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April 14 through 16 - Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism

The Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held on Sunday (April 14), Monday, and Tuesday of this week. This conference is primarily intended to focus on the current state of tourism in Michigan and how to enhance Michigan tourism as a whole, but there is also a large portion of the event addressing Detroit metro area tourism issues and how to improve Detroit and its media-driven reputation in ways that will attract visitors. As might be expected, the conference is heavily attended by state agencies such as Pure Michigan ( that address tourism within the state, as well as having substantial attendance by businesses and industries directly impacted by the level of tourism within the state, such as hotels, restaurateurs, et cetera. But, in addition to these organizations are a wide variety of additional types of businesses, local governments, individual entrepreneurs, and others who are interested in seeing tourism increase in Michigan because their livelihoods or quality of life are affected at least indirectly.

Detroit Metro mashup was there to cover this conference with photographs and a brief narrative overview but, if you are looking for lots of details, there are plenty available at . Two of us arrived at the conference midday on Monday and, like most participants, we attended the sessions that were of greatest interest to us as a media organization and that we thought had a broad appeal to the metro Detroit area in general. From a wide range of possibilities we attended the sessions on (1) Strategic Plan Implementation, (2) Breaking the Past - Creative Redevelopment, (3) Most Successful Digital Marketing in the Past 12 Months, and (4) Social Media: Beyond Facebook and Twitter. The “Strategic Plan Implementation” is a focal point around which much of the state’s tourism measurements, goals, and objectives revolve and the 2012-2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan is now underway. An overview of this plan, based upon the slides used by Dr. Sarah Nicholls of Michigan State University, can be found at In “Breaking the Past - Creative Redevelopment,” Dave Steinkey, George Zimmerman, and Brian Boyle discussed Corktown redevelopments such as the Mercury Bar, Slow’s BBQ, and the Astro Coffee Bar and how these micro-transformations are enhancing the entire area and drawing in people; the discussion was also in the context of how such redevelopments are going on in a variety of Detroit areas, including the major downtown projects by Dan Gilbert. The session on “Most Successful Digital Marketing in the Past 12 Months,” involved lots of audience participation about what had worked for them and their respective companies. The discussions were led by Steve Westphal, Nick Dionne, Jeff Leitch, and Kami Kennedy of MLive Media Group. “Social Media: Beyond Facebook and Twitter,” was hosted by Roger Curtis of the Michigan Travel Commission with the presentations and discussions managed by Dan Fuoco of DMCVB and Chad Wiebesick of MEDC. Before this presentation, it wasn’t obvious how leveraging Instragram and Pinterest could assist in promoting the “brand.” Afterwards it was very clear.

Attending these sessions in full gave us a better overview for our first attendance at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference than we could have achieved by just walking around, poking our heads into session after session, and taking random pictures. Now we have a good idea what the conference is really about, the depth to which topics are covered, and the level of audience participation, which was high. The audience participation was, in fact, one of the main attractions for us and it provided direct insight into the nearly obsessive (good obsessive) interest in highlighting Michigan’s great attributes to the rest of the world. In addition, we actually gained some really useful information that will improve Detroit Metro Mashup and our reach as a website dedicated to this area. There were many interesting sessions we would like to have attended, but they were running concurrently. Next year we’ll try to send more photojournalists!

This conference is a very large, truly unique experience. Combined with the entirety of the Pure Michigan campaign and other efforts by Michigan business entities, it is a powerful mechanism for improving tourism in Michigan and enhancing the parts of Michigan that need a facelift to attract visitors. Because our raison d'être at Detroit Metro Mashup is to provide coverage of interesting events, people, places and things in the metro Detroit area, we hope that we contribute in some small way to attracting visitors to this area that will, in turn, further improve the happenings and our coverage of them.

The 2012 sponsors of the conference were:

Amway Hotel Corporation
Midwest Living

Business Leaders for Michigan
Detroit Metro CVB
Heartland Payment Systems
Gordon Food Service
MLive Media Group
Think Social Media
Traverse City CVB

Travel Michigan
McCann Detroit
Universal McCann
Weber Shandwick
Sysco Grand Rapids

Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner
Experience Grand Rapids CVB
Beer & Wine Sponsor
Michigan Brewers Guild
Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council

Fremont Insurance

Otis Elevator Company
Wolverine Power Marketing Coop.
Bornor Restoration, Inc.
MRL Fund and Regency Group


Detroit Tigers
DNC Sports Service
Jack Rabbit Systems
Hudsonville Ice Cream
Kent County Lodging Association
The People Mover