Catching Up with Minneapolis Northwest’s Business Development Team

Meeting and group planners looking to host a fun and memorable event in the Minneapolis Northwest area can turn to Megan Diaz and Katie Lofrano for all their event-planning needs. Get to know the business development team below!

Katie Lofrano

Business Development Manager, Katie Lofrano, joined Minneapolis Northwest Tourism in December 2018 and brings an impressive breadth of industry knowledge with her. Prior to joining the team, Katie excelled in business development with another local CVB, and over the course of five years, she learned the ins and outs of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. She wore many hats, from front office work to accounting, and grew to be one of the top sales managers. 

Katie was ready to transition to a larger organization like Minneapolis Northwest Tourism and is excited to work for a DMO with a wide variety of properties and possibilities. “I really like the array of venues in Minneapolis Northwest,” she says. “Everything in each city we represent is different; there is something for everyone.”

Katie works with smaller associations, corporate groups, religious groups, and social groups such as weddings, family reunions and military groups. Like her team members Josh Anderson and Megan Diaz, Katie cannot recommend Minneapolis Northwest's Event Assistance Fund enough. What makes the fund unique is the flexibility to put dollars toward any part of a meeting or event – lodging, transportation, food and beverage, entertainment options and more.

Katie is a member of Meeting Planners International, Associations North, Christian Meetings and Conventions Association, and Minnesota Festivals and Events Association. She enjoys her work and even feels like a match-maker at times. “In this position, you’re a helping hand, a match-maker, a connector piece,” she says. “I’m passionate about what I’m doing and my passion shines through when talking with planners about our cities.” Contact Katie at katie@mplsnw.com

Fast Five with Katie

Favorite movie – How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
Favorite adult beverage – Mojito
Bucket list item – Visit Greece
Must-watch TV show – Friends  
Cats or dogs – Dogs (she has two!) 

 

Megan Diaz

 

Director of Business Development, Megan Diaz, joined Minneapolis Northwest Tourism in May 2018 and works to connect corporate groups and associations with the appropriate venue and resources for their meeting and event needs. She is supported by an extensive background in hospitality, stemming from her early days as a Sales Coordinator for the Galleria Marchetti in Chicago, a gorgeous event center in the heart of the Windy City. It was there that Megan fell in love with the process of building and maintaining relationships with clients.  

A natural helper, Megan excels at meeting peoples’ needs. She attends conferences throughout the year where she meets dozens of planners during a brief period of time. Although appointments are short, they are a fantastic way to connect. And her daily work focuses on building solid partnerships with area venues, hotels and restaurants. This gives her valuable insight into business developments in the area, which she can then pass on to event planners.

Throughout the years, Minneapolis Northwest Tourism has hosted successful events geared toward helping event planners understand all that the area offers. In addition to education conferences, Minneapolis Northwest Tourism hosts an annual Taste of MNW Tour, a familiarization tour that introduces new and seasoned event planners to unique venues around the area, as well as the capabilities of Minneapolis Northwest Tourism. Looking for a little extra help? Megan can provide welcome bags and arrange site visits in advance. Like Josh, she also recommends utilizing our Event Assistance Fund, which aids planner in bridging the gap when it comes to hosting an event in our area.

Megan’s extensive hospitality experience includes working for Country Inn & Suites in Brooklyn Center, the Courtyard Marriott in Maple Grove (which she helped open), and the downtown Hilton Minneapolis, the largest hotel in the Midwest outside of Chicago. The best tour she gave was to NFL officials when they were considering Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII! She then worked as the Director of Sales at Hilton Garden Inn Maple Grove before joining Minneapolis Northwest Tourism.

“My hotel experience has been a tremendous help when talking with potential clients,” she says. “I know what types of questions to ask planners and what details to look for.” She is also an expert on the Minneapolis Northwest area and has known CEO Dave Looby for many years. She even served on the Minneapolis Northwest Tourism Board of Directors before officially joining the staff. When asked what she likes most about the Minneapolis Northwest area, Megan says, “What’s not to love? We have unique venues, great shopping, great restaurants, and everything is easy to get to while still feeling close to the city.” 

Megan currently serves on the Education Committee for Meeting Planners International (MPI) and is a member of Associations North. She grew up in Little Falls and New Brighton and was the youngest of 11 children. She has been married since 2001 and lives with her husband and three kids in Becker, Minnesota. Contact Megan at megan@mplsnw.com

Fast Five with Megan

Favorite movie – Lord of the Rings
Favorite adult beverage – Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Bucket list item – Visit the UK
Favorite sport – Swimming
Must-watch TV show – Outlander