Experience the Twin Cities also leads culinary tours, including the Heart of St. Paul
tour during which attendees will sample
walleye fingers, local chocolate, gyoza, craft
beer and more.
According to Nick Cusick, marketing and
media relations manager for Visit Saint
Paul, Cooks of Crocus Hill offers three-hour, hands-on cooking experiences.
Classes typically start with a glass of
wine, a snack and a welcome greeting from
the chef before groups break into teams
and work together to prepare a full-course
“For smaller groups, rent a chef’s table
and experience teppanyaki at Saji-Ya,”
Cusick said. “The group will watch the
excitement as the chef cooks beautiful
teppanyaki right in front of them.”
In Bloomington, groups can enjoy an
under-one-roof dinearound at the famous
Mall of America, which is home to more
than 50 restaurants.
Groups can easily move around for
small-plate appetizers at Cedar + Stone,
Urban Table or FireLake Grill House &
Cocktail Bar, burgers and local brews at
Wahlburger’s or Shake Shack, and desserts
and after-dinner drinks at CRAVE and Twin
City Grill, said Pam Joy, media and tour
account manager at the Bloomington CVB.
She added groups could end the evening
with a movie, gourmet popcorn and cocktails at the newly opened CMX Market Cinema Experience or go to SMAAASH at Mall
of America for sky-karting, virtual reality
attractions and custom-crafted cocktails.
Also located at Mall of America is
vomFASS, a great place for whiskey or wine
tastings and hands-on cooking classes
incorporating the ingredients of a healthy
Located next to Mall of America and
attached to the Hyatt Regency Blooming-
ton-Minneapolis is Urbana Craeft Kitchen
& Market, which offers a taste of Minnesota’s heritage through its cuisine and locally
sourced ingredients, including those from
the property’s straw bale garden.
“To celebrate these seasonal ingredients,
this summer Urbana will offer garden dinners and receptions for small groups of up
to 40 people,” Joy said. “Guests can enjoy
a specially curated menu directly sourced
from the on-property garden.”
Downtown Duluth is a fun culinary destination that can be explored in many ways,
including via a customized group tour with
The Duluth Experience.
Stacy Oltmanns, vice president of sales
Briefly state what your job entails.
I direct a team of meeting professionals to execute 10 to 12 meetings annually with attendance ranging from 125 to 6,500 attendees. SME’s 15,000 members represent all
professionals serving the minerals industry in more than 100 countries. SME members
include engineers, geologists, metallurgists, educators, students and researchers.
What type of meeting did you hold in Minneapolis?
We recently held the 2018 SME Annual Conference & Expo and 91st Annual Meeting of
the SME-MN Section at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The event welcomed over
Was anyone particularly helpful in executing your event?
Lori Rausch, convention services manager at the Minneapolis Convention Center, was
particularly helpful. The Super Bowl was held in Minneapolis just two and a half weeks
prior to our conference and the convention center staff had been working around the
clock, but they still made us feel welcome and as if our event was just as important.
What did your attendees seem to enjoy the most about Minneapolis?
The ease of using the Skyway system. While we had many attendees express concern
that we were hosting the event in Minneapolis in February, many were pleasantly surprised the outside conditions never affected them. They were able to enjoy downtown
Minneapolis without even stepping outside.
Are there any group-friendly experiences you would recommend for groups
Our group traveled to the Fogerty Arena for an afternoon of curling. It was just after
the Olympics, so they loved that experience. We also traditionally host a 5K during our
conference and knew Minnesota weather would make it a challenge. We opted to host
our 5K in the concourse of the U.S. Bank Stadium, which had hosted the Super Bowl a
few weeks prior. We had a much higher participation rate, as attendees found the venue
new and exciting, and it was an affordable option with a great staff.
How does Minneapolis compare to other cities where you have hosted meetings?
We have a very strong local section in the area and enjoyed some fantastic support,
which was a major reason we veered from our usual annual conference rotation to include Minneapolis. The downtown area is easy to reach and we heard over and over how
friendly and welcoming the locals were to our attendees.
Would you recommend Minneapolis to other meeting planners?
People shouldn’t be afraid to go there during winter. People were worried about the
snow and questioned our sanity for booking Minneapolis in February. Even though we
had some snow, it did not impact our meeting in the slightest. The Skyway makes everything convenient and the compactness of the downtown area allowed our attendees to
experience the local culture and cuisine without getting “lost” like we would in a larger
city. The team at Meet Minneapolis was great to work with and know their city well.
Cori Knasinski, CMP // Meetings Manager // Society for
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, Inc. (SME) //
SAJI-YA, SAINT PAUL