Over the past year, the MINT+ cooperative database has seen significant upgrades designed to improve its value to subscribers. What started more than 100 years ago as information scribbled on sheets of paper has evolved into one of the industry’s most useful prospecting tools.
When Simpleivew partnered with Destinations International in 2020, the mandate was clear — turn MINT+ into a proactive tool for business development. Some destination management organizations (DMOs) felt the tool was in need of significant technology enhancements and investments; these concerns were addressed by:
- Automated reporting — eases the burden of reporting and captures complete and accurate meetings data. Now, all subscribers submit data electronically
- Standardized market segmentation — streamlines your research by using best-practice industry standards for profit (NAICS) and non-profit (NTEE) organizations. MINT+ now offers simple and advanced ways to choose market segmentation with the query builder
- Data science — powers the recommendation engine and uses pattern matching to offer meeting suggestions
With these enhancements, building effective queries to find the right meetings for destinations is a whole lot easier. Many DMOs are now building effective queries to find the right meetings for their destinations, including the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC), which has become one of the biggest champions of MINT+.
"Nashville is a huge fan of MINT+,” said Adrienne Siemers, senior vice president of sales at NCVC. “However, we haven't always been. In fact, our city was one of MINT+'s biggest critics. For years, we felt as though MINT+ was on the wrong track and not a good resource for CVBs, given a lack of accurate group information.”
Siemers said the changes they’ve seen are significant. “Our team now consistently uses it for prospecting projects and as a resource for local partner conversations,” she said. “We have no doubt that MINT+ is now on the right track and will continue to improve throughout the coming years."
Music to our ears from the Music City DMO, to be sure.
We asked Breana Burkhart to share how MINT+ is being used successfully as a prospecting tool to help market Nashville as the place to meet.
Director of National Accounts, Southwest Regional Office
Tell us about your history of working with MINT+.
MINT+ has been a resource that I used prior to joining the team in Nashville. When I got to Nashville, we were not sure if it was still the best platform for us because we didn't necessarily feel like other organizations might be bringing the same information to the table as we were, maybe our personal database had more information, and it just wasn't as up-to-date. Personally, I didn't use it too much my first year in Nashville, but then things started to shift, and I realized that I needed some type of platform to really start to expand my market.
I've been here four years now, so the last two years have been a big change because of COVID-19. We now need to be incredibly proactive. The changes in MINT+ lined up at the perfect time that we needed this platform to be what it is right now. I reactivated my user account and started bringing it into my daily work. I use it with my team, my Southwest market team, and the regionals.
How do you use it with your team?
We have regionals all over the country in different markets and also my specific team. For me, specifically, we use it to evaluate the clients we already have, what we know about them, where else they’re meeting, and what their rotation looks like. Getting that full-picture understanding of is this account good for Nashville and will continue to be good for Nashville? And, what information are we seeing from other cities that maybe we've missed out on?
For the regional side of things, I work to keep all of us accountable for understanding business concepts. So understanding our competitor destinations like Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Austin — what does the business look like for them, how are they hosting the business, what information is in there, what years are open, what could be our next opportunity? MINT+ is our first go-to. It's very much blended into our day-to-day. It's always open.
Do you have any specific successes with MINT+ that you could share?
I prospected a small account out of Tulsa that was returned in a query I ran. I connected with the planner, and she opened the door to 15 other planners! We ended up on a big zoom call where I got to share about Nashville as a meeting destination. Ultimately, it led to a bid for a future year’s conference. The conversation is still happening, but we hope to bring them to Nashville.
Some destinations say they don’t have time for prospecting. How have you successfully integrated MINT+, and what are the triggers that send you to it?
When we get a lead, the first thing we do is evaluate the piece of business, and that's understanding the history of the business. Sometimes a third party has that piece of business, and they're not aware of where that corporation has been in the past. So we’re in Cvent, we’re checking out the RFP or something that was sent directly, and then we’ll go into MINT+ and research, "What other destinations have they been in, and is that available to me?"
As a destination rep, my job is to make sure that I can get all of the information to my hotels the quickest. It's also my job to streamline the booking process for the client. I don't need 20 hotels calling my client, saying, "Do you have history?" — not when I can evaluate and qualify the business on the front end and give that to them, and they know, “Okay, Bree's going to do the digging, Bree's going to see if there's any information out there, whether that's through MINT+ or a conversation with the client, and they're going to set us up for success so that we can decide, “Is this piece of business right for us?”
What do you consider your MINT+ best practices that other DMOs could adopt?
My number-one best practice is my saved queries. If you were to go into my account and see what I do, everything is marketed by state. I have the query built out on size, based on what I think is the best piece of business for the majority of my hotels at one point. So that's a certain peak night. And then I sometimes will slice and dice it further. If you saw me, I'm one of those people that actually pulls everything into Excel. So my query is saved, I immediately pull it, and I slice and dice. I leave it as broad as I can, just because I would prefer not to have the system decide what I want in the report and what I don't, I leave it pretty broad outside of just the destination, where maybe the organization is based, and then the size. After that, I leave everything pretty similar and then slice and dice from there.
Another best practice would be knowing your top comp set. I evaluate three or four specific cities consistently because I know who I'm losing business to or who I'm up against the most. That’s where this tool comes into play. That’s where you are probably going to get the most bang for your buck at ROI, knowing who you're up against.
What’s one of your favorite ways MINT+ saves you time?
One of the new features that I find amazing is the saved query that notifies me by email if other accounts or meetings are entered into MINT+ in the future that meet my criteria. I'll have my weeks where I can't look at those one or two emails, but since I have them saved through the file, I'll go back when I have a slower day and can evaluate them versus having to pull the whole report again and slice and dice it all over again. I like the notifications as well as the auto-refresh.
How does MINT+ help you be a better resource?
When I already know an account and have a relationship, one of the things that I ask of my admin, or even just my partners in the market, is the definite-report side of things. And so it's pulling that information into that report, that nice layout of everything that shows the flow, the peak, the room nights, and making sure that we have all that information entered into our system for the future. So that's one thing that we do for all of our business. If it's something that we already know about, I’ll make sure I've got, they're not in Nashville this year, but we know they were in Austin in 2020, okay, is the definite report already uploaded, do we have that? But also, because my hoteliers will need all that history on the back end.
You want to know, how has the meeting grown, what's changing, is the peak night still the same? Hey, we're having this conversation about a Sunday, Monday meeting, but historically it's always been on Wednesday, is this a waste of my time? At the end of the day, history will speak volumes in comparison to hoping you can try to mold it into exactly what you want. But if it's got something to stick or we know they've made it work in the past in this capacity, that's what we do.
How do you use market classification in MINT+?
For certain tier organizations, it's important that we're finding the right type of business. When you dive into market segments, it's really important that you're able to figure out if the piece of business is best for our city. Will they pay the rates? Will they have a good spend? Historically, how much are they coming in on the front end or the back end? It’s neat to be able to dive into a specific segment. Maybe we hosted a medical event or a strong association piece of business, and we were successful because of these different factors — we want to go in and figure out who is like them. Being able to break that down without having to assume the market classification is huge. MINT+ went from very broad classifications to very detailed ones, and they’re the same ones my hoteliers use.
It was great getting a firsthand account from Breana on how she uses MINT+. We hope you are as inspired as we are to dig into MINT+ for better prospecting.