By Sarah Beauchamp and Katie Kervin, Assistant Editors
What's new for meetings and conventions at your property that you're most excited about?
Our ownership — the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians — is able to provide a cultural element, such as drummers or dancers, to a meeting to help share and explain who we are. Traverse City is an “Emerging Beer Town," so we are able to offer brewery tours with tastings (of course!). And we continue to promote the Michigan Wine experience, which is truly outstanding in our region, with nearly 30 wineries for tours and tastings.
What are meeting planners asking for now that they weren't asking for a year or two ago?
It appears that now, more than in the past, planners are looking to utilize local foods, beverages, and products whenever they can. Our culinary team loves this opportunity, and we pride ourselves on being able to offer something “from the neighborhood” to add local flavor to a large event.
Who has been your mentor in the meetings industry?
“Speaker Sue,” Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, [from] High Impact Presentations, has been such an important person in helping me finetune my communication skills and in coaching my team. My former director of sales, Cheryl Ferguson, now with the Hotel Del Coronado, was a great role model as I grew into my current position at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. She left big shoes to fill, and I wouldn't be where I am today without her guidance, support, and friendship.
What is your leadership style?
I like to roll up my sleeves and get into the details with everyone else. The power [and] energy of teamwork, and enthusiasm toward a common goal really make a difference. I like to be known as someone who puts in the time and works collaboratively to make things a success.
What are you most looking forward to in 2013?
I'm excited to see that meeting planners are exploring destinations they may not have considered before. For instance, Traverse City is receiving all kinds of new accolades, and planners are intrigued by what we have to offer and are willing to present new locations to the C-level for consideration. The continued growth of the Pure Michigan campaign has introduced the state to so many new people, and I look forward to the economic impact this continues to have on tourism in our region. I'm also very excited about the continued camaraderie and commitment to the business of meetings within our industry. We continue to grow, evolve, and make others aware of the large impact we have.
What is the biggest challenge — and the biggest opportunity — facing the meetings industry today?
I still feel that everyone is battling the pressure of having to do more with less. Time seems to be moving as quickly as ever; there is no “downtime” or “slow period” any more. My favorite quote is “burn brightly without burning out,” and that seems to be more relevant than ever as the economy seems to be rebounding.
Director of Sales, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa