The COVID-19 crisis has cut straight to the core of the meetings industry, as stay-at-home orders, travel shutdowns and health recommendations necessitated the cancellation of thousands of events across the country. 

While there continues to be uncertainty about the short term, Experience Grand Rapids team members have been working all along with clients who are planning events into 2020 and beyond. We want you to know that we’re here and ready to work with you whenever you’re ready.

With more than 160 years of combined meetings industry experience, our sales and service staffers are skilled at every aspect of the trade. They can assist you with venue selection, hotel accommodations, off-site events, vendor sourcing, logistics and more. They work closely with meeting partners and area businesses to ensure the groups that meet here have all the support they need to host their attendees.

Meet the Team

Mary Manier, Vice President of Sales and Services at Experience Grand Rapids

Mary Manier, Vice President of Sales & Services

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Mary Manier, CTP, CTIS
Vice President of Sales & Services

Mary has worked for Experience Grand Rapids for 40+ years, so she knows every nook and cranny of the region – and she knows how to utilize every local resource to benefit our meeting planner clients. In 2019, she was named to the inaugural class of Connect Association’s 15 over 50, which salutes leaders who’ve moved the industry forward. Contact her at MManier@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3554.

Tim Nelson- Director of Sales & Services at Experience Grand Rapids, 2019.

Tim Nelson, Director of Sales & Services

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Tim Nelson, CMP
Director of Sales & Services

A former retail entrepreneur, Tim brings a uniquely service-oriented approach to his work helping clients plan, promote and maximize attendee satisfaction for Grand Rapids-held events. He joined Experience Grand Rapids in 1999 as Visitor Center Manager, which means that he, like Mary, knows the region like the back of his hand. You can contact him at TNelson@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3556.

Heidi Schmitt- Director of State Accounts at Experience Grand Rapids, 2019.

Heidi Schmitt, Director of State Accounts

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Heidi Schmitt, GMS
Director of State Accounts

A certified Government Meeting Specialist, Heidi focuses on serving the needs of Michigan-based groups – governmental and otherwise. She is instrumental in hosting our annual state events and staying connected with all our state customers. You can reach Heidi at HSchmitt@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3557.

Kelsey Helstowski, Associate Director of Sales at Experience Grand Rapids, 2019.

Kelsey Helstowski, Associate Director of Sales

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Kelsey Helstowski
Associate Director of Sales

Kelsey’s experience working with religious, fraternal, government, military, agricultural and other sectors makes her adept at zeroing in on just how Grand Rapids can support the unique goals of different groups. She began her career with us as a volunteer, learning the ins and outs of the industry from all perspectives. Contact her at KHelstowski@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3546.

Leslie Hastings

Leslie Hastings, National Sales Manager

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Leslie Hastings, CHSP, CASE
National Sales Manager

Leslie is based in Washington, D.C. where she promotes Grand Rapids to national clients through events, trade shows and personal events. She came to Experience Grand Rapids in 2015 with a wealth of experience representing city and hotel destinations. Contact Leslie at LHastings@ExperienceGR.com or (703) 469-1784.

Britny Avery, Specialty Sales Manager

Britny Avery, Specialty Sales Manager.

Photo by Mod Bettie for Experience Grand Rapids

Britny Avery
Specialty Sales Manager

Britny promotes Grand Rapids as a destination for group tours, weddings and family reunions, and ensures that the people planning them have all the resources they need to make their special events even more special. She came to Grand Rapids by way of South Haven and Chicago. Contact Britny at BAvery@ExperienceGR.com and (877) 847-4847 ext. 3574.

Header Image- Brandy Martin

Brandy Martin, Convention Services Manager

Brandy Martin
Convention Services Manager

Brandy helps Michigan-based groups plan and execute their meetings and conventions in Grand Rapids. Brandy is a Grand Rapids native and uses her knowledge and enthusiasm of the area to help planners build attendance for their event and then provides exemplary service once they’re here. You can contact Brandy at BMcCallum@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3545.

Jade Lowe, Convention Services Specialist

Jade Lowe, Convention Services Specialist

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Jade Lowe
Convention Services Specialist

Jade ensures that meeting organizers and attendees get all the information they need to make the most of their time in Grand Rapids – from attendance-building emails and videos to on-site welcome packets and much more. She also oversees our substantial volunteer staff and organizes their work on behalf of meeting clients. Contact Jade at JLowe@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3579.

Andie Newcomer, Director of Events at Experience Grand Rapids, 2019.

Andie Newcomer, Director of Events

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Andie Newcomer, CMP, GMS
Director of Events

Andie is often the first Experience Grand Rapids point of contact for meeting planners, as she’s responsible for our award-winning trade show presence as well as FAM trips, sales mission trips and client events. She’s held various client-facing positions here, and she’s a CMP, great sounding board, brainstormer, coach and cheerleader for planners. Contact Andie at ANewcomer@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3559.

Patty Delaney - Events and Guest Services Manager

Patty Delaney, Events Manager

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Patty Delaney, CMP
Events Manager

Patty plans, promotes and executes a series of events Experience Grand Rapids hosts throughout the year to bring together our clients and partners for fun, fellowship and business networking. She ensures that these events showcase some of our key destination assets, including beer, food and outdoor recreation. You can reach Patty at PDelaney@ExperienceGR.com and (877) 847-4847 ext. 3578.

Jessica Briggs - Events Manager

Jessica Briggs, Events Manager

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Jessica Briggs
Events Manager

Jessica plans, promotes and executes our State, National and Group Tour events, which facilitate personal contact with clients around the country and bring people to Grand Rapids to experience all the region has to offer. She holds a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management. You can contact Jessica at JBriggs@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3573. 

Karen Melton - Guest Experience Supervisor

Karen Melton, Guest Services Supervisor

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Karen Melton
Guest Services Supervisor

Karen manages our team of Airport Ambassadors, who welcome visitors to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport with a friendly smile and helpful information, both at the Visitor Information Desk and throughout the terminal. She has worked in airports from London to Grand Rapids. Connect with Karen at KMelton@ExperienceGR.com or (877) 847-4847 ext. 3575.

Marlene Bushouse- Senior Sales Administrator at Experience Grand Rapids, 2019.

Marlene Bushouse, Senior Sales Administrator

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Marlene Bushouse
Senior Sales Administrator

Marlene has been working alongside our sales team since 1998, assisting her colleagues with all manner of administrative tasks. Among other things, she ensures that our responses to clients are timely, accurate and complete. Marlene can be reached at MBushouse@ExperienceGR.com or (616) 258-7388.

Our team has corresponded with many past and present clients over the past few months, counseling them on ways to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.  They’re happy to offer their best advice and guidance to you – and to help you plan a future event in Grand Rapids.

 

About Grand Rapids

Named a Top 25 American Convention City in 2020 by MeetingSource, Grand Rapids features a downtown convention center with a 162,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall, 40,000 sq. ft. ballroom and 26 breakout rooms. More than 2,500 downtown hotel rooms and 200+ shops, restaurants and entertainment venues are located within a 10-minute walk.