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.
“I knew that there was a new executive director and the thought of being in a new destination with a new leader could be a great growth opportunity for me,” she says. Hotchkiss is referring to Jim Powell, who took over the top position in January following the retirement of longtime Executive Director Peter Fitzsimons.
Hotchkiss began her hospitality career working at a restaurant and golf club in her hometown of Williamston. A graduate of Michigan State University, she went on to become group sales manager for the East Lansing Marriott at University Place. In 2007, she joined the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, where her duties as sales manager included promoting the Greater Lansing Area as a destination for conventions, meetings, and events.
“It was helpful to be in hotel sales before coming to the CVB because I had walked in the shoes of a hotelier and understood the challenges associated with that role,” she says.
In Petoskey, she’s part of a smaller team—there are three on staff—and she’s glad about that.
“I will have a broader responsibility in this role and look forward to this new challenge,” she says, noting that she has been enjoying getting to know the region better.
“My first week, I toured so much in just a few days,” Hotchkiss says. “It is incredible how much there is to see and do.”
For example, she learned about the historic Bay View Association and its roots with Michigan Methodists since 1875. She explored trail systems and took a historic walking tour of downtown Petoskey.
She hadn’t realized that Kilwin’s Chocolates originated in Petoskey in 1947. That was welcome news to the fan of their ice cream, her favorite flavor being toasted coconut.
“I have also discovered the warm, friendly hospitality community to be very welcoming,” she adds.
A certified meeting planner, she’s a member of the Michigan Society of Association Executives, Society of Government Meeting Professionals, and Destinations International.
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