An analysis of the third-year results of the ongoing visitor survey revealed what visitors consider to be Rochester’s strengths as a destination, and what visitors identify as areas in need of improvement.

“This year’s results show that visitors give high marks to our city’s welcoming environment and our ‘culture of caring’ that distinguishes Rochester as a warm and hospitable destination. In particular, visitors rated our city’s ‘friendly, helpful people’ exceedingly high, and that is a wonderful testament to Rochester’s extraordinary hospitality professionals as well as the caring citizens of our community,” said Brad Jones, executive director of Experience Rochester MN (formerly the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau). Jones noted that the primary areas in need of improvement identified in the survey are related to the “ease of getting around” and the need for better “way-finding” (assistance with directions) and signage.

Major strengths identified in the survey:

  • Friendly, helpful people. Survey respondents indicated that Rochester’s hospitality industry workers and residents are knowledgeable, welcoming, and service-oriented. Visitors also reported high rates of “feeling welcomed.” These measures have remained high throughout all three years of survey results.  One survey respondent commented: “No matter where we went, everyone was so helpful and had a smile. This was not limited to those who were working and ‘had to’ be nice. People on the street, on the shuttle – everybody was so incredibly warm-hearted and welcoming. Rochester has truly built an image welcoming to travelers.”
  • Image clarity. This year’s survey results showed a major increase in “image clarity,” with significant upward movement in respondents agreeing with the statement “I know what this place is about.”   According to Jones, this rise can be partly attributable to the rollout of Rochester’s new destination brand last year, which was developed through an extensive research process that confirmed the core truths of our destination. “Formalizing our identity as ‘America’s City of Care and Innovation’ has clarified and strengthened our image as a destination. We are glad visitors understand and appreciate what we’re all about!” 
  • Basic destination assets.  Safety and cleanliness continue to be identified as major strengths of our destination. “We are proud that our destination is exceeding expectations in many basic areas that are essential to visitor satisfaction, whether they are in Rochester for medical purposes, for a convention or sporting event, or for a leisure trip,” Jones said.

Positive trends identified in the survey:

  • Overall experience. The “overall destination experience” measure has climbed steadily for the last three years.  This measurement encompasses overall visitor satisfaction with Rochester.
  • Overall destination image. The “overall destination image” measure has also risen steadily for the past three years. This measurement encompasses how well Rochester differentiates itself from other destinations and how appealing Rochester is compared to other destinations.
  • Visitors were made aware of new experiences. This important measure has risen slightly and is moving in a positive direction.

Primary areas in need of improvement identified in the survey:

  • Ease of getting around and way-finding/signage.  For the third year in a row, these measures were lower than desired. These important measures impact overall visitor spending and the likelihood of visitors recommending Rochester as a destination. There is a need to address these challenges and for better visitor resources on how to get around Rochester, especially with ongoing construction projects and detours. “Making it easier for visitors to get around Rochester is an increasingly important priority for us,” Jones said. “One of the main things people remember about a destination—and tell others—is how difficult or easy it was to get around. We want people to remember Rochester positively.”
  • Return intentions. Repeat visitor intentions were also lower than desired. This is another area that Experience Rochester and the hospitality industry will prioritize in the coming year. Although the current survey data on this area is not a cause for concern, Jones said Rochester can do better in this area. “We want our visitors to love Rochester and feel welcomed so they’ll want to return,” he said.
  • The need to develop more “things to do” for visitors. This year’s survey showed an increase in visitors finding helpful lists of “things to do” and an increase of visitors being made aware of new experiences that match their interests.  However, there was a drop in visitors actually “doing more things” while in the city.  This points to the need for the development of additional attractions and entertainment options in Rochester.   

About the survey:

The visitor survey was launched three years ago to help Experience Rochester and the hospitality industry prioritize initiatives and allocate resources to improve the experiences of the more than 3 million annual overnight visitors to Rochester.

The survey was completed by 3,323 visitors, 57% of whom lived 180 miles or more from Rochester, between April, 2017 and March, 2018. The survey, which takes one minute to complete, randomly selects five questions from a pool of 110 questions for each survey respondent. The survey measures visitors’ satisfaction with all aspects of their experiences in Rochester.

An analysis of the third year of data was shared with local hospitality businesses on June 27. Mickey Schaefer of The Experience Institute, which developed the survey for Experience Rochester MN, presented the findings. To request a copy of the full 21-page report on results from the survey’s third year, email

Experience Rochester MN is the official marketing agency for the city of Rochester, responsible for destination sales and marketing efforts. Experience Rochester works to encourage conventions, meetings, sporting events and business and leisure travel to Rochester and provides travel-planning support for patients of Mayo Clinic. Experience Rochester MN offers comprehensive information about lodging, dining, special events, activities, and local attractions. For more information, visit, @MNs_Rochester on Twitter, MinnesotasRochester on Facebook.