It’s been 25 years since the City of Eagan added a 3% lodging tax to support a new entity, the Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau, understanding that promoting the city as a travel destination would stoke its economic engine.
This year, the newly dubbed Enjoy Eagan celebrated its milestone anniversary by providing special travel offers and a $2,500 grand prize package. Mostly though, 2019 has been business as usual for the five-member team led by Brent Cory.
When Cory started as president and CEO in 2006, Enjoy Eagan’s marketing efforts focused on print advertising, including newspapers and the AAA tour book, he says. By then they’d also dipped a toe into the web, placing “rudimentary banner ads” on various sites and launching a first website, “basically a landing page,” in the late 1990s.
Today the organization’s website is a robust one-stop shop, offering an events calendar, hotel guide, restaurant and retail listings, videos, an itinerary builder, a blog and on and on. “The more information we can give
travelers, the more we can seal the deal when they’re coming to town,” Cory says.
Since its inception, Enjoy Eagan has focused on securing weekend leisure stays at the city’s hotels — now numbering 18 — while hotels’ sales teams work to retain the business travel segment during the week, Cory
explains. That hasn’t changed throughout the organization’s existence. Eagan’s quality of life hasn’t changed either.
“It sounds cheesy,” says Cory, “but we get so many people who come to our community saying, ‘Wow—what a fantastic park system, there’s so much green space, the community is clean and so well managed.’ Of course, residents already know that, but when travelers come to town, that’s a great thing to tout.”
What has changed over the years are the attractions. “The Vikings and wonderful amenities like Twin Cities Premium Outlets help convince people to stay in Eagan and explore our community. Even back in 2006 we
had a fantastic base to draw from,” he says, pointing out that Cascade Bay was a huge new attraction then as the Upper Midwest’s largest outdoor city waterpark. “As more unique restaurants and attractions come online, it only becomes more convincing for people to enjoy Eagan.”
In terms of the future, Cory foresees their marketing efforts becoming ever more sophisticated and digital. In addition, he imagines his team may become more involved with economic development.
“For example, if we could help the Vikings land a couple of great corporate entities into Viking Lakes, that certainly helps our local tax base,” he says. “That brings more business travelers into town to stay at our hotels, to eat in our restaurants, to experience our retail.” He says he appreciates working with Jill Hutmacher and her community development staff at the City.
In the meantime, Cory says he’s glad that the personal touch is still part of Enjoy Eagan’s calling — in particular, going on sales missions where his team members meet with travel agents to spread the word about Eagan. “Days are busy,” he says, “but we have an amazing story to promote and sell.” EBN