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30 Things Every Mackinac Policy Conference Attendee Should Know

The Mackinac Policy Conference is Michigan’s premier public policy event, held every year for four days at Mackinac Island’s prestigious Grand Hotel. The agenda is packed with sessions, receptions, networking opportunities and more. For the first-time attendee, the week can appear daunting, while veteran attendees may find themselves asking some of the same questions they had in years past. This list will (attempt to) address all of those questions and concerns in a somewhat chronological order.

Have your own item to add to the list? Use the hashtag #MPCThingsToKnow on social media.

Before you even pack your bags:

1. Confirmation packets are mailed to all attendees in mid-May and contain one ferry ticket. Each ferry ticket is roundtrip, so be sure to keep your ticket. Spouses are sent their packets the following week.

2. If for any reason you did not receive your ferry ticket in the mail, not to worry! Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry will have a list of attendees and can provide a round-trip ticket.

3. Download the MLive Conference App, the best way to stay up-to-date on all updates in real-time. It even contains the attendee list, arguably the most sought-after attendee resource on the island.

4. Once you have downloaded the app, be sure to personalize your profile and add a headshot so others can match a face to the name.

Now, on to the packing…

5. The Conference “dress code” is business casual, which means NO TIES NECESSARY.

6. Comfortable shoes are a must. You will walk a lot throughout the Conference and if you plan on participating in the Mackinac Slow Roll, gym shoes are a no-brainer.

7. The weather on Mackinac Island is similar to the rest of Michigan: unpredictable. That means dress in layers and pack warm, especially if you are staying far from Grand Hotel or in Mackinaw City.

8. While on the topic of unpredictable weather, be sure to pack an umbrella. The Conference may be mostly indoors, but chances are you will venture off the Grand Hotel property at some point, so be prepared in the event of rain.

9. Bring plenty of business cards. You don’t want to be that person who forgot cards. Of course, if you do forget, the app allows for you to exchange information.

A few quick items for your trip to the island

10. If you are driving to the Conference, use Google Maps or Waze to help plan your drive and avoid the inevitable Michigan construction.

11. Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry has added ferry trips specifically for the Conference. Check out the full ferry schedule online so you can plan ahead. Did you forget your ferry ticket? Scroll back up to tip number two…

You made it to the island, now what?

12. For those who have never visited Mackinac Island, there are no motorized vehicles. Horses and bicycles are the main modes of transportation.

13. Following up on the topic of horses, make sure to constantly watch where you step, especially at night.

14. Attendees not staying at Grand Hotel receive complimentary taxi tickets with their registration, but those tickets do not include gratuity. Make sure to tip your taxi drivers.

15. If you are staying at Mission Point, there is a specific taxi schedule just for you. The schedule will be available at Mission Point when you arrive. Download the Mission Point taxi schedule here.

16. Once you register and receive your name badge, be sure to wear it to ALL Conference programs and events. Security will be heightened this year and anybody not wearing their credentials will be escorted to registration or even off Grand Hotel property. For more information, check out the official credential policy.

17. For those attendees arriving late Tuesday, make sure to check in at the main Conference registration desk inside Grand Hotel before attending Opening Night at the Stables. Anybody without a badge will be denied entry.

18. Be sure not to lose your badge. If you do, there is a $50 fee for a badge reprint.

19. Upon arrival, all attendees receive a Conference bag full of session invites and useful items to help get through the week.

20. Check out the Conference Snapchat filter and tell all your friends how awesome the Conference is! Or, if you don’t have Snapchat, use the Conference hashtag, #MPC17, and see your tweets scroll on the buzzboards, located throughout Grand Hotel.

Get to the programming already!

21. Registration will open Tuesday, May 30 at noon. There is a full slate of receptions on Tuesday, so be sure to arrive early and take advantage of these early networking opportunities.

22. Those who cannot attend Tuesday’s programming can still get a feel for the Conference on Wednesday morning with a pair of hosted sessions, Mackinac 101 Attendee Orientation: Making the Most of the Conference, and much more.

23. Main stage sessions start Wednesday at 11:45 a.m., so be sure to arrive early to the theatre to ensure you get a seat.

24. Didn’t make it to the theatre in time to get a seat? The Brighton Pavilion provides comfortable overflow seating for attendees during almost all main stage sessions.

25. Lunch is served in the parlor on both Wednesday and Thursday, so be sure to grab yours!

26. Hosted lunch sessions will provide food for attendees in those sessions, so do not grab a lunch from the parlor if you plan on seeing one.

27. PAC to the ’80s  is one of the most popular events at the Conference and takes place at The Gate House on Wednesday night. It requires a separate ticket, but is a can’t-miss event!

28. Thursday morning programming starts very early at 7:30 a.m. with two new sessions: Bring It to the Table featuring keynote speaker Julie Winokur, and Breakfast with Michael Beschloss, who will provide a keynote address later that day.

29. Thursday night features two popular events: On the Island. Off the Record. Bourbon Night in the Tea Garden Tent followed by A Toast to Your Health in the Audubon Bar. But remember, you must wear your badge to gain entry into these fan favorite events!

30. Friday features a new program in the parlor: Morning View: Mackinac Uncensored. Hear some sizzling debates and hot takes on multiple topics in a strolling setting. Don’t ferry off the island before checking out this new, dynamic program.

Keep up with these tips and more on social media and the MLive Conference App. See you on the island!