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.”

As CEO of Miami-based Loni Paige Events, Loni Paige has launched and managed experiential campaigns for high-profile brands such as Bacardi, vitaminwater, T-Mobile, American Express and Target. While many people used quarantine cocktailing as a coping mechanism during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the bars and everyone’s favorite mixologists who needed their own shot of help. Paige set out to do her part by creating Mixology Mixer

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.