Area tourism promoters honored by Gov. Snyder

KALAMAZOO - Governor Rick Snyder joined hundreds in attendance at the Annual Governor’s Tourism Conference Monday, March 21, which was held at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo.

“I’ve talked a lot about the need for collaboration to get Michigan moving again, and you in the tourism industry have been collaborating and celebrating it for years,” he said during his talk opening the event.

Later, with the assistance of Susan Sherer of the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan, four awards were handed out.

•The 2011 Innovative Collaboration Award for Marketing and Promotion went to the Lake to Lake B and B Association.

•The 2011 Innovative Collaboration Award for Non-Traditional Partnerships went to the Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance.

•The 2011 Innovative Collaboration Award for Experience Development and Presentation went to Monroe County CVB.

•The 2011 Innovative Collaboration Award for Education and Training went to Michigan’s Great Outdoors, accepted by Lake County resident and business owner Sandy Crandall, President of Michigan’s Great Outdoors.

Michigan’s Great Outdoors is a five county partnership that promotes tourism for Manistee, Mason, Lake, Newaygo and Oceana counties in west-central Michigan.

One of the groups accomplishments has been to create five annual tourism conferences aimed at education, training and networking within the five counties. Participants at these conferences include legislators and representatives of chamber of commerce, CVB’s, EDC and MSU Extension offices, many of whom have not typically been part of local or regional tourism planning and coordination.

This has created stronger partnerships to promote tourism to this region and to strengthen the local economies of these five counties. This effort has led to a collaborative logo, website and marketing strategies.

Representing Michigan’s Great Outdoors, Crandall addressed the audience of over 600 to thanking TICOM and Governor Rick Snyder for the award saying “This is very exciting and as we’ve found out ... we are stronger together.”

Crandall representing Lake County was accompanied by Ron Vliem and Laurie Supenski of Newaygo County, Linda Foster of Oceana County, Elaine Bush and Kay Cummings of MSU Extension serving the five county area, Melissa Karsinski of Manistee County, and Amy Seng representing Mason County.

Crandall said aside from the mission statement that keeps them focused, she shared five principles that have kept them motivated in representing their five county destination.

Pride, opportunity, communication, value and momentum were listed as key principles that each of the partners share and challenged the audience to incorporate them, in their endeavors and to serve those they represent, as selflessly as possible - for a more positive outcome.

When asked how five counties would share the trophy presented, Crandall stated that Michigan Great Outdoors meets in a different county each month to keep things fresh and relevant. Whoever hosts the monthly meeting will keep the trophy until the next meeting is held in the next county. That way the honor has a “home” in all five counties.

It should be noted that the trophy is solid heavy glass. The base is clear azure blue and a clear glass light bulb sits on top with red glass threads running through it to replicate its energy.

So what’s next for Michigan’s Great Outdoors?

Crandall answered with a smile, “We are launching our first Michigan’s Great Outdoors Picnic Weekend, slated for Father’s Day weekend, in June.

“And we are developing a regional legislative tourism conference later in the year.”