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Messages from the President

Warming up to Winter - December

By: Anna Tanski | November 18, 2015

Trees have shed their spectacular fall colors leaving the Northland waiting for winter's white blanket to cover the unremarkable brown that remains. Commonly referred to as "shoulder seasons," the lag between scenic beauty and seasonal transitions is typically brief. Thankfully!

However, for all its drabness, the shoulder season creates a window of opportunity to build upon anticipation for the upcoming season and kick promotions into high gear.

In 2014, Visit Duluth made a bold move to concentrate winter marketing prior to peak season, focusing on a six week timeframe mid-November through late December. Keying in on the potential benefit of jumpstarting visitors earlier meant running the risk of reaching out before they were in a winter mindset.

Television commercials highlighting romantic getaways in a luminescent winter wonderland or a fun-filled family getaway aired in the Twin Cities and Fargo. Social media promotions shared these themes in addition to promoting signature events AMSOIL Duluth National Snocross, Bentleyville and John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Digital billboards expanded messaging to include outdoor adventure while promotions in Thunder Bay concentrated on retail.

All told, nearly $160,000 was invested in marketing Duluth's winter attributes within a relatively tight timeline. Mother Nature did her part, providing mild temperatures which bolstered these initiatives.

Based on December tourism tax collections and hotel occupancy rates, this strategy was a phenomenal success. Lodging tax receipts increased a whopping 16.9% with food and beverage up 11.6% over the year prior. Hotel occupancy jumped 7.2%.

Living here, we know winter is a captivating season to experience our city. Crashing waves on Lake Superior, steam rising over the open water during sunrise, a crisp stroll along the Lakewalk with snow crunching underfoot are unique experiences to be shared with visitors.

Abundant arts and culture offerings are in direct contrast with major sporting events yet populate a busy calendar that draws many people here. A number of local attractions operate year round, including Spirit Mountain’s Adventure Park. Dining and shopping round out one of the top visitor experiences in the Midwest!

Once again, the marketing push is on with the hopes of generating banner results to end the year on high note which carries on throughout the season. Celebrating a pumped up economy makes welcoming winter a little easier.


Anna Tanski, President/CEO