by Mike Knaak
Attracting visitors to St. Joseph – and making sure they want to return for another visit – is the goal of the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau.
CVB members welcomed local business and community leaders to Bad Habit Brewery on Nov. 18 to introduce the CVB’s mission to drive tourism.
Ann Riesner of the La Playette, Mary Bruno of Bruno Press and Aaron Rieland of Bad Habit explained the mission to make St. Joseph a destination for arts, culture, food and family friendly events to two dozen local leaders.
Rieland said Mayor Rick Schultz and the Economic Development Authority urged the CVB to take action using about $20,000 collected every year from the city lodging tax.
At the Nov. 18 meeting, Bruno explained some of the actions taken to promote the slogan “Small Town Warmth, Big City Cool” and to plan for the future.
The CVB’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/JoetownMNcvb/, features seasonal videos showing local businesses and people.
The CVB Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/joetownmn/, invites people to “Come visit the best small town in Minnesota: the Wobegon Trail, stop in any of the awesome restaurants, enjoy amazing craft beer and cider.”
Following those accounts, and sharing stories and photos about people and businesses, will help spread the word about St. Joseph, Bruno said.
Ads promoting St. Joseph are running in a St. Cloud area visitors magazine that is distributed around the state including the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. The group plans to have a website online in early 2020.
Rieland asked the group to list what’s unique about St. Joseph such as restaurants, the College of St. Benedict and monastery, Millstream Arts Festival and the Wobegon Trail. Suggestions from the crowd included surveying visitors about why they come to town.
Bruno explained sometimes businesses want to see immediate payback for their efforts.
“We are playing the long game,” Bruno said. “What is the overall feeling of the town that will make people come back?”
Bruno pointed out the Nov. 30 Shop Small Crawl, a promotion in its sixth year, brings people to St. Joseph. “We want them leaving feeling they will want to come back.”
At the April 16 Economic Development Authority meeting, Bruno spoke on behalf of the CVB and explained the group’s mission statement: “St. Joseph is a safe, friendly, family-oriented small town with outdoor recreation, a thriving art scene, good food and drink with a progressive stance on supporting small, independent businesses.”
In wrapping up the Nov. 18 meeting, Riesner asked the business leaders “how can we bring these great businesses together? How do we channel that energy?”