Event planning shouldn’t be a headache. Whether you’re hosting an exclusive meeting or throwing a smashing conference, success lies in the details. That’s where we come in.
We’re destination specialists. Drop a pin on the map, and we’ll organize every detail.
It doesn’t matter if your event is for five or five thousand, our expertise and attention to detail will ensure your event succeeds. Leave venue selection, menu, transportation, entertainment, and decor to us. We take your objectives, ideas, and budget and fashion unforgettable experiences.
Tours & Activities
With our reputation and connections, we’ve got the “ins” to offer you the most exclusive activities and venues. Our creativity is matched only by our meticulous planning, allowing us to uncover the unusual and undiscovered side of any event location. Your experience will be fully customized and unique no matter how many times you work with us.
Often overlooked, transportation logistics can be key to the success of your event. Our network of exclusive vendors supplies the perfect vehicles to transport guests, and our seasoned, uniformed staff can handle any situation. We’ll make sure you have a flawless experience.
We succeed because of our incredible network of people, and this starts with our project managers. Not only does each project manager have an area of expertise, such as room management, conference planning, or transportation management, they also have a strong foundation of cross-functional skills.
We're Meetings Management experts.
Forget the hassle. We'll leave you with a fun, organized experience.
Juggling all the components that make up a successful meeting can be tiresome work. Meeting and conference registration, room block management, transportation, food and beverages, entertainment, stage and lighting...the list goes on. We’ll come to the rescue. We use the best vendors and locations to take care of all the details.
Event registration websites often provide the first tangible exposure for your event or conference. This means quality, professionalism, and purpose are the orders of the day. We combine citywide hotel management, mobile applications, eblast reminders, confirmation letters, and customized reporting to create a seamless registration process.
Creating remarkable incentive programs is our forte. We design unique motivational programs for employees and customers that embrace our client’s corporate culture and ensure total return on investment.
Our experience and relationships with hotels across the globe empower us to negotiate the best contracts for our clients. We work diligently to provide protection clauses and obtain the best possible concessions for our clients.
We’re proud to be members of the industry’s leading organizations and associations.
We understand that your project is unique and important. Our leaders strive for perfection.
Tracy Vander Meer, CMP, General Manager
Tracy VanderMeer is responsible for day-to-day operations as well as leading the company's product development and technology strategy. Since founding Grand Connection in 1999, she’s been busy developing and perfecting our web-based registration services, specialized client/attendee communications and mobile applications. These days she can also be found overseeing event projects, balancing the books and contract negotiations.
Every project is unique. We carefully search for the very best project managers, experienced leaders in their industries.
Christina Thelen, CMP, Sr. Project Manager
Christina's event management experience started 1994 in the travel industry. She came to Grand Connection from Navigant International, where she first worked onsite for Steelcase Inc., and then went on to work for the prestigious World Presidents' Organization. She joined Grand Connection in 2001 and manages projects ranging from Sales and Dealer Meetings with over 1200 attendees to Board of Directors meetings with 12 attendees. Through her varied clientele she has developed a toolbox of event and project management skills. On any given day you might find her at a hotel managing a conference, in her office crunching budget numbers, or in the commercial lane at the airport clearing landing spots for motorcoaches.
Leah Spehalski, CMP, Sr. Project Manager
Leah started in the hospitality industry during an internship at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. She continued her career at the Amway Grand after graduating from Cornerstone University. During her eight years there, she held several key management positions such as Business Travel Manager, Front Office Manager, and Group Rooms Manager. Leah then spent two years as the Director of Operations at Treetops Resort. She joined Grand Connection in 2005 after relocating back to the Grand Rapids area. You can now find her at any given airport at any given time as she travels the globe executing events and trade shows for our clients.
Jamie Ham, Housing and Registration Management Expert
After earning a marketing degree from Grand Valley State University in 1999, she started her career at Herman Miller, Inc. where she worked in the corporate events department. A few years later in 2002, Jamie joined the Grand Connection team. She has worked on all aspects of an events, but currently she specializes in hotel reservation and meeting registration management. Need a rooming list sorted by last name, arrival date, hotel, payment type or sales region? "Not a problem" is always Jamie's response. Your attendees will love having a real, live person to answer their registration questions!
Amy Cole, Housing and Registration Management Expert
As a former manager of a corporate travel department, Amy is used to multi-tasking. In addition to day-to-day operations Amy booked airline, train, hotel, cruise and car rental reservations. During these early years of her career she excelled as a leader in her department; setting high standards with her “just say yes” attitude and her natural ability to multi-task. Amy joined Grand Connection in 2000 where she manages citywide, multi-hotel reservations for large conventions. Amy’s smile and fun personality leave every attendee feeling as though they’ve made a new friend. But it’s her eye for detail and strive for perfection that impresses Grand Connection’s clients the most.
Mary Cook, Event Support
Mary has a degree in Commercial Recreation and Facilities Management with a minor in Business and Hospitality from Central Michigan University. She began her career in the leisure and hospitality industry by working for Walt Disney World and then at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. At AGP she was promoted to Concierge and eventually to the Sales and Marketing Department where she managed Plaza Preferred and eventually Amway Corp events.
Ann Marie Westerhuis, Sr. Project Manager
Ann Marie brings a wide range of experience with her to Grand Connection. Her work experience began in the association market where she held positions from Director of Education to Executive Director. In the years prior to joining Grand Connection, Ann Marie built an impressive reputation in the meetings/incentives industry. She has a network spanning the globe and can just as easily plan an event in Grand Rapids as Switzerland.
Kim Hermenet, Director of Business Development
Kim started her career working for West Michigan’s largest travel agency, Travel Consultants, Inc., where she learned the importance of providing excellent customer service and not only meeting, but exceeding customer expectations. In addition to a long tenure at Travel Consultants, Kim has worked as a District Director for Muscular Dystrophy honing her project management and fundraising skills. Kim continued in the hospitality industry working as the Director of Client Relations for Northern Air for over seven years. Her latest role included the establishment of the Customer Service department of a start-up laboratory operation for Arctic Medical Laboratories and later transitioned into a sales specialist role. Kim brings Grand Connection over 20 years of sales and customer service experience. Her positive and outgoing personality along with her creative win/win attitude is perfect fit for our team.
We’d love to talk and answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to provide you the perfect solution.
PO Box 2105
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
P 616 785 6027 x11
F 616 588 5923