More good news for meetings and events continues to pour out of the Gerald R. Ford International (GFIA) Airport.

The airport reported an almost 6 percent increase in passengers—2,811,622 total in 2017—flying and in out of the Grand Rapids facility. That record established the best year in the airport’s 54-year history, and marked the fifth straight year of record-setting growth.

The airport saw growth in 11 of 12 months during 2017, and experienced 53 months of growth over a 60-month period.

And then, from one meetings-and-events destination to another, Frontier Airlines earlier this year introduced regular direct flights between Orlando, Florida, and Grand Rapids. 

That’s in addition to the $17 million in renovations at the complex, including upgrades in space, retail, food and beverage, restrooms, amenities, and customer service offerings. A new, consolidated passenger security checkpoint centralized and combined security screening to one main checkpoint. Michigan Meetings + Events reported about that activity in the Spring 2018 issue.

Phase two of the project will begin in the fall with improvements at the airline ticket counters, baggage claim area and elsewhere. 

All of this makes it easier and more convenient for meeting and event attendees and planners to get to and from inviting sunset side venues and destinations.

“As we continue to grow in traffic it is imperative that our facilities keep up with our passenger demand. Our passengers keep coming back because we listen to their wants and needs. Our 2020 Vision is to hit the three million passenger mark,” says GFIA President and CEO Jim Gill.

First came COVID. Then came the tornado.

The northern Michigan community of Gaylord was just starting to rebound from the pandemic with its groups and events business as a new season was getting underway when a rare EF3 tornado with estimated wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour struck May 20.

Two people were killed and at least 44 were injured, according to official reports at the time. West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen said it was the strongest tornado to strike in the U.S. that month. 

 

A conference or convention venue might be described by meeting planners as offering ease and convenience for multiple reasons. It may be because its address is easily accessible from numerous compass points. Or perhaps it’s the destination—with a variety of opportunities for activities and entertainment close-by. And of course, it could be that the venue itself offers a peaceful, easy setting with all the comforts you could want. 

Well, at Treetops Resort, it’s all of the above. 

 

I chatted with Karen Totaro, general manager of Detroit’s newly renamed Huntington Place convention center, for our People Profile page in the spring issue of Michigan Meetings + Events. We didn’t have room for the whole conversation, so I wanted to share more of what Totaro had to say.