TC company wins state award

TRAVERSE CITY – Sharing her enthusiasm for northern Michigan is all in a day's work for Kim Corcoran, who launched a business giving companies and organizations from around the country a taste of the region.

"We don't want (northern Michigan) to be a secret anymore. We have as much to offer as any other state in the country and region in the world," said Corcoran, Partner/President of Traverse City-based Meetings Up North.

The full-service meeting and events planning company handles everything from site selection to meal planning and d├ęcor, for executive retreats for 10 or conferences for 2,500.

Now entering its third summer, Meetings Up North recently was recognized as the "Best Destination Management Company in Michigan" during the Michigan Meetings & Events Magazine's "Best of" awards.

"It is a great honor to be recognized by meeting and event planners in the state of Michigan as the best in our field," said Corcoran.

Formerly based in the Detroit area as a regional sales director for Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Corcoran, 36, partnered with long-time Traverse City company Viktor Incentives and Meetings to start Meetings Up North. The business operates as a division of Viktor Incentives and Meetings.

The venture might be young, but it is thriving, Corcoran said. Following its grand opening in May 2004, Meetings Up North handled three meetings, with the summer of 2005 seeing a jump to 60 meetings. Corcoran expects a 15 to 20 percent increase in 2006. "Our goal is to be touching 200 meetings by the year 2008," she said.

According to Corcoran, companies and organizations that choose to hold meetings in northern Michigan typically come for three to four days total, and they want to do more than simply meet.

"They want to experience each other not just in a meeting setting, but outside. They are there to connect."

Corcoran and her staff might book a Tall Ship excursion, line up a winery tour or arrange a trip to see the Traverse City Beach Bums.

Black Star Farms has partnered with Meetings Up North on about 10 different gatherings, said Kristin Karam, events manager at the Suttons Bay winery.

"It's nice to be involved in the sense that it brings us all together," Karam said. "We're all in the service industry and we're all trying to create an experience for these folks up north."

Mark Gaubatz, B&B and events marketing manager at Chateau Chantal, calls the relationship with Meetings Up North "a valuable partnership."

Meetings Up North not only promotes the winery, but is the reason Chateau Chantal has stronger relationships with other local businesses, thanks to trade shows and other gatherings, Gaubatz said.

"They really excel with doing the start to the finish, with all aspects of the planning," he said. "They can handle all the details."

Meetings Up North was behind the first-ever Michigan Meetings Expo, held last month at the Lansing Center. For the first time, Michigan hoteliers, convention bureaus and service providers could showcase their wares to Michigan-based planners.

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