Awesome Michigan lip dubs: Four reasons to visit the ‘Great Lakes State’

Sure, we’ve been occasionally lured-in to visit a new destination due to a cheeky tourism campaign, or two — guilty as charged. There’s nothing as reassuring, though, as seeing the citizens of a city band together to proclaim to the world, ‘hey world, my city is great!’ And we can’t help but notice the chutzpah overflowing in the state of Michigan.

Over the last year Michigan‘s citizens, students and seniors have pulled out their video cameras and uploaded tourism video after tourism video to YouTube in an effort to show their pride. There are four in total so far, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Grand Valley State University and the Clark Retirement Community, and it doesn’t exactly matter whether the videos follow the antics of a classroom full of a students, a building full of the witty elderly or an entire city, they all bring a special brand of magic you can only find in the hearts of people that truly love the place where they live and love to dance about it.

Call us gullible, but we’ve added a tour of Michigan to the bucket list, if not only to share a beer with the enthusiastic townsfolk that fill that state with so much love.

The residents of the Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids teamed-up with students at GVSU to create the world’s first-ever all-senior lip dub.

Over in Traverse City, townsfolk rocked out to Paul Simon’s “You can Call Me Al” and Van Halen’s “Jump.”

GVSU might have created the original Michigan lip dub last October, which a student quickly submitted to Reddit.

Grand Rapids is currently Michigan’s king of lip dubs, holding the world record of 5,000 participants in one video, parading through the closed-off streets of the Downtown area.

Five signs that the hotel meeting business is recovering

Business meetings are back in style. Group customer is on the rise for the hotel business, signaling that the corporate crowd Is getting back out on the road. Joining the party are other groups, such as associations, sports teams, religious groups, social organizations and the military, according to USA Today.

The U.S. Travel Association is predicting a 7 percent increase in meeting and convention spending this year, with a forecast of $90.7 billion. Last year, this measure fell 15 percent, as the effects of the financial crisis and subsequent recession led to cancelations.

To get the big bucks back in the door, hotels and convention bureaus have been rolling out favorable pricing and sweetheart deals, and it’s starting to work.

So, how do we know this sector’s coming back? Here are five hints:

1. The meeting planners say so: A June survey by Meeting Professionals International showed 61 percent of respondents saying “that they’re seeing more favorable business conditions, including attendance, budgets and number of meetings,” according to a USA Today report. Only 15 percent responded this way in August 2009.

2. Hotel groups say so: InterContinental Hotels Group has announced that its group and corporate revenue climbed 10 percent in the first half of 2010 relative to the same period in 2009. Denihan Hospitality Group’s eight New York City hotels are showing an increase in group revenue of 26 percent year-over-year.
3. Even Grand Rapids has good news: The JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan has sold more than 1,500 group room-nights so far this year, up 20 percent from last year.

4. So does Fort Lauderdale:
In this Florida town, group revenue is up 30 percent at the Harbor Beach Marriott. Corporate deals are still down from last year, but other groups are more than making up the difference.

5. Hotels understand what’s going on: Even though the market is coming back, hotels realize that they still need to price aggressively. Notes George Aquino, general manager of the Grand Rapids JW Marriott Everyone’s felt the turmoil of 2009. We don’t want that to happen again.”

[photo by msprague via Flickr]

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Thanks to Roadside America those wanting to pay homage to President Ford can head out to Grand Rapids, Michigan, home of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Their write-up on the attraction is so superb I feel like I’ve already made the journey there myself. Seriously! According to their notes the museum was nothing more than a presidential bore up until 1997 (ten years back) when millions in cash poured in and enabled the place to get a much needed face-lift. Now visitors can experience light shows, surround-sound, and holographs. Included in their Sight-of-the-Week feature are some pretty nice photos from the inside which show shots of the faceless Betty Ford dummies modeling her hairstyles at the time and a picture of an ATM set into a wall. For those who do not know, Ford was the president who signed the legislation that made it legal to get money from a machine.

How my mind has expanded so much from just reading this piece! If you don’t have plans to go and don’t plan on making plans at least plan on visiting the Roadside America site sometime sooner than later. If you do plan to go or have been, please share your thoughts.