Category Archives: Guest Post

GUEST POST: TOP 6 REASONS MEETING PLANNERS LOVE WHITEFISH MONTANA

Venue choice is one of the most important factors for the success of a meeting. Having hosted hundreds of meetings at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Western Montana’s Glacier Country over the past 10 years has shown us that while each event has its unique needs, certain aspects of Whitefish are universally gratifying for the planners with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working. Feedback from meetings professionals has taught us what they like most about our area.

Aerial view of The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

Location, location, location is not a new idea, and this phrase applies to meeting venues as much as anything. With that in mind, three of the top reasons meeting planners love Whitefish pertain directly to location!

  • Accessibility: While it’s true that Whitefish is off the beaten path, it’s quite accessible for attendees from around North America. Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) is located just 11 miles from Whitefish and offers daily commercial service from Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis, and twice-weekly service from Las Vegas. Seasonal flight service is added from Chicago, Atlanta, Portland and Oakland. Many hotels in Whitefish, including The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and The Firebrand Hotel, offer courtesy airport transportation for guests. This complimentary, personal service and quick transfer time provides a seamless and welcoming first impression for meeting attendees and sets the tone for a great experience.

    It’s easy to get to Glacier Park International Airport (FCA).

  • Geographic and recreational benefits: Whitefish is nestled in the west slope of the Northern Rocky Mountains and just outside Glacier National Park. The region offers a temperate climate (for a mountain destination) and abundant natural beauty. Temperatures average highs of 28 F in December and January and 80 F in July and August. Year-round recreational and sightseeing opportunities abound. Most meeting attendees have diverse interests, and Whitefish offers many different seasonal recreation opportunities to satisfy most participants. Here’s a taste of what’s available:
    Whitefish Mountain Resort offers winter and summer recreation from alpine skiing and snowboarding to zip lines, aerial adventures, lift-access mountain biking, an alpine slide, hiking and scenic chair and gondola rides.
    Whitefish Lake Golf Course offers two 18-hole championship courses, open from mid-April through October.
    Stumptown Art Studio offers year-round art classes and drop-in studio spaces for pottery painting, mosaics and glass fusing.
    Whitefish Trail provides easy access to experience nature with a hike, trail run, mountain bike, snowshoe or fat-bike ride. Guided and educational experiences are available.
    Glacier National Park is located just 30 minutes from Whitefish and offers incredible beauty and recreation opportunities ranging from scenic tours by boat or historic red buses to incredible day hikes.

    Glacier National Park is only 30 minutes from Whitefish.

    The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, situated on the outskirts of downtown and between Whitefish Lake and the Viking Creek Wetland Preserve, provides a premier setting to enjoy all that Whitefish has to offer. A seasonal marina with motorized and non-motorized watercraft and custom cruises on the Lady of the Lake 31’ Windsor Craft, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a full-service day spa, Viking Creek Wetland Preserve with interpretive nature trail, and a full-service concierge make planning free time simple for groups and individuals!
    Additional opportunities exist like fishing (ice, lake and fly), horseback and wagon rides, whitewater and scenic rafting, garden and museum tours and more!

    The Lodge at Whitefish Lake offers luxury accommodations & service year-round.

  • Cultural opportunities: Whitefish offers a condensed, pedestrian-friendly downtown area, retaining qualities of its western heritage with a metropolitan flair. You’ll discover businesses from The Firebrand, a newly opened boutique hotel, to Nelson’s Ace Hardware, with 60 years of history servicing the Whitefish community. A diverse selection of dining options from Cuban to Italian, New American to French Creole, eclectic and traditional delis, pizza parlors and coffee shops provide seemingly endless choices to satisfy the most discerning foodie and hungry adventure-seeker. You’ll also discover a variety of art galleries, custom jewelers, boutique shops, ski, bike and outdoor outfitters, bars, music venues, and several active theater companies including the professional Alpine Theatre Project featuring Broadway talent.

Explore downtown Whitefish.

Although location is important, it turns out it’s not everything.

  • Friendly community: We repeatedly hear stories of how “everyone was so friendly” and accommodating, from the valet to the front desk, restaurant and banquet servers, housekeepers and maintenance crew, “literally everyone we came across at the resort.” But that’s not all, around town, people say “hi” when they pass you on the street, and shop keepers thank you for visiting their stores, even when you don’t buy anything. Montana hospitality is alive and well in Whitefish, and this friendliness enhances our clients’ overall experiences in a meaningful way that makes them want to come back.
  • Pricing flexibility: While offering year-round benefits, Whitefish is a seasonal destination, and the proximity to Glacier National Park heavily impacts demand during the summer season. Clients who have flexibility to plan their meetings outside of the peak months of July and August enjoy the benefits of greater availability and value. At The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and The Firebrand Hotel, we seasonally accommodate meetings ranging for budget-conscious government groups to luxury incentive trips. This flexibility has surprised and delighted many of our clients over the years!
  • Professional service in a luxurious, comfortable setting: While you won’t find many suits and ties in Whitefish, rest assured you can still find professional service. The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Montana’s only AAA Four Diamond rated property, is a great example of finding this balance. We invite you to experience our version of Montana hospitality firsthand!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our corner of Montana.

See you in Whitefish!
Edna White

The author, Edna White

About the author: Edna White, Sales & Marketing Director for Averill Hospitality, has worked in hospitality in Whitefish for the past 20 years. She has a passion for Western Montana’s outdoor recreation and providing exceptional guest experiences. In her free time, you’re likely to find Edna riding a bicycle around town or on one of the many singletrack trails in the area. 

GUEST POST: TOP 4 SHOULDER SEASON ADVENTURES WITH GLACIER GUIDES AND MONTANA RAFT

Travel is all about the experience. Forget collecting silver-plated spoons from each state—travelers these days are out in the world to create intangible experiences and memories that will last a lifetime, especially in America’s national parks—Glacier National Park in particular. As tour operators, you are challenged by the ever-growing popularity of the parks, and seek help creating the memorable, unique experiences your guests demand. Waiting in long, hot lines does not create happy guests or repeat customers. We can help.

At Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, we’ve been in the business of creating unforgettable adventures since 1983. Our focus is on the quality of the experience, and our mission is to provide one-of-a-kind travel vacations and getaways in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting the park’s unique ecosystem using the most ecologically sound practices possible.

Glacier National Park in spring.

What we hear from our guests—some of whom we’ve been guiding for over 30 years—is that part of the Glacier Park experience they are looking for is one that includes intimacy, solitude and peace. Even if they are interested in an adrenaline-packed whitewater rafting adventure, they are still looking for an experience that allows the time and space for introspection and reflection. And our guides know how to use our rivers and mountains to do just that, while also educating, entertaining and attending to safety at all times.

For this more intimate experience with Glacier National Park, offer tours in our less crowded times of the year: May, June, September and October. There are many reasons Glacier National Park is so popular in July and August, but there are better times of the year if you are in the business of experiential travel. Here are our top 4 Glacier National Park shoulder-season activities.

1) Spring Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road
The first sign of spring in Glacier Country is the announcement that the snow plows are out, scraping a winter’s worth of snow off the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. As soon as the plows have advanced a few miles up that gorgeous road, we strap on our helmets and go biking. The plowed portions of the road are open only to biker and hiker traffic until mid to late June, and pedaling a bike up the nearly empty, quiet, Going-to-the-Sun Road is nothing short of spectacular. Breathing in the fresh alpine air, watching spring waterfalls cascade off the mountains and catching a glimpse of a new moose or elk calf crossing a greening meadow is an experience travelers will not soon—or ever—forget.

Spring biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

These interpretive, guided bike tours on the closed sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are exclusive to Glacier Guides and Montana Raft. Nearly all ages and abilities can enjoy at least part of this Glacier National Park shoulder-season experience. Our guides will go as far as the group wants to go, and for some groups (especially those with young children) that might not be very far. That’s okay. We think every trip is less about the destination and more about the memories made on the journey, like sitting on a sun-warmed rock on the edge of the cerulean waters of McDonald Creek, relishing one of our homemade, locally sourced, largely organic sack lunches. For other groups, we might bike all the way to Logan Pass, the apex of the road. Either way, it is sure to be a day guests will never forget.

2) Spring Whitewater Rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
For some guests, adrenaline is a necessary part of the experience. We provide an unmatched whitewater rafting adventure on one of the most stunning rivers in the world. The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is designated a Wild and Scenic River. Its crystal-clear, turquoise waters flow over gorgeous red and green rocks left over from Glacier National Park’s glaciated past. The Middle Fork forms Glacier National Park’s border to the south and the Flathead National Forest to the north.

Adrenaline pumping whitewater adventures.

In the springtime, and particularly in late May when runoff is at its peak, the water is high and the river’s nine named rapids vary from Class II to Class IV. Our impeccably trained guides keep guests thrilled (and safe) as they navigate John F. Stevens Canyon and the fun, splashy Tunnel Rapids, Bonecrusher, Washboard, Big Squeeze, Jaws, Pin Ball, CBT, Repeater Rapids, The Notch and Pumphouse rapids. Following the guide’s simple commands, guests actually become part of the crew that maneuvers the boat. In the spring, this trip is about two and a half hours long. Generally speaking, we do not allow children younger than six on this trip in the spring. Guest safety is our #1 priority. Wetsuits and river shoes are always complimentary.

3) Shoulder Season Scenic Floating on the Border of Glacier National Park
Whether it’s spring or fall, if whitewater rafting is more of an adventure than guests are looking for, but the beauty and peace of a calmer section of the Flathead River appeals to them, then our Scenic Float is perfect. Suitable for nearly any age (ages three and up) and ability, this trip never fails to inspire and relax. The beauty of the Middle Fork is perhaps even more enjoyable when viewed at the slower speed of the Scenic Float trip.

Stunning scenery on this scenic river float.

The trip is approximately two hours long, and guests enjoy glimpses of Glacier National Park from the comfort of a boat as their guide discusses geological, anthropological and ecological matters pertaining to Glacier National Park. Guests also float through the confluence of the North and Middle forks of the Flathead River, which forms the park’s southernmost tip. This trip is mellow in the best sense of the word, offering a peaceful, relaxing experience on one of the world’s most pristine rivers.

4) Fall Day Hiking on the Highline Trail
Around here, we love to hike in every season, but fall is our favorite. By September, all of the high mountain passes and trails have completely thawed out, and most of our visitors have gone back to work and school. Glacier National Park turns to gold with changing tamarack needles and aspen leaves, and Montana’s famous big sky is never bluer. The cool, crisp autumnal air is invigorating. It’s simply an ideal time of year to go hiking.

Hiking in Glacier National Park.

Glacier Guides was chosen as the exclusive backpacking guide service in Glacier National Park. We offer a wide range of adventure hiking options, from day hiking and backpacking, to hut treks and vehicle-supported excursions. All of our trips are ecologically friendly, and family or custom adventures are available. Our friendly, experienced guides take care of every detail, use top-of-the-line equipment and prepare delicious, healthy meals. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier Park is a hiker’s dream, and we provide trips to accommodate all ability levels. We can create a custom trip that’s tailored to your guest’s interests and desired activity level. We’d love to help plan the perfect Glacier National Park experience for your guests. For more information, visit glacierguides.com or call 406.387.5555.

Happy Adventuring,
Courtney Stone

The author, Courtney Stone

About the author: As Marketing Director for Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, Courtney strives daily to meet its mission of providing exceptional active travel vacations and experiences in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting the park’s unique ecosystem. Otherwise, you’ll find Courtney hiking, backpacking, rafting, skiing or cleaning up the trail of glitter her kids leave in the wake of their own daily adventures.

GUEST POST: 5 REASONS GUEST RANCHES ARE PERFECT FOR CORPORATE TRAVEL

One of the most common responses I get when talking to meeting planners and companies about hosting their meetings, retreats or incentive trips at Flathead Lake Lodge is ‘Huh…never thought about a guest ranch’. In an industry where success is based on the perception of the experience by leadership and the company, new can seem risky. So, head West with me and let’s walk through this risk and see how a place like Flathead Lake Lodge is suited to far exceed your meeting expectations.

1: Service. It all starts with service. No planner wants to put together a package that doesn’t provide their company or client great service. Often times this is measured in stars and plaques. Where Flathead Lake Lodge (a recipient of many stars and plaques) and other great guest ranches go even farther is the intangibles of western hospitality and the personal connection. Flathead Lake Lodge (FLL) and other family-owned ranches are hosting your company at their ranch, which is their home. This level of personal service, commitment and care cannot be matched by hotels and resorts relying on training models and hired staff.

Farm to table food served at every meal.

A great example I like to share is about a corporate group we hosted at FLL last fall. My father and I are at the fireplace in the Main Lodge every morning where we share a cup of coffee with our guests. We were talking about how the elk in the ranch’s preserve were starting to bugle and become more active, awesome to see! Before long we had talked enough people into jumping into our vintage military vehicle to take an off-road tour through the preserve to see the elk. This isn’t an extra charge—it’s simply natural, personal service. We want you to enjoy our ranch, and our staff embodies that ownership. We work with our guests and our planners every hour of the day to make their experience personally awesome. It’s why companies like Ford, General Mills, Red Bull, Caterpillar, Pepsi, Coke, YPO and more all have discovered Flathead Lake Lodge and keep coming back.

The grand fireplace in the lodge.

2: Location. Montana, to some, can seem about as far out there as Alaska! The good news is it is just as beautiful and a heck of a lot easier to get to. There are direct flights from nine major cities (Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland, Minneapolis, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Denver), not to mention great charter service.

We’re located in the northwest part of the state on the shores of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Flathead Lake is BIGGER that Tahoe (and cleaner too!). Glacier National Park is just 35 minutes up the road, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is out the back door and there are five major rivers nearby, so there is no shortage of outdoor recreation. In addition, the award-winning artisan village of Bigfork is 1 mile away. A 2,000-acre ranch, on a huge pristine lake, surrounded by mountains, a mile from a great town…trust me when I say we can find something for everyone to enjoy. Which reminds me…

Boating on Flathead Lake.

3: Recreation. One of a meeting planner’s hardest challenges is creating an itinerary for a group of people that has something for everyone to enjoy. This is where Flathead Lake Lodge is unparalleled. Being a ranch on a lake, we have the largest on-site recreation programming of any ranch or resort in the country. From horseback riding to sailing historic 51’ sailing sloops and mountain biking to massages—and everything in between—we work to create custom-tailored packages for your company and clients. Then, at the end of the day, we all share our day’s stories in the Saddlesore Saloon.

Belly up to the bar at the Saddlesore Saloon.

4: Exclusivity & 5: Intimacy. If you were to ask for a Flathead Lake Lodge referral, the top talking points that continually come up are service and the intangibles of exclusivity and intimacy. The funny thing is the later two are often overlooked and my honest opinion is they’re the most important yet. The ability to have your company and clients ‘take over’ the ranch creates an atmosphere and camaraderie very rarely experienced in corporate travel. The cabins are historic, cozy and comfortable with no TVs, which keeps people outside. Dining is done family style. Many of the intangible operations of Flathead Lake Lodge are designed to engage people, force interactions and encourage relationship building, which all contribute to our ranch having a 70 percent return rate. It is an environment that brings your company together, creates engagement, conversations and relationships. Simply put, it is like the whole company going to summer camp (a really nice summer camp), and for those of us who took summer adventures ask kids, we have lots of great memories to look back on.

Cozy comfort in our guest cabins.

Are you willing to take the risk yet? I’ll be honest, points 1 – 4 can be replicated. Service can be taught and recreation programmed. However, I’m confident our 73-year history and caliber of returning guests exemplify how Flathead Lake Lodge is able to combine these 5 trip factors unlike anywhere you’ve been. And we’re not alone. Many ranches, because of how personal their connection to the operation is are able to combine these 5 factors in a unique way that allows companies to come together through new adventures and grow. It may sound risky to trade in hotel rooms for open spaces, but sometimes all we need is a new perspective.

Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in Montana soon. For more information on Flathead Lake Lodge visit: www.flatheadlakelodge.com. For RFP’s and meeting planning questions please don’t hesitate to give me a shout at chase@flatheadlakelodge.com or 406.837.4391.

Cheers!
Chase Averill

3rd  Generation Owner | Flathead Lake Lodge

 

SEE GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ON A BLACKFEET CULTURAL TOUR WITH SUN TOURS

Many international and group tour visitors arrive in Western Montana’s Glacier Country and are excited to visit the iconic Glacier National Park. While driving the 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road is permitted in your personal vehicle or rental car, the best way to experience Glacier National Park is with a guided tour. Sun Tours is your unique tour option while visiting Glacier National Park and Blackfeet Country. Sun Tours offers daily departures for interpretive tours from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, along with all entrances of Glacier National Park, and travels the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road encompassing the highlights of the route.

Warrior sculptures welcome visitors to the Blackfeet Nation.

Warrior sculptures welcome visitors to the Blackfeet Nation.

Featuring a spectacular eastern approach to the Rocky Mountain Front, the tours that originate from the Blackfeet Nation take the most scenic routes across the foothills and valleys of the mountains. Photo opportunities include the Blackfeet Bison Reserve and cultural interpretive sites, including visits to the Blackfeet Heritage Center and the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, Montana.

The one-of-a-kind cultural tour is guided by the members of the Blackfeet Tribe and covers the culture and landscape of the “Neets-Tse-Ta-Pi” (Real People). The tour guide’s narrative concentrates on Glacier National Park’s natural features and their relevance to the Blackfeet Indian Nation, past and present. One of the compelling offerings of the tour is a chance for visitors to learn about the history and culture of the Crown of the Continent’s fascinating landscape that natives call the Backbone of the World.

Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park.

All of our guides at Sun Tours are residents of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and have extensive knowledge on the many facets of tribal history, culture and lifestyles, as well as extensive information and experience in Glacier National Park. Blackfeet spiritual and philosophical perspectives are covered, as well as plants and roots commonly used for nutrition and medicine. The tour stops include Triple Divide, Wild Goose Island, Jackson Glacier, Heavy Runner Mountain, Logan Pass and Bird Woman Falls, with a view from Big Bend.

A tipi overlook off Highway 2 near St. Mary.

A tipi overlook off Highway 2 near St. Mary.

Tour guests take in the views along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Tour guests take in the views along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

We would be happy to accommodate your FIT clients and your motorcoach groups. Our tours leave from the east side of Glacier National Park, with pickups that include East Glacier Park, Browning and from the St. Mary valley area. We also depart from the west side of  Glacier National Park from West Glacier and Apgar Visitor Center.

A Sun Tour cruises along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

A Sun Tour cruises along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Tour season runs from mid-May through September 30th on passenger coaches that seat 13 to 25 people with large windows and air conditioning. Coaches can be reserved for tour groups or private parties. Please keep in mind that tour demand increases in the summer months of July and August and we highly recommend reserving space for your clients early. In addition, spring and fall both offer tour attendees a quieter look at Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation.

The glacial-carved terrain of Glacier National Park can be seen along the tour.

The glacial-carved terrain of Glacier National Park can be seen along the tour.

For more information, visit our website at glaciersuntours.com or call our reservation office at 800-732-9220.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Backbone of the World,
Ed DesRosier

The author, Ed Derosier

The author, Ed DesRosier

About the author: Ed is the owner and operator of Sun Tours, an interpretive Native/Blackfeet Bus Tour Concessioner of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Sun Tours is starting its 25th operating season. Now living in St Mary, Montana, Ed is an enrolled Blackfeet Tribal Member and has lived his entire life on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Summers of his youth were spent working for the Museum on the Plains Indian in Browning. The park and reservation land have been a constant study in summer and winter. Most of his youth and adult years included enjoying the mountains and valleys of Glacier National Park where he hikes, snowshoes and skis hundreds of miles of trails, as well as climbing many of the park’s highest peaks.

Guest Post: Winter in Montana – Board Room to Bucket List

Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of producing hundreds of meetings and events in some of the world’s greatest destinations. While the purpose, scope and locations of these gatherings have varied, all of them were designed to inspire excellence, trust and community while nurturing new thinking about business relationships and value creation. More often than not, I aspired to showcase the event destination in a creative way, as we provided a unique and enriching experience for the attendees. As planners, we didn’t want to duplicate our company’s conference room in a different locale; we wanted to draw from the culture of the destination and inspire them through novel experiences, like skiing after a morning meeting or receiving a handmade box filled with local treats at turn down.

Taking in the view of Montana from the "top of the world" at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Taking in the view of Montana from the “top of the world” at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Throughout the last decade, my passion for event planning and marketing has continued to blossom because of that essential, powerful ingredient—experiential travel. After living and working in many US cities, I am grateful to call Montana my home, especially since Montana is a place where travelers are instantly captured by a sense of wonder. Montana, through my lens, is an extraordinary, transformative destination for everyone from homebodies to globetrotters; a place where bucket-list experiences are checked off left and right.

In my role as marketing director at a luxury guest ranch in Western Montana, I see the transformations happen on a daily basis. It’s magical when a guest fulfills a dream to learn how to fly-fish or discovers that unplugging in the wide-open spaces brings their family closer. There are many quiet and exhilarating moments to be relished when guests and staff find themselves bursting with appreciation of the beauty and peace of our American West at The Ranch at Rock Creek. 

Inside the main lodge at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Inside the ranch’s main lodge.

The profound number of experiences to be discovered throughout every season is very meaningful for planners and hosts who aim to inspire their attendees with exceptional—even magical— company events. As the Montana winter approaches, here are some thoughts on why groups should consider the natural riches of the Treasure State for business retreats and meetings.

Winter at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Winter at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Limitless Outdoor Adventure
Not only is Montana stunningly beautiful when the snow falls, but it also offers a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities. Among Montana’s diverse terrain are canopied forests and glistening meadows to explore by boot, snowshoe, ski, sleigh and snowmobile. I encourage planners to think about how wintertime outdoor recreation can bring attendees together to challenge themselves and each other. Our state boasts miles and miles of accessible cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails. Some travelers are surprised to learn that Montana offers epic downhill skiing at world-class resorts and family-owned hidden gems—both with virtually no lift lines. We are partial to Discovery Ski Area just outside of Philipsburg, one of Montana’s most historic towns.

Skiing at Discovery Ski Area.

Skiing at Discovery Ski Area.

Near Discovery is The Ranch at Rock Creek, where I hang my professional hat. Sitting on 6,600 awe-inspiring acres that become a group’s playground during the length of their stay, The Ranch at Rock Creek is an all-inclusive luxury guest ranch located halfway between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks in the heart of Western Montana. Our guests enjoy twice-daily guided seasonal adventures, while groups from around the world travel to our remote ranching valley to reconnect, team build and conduct business. Their professional pursuits are infused with experiences like horseback riding through a meadow and casting a fishing line for the big one on the banks of our pristine trout stream, Rock Creek (home to 2,000 fish per river mile).

Our robust outdoor activity program includes over 20 year-round activities, while in the winter guests venture out to snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice skate, horseback ride, target shoot, sled, play hockey or bundle up on a sleigh ride or snowcat trek.

Guests enjoy a snoscat tour.

Guests enjoy a snowcat tour.

When working with groups to plan their on-ranch activities, our on-site coordinators customize experiences to suit the needs of your attendees, which means a group could snowshoe to a remote creek-side location for a gourmet picnic lunch, brainstorm around the campfire after dinner or team up in a survivor-skills competition in the forest.

The perfect gathering place after dinner.

The perfect outdoor gathering place after dinner.

Enrichment Through the Land and Lifestyle
For those who enjoy the stories of the legendary West, Montana is the perfect stop. Big Sky Country honors its history through the celebration and preservation of our pioneer spirit and American Indian heritage, while ranches and farms remain strong cornerstones of the Montana landscape and lifestyle.

The chef prepares an outdoor lunch.

The chef prepares an outdoor lunch.

Throughout the state, travelers discover thriving farm-to-table culinary experiences, due to the many hard-working ranchers, farmers and purveyors that make their home here. Visitors to Montana often have the opportunity to embark on a new epicurean journey—tasting foods for the first time such as elk, venison, morel mushrooms and huckleberries. At The Ranch at Rock Creek, our Executive Chef Josh Drage and his team thoughtfully select meats, produce, dairy and delicacies from over 50 Montana purveyors as he serves the best of Montana ranch cuisine paired with regional wines and award-winning local brews, including Philipsburg Brewing Company.

On-site bartenders create Montana-inspired cocktails.

Cocktails feature handcrafted Montana spirits and local ingredients. 

Besides reaping the bounty of the land, Montana guests can immerse themselves in the richness of the region when they explore the national parks, dip into thermal hot springs and trek around ghost towns throughout the year.

Reconnect in Nature
During most winter days, the Montana sky is filled with bright sunshine and puffy white clouds, allowing you to see for miles and miles across the Northern Rocky Mountains. Across the ranges and lower hills and rivers, you may spot elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep and bald eagles, while in our rivers and lakes you’ll find a diverse selection of fish. Like many corners of Western Montana, The Ranch at Rock Creek is nestled among several mountain ranges and wilderness areas, which means our ranch is free of light pollution and offers incredible opportunities to see Montana’s star-filled and immense sky.
Sidenote: Read more about ways to reconnect in nature in “Cross It Off Your Bucket List,” a blog we published earlier this year.

A serene setting at the ranch.

A serene setting at the ranch.

As many business executives are attached to devices, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers meeting attendees the chance to unplug and immerse themselves in natural surroundings and to become rejuvenated as they watch the moonlight bathing the glistening snow or a never-ending sea of stars after the fire goes out.

The Milky Way in Glacier National Park. Photo: GNP Flickr

The Milky Way in Glacier National Park. Photo: GNP Flickr

Montana Hospitality on a Cold Winter Night
When I moved to Montana, I had no idea how helpful and welcoming my neighbors would be. It’s true that the warmth of Montana hospitality shines as a standout feature of the travel experience. Around here, our team believes that our guests should feel as if they are being invited into the family home as they experience authentic Montana.

The inside of the Buckle Barn, a great meeting space at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

The inside of the Buckle Barn, a beautiful and comfortable meeting space at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Executive meeting hosts can absolutely feel confident that their attendees will be made to feel welcome and comfortable in Big Sky Country. It may sound simple with no glitz or glitter, but after a day of team building in the outdoors, guests find great enjoyment gathering around a grand stone fireplace sharing stories and toasting with a Moscow mule. Plus, during winter months, many resorts—including ours— invite event planners to consider special offers to encourage corporate groups and help them experience the best winter has to offer in Western Montana.

If you are in search of new exhilarating adventures, warm hospitality and spectacular settings in the American West to complement your business meeting objectives, we hope to welcome you to the Treasure State very soon.

Happy trails and meet me in Montana,
Heather Rue

The author, Heather Rue

The author, Heather Rue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author: Heather is the director of marketing at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana where she leads the cross-channel marketing efforts to build awareness of and tell stories about The Ranch’s exceptional Montana travel experiences. She has produced hundreds of corporate, nonprofit and cause-marketing events and programs. Heather is active in her local community and is raising country kids, chickens and labs while soaking up all life in Montana has to offer. 

 

Guest post: Creating Campfire Communities

Do you want to know how to use social media to grow your meeting attendance? It’s simple.

Stop using it to advertise your meeting or conference. Instead, leverage the power of social conversations to grow affinity for your brand, conference or meeting.

Create little campfires via Twitter Chats, private video-chats, Facebook or LinkedIn Groups and any other social platform where you can bring likeminded individuals together. Position your meeting or conference as the campfire around which everyone wants to gather to meet new folks, make new friends, learn new knowledge and improve their life.

campfire

Fanning the flame at a Montana campfire.

Then leverage social channels during and after your meeting to fan the flame for next year.

Let me explain what I’m talking about…

Stimulating Relevant Online Discussion
A few years ago, my company, Converse Digital, partnered with noted diabetes blogger Scott Johnson to begin a multi-year effort to stimulate online discussions about severe diabetic complications. We needed to get folks talking about complications so that diabetics start paying more attention to these things and to create opportunities for my client to engage in conversations.

As we built those conversations a funny thing happened: a community developed. While true, there was already an established diabetic community online, there really wasn’t one focused on scary long-term complications. But just the act of engaging in conversations via social media channels ignited previously unforeseen embers of opportunity.

The Social Media Strategy
Fan the flame. That was it. Our entire social media strategy could be summed up in one sentence: fan the flame.

We kept talking to the community. And they talked back. As the volume of those conversations grew, an opportunity emerged. An opportunity to gather all of those voices into a single place, at a single time, to share in a single conversation in the form of a virtual conference dedicated to creating hope amongst diabetics.

And it was all made possible by a brand. Think about that for a moment…your brand or meeting as a campfire.

Leveraging The Conversation
By focusing on creating hope, not selling a product, we would turn a campfire into a bonfire. With the power of social media (nothing can spread a message faster or farther) we started spreading the word about this great new conference. Then we crossed our fingers and prayed that someone would show up.

Luckily for all of us, over 250 people showed up. After three hours and three panels made up of panelists spread across the USA, we had succeeded in turning that campfire conversation into a bonfire that would continue to burn for the next year.

With little more than a SurveyMonkey survey and a bit more effort via email and social media, we were able to gain enormous post-event insights. We then used these insights to keep the fire burning while we planned version two of the conference.

Continuing The Conversation
Throughout 2013 and into 2014 we continued to engage with our audience in various campfire conversations. We invested in video technology that allowed us to have 20 – 25 concurrent video feeds and we used those to create small, invite only, private video chats where we could engage our audience more deeply than via Facebook or Twitter.

We continued to learn. More importantly, we continued to earn the trust, respect—and in some cases, adoration—of our community.

And then another really funny thing happened. Our campers started talking on our behalf. They started talking about the conference. They would tell anyone that would listen how it was needed and why folks should attend it. Major, established diabetic communities supported us by exposing their community to our message. In effect, all of these campers became unpaid ambassadors for the conference. They were inviting their friends to our campfires so they could see for themselves why they should attend next year’s conference.

Each person’s blog post, Facebook or Twitter update served to cast the embers of our campfire farther. Starting more little campfires. And in year two, our bonfire (conference) drew just over 500 of those embers who once again came together to spend a half-day stoking the flame of hope.

Using social media to grow attendance to your next event is easy. Stop promoting your event and start engaging your community.

Tom Martin
About the author: Tom is a no nonsense, straight-talking 20-year veteran of the advertising and marketing business who favors stiff drinks, good debates and helping companies grow their businesses.

As an internationally recognized digital marketing keynote speaker, blogger, founder of Converse Digital and author of The Invisible Sale, Tom marries his two passions, marketing & technology, to teach companies how to leverage digital marketing channels to achieve and sustain sales growth, enhance brand perception and painlessly prospect for new customers.

His first book, The Invisible Sale, is now available for sale at TheInvisibleSale.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMartin or contact him at Converse Digital.