Looking for a good destination for your meeting but need some basic facts like convention center capacity, nearby hotels and airport, and so forth? Fortunately, there is a great and free tool available called empowerMINT that helps you quickly get answers to your questions.
Note that the empowerMINT website is for destinations and not venues. Destinations International (DI) represents the various destinations across the United States and is the organization behind empowerMINT. The Destination Marketing terminology evolved from the old concept of a CVB (aka “Convention and Visitors Bureau”.) DI used to be the International Association of Convention Bureaus (IACB), but was renamed to Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) because CVBs were generally associated with cities having convention centers. Many destinations do not fall under this definition so the CVB idea was expanded to a DMO or Destination Marketing Organization. The organization has recently rebranded again as Destinations International. The mission of DI is to empower DMOs. The empowerMINT product’s main purpose is to connect planners with DMOs.
DMAI and empowerMINT have a powerful evangelist in Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki. Shimo is a regular face at meeting industry events and has done much to raise the profile of DMOs. Shimo is such a good evangelist for DMOs that the DMAI website compares her to celebrities such as Cher, Prince and Madonna! Shimo was kind enough to chat with us to provide the background for this article.
The standard empowerMINT meeting search engine works as follows:
- The main landing area is a general Search of destinations. You can enter more than one destination at a time to create a comparison grid.
- Search criteria can be expanded to include venue type, sleeping rooms, meeting and exhibit space and so forth.
- The default search grid lends itself to an initial determination of whether the venue meets your basic needs such as location, space and hotels nearby to the convention center. This output can then be exported to a spreadsheet.
Additionally, you can click on their “FastTrack RFP” button and send your RFP to one of the destinations. You can also contact the CVB via a form submission.
Other websites find the empowerMINT platform to be useful as they “private label” the tool to be part of their user experience. For example, the Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) Destination Find service employs empowerMINT.
The empowerMINT name came from the MINT (Meetings Industry Network) legacy database. Access to this historical database is restricted to member DMOs as a value-added service.
The empowerMINT site has an active blog and includes many webinars, often led by Shimo.