Human management

Guest Opinion: Tourism officials support consideration of management options at MetraPark | Columnists


The Billings Tourism Business Improvement District Board of Directors supports the Yellowstone County Commissioners’ decision to review management options for MetraPark.

Every day, I asked myself, my fellow leaders and our employees: “How can we be better? »

How can we provide better customer service, value, create a more positive experience for everyone who enters our hotel, develop ongoing business, be more efficient in hospitality, be more efficient in our work, be better at what we do and… make money? What can we do differently today to be more successful tomorrow? Every day we can be and choose to be better.

Daily business in any industry, but especially hospitality, should be a winning equation. Customers need to be happy, planners need to be successful, we want to make an impact, and we need to make money. It’s our business. But our job is also people. Our guests, customers and employees.

Right now at MetraPark, Yellowstone County taxpayers and leaders have a blank canvas of opportunity to make MetraPark more competitive in the event industry by executing the master planning process and considering opportunities for management.

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What will the MetraPark campus of tomorrow look like and what will the guest and customer experience be like? How efficiently will the venue be managed and booked? Will it be competitive in the event industry across the West? Will it help make Billings and the community more competitive as a city and a destination for residents and guests? Will it bring more money to the local economy?

Some would say MetraPark is the soul of entertainment in Southeast Montana and the region? Once upon a time. It can be. But razor-wire fences, old barns, dilapidated rooms, dirty walls, and lackluster experiences won’t get us there.

Entertainment changes. Demands change. Technology has and is constantly changing. Demand from entertainers, meeting planners, sporting event planners, entertainers, community organizations and the consumer is changing. Are we keeping up? No. Not as we could or should be. This is why the master planning process is essential and why Yellowstone County Commissioners reviewing all management options are equally important.

In the 1980s, many of our community leaders were progressive, offering voters a chance to elevate the destination and the community with projects like MetraPark. They have also funded sites such as Center Fortin at Rocky Mountain College and major infrastructure in the medical corridor. But, that was in the 80s. It’s 2022. What are community leaders doing today to be progressive, so that we are a competitive city/county tomorrow? How do we promote the investments made in the community 30 years ago? What drives today’s decision for tomorrow’s generations? Is it about ego or is leadership genuinely looking at all possibilities to ensure smart decisions are made?

Each year, 2.6 million people visit Billings and spend $621 million on goods and services (Destination Analysts, 2018). Inviting people to Billings, giving people a reason to include Billings on their trips, and reaping the economic benefits to support businesses large and small are essential. MetraPark plays a role in this equation.

On behalf of my fellow members of the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District Board of Directors, who have voted to financially support MetraPark Events for over a decade (to the tune of over $550,000+) by ensuring events like Montana High School Association All-Class Wrestling and State Basketball Tournaments, NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championships, Garth Brooks, Big Sky VolleyFest, Gold Wing Road Riders Association, and BMW Rallies MOA to name a few…continue to choose MetraPark, are pleased that the Yellowstone County Commissioners are reviewing management options and continue to support the master planning process.

George Maragos is General Manager of the Northern Hotel and Chairman of the Board of Billings Tourism Business Improvement District.