Fresh Ideas for Corporate Meetings Up North … for any budget

One Weekend.

Three Meeting Planners.

And a slew of ideas for food, drink, lodging and activities to inspire your next corporate event.

The Planner:

Alison Beers


Events North

The Scenario:

Client needs to woo eight high-powered business owners to relocate their families and businesses to Traverse City. These executives have seen the charts, the proposals, the pie graphs, and the real estate. This weekend, Beers' task is to show these bigwhigs the beauty and relaxation Traverse City area has to offer, as well as its unique and thriving business climate.

The Budget:

$12,000 for eight guests

Events North's Approach:

I want to highlight some of the region's best views and activities with a variety of low-key experiences. I wanted to provide the best experience, but also be mindful of the budget, so I avoided anything overly lavish. Because the client wants to showcase the region and emphasize fun and relaxation without losing sight of the trip's purpose – to bring business north – I decided to pair the group with a successful business owner or TC Area Chamber staff member during several activities. Meeting with them would be invaluable and, I hope, inspiring.


Inn at Black Star Farms, $665 pp

This luxury bed and breakfast is the perfect spot to take in the local beauty of Leelanau Peninsula, some of Up North's fabulous wines and also a glimpse into a strong and unique northern Michigan business. Overlooking vineyards and horse paddocks, this stately B&B offers a grand entrance when you arrive. The Inn is part of the Select Registry "Distinguished Inns of North America." There are eight guest rooms each with a private bath. Amenities include: refreshments, evening wine reception, full gourmet breakfast, complimentary bottle of Black Star Farms wine, sauna, library, recreation trails and Wi-Fi.

The Itinerary:

Friday Dinner: Raclette Dinner at Black Star Farms, $160 pp

Joined by Black Star Farms managing partner, Don Coe, guests will enjoy the locally famed Raclette cheese – made onsite by the wonderful Leelanau Cheese Company -as well as dinner in the Black Star Farms' lush garden. Price includes dinner, drinks and all rentals.

Saturday Breakfast: included, onsite

Start the day early with breakfast or grab a box to go.

Saturday: Charter Fishing Trip & Lunch on South Manitou Island, $261 pp

Guests will rise with the sunrise, heading out from Suttons Bay on a morning charter fishing tour around the coast of Leelanau Peninsula and into Lake Michigan. We'll stop at South Manitou Island for a relaxed picnic lunch. Doug Luciani, President & CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce will join you for the day to talk about business life in Traverse City while catching fish! Price includes transportation in a van, lunch and fishing.

Head back to the hotel in the late afternoon to rest up.

Saturday Dinner: On board the Champion, $150 pp

Guests will board the Maritime Heritage Alliance's 39-foot, 1968 Concordia-built cutter CHAMPION for a sunset cruise with an elegant dinner and drinks on West Grand Traverse Bay of Traverse City. Price includes transportation in a van, dinner and drinks, and donation to the Maritime Heritage Alliance.

Saturday Post-Dinner Drinks: Red Ginger $20 pp

For those still up for more fun, we'll head to downtown Traverse City's Red Ginger for drinks and catch the bayside city's nightlife in full swing.

Sunday Breakfast: Lobdells, $60 pp

Enjoy a private catered breakfast with one of the best views of the Bay with Traverse City Mayor Chris Bzdok. Price includes transportation in a van, breakfast and room rental.

Grand Total:


About Events North:

Events North is a full-service event management agency specializing in corporate, social and nonprofit events. Events North also plans and executes meetings and incentives, marketing based events, holiday parties, client appreciation events and production services and location management for commercials, videos and movies.

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The Planner:

Bob Hertel

Director of Operations

Destination Michigan

The Scenario:

A corporate group of 30 people needs help planning their company retreat. This company is a southeast Michigan automotive parts supplier and comes to the table with a very limited budget of $12,000 for a two-night program. Approximately 70 percent of their budget will go toward hotel accommodations. With two brief meetings during the weekend, our client wants the program to primarily be an opportunity for the employees to bond and take advantage of northern Michigan's unique outdoors.

The Budget:

$12,000 for 30 guests

Destination Michigan's Approach:

A limited budget is a very common scenario for us, as most groups today watch their spending very carefully. The challenge for a company such as ours is to present creative options that are unique, memorable and inexpensive.


Traverse City's Grand Beach Hotel, $9,000

We chose Grand Beach for a variety of reasons. Beyond affordable price (roughly $125 per person, per night), the room rate includes a deluxe continental breakfast – perfect for budget savings – and the hotel itself is one of the best beach-fronts in the area: it's close to downtown, the beach area is available for dinner, and there is on-site parasailing and jet ski rental.

The Itinerary:

Friday Afternoon Meet & Greet: Grand Beach Peninsula Room, $100

Meeting is facilitated by the client's Director of Sales. Simple dry snacks and beverages are provided.

Friday Team Building Activity: Margarita- and Salsa-Making Contest, $1000

In this fast-paced and fun activity, the group is split into teams. The teams must buzz in and answer trivia questions to win ingredients for their salsa and margaritas. Teams with the best-tasting recipes and best product commercials (they will act them out) will win prizes.

Friday Dinner: Catered dinner on the Beach, Sunset Bonfire & S'mores $ 750

Grandview Catering (one of our preferred caterers and the exclusive caterer at Grand Beach Hotel) provides a dual-entrée buffet of Lemon Artichoke Chicken and Roast Pork Loin with red skin potatoes, vegetables, Caesar salad, fresh rolls and cherry cobbler with whipped cream.Soft drinks and hard beverages are available.

Saturday Morning: Breakfast, Meeting

Deluxe continental breakfast provided at guests' leisure (no additional cost), followed by meeting facilitated by client's Human Resources Director in the Peninsula Room at the hotel.

Saturday Lunch: Picnic at Open Space, $300

A chance to relax with a great view of the bay, while enjoying a provided boxed lunch and lawn games.

Saturday Afternoon: GPS Scavenger Hunt Team Building Activity, $1,000

The group drives to a nearby trailhead where they are split into ten teams of three. Each team is given a handheld GPS unit and a list of GPS coordinates; each team must work together to navigate the trails and find hidden treasures, then find their way back to the trailhead. The first team back after finding all the hidden treasures wins a prize.

Saturday Night Dinner: Downtown TC, $750

Everyone is given a cash stipend and a map of downtown for a dine-around. Restaurants such as Red Ginger, Amical, Phil's on Front, North Peak Brewing Co., Mackinaw Brewing Co., FireFly, Mode's Bum Steer, State Street Grill and The Catch Island Grill will be highlighted.

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Deluxe continental breakfast provided at guests' leisure (no additional cost) before


Grand Total:


About Destination Michigan:

A destination management company (DMC) headquartered in Traverse City, destination Michigan services the meetings and event industry throughout the state ,with additional offices in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. Michigan Meetings & Events Magazine has named Destination Michigan the Best DMC in the state for three consecutive years (2006 – 2008) and Best Meeting / Event Planning Company for 2009.

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The Planner:

Alicia Caldecott

Owner and Lead Designer

A Day in May Event Planning & Design

The Scenario:

An educational conference for 250 elite medical professionals. In order to lure the highest quality attendees from all over North America, the client host has requested a one-of-a-kind weekend that serves not only the invitees' professional needs – networking and learning – but also promises unique recreation and leisure options.

A Day in May's Approach:

Because the client's primary concern was attracting the most elite medical professionals in and around the country, I suggested he take the most enticing approach possible: lowering the number of invitees slightly (to 175) in order to accommodate their respective spouses and/or children (bringing the total guests to 325) without raising the budget.

The Budget:



The Homestead Resort, $175 per night (single/double occupancy)

Guests will be staying at the spacious yet intimate Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor, where classic northern Michigan forest, dunes and Lake Michigan meet on the sunset side of the Leelanau Peninsula. A variety of rooms and lodging options are available within the Homestead's Fiddler's Pond, Little Belle, Stony Brook Lodge and The Inn properties. Rooms with single or double occupancy are included in client costs; family occupancy upgrade are $95.00 per night (additional cost to conference guest).

The Itinerary

Friday Welcome Reception: The Homestead's Mountain Flowers Terrace, $30 pp

Backed by live music from accomplished local musicians, the Jeff Haas Trio, guests will mingle in the elegant bluff-top setting (resort cocktail attire recommended). On the menu: heavy hors d'oeuvres featuring three stationary set-ups and ten passed selections, as well as an open bar. Evening ends with a bonfire on Lake Michigan.

Saturday Breakfast: Mountain Flowers Lodge, $16 pp

All guests will be served breakfast – pastries, bagels, yogurt, fruits, granola, etc. – with coffee and tea service prior to and during the day's conference.

Saturday Conference and Activities, $50 pp

Three one- to three-hour conference/lecture series (all lead by client) are available for medical professional attendees until 3 p.m. During that time, a variety of leisure activities on-site at the Homestead are also offered to attendees, as well as their spouses and guests:

– use of a $75.00 credit at Spa Amira

– kids tennis camp (all ages accepted)

– rental of bicycles, water toys, kayaks

and sailboats

Not included in the price of the conference but also available: Option to participate in the Homestead's Dave Pelz Scoring Game School (golf) and Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School.

Saturday Lunch: On the terrace at the Mountain Flowers Lodge, $20 pp

Sandwiches, wraps, salads and beverages.

Saturday Dinner: Off-site at Cherry Basket Farm, $195 pp

A full dinner for all 325 total guests featuring al fresco (tented) dining set among the picturesque landscape. Transportation from The Homestead to Cherry Basket will be provided by Great Northwest Travel.

Tables under the tent will be dressed with burlap linens, locally grown floral centerpieces and a cowboy hat for each guest marking their place settings for later. Dinner entertainment will feature northern Michigan guitarist Matt Phend. Dinner, from Epicure Catering, will feature slow roasted BBQ pork shoulder and Tuscan grilled chicken, plus a variety of desserts, appetizers and sides, which emphasize local cuisine: among them, Carlson's whole smoked whitefish, local cheese and produce, and Epicure's own house-made condiments, like dried cherry chutney, green-olive Tapenade, and roasted tomato compote.

Saturday Post-Dinner Entertainment: Music, dancing, wine and grappa tasting

Inside Cherry Basket Farms' centennial barn guests can dance to local band favorite The Fabulous Horndogs. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor Tasting Room, featuring local wine and grappa tasting, plus a cigar and scotch area for the gentlemen.

Sunday Breakfast: Mountain lowers Lodge, $41 pp

Guests will be served breakfast – eggs, protein, omelet bar, waffle bar, etc. – with coffee and tea service.

Extras: Welcome Bag, $34 per tote

Each Conference Attendee will receive one welcome tote (two totes will be given to each family of 4) containing northern Michigan treats: Cherry Republic's cherries, Sisson's Orange Toast, Grocer's Daughters Chocolates, a copy of the most recent Traverse City Business News and Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine, as well as a custom BPA-free water bottle and tote emblazoned with conference/client logo.

Grand Total:


About A Day in May: A boutique event planning and design service, A Day in May pledges to provide its clients with the highest standards of design and service during all aspects of the event planning process, including event logistics, styling and production. Our client's vision and inspiration are the very heart of every event.

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