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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Billings: Montana’s Trailhead 

For a classic Western town, it’s hard to beat Billings, Montana. Positioned as the hub of a 125,000-square-mile expanse, the historic city combines easy access, economic vitality and proximity to a variety of attractions.

Known as the region’s trailhead, the city has grown from a small 19th-century railroad town to a prosperous commercial center. Although residents take pride in recent development, one of the area’s most positive attributes seems to be a rural quality that hasn’t been diminished by growth.

“We’re big enough to have much to offer, but we still have that small-town feel,” said Kelly McCandless, communications manager for the Billings Chamber of Commerce. “Everywhere you look, there is always a smiling face.”

Billings makes an attractive meetings destination. Planners have access to 4,200 sleeping rooms along with convention accommodations that include a 10,000-seat arena. And the region’s natural wonders and historic sites are distinctive assets.

“This is a come-early, stay-late destination,” McCandless said. “We have some unique attractions outside of the traditional conference meeting space. There is so much in close proximity, from the Little Bighorn battlefield to Yellowstone National Park.”

Visitors can take advantage of local offerings while easily combining business with recreational pursuits.

“You can go for a mountain hike in the morning and then attend a meeting in the afternoon,” McCandless said.

At the same time, the area is more technologically advanced than outsiders might anticipate.

“People often assume that Montana is behind, but we’re not,” McCandless said. “Anywhere you go, you’re well connected.”

Local officials like to cite the friendly character of the city as carrying over into business transactions, especially when it comes to making visitors feel welcome.

“We try to work with meeting planners so their delegates will remember the experience later,” said McCandless. We want it to stand out.”


Hanging Out

Several hotels offer attractive facilities. Downtown properties include the Crowne Plaza, with 289 rooms, 16,000 square feet of meeting space and a banquet capacity of 520, along with the Northern Hotel, which offers 12,000 square feet of meeting space, a 550-person banquet capacity and 160 sleeping rooms.

Situated in the city’s west end is the largest facility, the Holiday Inn Grand Montana Hotel and Convention Center. It boasts 317 rooms, 50,000 square feet of meeting space and a banquet capacity of more than 4,600. Nearby is the Big Horn Resort, with 108 rooms and 9,000 square feet of meeting space.


Getting There

Billings is located in south-central Montana. The state’s largest city, it has a population that tops 100,000, with a trade area of more than half a million. Thanks in part to the region’s oil boom, the city has recently seen substantial growth.

The area is served by Billings Logan International Airport, which bills itself as “the gateway to the big sky and beyond.” Airlines serving the airport include Delta, United, Alaska and Allegiant. Nonstop service connects travelers with Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Chicago and Seattle.