EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 15, 2008

Focus: Golf clubs take a swing at corporate clientele

The last thing John Thomas, president of Dracut-based Dakota Systems, wants to contemplate the day before a corporate training meeting is whether there will be enough coffee. Or snacks. Or functioning audio-visual equipment, for that matter.

"I don't have to worry about the details," Thomas said at the outset of a three-day sales marketing session at the Andover Country Club. "The club's hosted events are a cut above everywhere else."

Thomas joined the Andover Country Club three years ago because of the quality of its greens and the camaraderie with "a great group of guys." But after 25 years in business — and countless off-site business meetings — he's decided it's also the best place to host his training sessions.

His out-of-town associates can stay the night in one of the club's 27 hotel rooms. All meals are available, so employees aren't wasting time getting breakfast. And he's familiar with the staff.

"If you go to a restaurant, you might be in a private room, but they're not set up for meetings," Thomas said. "Here you don't have to tell they to bring a screen, to have (electrical) power, to have coffee. The club is full-service."

More and more local country clubs are competing for corporate training dollars to supplement income from membership fees and social event bookings. Business meetings also keep club facilities busy during traditional business hours, as well as in winter.

"Based on last year's numbers, roughly 11.7 percent of our total banquet revenue came from corporate business," said Patty King, director of sales at the Atkinson Resort and Country Club. "Corporate business plays a bigger and bigger role here every year," King said. "We have to fill the banquet rooms on the weekdays, which is when most corporate meetings take place, and can do just that. We'll have sales meetings, training sessions, a meeting of the minds, or a roll-out of a new product."

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