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Now I Get What You’ve Been Telling Me

Q&A with Tori Piersante, Vice President of Sales, Traverse City Tourism

On the shores of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City is known for their genuine and friendly hospitality. Tori Piersante, Vice President of Sales with Traverse City Tourism walks us through what makes her destination a great option for meeting planners, how they assist planners throughout the planning process and what they see as trending in the meeting’s industry.

What makes Traverse City a great meeting destination? 

Tori: First and foremost, few places can capture the natural beauty and adventurous spirit Traverse City offers event attendees. Attendees can explore beaches, outdoor recreation, golf courses, restaurants, wineries, craft breweries and so much more.

Traverse City’s unique setting on Grand Traverse Bay creates an inspiring backdrop for any meeting, and we’re known for our genuine and friendly hospitality, cleanliness and safety.  We’ve hosted meetings from 10 to 2,500 participants, as well as events like the National Cherry Festival, which brings 500,000 visitors to our area.  I like to refer to us as a pretty great meeting destination disguised as a resort area.    

What is the one thing planners are always surprised to learn about the Traverse City area?

Tori: Only one? That’s tough. Actually, the phrases we often hear during site inspections is, “I had no idea this was here” or my favorite, “now I get what you’ve been trying to tell me.”  We get this when people are taking in the natural beauty, the meeting facilities, wine tours, micro-brew tours, etc. The other comment we often hear is how much their attendance grows in Traverse City.  We’ve had many associations let us know their attendance increases when in our area.

The other big thing planners are excited to hear is that the Cherry Capital Airport, served by American, Delta and United airlines, is conveniently located about 10 minutes from our downtown area. We have direct service from Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis with seasonal direct service from Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Newark and La Guardia.

What might we find you enjoying in the destination on your day off? 

Tori: Another tough one to narrow down! I love to go wine tasting! With 45+ wineries, it’s a great way to spend a day or afternoon. For additional fun, I like going with friends and family on a micro-brew tour or going on a lazy cruise on the beautiful bays of Lake Michigan. Last but not least, I love exploring the award winning downtown area with artisan shops and a rising foodie scene.

What advice would you give to a planner who hasn’t worked with a CVB before?

Tori: Dive in! CVBs are a great resource and the destination experts. We help you source your meetings, depending on what your attendees are looking for, make recommendations for off-site venues, transportation, help with itinerary planning and basically, be your boots on the ground at the destination level.  The combination of our properties and the services of the destination are the complete package of all you’ll need to take advantage of the unique offerings of any destination.

What do you see trending in the meeting’s market? How is your CVB proactively addressing this trend or staying current?

Tori: One area we notice trending is the work/life balance.  In our area, we are seeing an increase of meetings that are combining a bit of family time with meetings.  We’re hearing from planners that this is an area they are emphasizing and one of the benefits is increased attendance.

Traverse City is a natural family friendly destination, so many of the amenities we offer help us accomplish this as a resort area. In addition, our hotels offer pre and post rates to groups and have on-property amenities. As a CVB, we work with planners to offer itinerary planning, creation of customized landing pages and customized email blasts that let attendees and their guests know what’s going on in our area before they arrive.

How does a planner benefit from consulting with you prior to sending out their RFP?

Tori: One great benefit is our understanding of the area to inform planners of the various properties available. We often talk to planners that may have a couple of properties in mind and they’re pleased to learn of an even greater variety of options.

The other thing is somewhat intangible, the experience. We can provide all the right options in dining, attractions, free time activities, that will enhance the overall experience of the meeting. Just being here, can influence the feel of the meeting and that can be powerful for meeting planners to communicate to potential attendees.

Traverse City loves group meetings and our hospitality community is committed to ensuring meetings, and all that surround them, are flawless and represent great value.

What’s the latest news, developments, or events in your destination you’d like to share with planners?

Tori: The National Cherry Festival (Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the world!), the Traverse City Film Festival, several national races, The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, Micro-brew and music festivals, and many others!

Renovations include a new conference center and hotel renovation at the historic Park Place Hotel.

What differentiates your destination from your competitive set?

Tori: What differentiates us truly lies in the authentic artisan nature of what we represent. Many of our properties are independent hotels that reflect our local flair. Our destination features local wine, microbrews and distilleries, and boutique shopping featuring true artisan works. Traverse City has been in the top five of Bon Appetit’s Foodie towns. our natural beauty, literally surrounding you at every turn, our charming downtown and the overall hospitality and service our guests enjoy day in and day out.

Plan your next meeting in Traverse City. Learn more here