• 2022 MACVB Educational Conference at Mackinac Island Sept. 25-27

    POSTED September 6, 2022
    Photo credit: MACVB
  • 2022 MACVB Educational Conference at Mackinac Island Sept. 25-27

    POSTED September 6, 2022
    Photo credit: MACVB
  • 2022 MACVB Educational Conference at Mackinac Island Sept. 25-27

    POSTED September 6, 2022
    Photo credit: MACVB

In just a few weeks, the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (MACVB) convenes on Mackinac Island for its annual educational conference—a much-anticipated event for an organization that is all about meetings and gatherings.

MACVB Executive Director Larissa Draves says being able to meet in person to learn, share, and network is invaluable. The annual conference was held in person in 2021, though had to be virtual in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

“I feel meeting in person brings a stronger sense of belonging,” she says. “You aren’t as likely to interrupt someone, and it’s easier to truly ‘listen’ than when you are on a Zoom call. 

“Meeting online can be efficient and there are times and places where online meetings are important and warranted. For a 2.5-day conference, an in-person meeting is the only way to go.”

The statewide MACVB supports destination marketing organizations (DMOs) throughout the state with services that include advocacy, education, marketing, and networking opportunities. Themes at this year’s educational conference, set for Sept. 25-27 at the Grand Hotel, include crisis management, the impact of short-term rentals, responsible recreation initiatives, and in several sessions, the visitor experience.

Joe Veneto of Veneto Collaboratory will focus on 21st-century consumers and creating unforgettable visitor experiences. He’ll explore the process of creating engaging and immersive offerings that lead to meaningful connections with customers, which leads to developing them as brand ambassadors. He is also the keynote speaker.

Matt Sowash of Michigan Legislative Consultants will discuss the importance of engaging locally with state legislators and share an update about the State of Michigan per diem rating system.

AirDNA is a global leader in short-term rental analytics. Enterprise Account Executive Jaime Kamps-Duac will present short-term rental metrics, emphasizing Airbnb and VRBO. Comparing and contrasting Michigan to national and international data, she’ll also outline Michigan market outlooks, challenges, and opportunities that short-term rentals present for DMOs and traditional hotels.

Brad Barnett of Visit Keweenaw, Susan Estler of Travel Marquette, and Kathy Morin of the Cadillac Area CVB will participate in a panel on how DMOs can effectively promote outdoor recreation resources while addressing community concerns and helping visitors understand the importance of utilizing the spaces with respect and safety in mind. 

It’s all aimed at helping members succeed.

“I believe almost all of our members didn’t train or believe they would be the CEO or a senior-level staff member at a CVB,” Draves says. “We landed these jobs and we learned and grew with the job.

“Educational content is very important for our newer members and more seasoned members alike because our industry is changing so quickly.”

A silent auction will be held to benefit the MACVB PAC.

For more information, click here.

MACVB Annual Educational Conference finally reaches the shores of Mackinac Island.

As I rode in the carriage from the Shepler’s Ferry terminal to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, my mind wandered to a scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” In said scene, King Arthur and his sidekick, Patsy, approach a castle while galloping and banging coconuts together. After a few moments passed and my mind wandered back to the tree-lined streets of the island, I realized it was the clippety-clop of the draft horses pulling our carriage that brought on my thoughts of Python.


Ever wanted to stay in a treehouse? Greg Filipek and Brian Coates have just the place for you.

The partners built a 508-square-foot luxury “treehouse” on a six-acre parcel they’re calling Tree Vistas resort near Ionia where they hope to eventually add up to two more similar units. The design is all about bringing the outside in, with construction involving very little removal of the trees that were already there.

“The house was designed uniquely around the trees,” Filipek says. “We actually only had to cut down one tree—otherwise we wouldn’t have fit our bathroom in.


When Mary Chris Hotchkiss attended an event near Petoskey in March 2022, she was enchanted.

“I remember thinking as I was leaving that someday this would be a great place to work,” she says.

Someday is here. Hotchkiss was recently named new group sales director for the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.