Michigan’s vibrant state capital of Lansing is a meeting planner’s dream, yielding everything from arts and culture to scenic city trails and versatile conference space. Thanks to its central location, the city is within a 90-minute drive of 90 percent of the state, including the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the Capital Region International Airport.
With Michigan State University and the state Capitol right on its doorstep, Lansing is home to some of the region’s most influential legislators, scientists, artists and athletes, giving planners the chance to boost attendance to their event by bringing in powerful keynote speakers.
“Many people at the events we host want that access — to be able to go out in the lobby and speak with a legislator that has an impact on their industry,” said Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing communications at the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Designated a National Historic Landmark, Michigan’s Capitol was one of the first state capitols topped with a cast-iron dome, and groups can tour the building to admire the art and architecture, or perhaps witness an active legislative session. Michigan State University is one of the top research universities in the world, as well as one of the largest and most eco-friendly campuses in the United States.
After hours, visitors will discover abundant restaurants, galleries, theaters and museums throughout the city. Groups can take a glass-blowing workshop at Fireworks Glass Studios, enjoy a multicourse feast and performance at Starlight Dinner Theatre, or sip on cocktails while learning to paint at Paintings With a Twist, an art party studio for adults. There are also many guided experiences to check out, such as pub crawls, gallery tours and cycling tours.
The Lansing River Walk provides a way for visitors to explore the vast range of attractions in the area; walkers can follow a 20-mile paved trail system along the Grand River and the Red Cedar River. Groups can also rent kayaks or canoes from Rivertown Adventures and enjoy the city sights as they paddle down the Grand River right into the heart of downtown.
Another characteristic that sets Lansing apart is its Tourism Ambassador Program, a nationally recognized certification program that trains front-line hospitality workers, restaurant servers, hotel clerks and other attraction staff in professional customer-service skills. According to Padot, Lansing has over 500 tourism ambassadors.
“All the attractions offer a great visitor experience because the staff are trained in customer service skills and history about the region,” said Padot.
Major Meeting Venues
The Lansing Center is the largest meeting facility in the Capital Region, offering beautiful waterfront views, proximity to downtown attractions and a connecting skybridge to the Radisson Hotel. Its primary exhibit floor features 71,760 square feet of column-free space in addition to 13,320 square feet of ballroom space and 12,038 square feet of meeting space in 12 breakout rooms. Planners can take advantage of the on-site catering team to help organize banquet meals, bar services, snack stations and more.
Based on the Michigan State University campus, the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center has 35,000 square feet of flexible function space, along with high-speed internet and free airport shuttle services. Many of the professional staff in the hotel also help train college students in the Michigan State University School of Hospitality.
The Causeway Bay Lansing Hotel and Convention Center is conveniently located six miles from Michigan State University and 10 miles from the Capital Region International Airport, and provides 30,000 square feet of meeting space for conventions and other events. During their stay, guests can enjoy garden or courtyard views from the rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, a continental breakfast, a sauna, a yoga room, a hot tub and a fitness center.
The Crown Plaza Lansing West offers 17,335 square feet of meeting space and several special incentives for planners, such as a two-hour response guarantee for RFPs, a consistent point of contact throughout the event and a daily debriefing on expenses to help planners stay on budget. Altogether, the hotel’s 17 meeting rooms can host up to 1,000 guests.
Adjacent to Spartan Stadium and the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, the East Lansing Marriott at University Place offers 12,927 square feet of meeting space and 10 breakout rooms. Meeting attendees can stop by the on-site business center for printing documents and sending emails.
The Michigan State University Pavilion has a 2,000-seat arena, a 364-seat auditorium and a 77,000-square-foot exhibit area; it is used primarily for livestock shows, demonstrations and concerts.
The Ramada Lansing Hotel and Conference Center is near the Capital Region International Airport off Interstate 96. Though smaller than some nearby hotel convention centers, the hotel welcomes pets, is affordably priced and is close to the airport. The hotel’s 10 flexible meeting rooms can be rearranged to accommodate 1,200 conference guests or 350 banquet guests.