12 months, up 51% from 2019.

All of Duluth’s tourism and hospitality professionals deserve a spherical of applause for his or her efforts this 12 months, from navigating workforce shortages to discovering modern options and embracing a brand new mannequin as vacationers sought out our metropolis.

2023 will likely be spent constructing off that basis with much more deal with getting the phrase out to potential vacationers by way of promoting, earned and social media, commerce reveals, and extra. Advertising efforts will proceed to uplift your entire metropolis, encouraging vacationers to as soon as once more “Find it irresistible Like We Do” by telling the tales of Duluth — with a deal with the colourful range our neighborhood supplies. We’ll double down on partnerships with regional and nationwide journalists and influencers to assist inform the Duluth story in new methods.

The journey trade is ever-evolving, and we all know the rising price of journey is a crucial issue on this work. Our crew continues to keep watch over inflation, gasoline costs, and different financial components. The excellent news? Duluth is uniquely positioned to supply the right getaway with a various vary of actions, sights, and occasions to guests of all types, irrespective of the circumstances.

Tricia Hobbs is the senior financial developer in Planning and Financial Improvement for the town of Duluth, and he or she heads up the Duluth Tourism Collaborative, which incorporates the town of Duluth, Bellmont Companions, Lawrence & Schiller, and Go to Duluth, in partnership with the Duluth Leisure Conference Middle. She wrote this on the invitation of the Information Tribune Opinion web page.

Tricia Hobbs.jpg

Tricia Hobbs

The Information Tribune Opinion web page once more this 12 months requested neighborhood leaders and space consultants to gaze right into a crystal ball and share what 2023 may convey. This column is a part of that sequence.
Sunday, Dec. 25 — Northland financial system
Monday, Dec. 26 — Enterprise
Tuesday, Dec. 27 — Tourism
Wednesday, Dec. 28 — Metropolis of Duluth
Thursday, Dec. 29 — St. Louis County
Friday, Dec. 30 — Duluth public faculties
Saturday, Dec. 31 — Minnesota Legislature
Sunday, Jan. 1 — Downtown Duluth
Monday, Jan. 2 — Public security
Tuesday, Jan. 3 — D.C.