Contact: Mary Gastner

The streets of Rochester, Minn. are lined with small antique shops, locally owned restaurants and quaint boutiques, yet within this tight-knit community you never know who you might run into on the street corner. Last spring, although it might have seemed like any other day in Rochester, two prominent figures were in town. Bob Dole and John McCain were attending a conference at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic and the moons aligned for the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau (RCVB), as they were showcasing the city to the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS). After the state had placed a bid with EANGUS for the 2009 conference and Rochester had been selected as one of three potential host cities, the political rendezvous solidified EANGUS’ decision.

RCVB Welcomes Prominent Military Personnel

From August 6-14, 2009 the streets of Rochester will be filled with approximately 1,700 of the men and women that serve and protect America. EANGUS was organized in 1972 to promote the status, welfare and professionalism of enlisted members of the National Guard. They support legislation that provides adequate staffing, pay, benefits, entitlements and equipment to the National Guard.

Roger Hagan, President of EANGUS, noted that, “While the excitement of seeing our ‘comrades in arms’ each year and renewing old acquaintances takes on a reunion atmosphere, our purpose of coming together is to provide our membership the opportunity to participate in the operations of EANGUS.”

At the conference, all levels of the National Guard, from the state level to the national level, will send delegates to receive updates on the latest military issues from senior military leaders. In addition, influential military leaders of the National Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense will be in town to address the guardsmen and women.

The conference is expected to gross $1.1 million in revenue for Rochester, from hotel rooms, to dining, to the use of the Mayo Clinic facilities. Brad Jones, executive director of the RCVB, noted, “This is a great example of how we are able to partner with associations to create value in a win-win relationship. The RCVB likes to work with groups that are the right fit and utilize many of our area and community attributes to go above and beyond from what our organizations typically see from host cities.”

Support, Facilities, Services and Affordability Bring Conference to Rochester, Minn.

The EANGUS selection committee considered four criterion when selecting Rochester: support, facilities, services and affordability. Rochester was selected over Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. for most exemplifying these characteristics. In previous years the EANGUS conference was held in Orlando, Fla., Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Savannah, Ga. Although Rochester is undoubtedly the smallest city to host the event, they have the capabilities to match nearly any city in the U.S.

Flexible Support for Unique Conference Requests

The RCVB will be instrumental in securing venues and providing suggestions for the EANGUS event. Hagan commented that he has, “Been particularly impressed with the RCVB and their willingness to work on odds and ends that EANGUS would normally have to deal with for other conferences.” The RCVB has coordinated with local officials to ensure the best treatment and safety of attendees. In addition, the RCVB has been receptive to the National Guard’s requests and needs and has altered their traditional conference planning to accommodate them.

RCVB Coordinates with Local Facilities to Ensure Comfort

Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center allows EANGUS to take advantage its incredible facilities for their daily meetings and formal gala. The Civic Center has more than 125,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and is conveniently connected via skywalk to some of the cities finest restaurants and shops. Rochester also offers EANGUS guests more than 5,000 comfortable and accommodating hotel rooms, an unprecedented number in a city of its size.

In addition, the RCVB has made a number of auxiliary activities available to EANGUS for their enjoyment and to showcase Rochester. The RCVB will provide visitors the option to visit patriotic sites, such as Soldier’s Field Veteran’s Memorial. The memorial honors the veterans of southeast Minnesota through a “Wall of Remembrance” and will offer a unique activity for the guardsmen and women. In addition, Hagan noted that he is particularly excited to visit the SPAM Museum and Hormel House. The 16,500 sq. ft. museum is a SPAM lovers dream and is a tour that the RCVB and visitors alike continually enjoy.

The RCVB will also provide EANGUS visitors with the opportunity to receive a private Mayo Clinic Tour to view the extensive Mayo Clinic campus as well as the historical landmarks related to the property. Such landmarks will include Mayowood, the estate where the Mayo family lived and Charles H. Mayo’s office. Finally, EANGUS members will likely utilize one of the many golf courses throughout the city, in their annual golf tournament.

Services Alleviate EANGUS’ Responsibilities

The RCVB combines the physical attributes of its city with a customized service. They have established a central housing and registration system to alleviate many of the registration and housing burdens off of the EANGUS coordinator. The system will allow attendees to utilize the RCVB Web site to register for the conference and the RCVB will serve as the primary facilitator for hotel booking needs.

Conference Receives First-Class Amenities at a Second-Tier Price

Rochester, just a short drive from Minneapolis, offers the amenities of a big city at an affordable price. The average price of a hotel room in Rochester is $80 a night while a similar size and class hotel room costs an average of $100 a night in Minneapolis. EANGUS will undoubtedly experience a win-win situation, as they receive the amenities of a tier-one city at an unmatched price.

RCVB Involves Local Personalities to Land Business

In addition to addressing EANGUS’ evaluation criterion, the RCVB utilized the unique resources of the city and the local community as a means to secure the conference. While the interaction with Dole and McCain was coincidental, the RCVB capitalized on the opportunity to showcase the city in the best light by utilizing the public figures. The RCVB was able to make use of these extremely prominent political figures, but less prominent business heads or local political representatives can serve the same purpose. For example, the RCVB creates customized video tours of its city led by its Mayor Ardell Brede to stand out from its competition in the early stages of event proposal.

In the past, Rochester has hosted other military groups, such as the 173rd airborne brigade, and the RCVB is excited to welcome EANGUS in 2009. John Larsen, RCVB convention sales manager stated the RCVB is, “Looking forward to rolling out the red carpet for EANGUS by providing tremendous service and support to the organization.”

The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official marketing agency for the city of Rochester, responsible for destination sales and marketing efforts. The RCVB works to encourage conventions, meetings, sporting events and business travel to Rochester and provides travel-planning support for the patients of Mayo Clinic. The Convention & Visitors Bureau offers comprehensive information about lodging, dining, special events, activities and local attractions.