Discovering the Stories of the Great Lakes Bay Region, with Michael Hensley

Episode 323

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Michael Hensley was born and raised just outside of Detroit in Warren, Michigan. He studied at Saginaw Valley State University for four years and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2017. After graduating, he stayed in the Great Lakes Bay Region to promote the region to tourists. He now serves as the Travel Marketing Manager, where he passionately works to show people why the Great Lakes Bay Region is such a special place to visit. This is done by creating programs to increase tourism traffic and strategically identify market segments.

Michael has been described as “enthusiastic and dedicated about his work” by friends and colleagues. Loyal to his newfound community, Michael makes sure every visitor feels right at home in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Michael Hensley about his successful podcast, Go Great Lakes Bay, and how he’s using it to promote the region as a destination. We also discuss the challenges of launching a podcast and the benefits it can bring, such as expanding relationships with stakeholders and providing another valuable tool to support them.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Michael’s story and how he got into tourism
  • The Great Lakes Bay podcast and the stories behind the show
  • We dive into what makes a podcast successful
  • Why the fear of failure often holds people back and how Michael moved through it
  • Successful examples of collaboration, including their partnership with the Saginaw Spirit hockey team
  • Perspective on the evolution of destination marketing organizations

Sharing Local Stories

Michael Hensley shares his passion for communicating the stories of the people and places that make the Great Lakes Bay Region a great place to live, work, worship, play, and learn. In the Great Lakes Bay podcast, Michael and his team feature the people who own and operate local businesses, sharing the stories behind the places visitors love to frequent.

From Grandpa Tiny’s Farm in Frankenmuth to other local businesses, Michael brings to light the people behind the places that make the region special. By sharing these stories, Michael hopes to inspire listeners to view the destination through the same lens he did and fall in love with it too.

Podcasting as a Marketing Tool

Michael reveals that the idea for the podcast was not originally his but something that his predecessor started. However, after stumbling upon the file and listening to a few episodes, he saw the potential in continuing the podcast. The first year was rough, but after receiving advice from other professionals in the industry, he realized the importance of consistency and decided to aim for a weekly release.

The partnership with a radio station in Detroit helped alleviate the stress of producing and distributing the podcast, allowing him to focus on recording interviews. Although he had never interviewed anyone before, he overcame his fear and developed a skill for it. Despite the commitment, he enjoys producing the podcast and views it as a priority each week.

Moving Forward Step by Step

Fear is a common emotion that can hold us back from pursuing our goals and aspirations. Michael’s experience with starting the show is an excellent example of overcoming our fears and pushing through to achieve our desired outcome. He admits to having fears about not being a good interviewer or the show not working out. However, he didn’t let those fears stop him and took a leap of faith.

Michael’s willingness to take risks, try new things, and persist through challenges is an inspiration. For anyone who is struggling to overcome their fears, his advice is to start by identifying what’s holding you back and then take small steps to move forward.


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