Youth ski teams that come to the Village at Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, can’t afford the California ski resort’s $68 buffet so Squaw Valley staff developed custom menus for those tight budgets.
“We have a pizza party, a pasta dinner and a rotissiere chicken dinner,” said Hunter Compo, conference planning manager.
Those options range from $12 to $20 per person and are by no means skimpy meals. The pasta dinner, for example, includes salad, a choice of pasta, a vegetable, bread sticks and a cookie.
After 25 years on Cape Cod, Cyndi Williams, director of sales at the family-owned Lighthouse Inn in West Dennis, Mass., knows how to give short visits Cape flavor. “Especially if they are not from this area, people like to take it all in in three days. They need guidance.”
Through customizing and “tweaking,” she is able help groups achieve goals without overspending. For example, she helped a Red Hats Society social group save money by having a three-course dinner instead of four and by having one outing, plus shopping, instead of two.
She can lead free tours of the inn’s lighthouse, the only privately owned and operated lighthouse in the country.
The West Baton Rouge Conference Center does all it can to meet the needs of the budget-conscious SMERF segment. The center does not charge for audio-visual equipment, Internet access, set-up and linens. Free coffee is also part of the package.’
“You know, some venues can nickel and dime you to death,” said Lois Webre, the center’s director.
SMERF groups that book four or more meetings in a year receive a 10 percent discount. Several religious and education groups have qualified for the discount.