SUSAN MILTEER, EVENT LAB
What is the role of Event Lab in the WEC?
They were looking for an event company or
logistics company to coordinate the opening
party and get buy-in from local businesses
to show off what we can really do creatively
and with the resources we have here. So we’ll
be overseeing all the different organizations,
from A/V companies to décor companies like
Aprés, to caterers to really showcase how we
can bring a convention alive.
What are you concepting for this big mixer?
The concept for the opening party is on the
riverfront, building on the idea that we really
are the City by Nature. We’ll have different
tented areas to come in. One might be, for
example, “Parks to Prada” and maybe the
tent is done with greenery and park-looking
benches and lamps but down the center there’s
a runway because a fashion show be part of it.
We’ll pull in features from restaurants,
museums, costumes from Guthrie, and First
Avenue is bringing in entertainment. The
idea is that it’s not a big party in ballroom
convention center, although there’s nothing
wrong with that. We’re just a riverfront town
and we want a party down on the river to
highlight that part of our city.
What is the value of throwing a fabulous
bash for the guests?
We’re influencing the influencers so they
go back and influence their people. They
go back, get their groups, associations and
businesses to come and spending millions
of dollars in the city. As businesses get paid
and spend money, it’s a trickle-down effect.
In this day and age there are a lot of markets and competition. Many of what we
would call tertiary markets are building new
convention centers and hotels to attract businesses. We want to sell, promote and talk
about everything we have to conventioners
and their families.
How do you make a great first impression?
To really wow them, it’s what we know best:
It’s hospitality. You welcome guests at the
airport with a banner and escort them where
they need to go. You give them all the tools
they need: Give them maps, suggestions of
things to do, make it seamless so they realize
how easy and fun the city is. Even though the
meeting planners are well traveled, they are
evaluating it from the perspective of other
I love when we hear people say, ‘I knew
this about Minneapolis, but I didn’t know
about this thing.’
What does Minneapolis offer that other
Well, we are the home of Prince! First Avenue,
the Dakota is one of the finest small-music
venues in the country. There’s the whole
street of Nicollet Mall downtown. You’re hard
pressed to go anyplace and be able to go to as
many restaurants and have as many bar and
entertainment options within a few blocks
and they are nice. We have a very vibrant and
And, what is important to meeting planners is that we are constantly improving
our city. We’re constantly working on the
North Loop, the Vikings stadium. Some of
our decisions might be controversial, but
they are all indication of a thriving, vibrant
healthy city. We’re not a small market but
we’re not Chicago—and we’ve got all four
major sports leagues!
And then, of course, there’s the lakes and
it’s so clean. And people are so friendly. I
think we have a higher standard about a lot
of things, from our education system to our
culture, generosity, clean streets, and green
spaces. That’s a statement on the quality of
life here. You should be able to brag about
your city—and I do.
MADONNA CARR, MEET MINNEAPOLIS
VICE PRESIDENT OF DESTINATION
Can you tell me about how the
Convention Center will be the heart
of the events—both the WEC and the
All Star Fan Fest. And how will you
prepare the space for both events?
The Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star
Game Fan Fest is the one event during All-Star festivities that is open to the public who
purchase admission. Even if people are not
attending the game itself, they can go to the
Fan Fest and partake in the atmosphere.
They’ll be using all of the exhibit halls on
the main level for this experience and it’ll
be a really fun way for locals and visitors to
experience the Midsummer Classic.
Hosting Fan Fest at the Minneapolis
Convention Center makes this event very
compact, which has not been done in other
cities. The short distance between the Target
Field and the Convention Center makes the
overall experience for fans attending the
All-Star Game convenient and easy—they’ll
be able to walk between venues and will feel
very welcomed by Minneapolis.
The Convention Center will be the main
facility for MPI WEC, including a special
corporate social responsibility event that
we’re excited to host. By the time MPI comes
in August, our new visitor information center
will be complete, too.
What do you think Minneapolis/St. Paul
has to offer that other cities/areas don’t?
There are 37,000-plus people living downtown—it doesn’t shut down at 5 or 6 p.m.
like many cities do. The downtown is vibrant
nightly—whether there’s a convention or
not, so the attendees will experience the
downtown’s atmosphere whenever they’re
not in meetings.
PAT FORCIEA, HELL’S KITCHEN
How did Hell’s Kitchen come to be a
part of the WEC?
We’re long time marketing partners of Meet
Minneapolis. Melvin and his staff are a
big reason Minneapolis has such a vibrant
restaurant community, and they’ve been
wonderfully creative to work with.
“It takes a lot of planning. It’s definitely a
challenge but it’s one we meet head on and with
enthusiasm because we also know we have the
best destination to share with each of them.”
—Melvin Tennant, Meet Minneapolis