“He outlined what their strategy was; he sent me their after-the-fact action report, the money involved, the different investors. We thought they really did a lot of things really well,” Wareham says.
But the biggest takeaway, Wareham says, was the concept of using a non-partisan approach.
“We thought that was really smart,” Wareham says. “Any state’s got their political balance. If we do things that look like they’re done for Republicans, perhaps Democrats can point fingers and say, why not us?
“So a lot of the decorations you’re going to see in the terminal, a lot of the things that we’re doing are going to be kind of American-themed type things as well as welcome to the Twin Cities, because we really want the Twin Cities to work well for all the visitors.”
Wareham notes that the 15,000 members of the media expected to come to the convention also serve as a motivator. “Any hint of a story, you know, and they’re going to be all over it. So we’d like the only story at the Twin Cities to be how friendly everyone was and how well things worked.”
Also on hand will be about 250 volunteers made up of MAC staff and Twin Cities residents who will greet travelers as they land. With Northwest Airlines as the official carrier for the RNC, Wareham says, they will be able to figure out more readily which flights people are bringing in which passengers.
“We’re going to welcome folks; we’re going to, as much as we can, walk them down to baggage and tell them about the Twin Cities.
“I love it when people walk me somewhere and help me find what I’m looking for. So we thought that would be a great thing to do because a lot of folks perhaps coming to the convention aren’t real active travelers. Coming to a big airport like MSP could be maybe overwhelming.”
At baggage claim, volunteers from the Republican Host Committee will take over.
“So we’re going to try to provide some hands-on service to folks ... whether they’re media, delegates, people that want to visit the Twin Cities and go to the State Fair, whatever,” Wareham says.
For departures, Wareham says he’s planning on setting up tables to give out small gifts, an idea he saw at Dulles Airport after the American Association of Airport Executives convention last year.
“It was just great,” Wareham says. “Last thing I remember about Dulles was somebody talked to me; they were warm, friendly, they worked at the airport, they gave me a bottle of water, and I just thought it was a nice touch.”
Wareham says the plans aren’t much different from the normal culture of MSP.
“One of the interesting things I realized about our work culture here at MSP when I got here, was when any customer comes up to you, you stop what you’re doing no matter how important you think you are and you help that customer,” Wareham says. “Our CEO will be in the terminal talking to somebody and if somebody comes up to him because they see a badge and they ask him a question, he’s going to direct his attention to that customer. And we all do.”
In the meantime, TSA is planning on staffing up. Wareham says that he knows protesters will be in town as well, but says they aren’t likely to stick around the airport. Airport staff is also working on how to stage certain people, like mayors and governors, who travel with armed police officers.