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, CTA, CTP, CTIS
Vice President of Sales & Services
Mary has worked for Experience Grand Rapids for almost 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, CMP, CTA
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, GMS, CTA
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, CTA
National Sales Manager
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, CHSP, CASE, CTA
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.
Andie Newcomer, CMP, GMS, CTA
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.
Marlene Bushouse, CTA
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.