Planning a meeting in Kalispell, Montana, is easier and far more fun when planners call upon Discover Kalispell, the area’s destination marketing and stewardship organization.
The DMO helps planners in myriad ways. Its staff has rounded up a rodeo for an evening’s entertainment, secured hotel rooms on short notice and orchestrated tours and transportation for meetings held in the town of nearly 30,000.
“Our in-depth knowledge of the area and strong partnerships help us deliver swift solutions and support, even when the situation is challenging,” said Dawn Jackson, group sales manager for Discover Kalispell.
Those local insights and connections lead to memorable group experiences, like a rodeo created for one conference that has since been recreated for others. Jackson called Brash Rodeo, a local rodeo company that was more than happy to create a downsized version of its regular rodeo for the conference of tour operators. There was roping, barrel racing and bronc riding and the DMO helped add even more fun with stick horse races and roping contests, a Western barbecue, music by a local duo and line-dancing lessons to work off a dessert of candied bacon bread pudding.
“We worked a whole lot into 2.5 hours,” Jackson said.
Of course, a rodeo isn’t the only way to add Western flavor. Discover Kalispell has hooked groups up with Montana Horse Works, where pros demonstrate how horses herd cattle and do other ranch chores and where guests can groom horses and even take horseback trail rides.
Boots and Boutiques
Often, before Western theme events, attendees venture to Kalispell’s well-preserved downtown to shop at local stores, including Western Outdoor, home to 2,500 pairs of cowboy boots and 1,500 cowboy hats. Discover Kalispell has turned these shopping trips into more of an adventure by organizing scavenger hunts. As teams seek answers to clues, they talk to shopkeepers, learn more about the town and win some prizes donated by stores.
A Special Touch
Downtown Kalispell is 32 miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park and near Flathead Lake, making Kalispell a natural tourist destination that also appeals to meeting groups, including military reunions. Those reunions, often planned by volunteers, especially appreciate an assist from Discover Kalispell. For one military reunion, the DMO organized a trolley tour of the Conrad Mansion Museum, the Northwest Montana History Museum and the Hockaday Museum of Art, all in Kalispell, followed by a boxed lunch in a downtown park. For another reunion that had been canceled during the pandemic and then rescheduled, the DMO helped secure more hotel rooms as attendance grew.
And meeting in a small town can have other upsides. When the local Elks Lodge learned that veterans who served on the USS St. Paul would gather in Kalispell, its members whipped up a big buffet dinner to show their appreciation to the veterans. It was a special and unexpected treat that surely made Kalispell and its kind and proud citizens hard to forget.
For more information, please contact: