Building Successful Partnerships, with Annette Rummel

Episode 245

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Annette Rummel joined the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureaus as president and CEO in 2009. In her role as chief executive officer, Annette leads the individual Destination Marketing & Management Organizations (DMMOs) of Bay, Midland, and Saginaw Counties and the Great Lakes Bay Regional CVB. This has allowed Annette and her team to invite the world to visit a place they are proud to call home.

Annette has led through times of calm and crisis, always focused on positioning this Pure Michigan destination as a great place to live, work, worship, and play. During calm times, Annette serves her team ensuring they have the tools needed to flourish, and during times of crisis, Annette leads the team relying on their support. Annette understands that the travel sector plays a key role in economic development, as a community shared value and that data-driven, creative cathedral thinking must be deployed throughout the organizations.

In addition to her primary role, Annette leads the Great Lakes Bay Quality of Life Council where she pioneers and manages the new Go Great Foundation and its progressive vision for tourism, economic and experience development. Annette has served the Michigan travel and tourism industry for more than 40 years. Prior to her roles with the Great Lakes Bay Region, Annette served as the CEO of the Saginaw County Convention & Visitors Bureau and CEO of the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau – Michigan’s #1 community destination.

Annette was the originator, organizer, and operator of the World Expo of Beer, Frankenmuth Oktoberfest, and Frankenmuth Big Block Party attracting more than 250,000 participants. She participated as a founder of Zehnder’s Snowfest and helped organize the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival attracting more than 200,000 participants.

Annette is an advocate for tourism at the local, state, and federal levels. She participates annually in Destination Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., served on the Destinations International (DI) Board of Directors, the DI Foundation Board. She was Chairman of the Advocacy Committee for DI Foundation for several years, and consistently produces and shares advocacy materials and concepts, inspiring other DMMOs to enact powerful, measurable change for the tourism industry.

Annette is a graduate of Delta College, Northwood University, Rochester Institute of Technology (Master of Science), and Michigan State University (Ph.D. in Park, Recreation, and Tourism Resource Studies). Annette’s Dissertation Titled: Travel by People With Disabilities: A Diffusion Study Focused on Opinion Leadership provided her with great insight on the disabled traveler and the opportunities associated with services geared toward these individuals.

Recently, Annette was an international adjunct professor for Rochester Institute of Technology and completed the 3rd DestinationsNext Assessment for the destination. Residing in Frankenmuth Michigan, Annette is married to William Rummel and they are the proud parents of two daughters, Elizabeth (Brandon) and Sarah, and grandparents to one granddaughter. Annette and William are members of St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Annette Rummel, master collaborator, travel trailblazer, and CEO of Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. Annette gives her insights on finding the win-win in collaborative relationships and why she believes in actively seeking out collaborators rather than sitting by and passively waiting for them to find you. We also discuss the additional crisis that her destination faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and her team’s creative solutions to serve their community.

What You Will Learn:

  • What Annette has done to really help Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau stand out from the crowd
  • The challenges that Annette faced in 2020 and some of the creative solutions that her team used to move through them
  • How Annette and her colleagues created the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau from three county CVBs
  • Annette’s advice for listeners who might want to start thinking about potential collaborations for their destination
  • What cathedral thinking means to Annette and how it has helped her during her career

An Innovative Approach

Creativity is enhanced when people feel able to suggest new things, and Annette describes why she values innovation in her team. She shares how the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau try to open their eyes to everything in their destination and pass on their enthusiasm to their visitors. We also discuss Annette’s enthusiasm for collaboration and how she engineered the creation of a regional CVB in the Great Lakes region of Michigan that took three county CVBs under one successful umbrella organization.

Crisis Management

Annette shares the story of the crisis within a crisis in the Great Lakes region and how her team at the CVB was able to swing into action to help accommodate those left homeless by flooding. She describes why they were so grateful for the support of their partner organizations and why the disaster underlined the importance of having established collaborative relationships in place.

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