Economic Development, Marketing, PR & Advertising, and Travel & Tourism

Travelers book $139M stay

January 27, 2014
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CityFlats Hotel achieves LEED Gold
The five-story CityFlatsHotel Grand Rapids is downtown on Monroe Center Street NW.

Grand Rapids certainly is becoming a destination city.

Experience Grand Rapids said that Kent County experienced a record high of 137,490 hotel rooms booked for future group business in 2013.

The organization said that these groups would contribute a future total business impact of more than $141 million.

Kent County hotel room revenue also grew to another record high of more than $139 million, which is a 9.7-percent increase over 2012’s record level.

“Last year was another record-breaking year for Kent County hotels,” said Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids. “Strong group business attendance, high interest from leisure travelers and enhanced brand recognition all played a part in helping us reach a percentage of growth that outpaced the national average and our competitive set of destinations.”

Highlights of 2013

Experience GR credits several factors with the increased travel to the area.

In addition to its direct sales efforts, Experience GR partnered with Pure Michigan to create and launch the first national TV advertising campaign for Grand Rapids, received multiple recognitions from industry associations, contributed to the Beer City, U.S.A. title and increased its focus on visitor services with the launch of the Certified Tourism Ambassador program.

Experience GR was awarded with high honors from industry associations for its work in marketing, promotion, collaboration and communications.

Those honoring the organization included the Michigan Society of Association Executives, Michigan Travel Commission, Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan and West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Web-traffic increase

Experience GR’s digital marketing programs resulted in a 27 percent annual increase in visits to the ExperienceGR.com website, averaging 3,300 visitors a day.

Grand Rapids also launched the new GRCityTwist.com mobile-friendly website in December 2013. The site allows guests to pick a personalized profile — such as craft beer enthusiast or art lover — and guides them to relevant local attractions that fit their specific interests.

Friendly faces

Since the launch last August of the Certified Tourism Ambassador program, Experience GR has welcomed more than 600 tourism ambassadors into the program.

More tourists in 2014

Experience GR predicts in 2014, Grand Rapids will see another successful year for group business, with hundreds of groups convening in Grand Rapids this year.

In addition, through the work of the West Michigan Sports Commission, several high-profile sporting events will be introduced in 2014, including the first winter version of the Meijer State Games of Michigan, NCAA Division II Track & Field championships, U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships and the U.S. Rowing Masters Championships.

“This should be another promising year for tourism in Kent County," Small said. "With the international travel and tourism publisher Lonely Planet recognizing Grand Rapids as an ‘emerging destination’ and their top U.S. travel choice for 2014, enhanced marketing concepts and our expanding partnership with Pure Michigan, we expect to grow our brand awareness, while attracting new visitors to our destination."

New visitors will also be welcomed with a newly created digital resource, The Experience visitor's guide. It features a Grand Rapids beer guide, or the Ale Trail map, a guide on how to experience ArtPrize 365 days a year, ways to experience Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods and information on how and where to eat fresh and locally.

Who’s coming to Grand Rapids in 2014

The American Homebrewers Association: June 12-14
American Quilters Society: Aug. 20-23
Michigan Society of Association Executives: July 8-10
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives: July 12-16
Society of Forensic Toxicologists: Oct. 19-24
Governors Conference on Highway Safety: Sept. 7-10

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