Media Contact: Mary Gastner

"Minnesota nice" is a term used to describe residents of Minnesota as kinder and more caring than those of other states. According to the Perspectives on Psychological Science Journal, there may be something to this expression. The journal researched psychological profiles and personality traits of people across America and found that being nice was more prevalent in Minnesota than in other states.

"Minnesota Nice" might be an advantage for those looking to plan a convention or meeting in Minnesota. For instance, in Rochester, Minn., events find cost savings and fewer hassles thanks to a friendly, cooperative staff.

Cost savings passed onto organizations

"We've traveled to many sites and none have compared to the cost, convenience and service that Rochester provides," said Carol Slattery, national specialty coordinator with the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America. The RCVB helped put on a successful doggie beauty pageant, obedience and agility trials, seminars and numerous social events. Thousands of pup owners were put up in RV parks and dog-friendly hotels with the easy online registration was coordinated by the RCVB. The RCVB gained helped from the local 4-H group to set up and tear down the arenas.

"The Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau was proactive and asked for the job," said Slattery. "They gave us a proposal and provided us with a liaison to coordinate each event at the numerous sites." Slattery found that the website, data entry, banquet staff and extra manpower was extremely beneficial and saved them thousands. "It made it easy for me," said Slattery. "I could focus on other things, like the actual event and not on how to coordinate the pricing details."

"Rochester met the needs that couldn't be met in a large metro area," said John Perkins, president of Midwest Shriners Association. "We never felt welcome in big cities and we couldn't afford all the hidden costs. Once we moved to Rochester it all changed." Midwest Shriners Association hosts an annual festival type convention requiring housing and accommodations for more than 2,000 participants, their equipment and animals. Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau made sure Midwest Shriners had parade permits, police and traffic control, barricades, port-o-potties and stages.

"We saved over $22,000 with the RCVB," said Perkins. "They really covered every base and won us over with their service. They even had the mayor write us a letter to express the importance of our visit." The RCVB organized local media coverage and staffed events until three in the morning. "The RCVB wanted to work with us, they converted us and now will never go back to the big cities," said Perkins.

Since most new-to-Rochester convention planners haven't personally visited Rochester, accommodations are suggested every level from housing and dining to entertainment and socials. Cost savings are passed onto organizations that will host nearly 120,000 visitors this year alone. The RCVB comes to bet in negotiations with hotels, catering and the numerous event locations. The bureau serves as a middleman to provide the best deal and a venue specifically tailored to each event. The cost savings is phenomenal.

Value added by small city setting

"Rochester was the most cooperative location we've ever worked with," said Tom Brace, executive director for the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association. The convention requires hotel accommodations for 500 fire chief and officer delegates with their spouses, enough floor space for hundreds of fire trucks and plays host to a trade show with over 110 vendors. The three-day experience is a challenge for space in other locations. Yet, Rochester meets all the needs of any size or style venue by working individually with each organization.

"I'm a big fan of the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau," said Brace. "They are great people to work with because they have a professional and no-nonsense attitude, something you can only find in a small city." The RCVB set up board meetings ahead of time with area hotels and the staff prepared CAD drawings to layout the exhibition floor.

Susan Pronk, convention coordinator for the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administrators had a similar experience, felt the small city attitude added to her experience. "I was very pleased with the hospitality," said Pronk. "They are head and shoulders above big cities, they knew all of our names and they even stopped in to bring us coffee." The Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administrators convention brings in 300 non-profit statewide administrators for a weekend of networking. The Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau tailored registration services and found over 24 locations for breakout sessions.

The thing that makes Rochester different is that it isn't just the "Minnesota nice" attitude that sets them apart from other small Convention and Visitors Bureaus. In fact, the small town setting provides the perfect setting for extraordinary service.  The RCVB is able to tailor their services to the needs of the organizations by offering different venues and different styles of support.

The hospitality industry in the third-tier, mid-sized city is second largest, following healthcare. This means service is always a top priority. The central location, variety of venues and hospitable RCVB staff adds a value to the small city that cannot be matched elsewhere.

Location, location, location

"We were overwhelmed with their friendly service," said Amy Cummings, executive director for the Partnership for Youth. The Partnership for Youth foundation has brought thousands of teens from 10 states and Canada for a service filled weekend the past four summers. The foundation appreciates how clean and safe the atmosphere is in Rochester.

"The RCVB is invaluable to those who don't live in Rochester," said Cummings. "They added extra patrols to the streets and made everyone feel safe." The RCVB made an event specific website for bookings, helped with check-in, contracts and plans for each year.  The RCVB set up local service projects and created a continental breakfast so that the foundation wouldn't have to purchase meals. "The RCVB bent over backward and were very resourceful. I barely got a thought out of my mouth before they were brainstorming ways to solve it," said Cummings.

"The level of expertise and service by the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau is something I've seen in elite tourist cities," said Marian Beuder, executive director for the Minnesota Waters, Lakes and Rivers Conference. "We enjoy the small town friendliness and closeness of the staff. They still email us like personal friends." Minnesota Waters, Lakes and Rivers Conference has been in vast locations stateside and international hot spots like London. The staff created a specific site map, provided carpet, staffed all buildings and even brought flowers daily for the convention.

Urban and rural dwellers will feel right at home in the city of 100,000. Welcoming smiles, waves and greetings by RCVB staff make no other location as perfect. The nice attitude and friendly service is contagious and offers a safe, clean and happy atmosphere for an event of any kind.

Added travel insurance

The Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau designs a strategy specific for each venue and event. From press, vendors, catering, printing and staffing, the RCVB makes each convention coordinator's job easier. Their services provide cost savings, add value to a friendly small-town setting and sustain a booming tourist economy with over $520 million dollars each year.

The true ideals of "Minnesota nice" are emulated by the RCVB in the cooperative, helpful and friendly attitude. A central location, variety of venues and low prices sell Rochester but the Convention and Visitors Bureau employees are the travel insurance.