After April snowstorms and May heat waves, Minnesota’s rather turbulent personality has been on full display. So Summer came early. No big deal: With summer comes summer trips to cabins, water parks and lakes, camp grounds and RVs in both natural and man-made sites.
And, this year things is shaping up to be a strong one for the state’s tourism industry: Recently, a pre-summer survey was sent out to 241 Minnesota lodging businesses, including hotels and motels, resorts, bed-and-breakfasts, campgrounds and vacation home rentals.
Over 40% of respondents expecting summer revenue to be up, and 39% predict increased occupancy compared to summer 2017. And it gets even better, as only 18% of respondents expecting occupancy and/or revenue to be down and overall the survey showed that 80% of respondents rated their current financial health as growing (26%) or stable, but positive (54%).
Respondents also cited various reasons for their positive summer outlook, including the number of existing reservations for this season, a good economy, their own marketing efforts, social media inspiration, customer service, new or renovated facilities, and additional amenities. Some also noted several last-minute bookings and younger travelers seeking new and unique travel experiences.
As the director of Explore Minnesota, John Edman said,”We are very pleased to hear that Minnesota’s lodging industry is expecting yet another strong summer. With the late start to spring, travelers are eager to hit the road to find new and unique experiences across the state this season.”
The survey also addressed other challenges faced by the lodging business, including the late start to spring. While 27% reported that spring occupancy was up and 30% noted spring revenue was up there was 34% who reported spring occupancy and/or revenue were down.
The late arrival of spring was found to impact outdoor-oriented businesses, including resorts and campgrounds more heavily than hotels and motels. Another common challenge reported was Workforce shortage. Business owners noted the struggle to find and retain employees, or that lack of available workforce is a barrier to success.
Another challenge that showed was effect of vacation home rentals. It was a mixed bag in the findings of vacation home impact on businesses as some survey respondents cited having to compete with lower rates or losing customers to private rentals in their area. Others were able to see a positive impact of vacation home rentals, including more visitors to their area, and some traditional businesses use vacation rental services to secure guests.
It is projected by AAA that nearly 42 million Americans will travel over Memorial Day weekend alone and 88% will travel by road, despite the rise in fuel prices. This is the highest travel volume since 2005, and 2018 marks the fourth consecutive year of overall travel volume growth.
“Thanks to thousands of lodging accommodations, nearly 12,000 lakes, 500 golf courses, 4,000 miles of bike trails, top-notch parks and so much more, summer in Minnesota accounts for 37% of travel expenditures and helps contribute to a $15.0 billion leisure and hospitality industry,” said Edman.
Momentum continues for the award-winning #OnlyinMN travel marketing campaign after achieving impressive results the last few years. An independent study found the 2017 spring/summer campaign generated 3.3 million trips and nearly $384 million in spending that would not have occurred otherwise. In addition, people indicated intent for an additional 2.3 million trips in the next year.
To date, the widely popular #OnlyinMN campaign hashtag has been used nearly 1 million times and is a real-time travel inspiration tool on its own.
About Explore Minnesota
As the state’s tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state’s tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state’s tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations. Tourism is a $15.0 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry–a major provider of tourism services–employs more than 265,000 workers, representing 11% of Minnesota’s private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 18 percent of the state’s sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes over 70 million domestic and international travelers annually. See what’s happening right now, only in Minnesota, at exploreminnesota.com, and join the movement via @exploreminn on Twitter, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.