New blood and a new name have the former Minot Hotel Association working toward a bright future for the Magic City's travel and tourism industries.
Now called the Minot Innkeepers Association, the name was officially changed May 13. Carmelle Colcord, general manager of Souris Valley Suites, is the association's newly-elected president. Colcord noted the Minot Convention & Visitors Bureau recently changed its name to Visit Minot, and the members of the Minot Innkeepers Association felt a new name was in order to promote their new focus on Minot's travel industry.
Colcord transferred to Minot from Wausau, Wis., in June and said the first thing she asked about when she got here was the innkeepers association.
"And I found out that there really wasn't one. There was one years ago but it just kind of fizzled away," Colcord said. "And my goal was to try to get the hoteliers all together again to try to revitalize the innkeepers association."
Colcord reached out to the general managers of area hotels and asked them to attend a March meeting to gauge interest in revitalizing the long-dormant hotel association. She was impressed with the meeting's turnout and convinced the idea was worth pursuing.
"I felt, and so did everyone else here in the area, that an active association was very much needed at this time," Colcord said.
Other officers of the Minot Innkeepers Association include Amanda Shappell of the Hampton Inn & Suites as secretary/treasurer and Dennis Gumke of Noble Inn as vice president.
There are currently 16 members of the association, who pay annual dues in order to have voting privileges. She said the dues are a minimal amount and are required by the bylaws. Colcord expects the membership to grow in the future, as well, once more hotels finish the process of paying their dues.
There are also some hotels Colcord hasn't yet made contact with, which she is planning to do in the near future.
"There's still some older properties here that don't have the Internet connection that we're all used to that we are personally going to go visit to make sure that every hotel does get the opportunity to join the innkeepers association," she said.
Colcord said one of the first things they will be doing is working with Visit Minot to ensure that the tax dollars it receives are put to the best use possible to promote leisure and business travel into the Magic City.
"They (Visit Minot) have been to a couple of our meetings already and they will always be a big part of our meetings," Colcord said.
She said the innkeepers association would also like to see a minimum of five hoteliers on Visit Minot's board of directors to further encourage the two entities to work together.
Other issues she mentioned include staffing. With Minot growing so much, finding quality employees has been a challenge for many local businesses.
"The city is growing with new businesses unbelievably (quickly), but there is such a lack of new people moving in," she said, noting affordable housing is one of the pieces needed to solve that puzzle.
Another way the Minot Innkeepers Association is looking to impact the community in the future is to sponsor scholarships to the hotel industry with Minot State University. In fact, she said there are so many different organizations they could team with that it would be impossible to list them all.
"I could talk forever on the things that affect the lodging industry here in Minot," Colcord said. "Because there's such a large growth of hotels it was very important for Minot to have a very active innkeepers association, and to have a voice, and to be present in this community."
Colcord said Minot is going through many great changes, and they need to react appropriately to them in order for the city to keep growing. She said Minot reminds her quite a bit of the hometown in Wisconsin she left behind, and she looks forward to making Minot her new hometown in the years to come.
"I enjoy it very much. It very much mirrors my hometown of Wausau, Wis. What's exciting is the growth and the change that is happening with this community," Colcord said. "And to be a part of that, from the new businesses that are coming in to the new people we hope will be moving here, it's just an exciting time to be a part of Minot."