Candice Smith, owner/operator, Tours Around Michigan

Group tour planners wanting to experience Michigan’s history, art, historic homes, unique foods and more look no further than Tours Around Michigan, group experiences and tours. Candice Smith, owner/operator, of the Grand Rapids based company share exciting information about the company and partnering with group planners.

Q: How can group planners benefit from partnering with Tours Around Michigan? 

A: My goal is to inspire tour guests to return, which is most likely the same goal as group planners. It’s a win for us all if we can help group tours have such an amazing time that they’re ready to return and keep exploring our fabulous area. We continuously strengthen our connections with the community to offer a variety of experiences for planners to choose from when bringing specific groups to the area. This practice gives planners lots of options to tailor their offerings to specific themes and tastes of their clients. 

Photo: Tours Around Michigan

Q: What sets Tours Around Michigan apart from other tour planners? 

A: Personalization. We love to help guests find a personal connection with the stories we share and places we take them. If they feel connected, they’re more likely to return.  Some examples of how we have personalized past tours include:

  • World War II vets received extra information on how our own military heroes touched different areas of Grand Rapids and helped change the world.  
  • Special needs adults received a city history and art tour with fewer details, and more activities to engage the senses. Their tour focused on things they could touch, smell & listen to, which gave them a customized experience focused on how they most enjoy exploring an area.  
  • A convention client wanted to offer a tour that would inspire vendors to choose their experience to join. We took them on a ghost tour, ending at a haunted restaurant with gourmet food & tastings of Michigan wines, brews & cocktails. Their group also had plenty of space to mingle and talk business, while enjoying a great evening together.  
Photo: Tours Around Michigan

Q: The past couple of years have been challenging for the entire travel industry; how have you modified your offerings to keep pace with tourism trends?

A: We’ve developed more opportunities to get groups out in the open, where they don’t feel as crowded into a space. In our Garden Tours, for example, groups can explore beautiful, open spaces. Whenever possible, experts join us to share the history behind a mansion’s garden, or guests get a personal tour from the artist who created all the sculptures in the garden. 

During the pandemic, we began offering Virtual Tours. These tours allowed groups who were interested in future travel to our area to learn in depth about subjects that made them want to visit places in person. A great example is our virtual Church Tours which led to people booking subsequent tours with a group planner to see the churches in person. When visitors walked in the door, they already had an intimate knowledge of the places, enhancing their experience. Our virtual tours also could cover general topics that are more challenging to cover in one city, like Michigan Serial Killers, which discussed people from the south border to the upper peninsula over 100 years. 

Photo: Tours Around Michigan

Q: What is the next big thing for Tours Around Michigan? 

A: We are broadening our offerings in Michigan by partnering with tour providers around the state. We want to be the hub to help make planning a trip to Michigan easier. Group planners have a lot to do, and if we can help make it easier for them by using our inside knowledge on what’s available for their groups and helping them arrange group tours in other parts of the state, that’s a win for all of us! 

Candice Smith
Tours Around Michigan