Page 1

Staffing Savvy

HANDLE SHORTAGES WITH GRACE & GRIT

Grand Rapids

CORPORATE KNOW-HOW, BEER & VENUES GALORE

Buckle Up

HIGH-OCTANE FUN AT THE M1 CONCOURSE

M E E T I N G S M A G S . C O M // F A L L 2 0 2 1 W I N T E R 2 0 2 2

MEET ME on the SLOPES Ski resorts offer magic and boundless amenities (25)


CONVE N E WITH CON FI DE NCE Every step we take toward a healthier, safer meeting experience is an important one. When you are ready to plan your next event, let us help you meet safely. With best in class meeting technology for hybrid and virtual or in-person with spacious rooms, superior ventilation, and enhanced cleaning standards; we allow you to stay focused on meeting objectives while putting the health and well-being of your group first.

2021

Contact 877.MGM.EVNT (646.3868) or sales@det.mgmgrand.com mgmgranddetroit.com

© 2021 MGM Grand Detroit. Excludes Michigan Disassociated Persons.


DISCOVER HOLLAND

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Let us help you plan your next meeting! Great Gathering Places • Historic Downtown • Unique Dutch Attractions Award-Winning Community • 1850 Hotel Rooms 800.506.1299 • holland.org • wendy@holland.org


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• Conference Rooms for 500 Delegates • 10 Breakout Rooms • Complimentary Wireless Internet • 2 On-Premise Restaurants & Lounges • Nightly Entertainment • 360 Bavarian-Themed Guestrooms • Walking Distance to Main Street • World Famous Frankenmuth® Chicken Dinners Bring the family along! We offer 4 pools, 2 water slides, and a family fun center.

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877.213.7664 FRANKENMUTHMEETINGS.COM ONE COVERED BRIDGE LN. FRANKENMUTH, MI 48734


PHOTO CREDIT: EASTERN MARKET PARTNERSHIP

MURAL BY HEBRU BRANTLEY

WHEN YOU MEET IN DETROIT, YOU GET TO MEET DETROIT. Detroit is committed to … Detroit. So when you meet here, you’re supporting the same things we are: our businesses and people. You’re participating in authentic, community-driven tourism that integrates your attendees into the city’s social and cultural fabric. You’re investing in DOSE Detroit, a retail collective that provides up-and-coming BIPOC brands a place to showcases their products. You’re showing your support for Detroit Hives, two native Detroiters who are transforming vacant lots across the city beehive by beehive, adding food security and green revitalization to neighborhoods. You’re sharing a meal with EastEats, a restaurant that consists of geodesic domes and serves unique fare created by chefs of color.

Top Left to Bottom Right: Nicole Lindsey (Detroit Hives); Tee Capel (DOSE of Detroit); Henry Ford II (Detroit Bikes); Kwaku Osei-Bonsu (EastEats).

Visit Detroit is here to help you select the right venue, the perfect restaurant and that memorable experience so your group can see, feel and support the real Detroit.

Learn more about our commitment to helping Detroit thrive.

NOW MORE THAN EVER, IT’S GO TIME.


Contents

FAL L 2021 | WIN T ER 2 02 2

DeVos Place, Grand Rapids

25 Meet on the Slopes Michigan’s ski resorts offer a perfect blend of play and productivity.

In Every Issue //

6 Editor’s Note 18 Destination

With more than 130 international corporations headquartered in Grand Rapids, the city abounds with everything a meeting planner could need.

4 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022

22 Venue Report

From a strolling dinner to a ride in a horsedrawn carriage, celebrate the holidays with colleagues and clients.

36 People Profile

Gone fishing. After 36 years, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring.

Meeting Notes //

9 Venue News

The new Ford House Visitor Center can host up to 240 guests.

10 Expert Advice

There are labor shortages across the entire hospitality industry. Managing events when you’re short-staffed requires honesty, grace and grit.

12 Cool Idea

WPA-style posters by an Ann Arbor artist celebrate the 15th anniversary of Pure Michigan and support Michigan Cares for Tourism.

14 Venue Spotlight

Buckle up for highoctane meetings at the new M1 Concourse Event Center in Pontaic.

Staffing Savvy

HANDLE SHORTAGES WITH GRACE & GRIT

Grand Rapids

CORPORATE KNOW-HOW, BEER & VENUES GALORE

Buckle Up

HIGH-OCTANE FUN AT THE M1 CONCOURSE

M E E T I N G S M A G S . C O M // F A L L 2 0 2 1 W I N T E R 2 0 2 2

MEET ME on the SLOPES Ski resorts offer magic and boundless amenities (25)

Industry Update //

30 Infographic

A mix of optimism and staffing concerns in MPI’s recent Meetings Outlook .

32 Regional News

Awards, venue and people news, association updates and more.

On the Cover

Natural beauty abounds at Boyne Mountain. PHOTO BY BRIAN WALTERS

P H OTO : E X P E R I E N C E G R A N D R A P I D S

Feature //


FA L L 2 0 2 1 W I N T E R 2 0 2 2

mi.meetingsmags.com

EDITOR SHELLY LEVITT MANAGING EDITOR BETH BUEHLER COPY EDITOR SHERRI HILDEBRANDT CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AMY S. ECKERT, CAROL A. GALLE, CHRIS WILLIAMS

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Larisa Draves, CMP, MACVB Executive Director | Greg DeSandy, TCF Center | Lyn Gleasure, Rock Central Detroit | Carol Galle, CMP, VEMM, Special D Events | David C. McKnight, Emerald City Designs | Kat Paye, Cherry Festival | Traci Bahlman, Holiday Market | John Kuithe, Hospitality Specialists, Inc. | Janet Korn, Experience Grand Rapids | Lindsay Krause, Special D Events

ART DIRECTOR TRACI ZELLMANN

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California Meetings + Events » 303.617.0548 Colorado Meetings + Events » 303.617.0548 Minnesota Meetings + Events » 608.873.8734 Mountain Meetings » 303.617.0548 Northeast Meetings + Events » 586.416.4195 Northwest Meetings + Events » 253.732.7133 Texas Meetings + Events » 469.264.7657

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MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 5


E DITOR ’ S N OTE

Gathering Again

mi.meetingsmags.com mimeetingsmags

» ALL OF US HAVE LEARNED A LOT THIS PAST YEAR and a half. For starters, we now know more about conducting Zoom meetings than we ever imagined there was to know. A shout out to Pure Michigan for providing some iconic images to use as backdrops on those days our office was a mess or we just wanted to inspire our colleagues with scenes of outdoor fun in the state. (Go to michigan.org/article/try-thesepure-michigan-backgrounds-your-video-calls.) For all the ways that we’ve managed to stay connected—by phone or text, through social media or via those virtual happy hours—we know now, with more certainty than ever before, that nothing replaces the magic that happens, the sparks that fly, the inspiration that takes flight when people gather face to face, united in a common purpose exchanging ideas, sharing meals and laughter, brainstorming, problem solving and team-building. So, it is very, very good to be bringing you this issue of Michigan Meetings + Events, filled with news that will help us get back to the business of bringing colleagues together. There are, we all know, challenges still ahead. For one thing, as meeting planner Carol A. Galle, president and CEO of Detroit-based Special D Events, writes in her column on page 10, the entire hospitality industry faces an ongoing labor shortage. And, for now, extra steps in cleaning protocols still need to be taken so all attendees feel comfortable and safe. That can be done. As Let’s Meet There (letsmeetthere.travel), the national initiative to restore professional meetings and events (PME) across the country, shares in campaign messaging, “Unlike informal, large gatherings, PME’s are able to be executed in a controlled environment by professional meeting planners who implement layers of proven health measures to ensure the safety of attendees and guests.” We can be both prudent and passionate as we return to meeting in person. Drop me a line and share your best tips and practices, news of your upcoming events and photos of those glorious, gorgeous gatherings that you’ve already produced.

SHELLEY LEVITT

Editor shelley.levitt@tigeroak.com

6 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022


GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT AND SPA

GOLF SPA SHOP DINE MEET

GET UP AND GO Expansive views and limitless venues. The inspiration of a Northern Michigan meeting is more than a vineyard board room, private beach reception, or group sail at sunset. More than renowned service or distinct personalization. It’s having all of those things at your fingertips. You won’t believe it if you haven’t seen it. Get up and go at grandtraverseresort.com/meetings.

Owned and Operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians


p plea leas su ur re e doing business business It’s where everything comes together. Where meetings are conducted with rhythm and grace. Where even before you meet and shake hands, you all begin to realize that you’re in a pretty great place.

TraverseCity.com


P H OTO S : J O H N F M A R T I N ; B E T H A N Y S H A R P P H OTO G R A P H Y

M E E TI NG NOTE S Products, Places & Inspiration

VISITORS & GROUPS WELCOME The Ford House is Friendlier Than Ever BY AMY S. ECKERT

» IT’S HARD TO IMPROVE on a building like the Ford House. But nearly a century after Albert Kahn designed the Grosse Pointe Shores mansion for auto magnate Edsel Ford and his wife, Eleanor, the timing seemed right. Reflective of the Cotswold architecture that characterizes the Fords’ home, the site’s new 40,000-square-foot Visitor Center incorporates limestone brickwork, copper gutters and slate roofs. Unlike the 1928 residence, the Visitor Center offers much-needed gathering space, including a

large lobby, an education wing, and exhibition and special events facilities. Corporate gatherings for up to 240 guests look out through glass walls, with views of the estate’s broad green lawn and Ford Cove, a sparking inlet of Lake Saint Clair. Also new at the center is an elegant restaurant, The Continental. Named for the automobile that Edsel introduced in 1939, the restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows that take advantage of the estate’s spectacular grounds and is available for private functions. fordhouse.org

COMPILED BY SHELLEY LEVITT

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 9


ME ETI N G N OTES Products, Places & Inspiration

Expert Advice //

We’re All Short-Staffed

Here’s how to manage with grit, grace and honesty. BY CAROL A. GALLE, CMP, VEMM

Also, more than four out of five respondents are operating at least 10 percent below adequate staffing levels, and a staggering 29 percent in the industry are operating more than 30 percent below what is needed to meet consumer demand. More than four out of five hotels are limiting room inventory because they do not have adequate staffing to turn them over for new guests. At every level of hospitality organizations, managers are asking, where is everyone? JOBS HAVE CHANGED The 2020 COVID-19 shutdown caused many employers to rethink their business operations. Job descriptions were rewritten, and requirements changed to accommodate a post-pandemic world. In some organizations, employees discovered they

10 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022

Three Tips for Managing Events During a Labor Shortage » Cross-train. Use downtime to train team members so they can better fill in and support each other. » Be reasonable. Overworking staff may solve a short-term crisis but will sink morale and cause turnover. As business author Simon Sinek says, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” » Be honest. It’s no secret that our industry is understaffed. Be transparent with clients.

were no longer qualified for their own jobs. In others, the new job description looked so much different than the old, employees were no longer interested. For example, Special D Events’ meeting planner job requirements now include virtual meeting planning experience. “I gather people in a room,” one candidate told me with a sigh. “I didn’t sign up for a career to sit in front of a computer and run virtual meetings.” While I can definitely commiserate, virtual meetings have become an important source of revenue for our company. EXPECTATIONS HAVE CHANGED For nearly two years, our physical and mental health has been tested and our priorities re-evaluated on a daily basis. It’s probably difficult to find anyone who hasn’t recently questioned their career choice, their employer or their work environment. In many cases, we’ve learned to live on lower wages but with more time to spend with our families. Every HR survey I’ve read shows that workers are in no hurry to return to an office environment. Many will even quit if asked to do so. Workers who have the opportunity to be choosy are doing so. PEOPLE HAVE CHANGED Despite the general divisiveness in society right now, I believe the pandemic brought our hospitality industry closer. I’ve watched employers become more flexible, co-workers cover for each other, and competitors become mutual supporters. If we continue to treat each other with respect and allow some grace along the way, this labor shortage will eventually even out. In the meantime, let’s pay workers a fair wage, honor our commitments, and show up for one another. We are hospitality professionals. Let’s show the world how it’s done. specialdevents.com |

248.336.8600

P H OTO : (O P P O S I T E ) A A R O N P E T E R S O N

Carol A. Galle is the co-founder, president and CEO of Special D Events, a Detroit-based national meeting and event management agency. She’s co-founder of the Detroit Events Council and launched and leads the Live Events Coalition Detroit.

» IT’S NOT JUST RESTAURANTS that are short-staffed these days—it’s the entire hospitality industry. Over the past few months “Now Hiring” social media posts have replaced “Open to Work.” The applicant pool has dwindled. Employers schedule interviews only to be ghosted by candidates. Existing staff are forced to fill in the gaps, leading to burnout and resignations that fuel the cycle. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association conducted an industry survey in August and the results were sobering. Eighty-eight percent of hospitality industry respondents are operating with inadequate staffing to meet consumer demand. » 100 percent of banquet facilities » 97 percent of hotels » 89 percent of full-service restaurants » 81 percent of quick-service restaurants » 67 percent of bars/nightclubs.


Expanded Event //

Winter Games Coming to Marquette The Olympics-like event has a second host city.

» MEIJER STATE GAMES OF MICHIGAN (MSGOM) in partnership

with the Great Lakes Sports Commission announced Marquette as the host city for an additional Winter Games next February 2022. “We are thrilled to host the February 2022 Meijer State Games of Michigan – Winter Games and be part of such an incredible sporting tradition within our state,” says Susan Estler, executive director of Travel Marquette. “The Upper Peninsula’s landscape has long been celebrated for its diverse offering of outdoor adventure, and we look forward to safely welcoming athletes from across the state to share in this uniquely Michigan experience.” The Winter Games event in Marquette will include an opening ceremony, kicking off a weekend that showcases at least eight winter sports. Marquette’s prime location on the Upper Peninsula allows this edition of the games to feature a more traditional winter sports lineup than seen

in recent years and is set to include crosscountry skiing, curling, figure skating, luge, hockey, downhill skiing, snowboarding and ski jumping. In addition to the Marquette location, Meijer State Games of Michigan will continue to operate the established Winter Games in greater Grand Rapids, where archery, basketball, bowling, cross-county skiing (freestyle and Nordic), darts, disc golf, fat biking, fencing, karate, ninja, shooting sports (pistol), swimming (postal meet) and wrestling are on tap. Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multisport, Olympic-style event that welcomes athletes, regardless of age or ability level, and embodies the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among Michigan residents. Since 2010, MSGOM has hosted more than 65,000 athletes. For more information on the Meijer State Games of Michigan, including sponsorship opportunities, visit stategamesofmichigan.com.

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 11


ME ETI N G N OTES Products, Places & Inspiration

Cool Idea //

VINTAGE-STYLE MICHIGAN TRAVEL POSTERS Ann Arbor illustrator Brian Walline has created six limited-edition, vintage-style travel posters to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Pure Michigan campaign. Each giclée art print is made in Michigan using top quality archival inks and paper and signed by the artist. The prints are designed to promote travel throughout the state, and 10 percent of all proceeds from sales of the prints will be donated to Michigan Cares for Tourism (MC4T) to help restore historic, cultural and natural attractions statewide. “The Pure Michigan campaign is part of what inspired me to begin thinking about my love for our state and how I wanted to try to express it,” says Walline. “I can’t really sing, so drawing scenes inspired by old national parks posters seemed more my speed. Years later, I’m excited to intertwine my story with Pure Michigan in some small way and to assemble a collection of my work that attempts to represent the range and diversity of our state’s beauty and wonder.” The locations featured include Mackinac Bridge, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge, Grand Rapids skyline and Lake of the Clouds. The posters range in price from $19.99 for a 5” x 7” print to $74.99 for a 2’ x 3’ poster. themightymitten.com/pure-michigan-collection

The Essential Centerpiece

More than flowers, a personal air purifier shows you care about attendees. The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, is one of the most rarefied resorts in the country with rooms going for upwards of $2,000 a night. But when the cliffside property reopened in March 2021, the biggest luxury it provided guests was certifiably germ-free indoor air. Sitting atop every table in its signature restaurant was a Wynd personal air purifier. About the size of a water bottle, the device creates a three-foot bubble of clean air by filtering 99.9% of airborne particles, including virus-carrying respiratory droplets, bacteria, dust, allergens, smoke and pollution. In independent research conducted by The Washington Post, three indoor air experts agreed that the purifiers “should work to make the dining experience considerably safer, while noting 100 percent safety is unattainable.” Along with the Wynd Max Room Air Purifiers for larger spaces and the company’s air quality trackers, the portable purifiers are now being deployed by convention centers and hotels across the country. “One or more of the devices are being used to validate that a hotel or convention center’s space is safe and healthy and

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to keep it that way,” says Andy Morita, Wynd’s lead enterprise manager. An event planner might place the personal purifiers on registration tables, in display booths and on speaker’s podiums, for example, and the larger devices throughout meeting rooms, lobbies and ballrooms. “Some planners are also using the personal purifiers as gifts or raffle prizes,” Morita says, “or buying a combination of devices and renting them out to clients for events.” Clients and planners, Morita says, might notice an added benefit to the use of air purifiers that goes beyond the current pandemic. People feel and function better when the air they’re breathing is contaminant-free. “There are long-term gains in mood, health, productivity and wellness that come with clean air,” he says. “If you’re returning to booking events, make sure to ask venues and hotels if their cleaning protocols include placing air purifiers across the space and continuously monitoring air quality.” hellowynd.com

P H OTO S : P U R E M I C H I G A N ; WY N D ; (O P P O S I T E ) C R OW N A N D CO R K ; F R A N C I N E Z A S LOW

Helpful Product //


Gift Ideas //

TEARIFFIC!

New Restaurant //

CROWN AND CORK OPENS IN LUDINGTON Michigan can never have enough waterfront restaurants, and now it has another quite handsome one: Ludington’s Crown and Cork. Located in the former P.M. Steamers restaurant overlooking Pere Marquette Lake, Crown and Cork has a relaxed vibe, views of Ludington Municipal Harbor and crowdpleasing menu items like beer-battered cauliflower, beer-steamed mussels, buttermilk fried chicken and s’mores lava cake. The restaurant serves lunch, dinner and happy hour and has a private room that can accommodate 50 to 60 guests. crownncork.com

Because many of our colleagues are caffeinated enough during these stressful months, why not gift them a gentler, kinder holiday beverage? The Warming Joy 2021 holiday collections from Tea Forté, a company offering handcrafted luxury tea blends that are served at some of Michigan’s finest hotels, features a combination of black, green and herbal teas. The gift sets include seasonal favorites like raspberry ganache, sweet orange spice, cherry marzipan, harvest apple spice and winter chai. Holiday gifts range from a $10 stocking stuffer that includes four pyramid tea infusers to the Warming Joy Tea Chest with 40 infusers of 30 different blends for $66. teaforte.com

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 13


ME ETI N G N OTES Products, Places & Inspiration

Venue Spotlight //

High-Octane Meetings Buckle up for the M1 Concourse Event Center

Typically, meeting planners must choose between one or the other when they plan an event. But the M1Concourse Event Center, a new 28,500-square-foot event destination located adjacent to Champion Motor Speedway in Pontiac, provides both thrills and refinement. Opened in September, M1 Concourse can host a chic sit-down dinner for a few hundred or an outdoor event for a couple thousand. Each event overlooks the speedway, where guests can enjoy pit access and heart-stopping rides around the 1.5-mile track. “We wanted our new Event Center to be a unique facility in metro Detroit for many different kinds of events,” says CEO Tim McGrane. “There are a lot of places where meetings and events can take place, but none quite like ours in this area. This is the Motor City, and we are providing a first-class event facility that celebrates the heritage of the automobile

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and provides an opportunity for event planners to create an unforgettable experience for their guests.”

TRACK EXPERIENCES

» Performance Driving Training:

Attendees drive performance vehicles on Champion Motor Speedway and learn the fundamentals of high-performance driving from a pro.

» Autocross: This challenging coned

course on the 2.5-acre Vehicle Dynamics Arena is ideal for team-building.

» Full-Motion Simulator: This is an off-

track experience that’s fully customizable, offering simulation on a variety of tracks with a wide selection of vehicles.

» Thrill Rides: Riding shotgun, participants take two full-speed laps around the Champion Motor Speedway with a pro driver.

VENUES

Venues range from the intimate Rapid Room or Terrace for hosting 10 guests and the 2,4000-square-foot Concourse Private Garage (capacity 75) with a view of track straightaway to the 2,400-square-foot Salon (capacity 350), a 6,000-square-foot luxury tent (capacity 500) and the Plaza (capacity 2,500). The catering partner can provide casual picnics, lively barbecues or elaborate five-course seated dinners. With the track and adjoining facilities on the 87-acre playground available for rent, M1 can be used for special events like new vehicle introductions, festivals, product demonstrations and car shows. “Allow our team to explore your vision and to design, customize and plate up the perfect event,” says Bruce Rothschild, director of event sales. “From a board meeting to a strolling event for 50, a five-course meal for 350 or a conference for 2,500, our experts are here to assist you in making your next event remarkable.” M1concourse.com

P H OTO : M 1 CO N CO U R S E

» ELEGANCE OR EXHILARATION?


Meeting planners. Meet here. Meet safely in Mt. Pleasant

Contact us Mt. Pleasant Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 888-772-2018 | Info@meetmtp.com

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MEET LIKE A LOCAL MICHIGANʼS CAPITAL CITY OFFERS: Virtual Studio & Hybrid Meeting Capabilities • Free Services COVID Protocol Resources • Premier Lodging Including Two New Hotels in 2021 Greater Lansing Safe Pledge Showcasing Commitment to Health & Safety Central Location in Midwest Boosts Attendance • Flexible & Unique Venues Dedicated Staff Committed to Your Success Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau | LANSING.ORG | (517) 487-6800

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MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 15


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DE STI NATION Grand Rapids

The picturesque Grand Rapids skyline.

Cheers to Grand Rapids

“Beer City USA” mixes business and pleasure at meeting venues large and small.

» HEADQUARTERS to more than 130 international companies—including such global giants as Amway, Steelcase and Herman Miller—and home to Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Michigan’s second largest city, Grand Rapids, ranks as a natural destination for corporate gatherings. What’s more, the city’s reputation as a center for fine and performing arts, outdoor

18 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022

recreation and craft beer lures plenty of leisure travelers as well. It’s this mix of business and pleasure that lands Grand Rapids in the spotlight with meeting planners. MEMORABLE VENUES Grand Rapids’ largest meeting space is DeVos Place. Located in the heart of the

city’s attractive, walkable downtown, the convention center provides 162,000 square feet of customizable, column-free exhibition space. DeVos Place also features smaller breakout rooms and a 40,000-squarefoot ballroom, much of it overlooking the Grand River. DeVos Performance Hall, an ideal setting for a keynote address, also sits within

P H OTO : E X P E R I E N C E G R A N D R A P I D S

BY AMY S. ECKERT


element.

Everyone is engaged. There’s more than enough space for our large group. We break into smaller teams. Some groups stay inside. My group goes outside to meet. The fresh air calms us and clarity comes. Momentum builds. Productivity

IN YOUR

flourishes. And there you are, in the middle of it all.

C R YS TA L M O U N TA I N .C O M

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SCAN FOR MORE INFORMATION

IGAN

MICH

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MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 19


DE STI NATION Grand Rapids

DeVos Place. The performance hall also allows planners to interject some of the city’s world-class cultural offerings into what might otherwise be an all-business affair. Grand Rapids Symphony, Opera Grand Rapids, Broadway Grand Rapids and Michigan’s only professional ballet company, Grand Rapids Ballet, all call DeVos Performance Hall home. It’s an easy walk from DeVos Place to the 12,000-seat Van Andel Arena, host to numerous cultural events. And within Grand Rapids’ downtown are dozens of independent restaurants and some 2,500 guestrooms, from those in the full-ser-

20 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022

vice JW Marriott to the design-forward CityFlatsHotel. Attached to DeVos Place via a climatecontrolled skywalk is Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, a corporate meeting destination in its own right. Originally named the Pantlind, the hotel unveiled one of the world’s largest gold-leaf ceilings when its doors opened in 1916. That ornate ceiling still wows guests at today’s Amway Grand, which offers 664 contemporary guestrooms, 41,000 square feet of event space and 31 meeting rooms. More than 5,000 works of fine art, design and modern craft highlight Grand Rapids’ history as a furniture and design center

at Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). Sophisticated corporate events and receptions often take place beneath the museum’s 30-foot lobby ceilings, where floor-to-ceiling windows frame a reflecting pool and downtown Grand Rapids. Other venues within GRAM, which holds the distinction of being the world’s first LEED Gold-certified art museum, are the Cook Auditorium, al fresco Dining Terrace, and Frey Boardroom for smaller meetings. FOOD & DRINK Grand Rapids lays claim to more than 45 breweries, so it’s no wonder that business

P H OTO S : E X P E R I E N C E G R A N D R A P I D S

The lobby of the Grand Rapids Art Museum offers a stunning setting for sophisticated corporate events.


Grand Rapids’ most picturesque corporate meeting venues. The gardens reach their visual peak in summer, when 200 sculptures share the landscape with perennial, shade and Japanese gardens vibrant with lilies, roses and coneflowers. Although Meijer Gardens’ outdoor spaces shine in warm weather, when groups as large as 5,000 find space to meet here, corporate events can enjoy this scenic gathering space even in winter, if only to observe it from the warmth of a tropical conservatory. There, planners can organize boardroom gatherings for up to 10 or reserve the entire building for seating up to 1,360. For casual outdoor events, organizers also can look to John Ball Zoo. Whether plans include a picnic for 200 or a more formal affair in the elegant glass and wood Bissell Tree House, John Ball Zoo melds corporate agendas with a spirit of playfulness.

(Top) Meeting attendees in Grand Rapids always look forward to a craft-beer experience. (Bottom) Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park groups as large as 5,000.

travelers visiting “Beer City USA” insist on local food and drink at their corporate gatherings. Locally sourced ingredients and craft beer take center stage at Grand Rapids’ Downtown Market, a venue that also features meeting rooms for groups as large as 250. Perhaps no space within the Market better epitomizes Grand Rapids’ love of the outdoors than the Greenhouse. Popular for cocktail parties, dinners and presentations, this verdant meeting space has lush tropical foliage and flowers and flows onto outdoor terraces overlooking downtown. Food-themed corporate events are a specialty for The Gilmore Collection, one of the

city’s premier event caterers. Food, drink and general party-planning options run from wood-fired pizza carts and heavy hors d’oeuvres to formal banquets. The Gilmore Collection regularly collaborates with meeting venues throughout Grand Rapids, such as the live entertainment spaces at the B.O.B. (Big Old Building), inside the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and surrounded by playscapes at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. FOLIAGE & ANIMALS Farther out of town, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park ranks among

amwaygrand.com 616.774.2000 artmuseumgr.org 616.831.1000 devosplace.org 616.742.6500 downtownmarketgr.com 616.805.5308 experiencegr.com 877.VISIT.GR jbzoo.org 616.336.4300 meijergardens.org 616.957.1580 thegilmorecollection.com 616.356.2627

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 21


VE N UE REP ORT Holiday Venues

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Options for unconventional seasonal gatherings abound across the state. BY CHRIS WILLIAMS

» FROM CITIES TEEMING with bright lights to snowy small towns, Michigan is a winter wonderland. If you’re looking for a way to make your event or post-event outing more festive, consider these unique holiday offerings. PEACOCK ROAD FAMILY FARM This rustic family farm has long been a tradition for weddings, parties and other events, and its barn is a particularly popular location for business parties of 50 to 250, complete with a delicious holiday meal. The location offers numerous holiday activities, from a ride on the Peacock Express train to Santa’s Cabin and cookies in the Sugar Shack. No visit is complete without cutting down your own Christmas tree. THE COLLINS OFF MAIN

Chelsea

Celebrate winter California style. This new, chic event space is located in a turn-of-thecentury building in downtown Chelsea. Its blend of California Boho and functionality have quickly made it one of the hottest spots for weddings and corporate events, with capacity for up to 200 people and elegant decor that can be tweaked for any holiday occasion. “The walls are white, and with just a splash of color can meet whatever need you have,” says owner Amy Collins. “Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so it was very important for me to make it fit all holidays.”

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Holiday music at Greenfield Village

HENRY FORD MUSEUM & GREENFIELD VILLAGE

Dearborn

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is ideal for an inspiring endof-year celebration or cocktail hour, where guests will be surrounded by famous historic artifacts (capacity ranges from 100 to 5,000). Afterward, head to Greenfield Village for the 20th annual Holiday Nights to tour historic homes and enjoy festive foods, gorgeous light displays, a visit with St. Nick, fireworks and caroling. “It’s like stepping into a Christmas card,” says Joanne Peterka, head of event sales for The Henry Ford. Group tickets are available.

DOWNTOWN FRANKENMUTH

Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth shines during the holidays, and not just because it’s home to Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store. Frankenmuth offers many event options, from the full-service conference center at Bavarian Inn Lodge, which can accommodate up to 500, to historic Fischer Hall, which can seat 120 to 196. After your event, enjoy a world-famous chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, shop downtown, take a horsedrawn carriage ride or go for a spin on the new skating rink at Zehnder Park.

P H OTO S : N I C K H AG E N ; (O P P O S I T E ) P H M U S E U M ; M E A D OW B R O O K H A L L ; C R O SS R OA DS V I L L AG E ; B E N C A B L E

Laingsburg


(Clockwise from Top Left) Fort Gratiot Lighthouse; Meadow Brook Hall; Crossroads Village train; Downtown Frankenmuth.

CHRISTMAS AT CROSSROADS VILLAGE

Flint

What’s more festive than a Christmas train ride? Crossroads Village is the perfect gathering place after an event at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum and can accommodate up to 65 guests. After a light-festooned ride on an authentic diesel engine, stroll through an 1800s winter wonderland. Visit Santa Claus, take in a stage play or ride the antique carousel and Ferris wheel. FESTIVAL OF TREES

Port Huron

McLaren Port Huron Hospital will once again fill its main floor public areas with festive Christmas trees. It’s an ideal way to spend some time after a gathering at Blue Water Convention Center (capacity 1,600), McMorran Place Sports & Entertainment Area (capacity up to 3,000 in the arena; 1,157 in the Theater; 80 in the Memorial Room and 150 in the Lounge), or Solitude Links Golf Course and Banquet Center (capacity 25-750 guests). Other area holi-

day offerings include Winter Celebration in Pine Grove Park or a candlelit tour through Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan’s oldest working lighthouse. “Winter here is breathtaking!” says Katie Stepp, marketing manager for Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The views from the Blue Water Convention Center of the Blue Water Bridges and close proximity of freighters passing by are spectacular. One of the more popular attractions in the winter is seeing the ice floe (blue ice on occasion) and birdwatching. Because the inland lakes freeze, the birds, including snowy owls and bald eagles, will gather more along the St. Clair River in search of the flowing, open waters. It’s beautiful to watch.” MEADOW BROOK HALL

Rochester

Considered one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in the country, Meadow Brook Hall provides an elegant option for numerous events, from business meetings to grand receptions, strolling dinners and cocktail hours for 20 to 300.

bluewater.org 810.987.8687 bluewaterchamber.com 810.985.7101 frankenmuth.org 989.652.6106 geneseecountyparks.org/crossroads-village 810.736.7100 meadowbrookhall.org 248.364.6200 peacockrff.com 517.651.9193 thecollins.co 734.531.7722 thehenryford.org 313.982.6001

During the holidays, the estate is decked out with more than 50 trees, hundreds of feet of garland and thousands of twinkling lights. In 2021, Meadow Brook will expand the experience with Winter Wonder Lights, featuring festive outdoor lights, music and concessions.

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 23


Meet where you love to play

ou

playFour seasons and three resorts offer endless opportunities Four seasons and three resorts offer to meet, relax and restore in northern Michigan. endless opportunities to meet, relax and restore in northern Michigan.

Visit Boyne.com for future information or reach out to one of our meeting specialists at Groupsales2@boyne.com. To book your event, speak to our team at 231-549-6012

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MEET ME ON THE

Slopes Michigan’s ski resorts offer first-class meeting and event facilities alongside opportunities for outdoor recreation.

P H O T O : B R I A N WA LT E R S

BY AMY S. ECKERT

Boyne Mountain

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 25


BLANKETS A STAND OF EVERGREEN TREES. SUNSHINE GLANCES OFF THE SLOPES, TURNING THE SETTING INTO A LANDSCAPE OF DIAMONDS. THE FACES OF SKIERS BEAM AS THEY SCHUSS THEIR WAY DOWN THE MOUNTAIN.

The scene has the appearance of a perfect outdoor getaway and, increasingly, the look of an ideal corporate meetings and events location. Offering gathering areas ranging from large conference rooms and banquet halls to more intimate spaces suitable for breakout sessions and board meetings, Michigan’s ski resorts allow organizers to plan customizable and efficient meetings. But the resorts’ unique advantage lies in their settings, surrounded by picturesque winter landscapes and first-rate outdoor facilities. Once business is over, attendees can look forward to time on the slopes.

Mixing Work with Pleasure

“Combining a corporate event with the amenities available at a resort property is just smart,” says Judy Booth, vice president of sales for Boyne Resorts. According to Booth, conference venues like ski resorts that are capable of blending business functions with opportunities for fun and relaxation promise an event that is both productive and memorable. Boyne operates two ski resorts in northern Michigan, Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs and Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls. Set in an area that receives from 140 to 200 inches of snow per year, ski resorts like Boyne hardly need to convince wintertime conference organizers of their expertise at managing exhilarating skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports. What meeting planners often need to be reminded of is the adeptness of the resorts in accommodating mission-focused corporate meetings. Both Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain offer spacious, hightech meeting and banquet spaces for groups as large as 600 and 800, respectively. Each property offers guest rooms on-site, from standard hotel lodging to luxurious condominium units and chalets, as well as a dozen dining options, ranging from coffee shops and pizza joints to fine dining restaurants and banquet halls.

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Together Again … and Again

Incorporating fun activities into a multi-day schedule certainly makes a conference more enjoyable. Might it also boost attendance? Brittney Buti, manager of public relations for Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, responds with a firm “Yes.” In fact, she says, many conference attendees are so eager to participate in ski resort meetings that they bring their partners with them. “After experiencing much of the past year and a half not traveling and working remotely, we’re finding that the market for post-COVID events is huge,” says Buti. “When attendees learn that they’ll be meeting at Crystal Mountain, they make the drive. And they don’t come alone. They bring their families or friends and make a long weekend of it.” After the day’s meetings or between sessions, conference attendees can schuss down one of the resort’s 58 downhill runs, meander through the snow-covered trees on cross-country skis or catch up with colleagues on ice skates or fat bikes. Indoors, they may meet to unwind at Crystal Spa.

P H O T O S : C R Y S TA L M O U N TA I N ; B R I A N C O N F E R

A thick layer of snow

And then there’s the fun factor. “Conference planners often ask me, ‘Do you have the ability to offer spouse activities, team-building exercises or social activities for our evening gatherings?’” says Booth. “And I say, ‘Here at Boyne, all of that is built in.’” From custom-made scavenger hunts and afternoon spa appointments to day or night skiing and even winter ziplining, the staff at Boyne can coordinate these activities, among others, for meeting attendees and their accompanying guests. “We’re finding many of our corporate planners choose to make Boyne’s resort activities part of the agenda,” says Booth. “Maybe they’ll attend meetings during the day and then gather at Avalanche Bay, Boyne’s indoor waterpark, in the evening for a social gathering. Or maybe they’ll have meetings in the morning, enjoy free time at the spa in the afternoon, and gather again in the evening for networking or a guided snowshoe hike, where they snowshoe from one food and beverage station to the next.”


Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 27


Treetops Resort

Planning for Efficiency

Corporate meeting planners frequently cite convenience and efficiency as a reason for planning meetings at ski resort venues. Treetops Resort

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P H O T O S : B R I A N WA LT E R S

As many as 350 attendees and as few as eight can be accommodated at Crystal Center, where functions may range from keynote addresses and corporate banquets to networking over BBQ and locally brewed beer on the back deck at the foot of the slopes. And like most Michigan ski resorts, Crystal Mountain offers on-site lodging—more than 250 rooms, suites and townhouses—as well as a host of dining options. “We’ve found that companies appreciate how easy it is to plan all aspects of an event in a single location, to the point that they may organize the same event the very next year,” Buti says. With so many activities and amenities available, and a variety of charming local communities nearby, meeting organizers can plan an event at Crystal Mountain year after year without ever duplicating the exact same agenda.


They appreciate the ability to reserve event spaces and schedule meals and activities through a single resort sales director. Most of northern Michigan’s resorts lie 30 to 60 minutes from the nearest airport and once meeting attendees arrive, they need not leave the property until the conference is over. “Everything is on-site at Crystal Mountain,” says Buti. “The meeting rooms, the lodging, the dining, the social spaces. Everything.” Gone are the interminable bus rides, where meeting attendees are transported from professional development sessions to dinner, from dinner to hospitality events, and from hospitality events to the hotel. That kind of transportation efficiency is a perk that meeting attendees also appreciate. “Sometimes our corporate visitors are a bit skittish about coming to northern Michigan in the winter,” admits Barry Owens, general manager of Treetops Resort in Gaylord. “But we remind them that we are centrally located right off Interstate 75. And once our visitors arrive, they can shed their baggage for the entire time they’re here.” That’s true in a literal sense. Once a corporate traveler arrives at Treetops, resort staff take care of all luggage and scheduling issues. Treetops Resort has invested heavily in both its corporate and outdoor amenities, spending upwards of $1.5 million to further improve both sectors of their business going forward. And they’ve updated audiovisual capabilities to allow more efficient and smooth-flowing hybrid meetings with a robust ability to involve attendees who may choose to join remotely. “Shedding baggage” might also be understood in its figurative sense. Just step outdoors for a little fresh air, conversation and a chance to unwind—think of it as a snowy walking meeting. Inside, the cozy, north woods-themed lodge facilitates memorable one-on-one conversations that may last until well after official events have ended, perhaps in an après-ski bar or before a roaring fire in the hotel lobby.

Healthy Meetings, Healthy Playtime

In the era of COVID-19, with business travel upended and conference organizers uncertain of how to plan future events, venues like ski resorts offer yet another advantage: numerous opportunities to meet productively outside. And outdoor meetings at a destination like Treetops Resort are anything but dull. “At Treetops, we organize dog-sledding activities where individuals can meet and greet the mushers and the dogs,” says Owens. “We set up group ski lessons. We arrange snowshoeing outings and winter river rafting along the Sturgeon River, which is really fun.” Treetops also offers its own version of “Amazing Race,” as well as the Skiable Feast dining event, where participants cross-country ski between five individual food and beverage stations, all of this in addition to the resort’s ski runs. During the course of these outdoor activities, conference attendees

naturally talk shop. They engage in problem solving, sort out business strategy and become better acquainted with colleagues and sales prospects. All outdoors. Enjoyably outdoors. And all at a safe distance. “This has been a stressful year for so many of us,” says Owens of the pandemic’s upset of the business world’s status quo. “Many of us developed new habits, taking up snowshoeing or biking, learning to ski for the first time. That was partly because that’s all we could safely do outside our homes. And those habits linger.” Owens thinks it’s possible that in the future many conference attendees will not only relish the combination of work and leisure offered by ski resorts like Treetops, they’ll demand it.

Acres of Natural Beauty

A final amenity offered by Michigan’s ski resorts? Their natural beauty. Surrounded by snow-covered forests, tucked at the foot of a ski mountain and covered in glittering snow measured in feet, these meeting destinations offer an extraordinary sense of retreat and truly getting away from the ordinary, whether planners and attendees seek a time of camaraderie, refocus or reward for meeting business goals. “I’ve heard people say that a conference room is a conference room,” says Buti, “and I suppose to some degree that’s true. But the meeting rooms at Crystal Mountain overlook the slopes,” she counters. “And you’ve got to admit, that’s a pretty nice perk.”

boyneresorts.com | 855.396.6118 crystalmountain.com | 888.968.7686 gaylordmichigan.net | 989.732.4000 petoskeyarea.com | 800.845.2828 traversecity.com | 231.947.1120 treetops.com | 877.724.1083

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 29


I ND U STRY U PDATE Infographic

Optimism Returns

With the positive outlook comes real challenges in luring talent back and training newcomers. RESEARCH COURTESY OF MEETING PROFESSIONALS INTERNATIONAL » MEETINGS PROFESSIONALS are anticipating major growth for the year to come in areas like hiring, budgets and attendance, according to the summer 2021 edition of Meeting Professionals International’s “Meetings Outlook.” Respondents to the Meetings Outlook survey also are taking getting vaccinated seriously, with more than 91 percent reporting being fully or partially vaccinated. Optimism and business expectations are the highest ever seen in Meetings Outlook, with 93 percent projecting favorable business conditions over the next year compared to only 36 percent reporting optimism the prior summer. In addition, more than 81 percent anticipated holding their next face-to-face event in 2021. With all this good news comes real concerns, especially staffing challenges and getting teams back up and running to offer quality customer service as the meetings and events industry revs back up. Even with possible impact from coronavirus variants on the horizon, confidence remains high. Watch for upcoming Meetings Outlooks to keep up with the latest information. Here’s to positive outlooks! mpi.org |

MPI | » Download the full report at: mpi.org/docs/default-source/meetings-outlook/meetings-outlook-summer-2021.pdf

ATTENDANCE FORECASTS

Getting back to in-person meetings is definitely a priority, and the number of virtual meetings is dropping. Here’s what planners had to say about upcoming gatherings. In comparison, 87 percent of respondents in summer 2020 indicated favorable virtual attendance. That number has shifted to 36 percent.

Live Attendance Projections

Virtual Attendance Projections

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77% 4% 19% 36% 16% 47%

WELLNESS CONTENT

As the industry builds back to former levels, the pandemic has focused a spotlight on the importance of wellness being part of the conversation and most meeting and event agendas. Sixty-three percent expressed a greater interest in wellness-specific content, while only 4 percent indicated less interest in onsite wellness programming. It’s not only physical health but mental health as well.

As the meetings and events industry transitions back to more “normal” levels, it will require understanding and patience from every direction … planners, suppliers and attendees. Everyone is doing their best and juggling unique challenges. Thank you to MPI for providing helpful insights into what’s happening during what has been one huge rollercoaster ride.


BUSINESS CONDITIONS

There has been a big leveling out of the buyer’s and seller’s market landscape in just a quarter as things begin to settle. The numbers speak for themselves, but it’s important to note that planners weren’t able to leverage the advantage much due to limited numbers of in-person events from fall 2020 through spring 2021. As more gatherings return and venues deal with hiring challenges, the limited supply likely will continue to swing the pendulum to a seller’s market.

FALL WINTER SPRING SUMMER 2020 2021 2021 2021

Buyer’s Market

73% 76% 67% 44%

Balanced Market

14% 13% 19% 18%

Seller’s Market

13% 12% 14% 38%

Pricing Movement

It’s also interesting to look at how pricing has changed, as respondents indicated that costs for many meeting/event-related expenses increased in 2021. The price tags that seem to be least affected are office space, speakers/presenters, on-site security and entertainment. According to respondents, prices for many meeting/event-related expenses have risen this year. How much have they increased?

+1%-5% +6%-10% +11%-25% >25% No change

AIRFARE

12% 24% 19% 13% 20%

AUDIOVISUAL

11% 20% 17% 9% 32%

ENTERTAINMENT

11% 23% 7% 3% 39%

F&B

16% 32% 22% 5% 16%

GUEST ROOMS

17% 17% 19% 7% 29%

OFFICE SPACE

14% 10% 2% 2% 50%

ON-SITE SECURITY

10% 12% 9% 4% 44%

RENTAL CARS

7% 15% 13% 24% 26%

SPACE RENTAL

16% 23% 12% 6% 33%

SPEAKERS/PRESENTERS

12% 17% 9% 2% 45%

THE TALENT CHALLENGE

Much of the summer 2021 edition of MPI’s Meetings Outlook was dedicated to the biggest elephant in the room: a shortage of industry talent. Lengthy furloughs and job loss due to the pandemic drove many in the meetings/events and hospitality industries to find new jobs or new career paths. Women have accounted for nearly 80 percent of people who left the workforce during the pandemic, according to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, and women make up approximately 77 percent of the meetings and events workforce, noted one source. As venues and hotels have started ramping up the meetings and events side of their businesses again, the amount of qualified staff hasn’t necessarily been available, which has required looking at new and more diverse pools of people to hire and adding new skills to employees’ repertoires. Companies in the industry also are becoming more open to hiring contract employees and freelancers to address the ebbs and flows of business levels.

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 31


IN DUSTRY U PDAT E Regional News

Latest Developments //

GETTING SOCIAL IN SAUGATUCK New shopping and sipping areas boost local businesses and offer opportunities for mingling.

NOTEWORTHY PROJECTS FOR SOUTHFIELD The Northland Mall redevelopment project will involve 14 new mixed-use buildings, including a new city market, on the site of the former Northland Mall in Southfield.

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Saugatuck shopping and sipping areas.

Former Northland Mall redevelopment project.

The project will also include the rehabilitation and reactivation of a portion of the existing mall, and the new buildings will be constructed throughout the site, filling in much of the existing massive parking lot. As part of the project, the former J.L. Hudson Co. store, once the largest branch department

store in the world, will be returned to use as the Hudson City Market, a food-and-goods marketplace that will be filled with dining and entertainment options. GL Rentals, LLC plans to construct a new two-story, mixed-use building in the heart

P H O T O S : S A G AT U C K ; C O N T O U R D E V E L O P M E N T G R O U P ; ( O P P O S I T E ) M A C V B

A new social district opened in downtown Fenville on Aug. 5, 2021. Operating Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m., the social district allows visitors to purchase alcoholic beverages from participating bars and restaurants and enjoy them throughout the district’s common areas. Right now, the district is approved through October 30, 2021. After that date, the city will evaluate its success and determine future plans. “We are looking forward to promoting another well-received social district in our area,” says Lisa Mize, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our social districts have proven to be a great opportunity for businesses to recoup some of the lost business from last year’s COVID-19 restrictions. Our visitors truly enjoy the experience of strolling with their favorite drink from these bars and restaurants while they socialize or wait to be seated.” Two other social districts in the area have proven to be highly successful. The downtown Douglas social district and the social district on Saugatuck’s waterfront both operate seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. www.sagatuck.com


of downtown Zeeland. The project will be an addition to an existing building and when completed, will include commercial space on the first floor that will allow for the expansion of a longstanding small business, as well as residential apartment space on the second floor. The project is the second phase of a twophase project of redeveloping underutilized and vacant lots in downtown Zeeland. GUN LAKE CASINO EXPANDS You can bet on even more fun at the Gun Lake Casino in Wayland. The gaming destination has completed a $100-million, 72,000-square-foot expansion that includes more seating for live concerts and sporting events, additional gaming space and new outdoor fire-lit entertainment and dining space. The expansion is part of a larger, $300-million plan to extend the casino into a 250-room resort hotel with a full-service spa and three new restaurants.

Meetings //

MICHIGAN CVB MEMBERS GATHER IN MUSKEGON The Michigan Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (MACVB) held its annual educational conference at VanDyk Mortgage Convention Center in Muskegon on Aug. 2 and 3. The conference provides an educational opportunity for MACVB members and their supporting sponsors to gather each year. Conference topics were focused on marketing and advocacy for the tourism industry.

SHKODÉ Chophouse, named for the Pottawatomi word for fire, offers locally sourced and freshly harvested ingredients on a menu that features flame-grilled steak and fire-roasted seafood. Private dining is available. CBK, which stands for “Craft, Bar, Kitchen,” takes inspiration from Michigan’s rich culture of breweries and features more than 100 beers. The taphouse menu specializes in pub fare, including pizza, burgers, tacos and Michigan cheese boards. 131 Sportsbar & Lounge offers a frontrow seat for live music, comedy and sports entertainment. The menu’s modern twist on bar food features shareable bites like loaded nachos, potato tots and wings, along with burgers, fish and chips, chicken, ribs, and burritos. A private dining room can be reserved for 25 to 60 guests. Owned by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi, Gun Lake Casino is halfway between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. gunlakescasino.com

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 33


IN DUSTRY U PDAT E Regional News

People News

NEW M1 CONCOURSE HAS REVVED UP STAFFING Chris Pokorski joins the M1 team as director of marketing and communications. A board member of Motor Cities National Heritage Area, an organization that promotes the rich automotive and labor history of southeast Michigan, Pokorski has played a key role in the marketing of highprofile events like the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Concours d’Elegance of America, Eyes On Design, Motor Muster and Woodward Dream Cruise. Before assuming his new position, Pokorski directed the Detroit Metro Convention Visitors Bureau’s advertising and marketing efforts to change perceptions of the region. This included leading the award-winning “Detroit, America’s Great Comeback City” campaign.

DRIVEN BY A LOVE OF EVENTS AND DETROIT

Bruce Rothschild comes on board as director of event sales. Previously senior director of sales for LiveNation and director of sales for Park Hyatt in Chicago, Rothschild brings more than 20 years of sales, business development and event management leadership to his new role at M1.

Continental Services. In this new role, he’ll be overseeing the myriad of culinary experiences at M1, from special events to the new Event Center, and designing memorable experiences for corporations and individuals.

events runs deep in the Molinari family. Cassie Molinari, project coordinator for the North American International Auto Show, was responsible for organizing details of the Motor City Car Crawl (MC3), which took place on Aug. 7 in downtown Detroit. Her father, Claude Molinari, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, is dedicated to attracting large conventions and marquee events to the metro Detroit region. MC3, an all-new summer event hosted by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and Downtown Detroit Partnership, featured a weekend of vehicle displays, family activities and live entertainment. On Saturday, a ticketed charity event with a concert performance by Sheryl Crow raised money for several Detroit children’s charities. Cassie is shown here at MC3 with her mom, Kelly, and dad, Claude.

NEW MARKETING DIRECTOR FOR BOYNE HIGHLANDS RESORT Julie Rogers joins Boyne Highlands Resort as director of marketing for the 4,000-acre property. Rogers has an extensive marketing background, working for nearly 15 years within the tourism and hospitality sectors. For the past nine years, she

served as director of marketing for Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. She currently serves on the Michigan Travel Commission Board of Directors, a position she’ll hold through August 2024, and she’s an active member of Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International. “Julie’s background and experience, including having worked for an iconic resort of international fame, will be a tremendous asset to our team as we continue on our transformational journey of Boyne Highlands,” says Mike Chumbler, the property’s president and general manager. “With her guidance, we’ll be able to elevate to a higher caliber resort and guest experience.”

Lodging News //

FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES OPENS IN MARQUETTE The first Marriott franchise in the Upper Peninsula, Fairfield Inn & Suites at Founders Landing, opened in June 2021 and features 92 rooms and a pool. Conveniently located near downtown Marquette,

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guests can take advantage of a beautiful Lake Superior beach across the road and explore kayaking, biking, golf and endless miles of hiking trails. marriott.com

P H O T O S : ( O P P O S I T E ) E VA N S C H I L L E R ; I N N AT B AY H A R B O R

Mike Roberts joins the team as director of hospitality, bringing to M1 Concourse a wealth of experience from his years as senior vice president with Forte Belanger Remarkable Events/

» A PASSION FOR CREATING


t e e M

esee in Flint & Gen

Play Renovations //

Work and play on the bay A Petoskey Inn expands its offerings. BY AMY S. ECKERT

» AFTER FOUR YEARS OF RENOVATING AND REFRESHING every inch of its guest rooms and public spaces, Inn at Bay Harbor turns its attention outdoors, offering new activities in time for the fall and winter seasons. Inn at Bay Harbor was built in 1998, but it was designed to recreate the elegant hotels of the 19th century. Its multi-year overhaul, completed in 2019, was meant to elevate the guest experience when the hotel joined Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand. Each of the 105 guest rooms received a fresh, contemporary look, and corporate event spaces underwent design and technical upgrades. Now the hotel, famous for its white colonnaded façade and picturesque Lake Michigan golf courses, is expanding its outdoor recreation to include links tours for non-golfers, called Cliffview Cart Cruises; electric bike rentals; and, come winter, a new skating rink. Winter activities can be paired with snowshoeing at Crooked Tree Golf Club, long a popular pastime at Bay Harbor. The activities offer a great way to unwind after business and can be customized for corporate events. innatbayharbor.com

t c e n n Co ExploreFlintandGenesee.org

MI.MEETINGSMAGS.COM 35


PE OPLE PROF I L E Peter Fitzsimons

and beverage. Finally, after 13 years, I became general manager of the new Petoskey Holiday Inn. MIM+E: In 1985, after being on the steering committee to form a Petoskey convention and visitors bureau, you assumed the role of executive director. You’ve had a lot of job opportunities over the years that you turned down to stay. Why? PF: Petoskey is one of the most beautiful places in the country. I believe that in my heart, and millions of people that have visited here will attest to that. It has small-town values, and it’s a perfect place to live and a perfect place to promote. MIM+E: What makes the area appealing to visitors, including meeting planners?

After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. BY SHELLEY LEVITT In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality? PF: I started in 1968 as a busboy at Holiday Inn Traverse City. From there I moved on to bellman. After a couple of years in the Army, I was hired back as night auditor, then as a front-desk supervisor, and on through roles in sales, accounting, purchasing, and food

36 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022

MIM+E: What are you going to do once you retire? PF: I’m a member of a couple of golf clubs and a yacht club, and they have activities going on all the time. I like to fish. And, I’m looking forward to going to more cool events, like the Boyne Falls Polish Festival, Harbor Springs Brew Festival and Art in the Park in downtown Petoskey. Whatever I do, I’ll always be a steadfast promoter of Petoskey.

petoskeyarea.com

I L L U S T R AT I O N : T R A C I Z E L L M A N N

A Lifelong & Passionate Petoskey Promoter

PF: I’ve been answering the question “What’s so great about us?” for 36 years, and the number one answer is always the area’s natural beauty, the fresh pollen-free air, the water. Along with that, we have some of the best facilities and state-of-the-art equipment and connectivity that you’ll find anywhere. Plus, meeting planners know they’re going to be well taken care of here. When it comes to amenities and team-building activities, we have 17 championship golf courses, over a dozen wineries, several breweries and distilleries, ziplining, kayaking and miles of continuous biking and hiking trails. If attendees and their families stay on after the meeting, they can enjoy fine dining and great shopping in the Historic Gaslight District, including independent shops you won’t find anywhere else. Harbor City has 11 art galleries and some of the best chocolate chunk cookies you’ll ever taste at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies.


LONG LIVE GOOD TIMES Escape the world for a while and enjoy endless action and indulgence. Celebrate your winning moments. Taste the good life. Lounge around in plush accommodations. And do it all over again tomorrow. It’s all here at Michigan’s most exciting destination. It’s a New Day

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“ZOOM” Meetings REDEFINED

M1 Concourse is excited to announce the opening of a 28,500 SF state-of-the-art event center located immediately adjacent to the Champion Motor Speedway, where your guests can enjoy thrill rides around our 1.5-mile track that you cannot experience anywhere else. M1 Concourse is one of the most unique entertainment facilities in the Midwest. Our new event center is ideal for hosting signature events, including vehicle launches, charitable event galas, fashion and lifestyle showcases, and significant automotive and technology expositions.

1 Concourse Drive, Pontiac, Michigan 48341

LEARN HOW M1 CONCOURSE CAN ADD SOME “ZOOM” TO YOUR NEXT MEETING Call our Event Team at 1-866-M1-Track Ext 1 // events@m1concourse.com PREMIERE EVENT CENTER // 1.5 MILE PERFORMANCE TRACK // VEHICLE DYNAMICS ARENA 4 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022