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February 2020

High-Tech Transformation Boosted Revenue

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By Steve Eubanks

It’s hard to take a revenue-generating dining room out of play, especially when it’s serviced by the same kitchen as the main area and requires no more than one additional server. It’s even harder to spend substantial capital to turn that space into a rec room with six figures worth of technology.

But that is exactly what managers at Flat Creek Country Club in Peachtree City, Georgia did when they converted one of the club’s private dining rooms into a golf simulator/entertainment area with tables and seating for a dozen people.

“It made perfect sense when you looked at usage and being able to do something different to add value,” said Steve Soriano, the club’s general manager. “Our members used that room primarily as a card room. So, yes, we had food service but that was nothing to add value. There were small meetings in there as well, but in terms of additional business, it wasn’t creating much buzz. If we booked a wedding, for example, we didn’t really need that space.” 

The decision to convert to a simulator room with fewer seats looked like a giant leap of faith. But Soriano says the payoff came immediately. “People stay longer, eat and drink more and enjoy themselves a lot more now,” he said.

Not only has the room increased revenue per square foot, it has given the sales team an edge in the wedding business.

“If you’re putting together a rehearsal dinner, you give the groomsmen a place to go hit balls and have a drink,” Soriano said. “It’s been a winner in terms of sales.” 

The technology more than paid for itself in the first year, and the food and beverage numbers are averaging several thousand a month more than before the conversion.

“Sure, you could keep a board room for small functions or meetings,” Soriano said. “Or you can create an entertainment space that becomes a destination in your clubhouse.

“Plus, we wired cable (television) into the system so that if it’s not being used as a simulator, you can put football games or movies on in there,” Soriano said. “Now we can have special events – viewing parties, things like ‘parents night out’ where mom and dad have dinner in the main dining room and we put a movie on that screen and close off that space for the kids.

“It’s just opened up a world of opportunities. From a business perspective, yeah, it was an investment and a little bit of a leap of faith. But it was also one of the best things we’ve done.” 

Steve Eubanks is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and New York Times bestselling author.

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