"Making every visit special is paramount, because we hope to have attendees and planners become champions for our destination..."
Mary Manier, Director of Sales, Experience Grand Rapids, shares her perspective about her destination and the value found in using a CVB, and Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI’s) Terri Roberts takes note.
Mary is as bright and progressive as the destination she represents and she has a lot of passion for the city she sells and calls home. As the “City Princess,” she brings a wealth of experience and a continued desire to serve Grand Rapids. She is eager for planners to understand and appreciate all the destination has to offer, and to introduce them to the benefit of engaging Experience Grand Rapids as a destination partner. So if you are looking for a city large with amenities, but with a much smaller price tag, read on!
TERRI: Tell me a little about yourself and your background in the CVB industry?
MARY: Grand Rapids is the city I love and the place I call home. I’ve been working at Experience Grand Rapids for over 31 years, sharing everything I know and love about my hometown with others. Our team members all have what we call “fun titles,” and mine is “City Princess.” It’s been amazing to watch our destination grow and flourish, and even more incredible to have been a part of it for so many years.
TERRI: What’s the best thing about your job?
MARY: Having the opportunity to introduce my hometown to people who have never visited Grand Rapids.
TERRI: What makes Grand Rapids a great meeting destination?
MARY: Grand Rapids has all of the facilities and amenities that you would expect from a much larger city, but without the much larger price tag. Ultimately, our attendees get all of the perks of meeting in a large city, but with the added bonus of a walkable downtown, a convention center with three beautiful hotel properties attached via skywalk, and over 90 restaurants, nightclubs, and museums all within a 5 minute walk… talk about convenience!
TERRI: What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about Grand Rapids?
MARY: Planners are completely surprised by the sheer size of our convention campus. Then, when they step outside the doors of the facility and realize everything there is to see, do, eat, and experience within such a short walking distance, they are even more amazed!
TERRI: How do you see the value you provide to planners as a CVB?
MARY: Our value lies in being a personal, customized team to support and guide our planners. We’re there every step of the way, on the ground, saving them time and money.
TERRI: What do you think are the advantages to reaching out to a CVB first when planning a meeting?
MARY: CVB’s can streamline the entire RFP process from the very beginning, providing in-depth information on the facilities that can accommodate the size, scope, and needs of the meeting. That type of information is invaluable to have upfront when making a decision.
TERRI: What size of meeting best fits in your destination?
MARY: We can accommodate small and large meetings, but 1400-1600 people; 800-900 room on peak is our sweet spot!
TERRI: Can a planner of a small or a large meeting take advantage of your services?
MARY: Yes—planners with meetings of any size should contact Experience Grand Rapids. We’re here to help you determine what facility is right for your group, and how we can work together with our outstanding services team to best accommodate you.
TERRI: Why are your services free?
MARY: Our services are complimentary because our funding is provided by the hotel guest room assessment. So, simply by inviting people to experience our destination and its great accommodations, we’re rewarded for the services we offer.
TERRI: What motivates you to provide the excellent service you are known for?
MARY: Our goal at Experience Grand Rapids is not only to meet the basic needs of the planner, but to far exceed the expectations of both the planner and the attendees. We want everyone to have the fantastic experiences that Grand Rapids offers up every day, but customized to their group. Making every visit special is paramount, because we hope to have attendees and planners become champions for our destination, and to bring back their future meetings and conventions while spreading the word about Grand Rapids.
TERRI: What would you like all planners to know about Grand Rapids and Experience Grand Rapids?
MARY: Grand Rapids is a city with a vibrant downtown, a great food scene, and (of course) amazing beer – we are Beer City, USA after all! On top of that, we like to think the Experience Grand Rapids team is not just our CVB staff, but the entire hospitality community. We work hard to make your meeting experience unforgettable, but we’re also confident that the workers, volunteers, and community members you encounter throughout your stay will go the extra mile to do the same.