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January 8, 2018 WBJ 2018 Best of Business

Best of Business: Expansive grounds, indoor spaces make the EcoTarium tops again

EcoTarium, Worcester

The Worcester EcoTarium is a favorite Central Massachusetts attraction for families with children, but with ample parking, expansive grounds and three roomy floors, it's also a prime location for employee outings.

A large local company can easily entertain a couple thousand employees and their family members during a company picnic in the summertime, for example, said Joseph Cox, president of the museum.

“The nice thing is, obviously we can handle a lot of people” Cox said.

Employee outings are generally held on Mondays, when the museum is closed to the public, giving corporate guests free reign of the outdoor attractions, including a large playground, animal exhibits and scenic train ride.

“It's unparalleled access to the grounds, “ Cox said, adding that the museum accommodates corporate outings for hundreds as well as smaller corporate receptions, and other non-business events, such as weddings.

In addition to the usual attractions, the EcoTarium employs a facility rental coordinator who arranges catering and other vendor services for outings, making event planning at the EcoTarium easy.

Pricing is customized, based on size and client preferences.

While popular, large employee outings at the EcoTarium are reserved for corporate members, members of the museum's 1825 Society, and university members.

They are major undertakings, Cox said, and the museum hosts about a handful per year.

It's a relatively small part of the business, but one Cox said the museum would like to see grow, particularly because it introduces people to the museum who might not otherwise attend.

There has been a concerted effort to grow the museum's corporate membership program over the last three years, and that's paid off, according to Cox, who said about 15,000 corporate employees are now enrolled through the program.

While the EcoTarium has the means to accommodate big companies, events can be customized for corporate events of any size. The executive leadership of the the Hanover Theatre, another of the city's biggest cultural draws, attended an outing that included a walk through the museum's former tree canopy exhibit, said Troy Siebels, president and CEO of the Hanover Theatre. Siebels said it was an ideal activity for professionals looking to unwind outside the office.

“They have sort of the best of both worlds, you have spaces where you can assemble indoors as well,” Siebels said.

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