Discover St. Louis Park President and CEO Becky Bakken reported a continued increase in hotel lodging in Golden Valley and St. Louis Park to the Golden Valley City Council at the Feb. 4 meeting.

Bakken said data collected and reviewed by the agency, which promotes tourism to the two cities, reveal that occupancy and revenue per available hotel room continued to rise for the third year.

Golden Valley has provided a portion of the city’s lodging tax in exchange for Discover St. Louis Park’s services since 2017. The exchange is allowed via Minnesota law.

Together, the two cities contain nine hotels. Bakken said those entities accounted for 500 jobs in 2019.

Via the apportionment of the lodging tax, Discover St. Louis Park estimated that visitors spent $35 million on lodging in St. Louis Park and $6.3 million in Golden Valley last year.

Bakken said that they believe that a hotel visitor will spend 20% on lodging and 80% on services and goods within the community during their stay. Using that metric and lodging statistics, it can be estimated that visitors to St. Louis Park spent $133 million and visitors to Golden Valley spent $25 million in the community.

Some notable conventions, including a Missouri Synod gathering in the Twin Cities that filled 1,500 rooms through the organization, accounted for heavy volume in both cities.

“All nine of your hotel properties were full as a result of this group,” said Bakken.

Discover St. Louis Park also helped secure lodging for the Chinese Womens Hockey Team, which trained at the Recreation Outdoor Center in St. Louis Park, and numerous in- and out-of-state organizations hosting area youth sports tournaments. Bakken anticipated the U.S. Skiing World Cup in March at Theodore Wirth Park would also spike hotel bookings.

Councilmember Gillian Rosenquist asked Bakken whether there was any data on the impact the Golden Valley PRIDE Festival has on tourism in the city.

Bakken replied that currently, the festival did not attract traffic that required an overnight stay, but it was definitely a driver of people.

“We think of it as introducing the area to people who might not otherwise have an excuse or reason to come here,” Bakken said.

Other recent events, like the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four, in Minneapolis likely informed the strong gains in hotel stays.

Bakken said 2019 had a competitive market to host out-of-towners, with any suburbs as well as Minneapolis and St. Paul providing viable options. She reported that Minneapolis added 2,000 hotel rooms in 2019. This is part of an ongoing increase to the Twin Cities area, she said.

The current campaign to set Golden Valley and St. Louis Park apart from the competition includes Discover’s marketing strategy to refer to it as Minnesota’s “Sweet Spot.” The group leans heavily into its proximity to Minneapolis attractions, the abundance of hiking and biking trails and opportunities to shop and dine without a car.

Bakken also had some insights into visits to the Discover St. Louis Park website. Overall, visits to the site were up 20%, with 40,000 unique visitors in 2019. The majority of website visitors were female, which matched trend data that women are typically the “person in the household who does the most research on travel,” she said.

However, Bakken pointed out that visits to the “stay” portion of the website, which lists information on reserving hotels, only attracted 6% of the traffic. Instead, more traffic flowed to the pages on attractions and things to do. Bakken said this was a plus, as “we aren’t here to just market the hotels, we’re here to market and promote the area.”

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