Booked group business was up significantly over 2021 thanks to a combination of sales team efforts and a readiness among groups to meet in person again. Successful bids landed new events to the region including the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Michigan Fall Conference. They also brought back area favorites including the Ally Challenge presented by McLaren and FireStix College Exposure Tournament. Altogether, these 29 events led to 7,524 contracted room nights—exceeding the CVB’s goal by 50 percent for 2022.
Another exciting benchmark in 2022 was the return of the CANUSA games after a two-year hiatus due to border restrictions related to the pandemic. The 64th Annual CANUSA games held their opening ceremony at Dort Event Center. The 400 players and participants received welcome bags prepared and provided by Explore Flint & Genesee.
Between these events, corporate travel and some leisure, data shows that Genesee County’s tourism industry is rebounding toward pre-COVID activity in many metrics. While hotel occupancy was 53.7% in 2022—down from 57.9% in 2019 but up from the 2020 low 46.6%—demand was increasing. Hotel revenue also increased. In fact, the average rate paid for a hotel room in 2022 was $91.35, up considerably from the 2019 average of $75.95. This brought total room revenue to $46.3 million, up 15.4 percent from the year prior.
In 2022, membership in industry organizations was a valuable resource as destinations everywhere adapted to doing business after COVID-19. These memberships provided regular legislative updates, training opportunities, and data resources. Explore Flint & Genesee represented Genesee County as part of Check In Michigan, Circle Michigan, Destination Michigan, Destinations International, Meetings Michigan, Michigan Association of CVBs, Michigan Festivals & Events Association, Michigan Society of Association Executives, Pure Michigan Sports, Sports Events Tourism Association, Society of Government Meeting Professionals, and the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan.
In March 2022, the Flint & Genesee Certified Tourism Ambassador program began holding its first in-person classes since 2019. Throughout the year, sessions served AmeriCorps, Mott Community College, Genesee County Parks & Recreation, the Fenton & Linden Regional Chamber, Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation, the Flint Institute of Arts, and Sloan/Longway. A private class was also held for staff at the newly opened Sloan Museum of Discovery.
Thanks to a concerted effort to reach target audiences via partnerships with Metro Parent and Awesome Mitten, the division experienced a 37% increase in sign-ups for Flint & Genesee destination newsletters. What’s more, ExploreFlintandGenesee.org—an important tool in promoting the Flint & Genesee region—saw a 35% increase in visitors thanks to strategic marketing and investments.
Most website visitors continued to come looking for events and things to do in Genesee County, which inspired the addition of suggested itineraries to the “Plan” section of the website. With trip ideas for parents with young children, history buffs, and craft beverage enthusiasts, this page helped to more than double the web traffic to that section in 2022.