The Wilderman Group Tapped To Manage Richmond Hill City Center

March 3rd, 2010

Multi-functional facility includes 23,000 square feet of flexible space

( Richmond Hill, GA ) – January 2010 – The City Council of Richmond Hill, GA named The Wilderman Group of Johns Island, SC to manage the Richmond Hill City Center, the new 23,300 square-foot meeting and event venue in Georgia’s Coastal Region. Michael Melton, City Manager, said The Wilderman Group was selected following an extensive search for the most appropriate hospitality management firm to manage the new center which is currently under construction. A grand opening is scheduled for early spring 2010.

According to John Wilderman, President of The Wilderman Group, the project was an ideal fit for all involved. “We recognized a dedication to the project within the City Council that went beyond a general management contract. We found a willingness to partner with each other along with a commitment to environmental stewardship and strong allegiance to the community.”

According to Mr. Melton, The Richmond Hill City Center will be the first commercial facility in Bryan County certified by the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED-certification provides “building operators and owners a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions.” LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Green buildings are safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more durable than conventional structures.

This means the Richmond Hill City Center meets the stringent standards for materials and resources utilized in the project where more than 30% of the materials were extracted, processed and manufactured locally.

The Richmond Hill City Center is designed to host a variety of event types and sizes including larger conferences with simultaneous break-outs sessions. The ballroom, which will serve as the main meeting room, will feature 3,370 square feet of space with a capacity of 495 guests for receptions and 240 for banquets. The room can be divided to create six unique configurations that can serve nearly any seating arrangement for meetings or social occasions. The meeting rooms have direct access through French doors onto a spacious wrap-around covered verandah that overlooks the beautiful coastal marshlands and nature trails.

On the second floor, there will be two additional meeting rooms for break-out sessions or smaller meetings and an Executive Board Room. For receptions and themed events, the casual and comfortable dining room will accommodate up to 60 guests. In total, the Richmond Hill City Center will feature eight different meeting rooms designed to maximize efficiency, productivity and comfort. The new facility will also feature a full- service Business Center that will provide technology services, administrative support, and Concierge assistance for receptions and event coordination.

Kristin Kurie, Vice President of New Business for The Wilderman Group, commented that the Richmond Hill is “a forward-thinking community that clearly defines social responsibility. The City Center will be perfectly appropriate from the community and the region. This project will introduce not only jobs to the community, but an opportunity to generate considerable new interest in Richmond Hill as well as increase revenue and maintain a leadership position in social responsibility as exemplified in the mutual commitment to environmental sustainability.

With a refreshingly different style, The Wilderman Group provides hospitality management services that are both customized and cutting edge. Based in Johns Island, South Carolina, TWG is a full-service hospitality management firm with a team of industry experts in all areas of hospitality including facilities management, food and beverage, operations and sales and marketing management. Their “sleeves- rolled-up” style of management focuses on success – from the owner’s perspective. For details on the capabilities and services offer by The Wilderman Group, visit the website at or call 843.670.5056.

Open door ideas for promoting your unique venue

March 3rd, 2010

Prospecting in a Down Economy The New Normal…

It is no longer “business as usual.” Sales prospecting in this economy requires a little more creativity and a lot more discipline. Kristin Kurie provides some helpful tips for prospecting in the down economy.

By Kristin Kurie

The last time I was asked to make a presentation on prospecting was in March 2009 for the annual conference of the International Association of Conference Centers. The economy was seemingly in a death spiral and, as an industry, we were all suffering from the AIG Effect where meetings were being vilifi ed and broadly condemned. Meetings and events were cancelled across the board, creating a bleak outlook for the meetings industry.

So, at the time, the most appropriate headline for my presentation was “Prospecting in a Down Economy”. In fact, today, it is more relevant to add “The New Normal”. Sales prospecting in this [new normal] economy is not so very different from sales prospecting in a better economy: It is a behavior where we have to invest more time in the effort and you need to be much more creative in that discipline.

Here are a few valuable tips for prospecting in the New Normal…

Everyone Prospects

Sales Managers are not the only ones who can prospect. Meeting Planners, General Managers, even Food & Beverage managers are exposed to new sales opportunities. For example, by networking with in-house meeting delegates, each of them presents the potential to host their own meeting. Be sure to ask for referrals and consider providing an incentive that might provide additional value if they provide good leads.

Social Networks

Get involved in social networking channels. I recently heard that sales managers actually get more responses from a facebook posting than from Emails sent to the same prospects. LinkedIn is an ever-growing sales opportunity. Although some clients use facebook as their preferred communications tool, LinkedIn is a viable tool for Email, as well as for fi nding area events and pertinent industry and market-specifi c events. With a monthly growth rate of 1,382%, twitter continues to gain notoriety and popularity around the world and should be considered a viable communications vehicle through “the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

Local Local Local

Return to your backyard with increased involvement and participation in local Chambers of Commerce and industry organizations, and related events and networking opportunities.


Good solid research will always pay off. At The Wilderman Group, we rely heavily on extensive research, especially in prospecting. We were recently awarded the management contract for a new LEED-certified meeting facility outside of Savannah, GA that is solidly community based in an historic southern town. We conducted detailed research that helped identify relationships that had already been established but not cultivated, existing meetings in need of the right venue, and discovered numerous organizations eager to meet at an environmentally conscious site. We went in with good valid research that helped us win the management contract.

Client Lists

Work your in-house list of clients. This is a great time to put greater emphasis on building upon relationships with existing customers to help secure repeat business and to tap into your B and C accounts. It is also timely to maintain a more consistent and thorough review of the previous year’s meetings, turndowns, and lost business.

Throughout the course of the past year, many properties experienced a significant if not record number of cancellations at the end of 2008 and throughout 2009. The sales department, if properly managed, should be tracking this business so that one could follow up accordingly- for future opportunities. Attempt to rebook a meeting that had been cancelled. Or if that meeting is not happening at all, perhaps another meeting — or a referral.

Charleston to Washington

The Wilderman Group conducts sales efforts on behalf of a conference center in northern Virginia so I have the opportunity to fly to Washington, DC frequently. I convince myself that each flight is a sales call and I always get off the plane with a contact or business card that demands follow up. We are all faced with unique opportunities like this and we should all get more comfortable using every opportunity to sell in this new environment.

Stimulus Money

Since the government distribution of stimulus money, there have been tremendous prospecting opportunities. Follow the money and prospect the recipients of the stimulus funds. Map industries and organizations that have or will benefit from this. Follow markets related to alternative energy, infrastructure, and education. Ask yourself, what industries and organizations in your state/region/ market have been successful recipients of funds? We are seeing trends in Green Jobs (look at Wind Energy for example), Education, Transportation. Federal, state and local governments, industry, and notfor- profits are planning their use funds and implementation of strategies. Where are they holding these meetings?


Rely upon your USP — Unique Selling Point. Maximize your strength as a unique meeting facility to distinguish your facility from the rest and strengthen your perception in the marketplace. Location. Size. LEEDcertification. Meeting facilities. IACC member. Superb F&B. Unique Venues.


Whatever you do, maintain rate integrity. Don’t “punt” on the rate. I believe this is a very disheartening trend to focus too heavily on rate. Keep in mind that this economy will not last forever; keep your eye on the recovery.

Kristin Kurie is a 25-year veteran of the hospitality sales and marketing discipline, having served as director of sales and marketing at Doral Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center, considered one of the nation’s premier conference centers. Although her experience covers the gamut in the hospitality and meetings industries, she brings a national reputation for her expertise in the conference center niche. A former director of the International Association of Conference Centers, Ms. Kurie remains actively involved with this organization, serving on its marketing committee and Green Task Force, as well as redesigning and facilitating the IACC Sales Course. For The Wilderman Group, Ms. Kurie manages sales and marketing strategies, oversees sales training and other sales-related activities and seeks new business opportunities. She graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Russian Studies. Kristin remains an avid NY Football Giants Fan.

The Wilderman Group Selected as Management Company for New Sustainable Golf Course

March 3rd, 2010

Ceremony Signals Starts of Construction Phase of Development

(Johns Island, SC – October 2008) — Property owners, architects, management, and invited guests gathered last week at Carolina Colours planned community in New Bern, Craven County, NC to officially begin construction of the sustainable, 18-hole, par-72 golf course designed by famed architect Bill Love and construction by the builder of some of North Carolina’s highest ranked course, Shapemasters.

Community developer, Kenneth Kirkman said the course will be unique to eastern North Carolina with its responsible commitment to preserving the intimate relationship between the course, land, waterways and wildlife habitats. “We expect the Carolina Colours Golf Club to have one of the top golf courses in the mid-Atlantic area,” said Kirkman. “Bill Love’s reputation as an outstanding golf course designer and environmental steward is well deserved.

According to John Wilderman, President of the Johns Island, SC-based The Wilderman Group, the uniquely environmental course is scheduled for completion in fall 2009 and will feature a diverse level of playability, with more than 7,100 yards from back tees and 5,000 yards from the front tees. Wilderman is an award-winning veteran of the hospitality industry having served in a strong range of management positions throughout his career. His background includes hotel and resort general manager, club manager, resort managing director, regional VP of operations, VP of development, and acquisitions consultant.

Wilderman has named Ken Gerhardt of The Wilderman Group to serve as general manager for both golf and hospitality segments on the 1,700-acre property located in the vibrant and historic coastal town of New Bern, NC. Gerhardt has previously served as general manager at Bald Head Island and Seabrook Plantation, both managed by The Wilderman Group.

Widely recognized in the meetings and hospitality industry as innovators with a solid track record, The Wilderman Group applies this background to the development of effective management strategies for a diverse range of properties, including hotels, resorts, conference centers, golf clubs, private residential communities and marinas, as well as a host of hospitality amenities and services. The Wilderman Group currently provides hospitality operations and management at Bald Head Island, NC located on a pristine barrier island off coastal North Carolina and renown for its secluded and peaceful lifestyle.

More About The Wilderman Group

The Wilderman Group provides hospitality management services that are both customized and cutting edge. The Wilderman Team is a seasoned group of professionals who shun packaged solutions. Instead, they excel at generating innovative ideas that produce compelling results.

More About John Wilderman

Mr. Wilderman, a 37-year veteran of the hospitality industry, has served in a wide range of positions during his career. His background includes hotel general manager, club manager, resort managing director, regional VP of operations, VP of development, acquisition consultant and, most recently, president of his own company.

More About Bill Love

Bill Love has more 20 years of experience in the field of golf course architecture and has worked on more 100 projects throughout North America and abroad, involving the design, master planning and renovation of all types of golf facilities– both public and private.

More About Carolina Colours

A place of natural beauty with a strong sense of community, Carolina Colours is inspired by North Carolinas’s vibrant and historic coastal towns where neighborhoods are in harmony with Mother Nature and the beauty of the land, water and open sky.

More About Bald Head Island

Located 2 nautical miles off the coast of historic Southport, NC, Bald Head Island is a residential community that encompasses a myriad of natural settings which allow property owners and guests to select the Island environment that most stirs their soul! The Island boasts 14 miles of pristine beaches, a 10,000-acre salt marsh, and a 180-acre maritime forest preserve that will never be developed.

Specializing in hospitality management services, the South Carolina-based Wilderman Group draws on the collective decades of collective experience in establishing, managing and advising hotels, resorts, clubs, conference centers, golf courses and restaurants. For additional information on property management, food and beverage operations, facilities management, exit strategy development, customized services, consultative services, and conference center management, visit the website at

High-resolution images are available: Contact James M. Mahon at

Left to right, Kenneth Kirkman, John Wilderman, Bill Love, Ken Gerhardt.

Construction Phase begins outside the Community Pavilion at Carolina Colours.

James M. Mahon
914 548 5835

Training Spaces

March 3rd, 2010

“Location, location, location” is the real estate mantra. And it holds just as true when it comes to choosing training venues.

Selecting venues for your training events is a balancing act. On the one hand, you don’t want anything distracting. Las Vegas is great and a real draw—except your learners may be more interested in the slot machines than your seminars. A retreat in the Ohio countryside provides just the quiet your employees need to concentrate and focus, but they may resent the lack of afterhours entertainment. Too little stimulation also can be an issue. A little excitement, after all, goes a long way to keeping employees engaged in the event. And layered on top of these concerns are budgetary restrictions and a need to minimize travel time.

Before that dark conference room in the basement of your building starts looking better all the time, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a site for your training program or event:

Training venue locations enjoy upswings and downswings in popularity, and some destinations—due to convenient location and relatively low cost—have been surging for years. But no matter where a venue is based, there are some common characteristics that determine whether it’s a good fit for training, says Kristin Kurie, vice president, new business for The Wilderman Group, a provider of customized hospitality management services. “With training, what facilitators consider, not only from their own perspective, but from a participant perspective, is how the space can be used,” she says. Since many training events are “breakout intensive,” Kurie explains, the perfect venue accommodates a need for smaller meeting rooms, in addition to the larger settings used for lectures and presentations. If you’re running a sales training program with role-play sessions, for example, Kurie says you not only need smaller rooms for groups of eight to 10 employees to gather, you also may need those rooms to be close together for the sake of efficiency.

The time lost moving long distances between rooms makes a difference to the amount of training you’re able to cover. “Time is money, and return on investment,” she says. That also goes for logistics external to the venue such as distance from the nearest airport, and from the home offices of participants. “You can’t just look at it in terms of the cost of the property,” she stresses. “It’s the cost of delivering the content, whatever facilitators are needed, as well as time spent taking learners out of ‘the field’ to participate in programs.”

Fitting Choices

It is for those reasons that Atlanta has been a prime spot for training for more than a decade, says Kurie. “Much of it has to do with airline travel,” she says of Atlanta’s popularity among trainers. “So many organizations are located in Atlanta; it’s easy to get people in and out of there; it has many venue options; and rates there are fairly favorable.” The migration of businesses to the Southeast—Charlotte, NC, in particular, which Kurie says has become a major hub in the finance sector—also played a role in boosting Atlanta as a key training location. The entertainment options in the city, and its mild weather, also don’t hurt. Chicago, she points out, has a wide range of venue options, and the price often is more affordable than the Northeast, but Atlanta frequently wins when the two locations go head to head—especially in February. “The climate,” she notes, “makes Atlanta viable for meetings for a greater period of the time.”

After Atlanta, the New York metropolitan area is a top pick for training, says Kurie, despite the comparably steep prices and cold winters. The proliferation of businesses around New York City makes venues located nearby in places such as New Jersey and Connecticut an appealing option. Like Atlanta, the New York area offers easy transportation, with three major airports, and a variety of training venues. When scouting a location such as Atlanta or New York, remember to consider the expectations of your learners, in addition to their training needs. Kurie says that while high-level executives might be less than enthusiastic at anything less than a plush resort/conference setting, a mid- or lower-level employee likely would be content with training at a more modest venue.

For companies with half their employees in the Northeast, and the other half on the Pacific coast, a venue in Texas might be perfect—particularly if something large is needed. And these days, notes Kurie, big is in. If your organization primarily is based on the West coast, on the other hand, a venue in the San Francisco Bay area might be best. Thanks to this location’s reputation as “Silicon Valley,” training venues that accommodate the growing tech sector are available. Plus, with a picturesque city and wine country to the north, the view isn’t bad, either.

Bottom-Line Blues

Of course, your ideas about the ideal training venue, and the wishes of your learners, go down the drain if the price isn’t right. Properties typically offer meeting packages that include overnight accommodations, meals, refreshment breaks, meeting space, and presentation technology such as LCD projectors. All that is bundled together in a package priced according to a per-person, per-day rate. An upscale venue in the New York metro area might run you “in the mid- to upper $400-per- person, per-day” range, Kurie says, while a similar venue in Atlanta might be at “the low- to mid-$300-per-person, per-day” level. “Pricing in D.C. for a complete meeting package ranges from the low $200-per-person, per-day range to the low $400-per-person, per-day range,” Kurie says.

Looking for some places to consider? On the following pages, Kurie and Jody Wallace, president and CEO of hospitality management solutions company EMCVenues, share their top property picks for training events.

Click here for a list of “Training Hot Spots” in a handy PDF.