Is That Light At The End Of The Tunnel…Or A Train?

by Dave Bisbee on May 8, 2011

economyI don’t know about the rest of you but I think I am seeing some tiny little green shoots out there in the economic landscape… I did say tiny. Not enough to crank up the mower quite yet but some growth at least.

I try to look in between the headlines in the Wall Street Journal and not listen too much to the talking heads on TV or pay much attention to the government reports on jobs etc. I tend to actually talk to the people on Main Street. And that is where I am hearing some encouraging comments.

If you talk to people in the hospitality industry they are beginning to see some improvement. Occupancy numbers are on the rise for most as well as revenue per room night. That tells me people are moving around more… traveling more and staying longer. That also means that they are starting to spend a little money at these destinations which gets deposited into the local economy which in turn provides the potential for job creation and before you know it we have a recovery under way. Maybe this time we can call it “bubble up” economics instead of “trickle down” economics.

The Golf Course Just Might Be A Signal

According to a report in Club & Resort Business, New York area clubs are reporting an uptick in corporate outing bookings. The report states that according to a survey of clubs in the greater New York/Connecticut region in late April showed early signs of improvement in corporate outing activity for the 2011 season. They temper that with the fact that the revenue per outing and the number of outings is still below pre-recession levels, but that the improvement could be a sign of rising business confidence.

Karen Degnan of Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. , said that she had definitely noticed “an increase in companies and fundraising groups shopping for outings this year”, the article states.

Jack Hrad G.M. of Brentwood Golf and Country Club in Brentwood N.Y., a Troon Golf property,  said that his club is enjoying “a much better year this year” than the previous year. “We are very much in the corporate event and golf outing business. We accommodate many more corporate groups than most fine private clubs. We are quite fortunate that we have quite a few more this year”, said Hrad.

We’re Not Partying Like It’s 1999

While this is good news it should be stated that this uptick in activity comes with a more constrained consumer attached. They are not just throwing out the company credit card and saying charge it. They are negotiating rates and forgoing many of the lavish inclusions that used to be part of the old corporate outing.

I have even had companies contact me about doing 9 holes versus 18, a cash bar versus hosted, a putting contest or skills challenge with cocktails after versus an 18 hole shotgun… yep it’s not the same old corporate outing but I still think it is a positive sign.

I know that there is still a lot of pain out there and I was reminded about that after having conversations with a couple of golf professionals that are out of work and have been for almost a year. The economy can’t turn around fast enough for most of us… but I am the eternal optimist and keep looking for positive signs. We’ve been in the rough long enough let’s get it back in the fairway and play on.

Dave Bisbee

Dave Bisbee has been around the golf business for 30 years and brings to Biz Golf Guru his experience as both a business owner and golf professional. Dave will serve as the anchor for the Biz Golf Guru team of contributors by offering his unique insights of business golf as seen through the eyes of someone who has managed golf courses, golf companies and as a golf teaching professional.

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