Northstar's Newest Event Showcases Strength of Midwest Meetings

The first-ever Destination Midwest connected planners and suppliers for three days of networking, learning and planning for future business in the region.

The Event Design Lab, produced in partnership with the Event Leadership Institute, offered attendees in-depth, interactive education to kick off the meeting.
The Event Design Lab, produced in partnership with the Event Leadership Institute, offered attendees in-depth, interactive education to kick off the meeting. Photo Credit: Nicholas Walsh / pc/nametag

More than 70 event professionals gathered at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club for Northstar Meetings Group's first-ever Destination Midwest. The event, held Aug. 28-30 in Madison, Wis., brought together meeting planners looking to book business in the Midwest with hotels and CVBs from across the region, including Dubuque, Iowa; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Branson, Mo.; Rochester, Minn.; and Green Bay, Wis.

The three-day meeting included a mix of networking opportunities, one-on-one appointments with suppliers and in-depth education. A major highlight for attendees was the Event Design Lab, produced in partnership with the Event Leadership Institute. The four-hour program, which kicked off the first day of the event, provided hands-on, interactive learning on how to incorporate outcomes-based principles into event planning, how to elevate speaker presentations, how to facilitate impactful meeting connections and more. 

"The length of the event and the thoughtful agenda were just right," said Gayla Welsh, sales manager for the Margaritaville Lake Resort Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Mo. "Northstar knows how to blend the education, appointments and social events perfectly."

Sponsors who helped make Destination Midwest a success included the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club, Destination Madison, Travel Wisconsin, Explore Branson, Travel Dubuque, Essential Bodywear, Meet Chicago Northwest, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, pc/nametag and Aventri.

In response to the positive feedback to the inaugural event, Northstar will host a 2023 Destination Midwest event in Branson, Mo. View the full roster of upcoming events for more information or to register your interest as a hosted buyer or supplier.

Following are more highlights of Destination Midwest. All photos were made by Nicholas Walsh of pc/nametag.

Day One

Attendees were greeted with a welcome basket full of local treats, such as gourmet potato chips and candied pecans, upon arrival at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club.

Day one kicked off with an Event Design Lab program presented by the Event Leadership Institute, where attendees received hands-on education on proving event value, elevating speakers and improving content formats.

A welcome reception, sponsored by Destination Madison, was hosted at the Monona Terrace Convention Center on the Lake Monona waterfront.

Day Two

Howard Givner of the Event Leadership Institute led an education session on how event professionals can strengthen their negotiating power and get the best possible deal.

Meeting planners met with suppliers during one-on-one appointments. Above, Chris Herzberg of ITA (left) sat down with Emily Thole of Cedar Rapids Tourism (right).

Lunch was held at Coopers Tavern, with views of the Wisconsin Capitol across the street. The meal, sponsored by Explore Branson, included a variety of craft beers, as well as sandwiches, berry cobbler and Guinness chocolate cake.

A reception at the beautiful Olbrich Botanical Gardens rounded out day two. Attendees explored the gardens' 16 acres at sunset and were treated to an immersive outdoor art exhibit on the grounds after dark.

Day Three

Emily Scheiderer of Destinations International shared strategies for future-proofing your events and crafting the RFPs of tomorrow.

One-on-one appointments continued on day three. Above, Cindy Tilton of HelmsBriscoe (left) discussed business with Paulette Day of Visit Quad Cities (right).

Attendees gathered for a farewell lunch featuring tacos and margaritas, sponsored by Kalahari Resorts.