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Regarded as one of the Midwest's largest full-service, year-round resort and conference center, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is Michigan's premier destination to mix business with pleasure.
High-profile groups who choose the Resort annually include the Center for Automotive Research, the Detroit Red Wings and Special Olympics Michigan. For the first time last fall, the Resort hosted AgriBank, Farm Credit Bank (FCB), the largest of five borrower-owned lenders within the federal Farm Credit System.
Barbara A. Stark has served as AgriBank, FCB's manager of meetings and travel for the past 11 years. The certified planner of more than four decades shared feedback following her group's recent experience.
You held the AgriBank District Insurance Conference at the Resort September 30 through October 6, 2011. Who attended this meeting and what was its goal?
Primary attendees were insurance specialists serving a rural America District that stretches from Ohio to Wyoming and from Minnesota to Arkansas. The goal is to provide educational opportunities and industry updates, but this conference does an excellent job of combining business and fun -- attendees look forward to it each year.
What made you choose Grand Traverse Resort and Spa?
Our Insurance Conference travels each year to one of 15 states in the upper-middle part of the nation, and it was time to go back to Michigan. I was introduced to the Resort by Taryn Miracle, associate director of sales for the property. She greeted me with a smile at an industry trade fair and began describing this very special place in northern Michigan.
It was Taryn who created a vision of what the conference would be like at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa: Beyond her knowledge of the property, she truly knew the extent of the hotel staff's talent, capability and ability to deliver.
Later Taryn, and the Resort's Event Design Manager, hosted our site visit. They did a great job of showcasing the Traverse City attractions and ways to expand our conference experience. As we reflect on the outcome of 2011's Fall meeting, hosting 250 attendees, I must say Taryn didn't miss the mark—it was a huge success!
You told our team that most hotels/resorts practice customer service, but you found that the Resort practices "customer care." What did you mean?
While customer service can be taught and learned as a service standard, "customer care" goes beyond a guest's expectations. It is inherent, and it takes thought. It comes with heart and passion from within the individual to make that guest's experience the best it can be. The Grand Traverse Resortand spa team members who we encountered gifted us with "customer care." They went the extra miles with a genuine attitude of caring.
What specifically made your meeting at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa exceptional?
I would say, without question, the Resort's staff is responsible for the success of our meeting. Their production of this conference was flawless from the moment our group encountered the shuttle driver (Gary-Good-Guy) at the airport to smiles from the bellmen and registration desk, on through attentive help provided by housekeeping, room service, banquets, engineering and housemen (Seth, Ricky and Joey—I love you guys!)
Not to forget is the exceptional food that came from the kitchen and the service equal to it from an incredible waitstaff. We couldn't have asked for more!
In addition, the on-site audio-visual department surpassed our expectations. What most impressed was how they all worked together to deliver the best total "customer care" possible.