Value Meetings Q&A: Debbie Weeks, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Alabama

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The Resort Collection on the robert trent jones golf trail, Alabama

The Resort Collection on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Alabama

Prevue asked Debbie Weeks director of events, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, for her thoughts on value programs and events. 

Q: How are planners using F&B in new and innovative ways these days?

A: Groups like heavy hors d’oeuvres meals where they can move around and network as opposed to sitting at a table of 10 for a sit-down dinner. That way the time is more social. It costs the same, but it’s a little more informal. Groups can do a little more outside this way too. During an outside reception we set up the event at Julep Point, a spot on property with water on three sides. We set up short cocktail tables and groups can visit each other as they make their way to the dining stations. It makes them a little more comfortable.

Jelep Point is a jettie with a stage, with the water behind it. There’s a shaded overhead for food and great views of the sunset. You can actually see dolphins jumping and it always happens during that time. We have a big gazebo for live performances and groups of 1,500 can occupy the space.

Q: What is the most popular request from corporate/association planners to help them lower spend?

A: We customize a menu that works for their requested price range. In the selling process we work with them as far as room rates. Sales reps try to book them during a time that is affordable. We are kind of a one-stop shop. We have our own golf and tennis courts and our own transportation. That’s why people like to come here.

There’s also so much value because we have a beautiful setting and we’re affordable. When planners come they are sold after they walk through the gates. We also can act like our own DMC. We book dinner at museums or on the USS Alabama or anything like that. We are able to schedule anything that they request. We also pick groups up from the airport.

Q: Where are groups willing to spend a little extra during their programs?

A: Because we are in such a great area, our recreational department offers teambuilding with wine experiences, golf, shopping, chef demonstrations and a kids Fun Camp. Those are areas where planners often have some wiggle room in their budget.

Teambuilding activities include a “Build-a-Boat” regatta. Groups have to build a boat out of crazy materials such as basketballs, plywood, masking tape, etc.; design it and make it float; and then they have to drive it in the water and back. During the summer we have a lot of groups that come with their children. We have a Fun Camp that hosts 5-12 year-old kids that can enjoy a lot of different activities. Because of that, we have groups that come back year after year.