- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - In her first year as Visit Minot’s executive director, Phyllis Burckhard is making sure people know there is plenty to do and see in Minot.

Burckhard, who has a background in the hospitality industry, said her additional goal is to draw even more events to the city.

“We are really looking at expanding the different events that come to Minot. One of my key initiatives is to really work closely with the various innkeepers,” Burckhard told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1FWa9Fn ). “I really believe that we need to strengthen the partnerships that we have to, together, be able to grow Minot and the events that we have here.”

Burckhard, who grew up near Logan and graduated from Minot schools and Minot State University, started her career in banking before moving into the hospitality field. She worked 18 years for Midwest Federal Savings Bank, starting as a teller and serving as vice president of retail services when the bank closed. She then worked for a time for First International Bank before deciding to switch things up in her career, becoming general manager for Fairfield Inn in Minot.

She said she enjoyed working in the hospitality industry, but having young children at home, she shifted gears again and signed on with Medical Arts Clinic for five years. Her husband, Mike, a psychotherapist, operates The Burckhard Clinic in Minot.



Phyllis Burckhard joined Choice Hotels as director of its new call center operations in Minot, working for the company for 15 years and becoming senior director of sales and contact centers. Her position gave her responsibility for overseeing sales in the Grand Junction, Colorado,, and Toronto, Ontario, centers as well as working closely with the outsource centers.

It really was a great career, said Burckhard, noting that it sparked an interest in tourism that stayed with her even while working with The OBASA Group on its Silver Springs development in Surrey.

So when an opening came up with the departure of Wendy Howe as executive director of Visit Minot, Burckhard applied and was selected, assuming her new duties last September.

“When this opportunity presented itself, it just seemed like such a perfect fit because I love hospitality. I love tourism. It’s great to be able to work with the hotels again,” she said. “I am excited about this opportunity. What a great chapter in my life. I think it’s going to begin all kinds of opportunities and growth.”

Other staff at Visit Minot are Niki Carlson, director of sales, and Wade Regier, director of sports and events. The Visit Minot office in the Scandinavian Heritage Center includes a gift shop.

“We are very fortunate to be located where we are. We are right in the center of the city. We are close to downtown along the main thoroughfare, and it’s such an attractive building,” Burckhard said.

The center is just one of the locations where people can pick up the newly released Minot Visitor’s Guide, which offers coupons and a printed version of information that also can be found at visitminot.org.

Burckhard said her immediate focus is on working with organizations such as the North Dakota State Fair, Maysa Arena, Chamber of Commerce and Minot Area Development Corp. to make sure they are all pursuing the same goals.

Visit Minot is working with the Downtown Business & Professional Association to help with its promotions and is working with hotels on future events.

Hotel occupancy was down a bit last year and is projected to be flat or decline again in 2015, Burckhard said. To counter that, one of Visit Minot’s initiatives is to find ways to let the public know that hotels have room for them. The tight hotel situation that occurred a few years ago due to housing shortages from the flood and oil boom has rectified, but the word still needs to get out, Burckhard said. Visit Minot also is determined to bring back events that were lost during that time.

Despite the challenges of 2014, it was a good year for Minot tourism and for Norsk Hostfest and the State Fair, Burckhard said.

Visit Minot will be represented at trade shows in Regina, Saskatchewan, and Brandon, Manitoba, this spring. It has been conducting radio advertising and programming in Canada. It is reaching out to all visitors through its website and social media.

Being so close to the Bakken has enabled Minot to attract visitors from throughout the region, Burckhard said. Minot’s parks and events can be an enjoyable break from the crush that many communities in the west are feeling from intense oil activity.

“We want to continue to have them look at Minot as the place to get away,” Burckhard said.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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