Meeting Perfection

By Christine Neuberger

What kind of meeting place provides the right setting for sales-related programs including sales training? A property with well-equipped meeting rooms, a secluded feel, recreational amenities and, most important, a dedicated staff, according to manufacturer Parker Hannifin Corporation. Indeed, those features explain why Parker Hannifin, the Cleveland manufacturer of motion control products, brings programs again and again to Oak Ridge Conference Center outside Minneapolis/St. Paul. Tammy Newhouse, learning and development coordinator at Parker, calls Oak Ridge her “favorite conference center in the world.” Newhouse writes to Oakridge Conference Center: “Considering the number of programs we have run around the world, that is a pretty high compliment. We continue to use your facility and staff as a benchmark, and the others just don’t measure up. We have yet to find a location that provides your consistent high level of quality service.”

Located in Chaska, Minnesota, 30 minutes from the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport, Oak Ridge has 36 conference rooms in various sizes, each equipped with solid walls, specialized lighting and acoustics, and ergonomic chairs. Its meeting rooms, services, package pricing and other features meet the standards of the International Association of Conference Centers. Oak Ridge is an IACC member. The center offers 147 guest rooms, each with two phones and views of the site’s 130 wooded acres surrounding Lake McKnight. To unwind, participants can try billiards, ping-pong and foosball or head for the gymnasium, racquetball courts and exercise room. They can even enjoy the outdoors on the softball diamond, volleyball court or the trail around the lake. Pat McCarthy, director of operations, says Oak Ridge’s learning-oriented environment has attracted the programs of a core of local corporate customers. But amid a cooling economy, companies tend to curb investments in training, McCarthy says: “Budget consciousness is huge right now.” Yet, when planners book at conference centers like Oak Ridge, they know the bill up front. The all-inclusive complete meeting package pricing runs between $200 and $225 per person, per night for single occupancy at Oak Ridge. Says McCarthy, “If you unbundle the charges and compare them to hotels where the service charges can kill you, you’ll see why meeting planners love it.” For more info, visit the Website at