Summer surge: Minneapolis hotels saw highest weekly demand for rooms since pandemic

It was a good summer for Minneapolis hotels, largely due to sporting and other large events, the State Fair and Taylor Swift's concerts in June. Business leaders hope to keep building the momentum by encouraging tourists and Minnesotans to continue to come back downtown.

Minneapolis hotels had a Blank Space, and Taylor Swift wrote her name. Nearly 20,000 rooms were occupied the weekend of her Eras Tour, the Twin Cities Pride Festival and the Kiwanis International Convention. Hotel occupancy rates reached 96.3 and 93.9 percent on the days of Swift’s concerts.

"When Taylor Swift was in town, we set a record for the most hotel rooms sold over the course of a weekend," said Courtney Ries, the senior vice president of branding and strategy for Meet Minneapolis.

But the signs of positive recovery this summer didn't stop there. The final week of summer had the highest demand for Minneapolis hotel rooms since 2019, according to Meet Minneapolis. More than 56,000 hotel rooms were occupied from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, due to a number of events, including the 2023 Gay Softball World Series.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the demand for hotel rooms was up 11 percent from last summer. And when hotel rooms are full, people are also shopping and eating downtown.

"Things are happening here. It's a great downtown. It's one of the best downtowns in the country. And I think that we're more than ready to showcase that once again," said Tim Murray, the owner of Murray's Steakhouse.

Murray said he's been encouraged by the uptick in business. Tourism leaders say the city isn't back to pre-pandemic numbers, in part due to business travel not fully making a return, but things are headed in the right direction.

As the fall calendar kicks off, with sports and events like the Twin Cities Marathon, Meet Minneapolis is also launching a fall campaign targeting greater Minnesota and the four border states. Business leaders hope to keep the momentum going next year with the Big 10 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships and Olympic trials for gymnastics.