Munching on Nana’s deviled eggs and grimacing at embarrassing jokes by distant uncles— family reunions conjure up images of small, casual, easy-going affairs.

But in fact, family reunions have become a significant part of the tourism and meetings industry, especially in cities like Detroit that have strong African-American populations. According to the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, family reunions occupy more than 15,000 room nights annually and generate more than $16 million in direct visitor spending. 

The bureau is working to consciously build on that market, offering an annual familyreunion planning seminar. The most recent seminar, held in October at the MotorCity Casino Hotel, had nearly 1,000 registrants. It offered a trade show and sessions on the basics of reunion planning, using social media to support one’s event and ideas for activities in Detroit for one’s guests. 

In fact, the bureau offers a range of free services to reunion planners, including help with selection of vendors and service providers, free promotional items and guidance in selecting activities for kids and adults. So that means less time for planners to sweat the details and more time for eating deviled eggs.

Options for unconventional seasonal gatherings abound across the state. 

From cities teeming with bright lights to snowy small towns, Michigan is a winter wonderland. If you’re looking for a way to make your event or post-event outing more festive, consider these unique holiday offerings. 

Peacock Road Family Farm 

Laingsburg

 

After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?

 

The CDC defines close contact as within six feet or less, for 15 minutes or more with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. At gatherings of many kinds, contact tracing is used to trace the people that someone has come into contact with, before they learn that they have tested positive. This allows the people that the sick person came into contact with to be aware of the situation, and to make health-informed choices.