Building it bigger, better

Laughter could be heard loudly from the convention center of the Holiday Inn-Riverside in Minot Thursday when Lee Silber delivered his keynote address at lunchtime during the 2014 Visit Minot annual meeting.

Silber, a writer, consultant, businessman, public speaker and former surf shop owner based in Mission Beach, Calif., used a mixture of comedy, energy, collaborative games among people sitting at each table and multimedia to deliver his message that progress comes from innovation and collaboration. His main point, though, was that being a leader with these qualities can inspire those on a team and just generally nearby to strive harder in their own work and lives.

The energetic presentation molded well with the mission of the organization, which was the Minot Visitors and Convention Bureau until January 2013 when it rebranded itself Visit Minot.

The rebranding wasn’t exactly just a name change, but a restructuring of the purpose of the organization, Wendy Howe, the executive director of Visit Minot, explained in her invocation speech. Before, the organization served as an information stream to visitors but has grown into “aggressively marketing to visitors, conventions and sports tournaments,” according to her report in the hand-out. It also included partnering with other organizations around a theme.

“Getting out to play is really something we partnered with, with the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce, the Minot Area Community Foundation, the Minot Park District and Visit Minot. We came together after some discussions through the Minot Area Community Foundation with people in our community,” she said in her speech.

“Through those discussions we came up with the promotion of ‘Get out and play.’ The beginnings of it was to really get people in the community aware of there are a lot of things to do. Go to the calendar of events, go to When you’re looking for things to do, we have things to do.”

The rebranding was evident through posters and promotional materials, including the annual report itself, surrounding the meeting. The shift in focus also doubled both the full-time, part-time and seasonal employees in the organization.

Both Howe and Teresa Loftesnes, the 2013 president of the Minot Board, then ran through changes the city had seen in the last year:

-The North Dakota State Fair hosted 320,000 visitors, an attendance record.

– A new airport terminal is ready to be constructed for completion next year.

– Many new restaurants and developments have popped up throughout the city.

– Three new hotels opened in the city providing an additional 360 rooms for a total of 3,080 rooms in 32 properties. Lodging revenue saw 2 percent growth over 2012. It also allowed a shift in perception, Loftesnes said, of the unavailability of lodging space in the city and reduced total occupancy rates from 77.8 percent to 63.3 percent.

– Downtown is being revitalized through the “Imagine Minot” planning, with more office and retail space to come soon.

The rebranding also came with the website, which provides information on all the live, work and play options available in the city for visitors and residents alike, which is a source of information that all the speakers pointed to as a major improvement.

It’s just part of what the annual report said is an overall effort toward “targeted online and print advertising campaigns that coincided with regional events, holidays, seasonal activities, and targeted day-trip activities.”

Bill Thomas, the 2014 president of the Visit Minot board, presented Loftesnes with a plaque commemorating the changes she oversaw during her two-year tenure.

The statements of financial position of the organization, though, showed a downward shift in total liabilities and net assets from $745,925 in 2012 to $631,541 in 2013.