Everyone’s idea of a company retreat is different. Should there be goal-oriented meetings? Storytelling around a campfire? Performance evaluations? Regardless, there are some tips that the planner should be aware of before jumping to action. Here are my main takeaways from planning a company retreat for a group of 35 here at TechnologyAdvice:
1. Create Purpose
In other words: Know why you are going on a retreat. If you don’t make the goals of the trip clear to your company, it is likely that less people will want to participate. Here are some example ideas of what you can focus on: relationship-building, motivation to exceed next quarter’s goals, reward for high performance, etc.
2. Look for Ideas and Push-backs
In my initial planning stage, I used SurveyMonkey quite a bit – my co-workers might even say I used it too much! But, I gained a ton of valuable insight from my team without having to schedule meetings. The push-backs and ideas that I received from surveys helped me understand the needs of my team.
3. Research Activities that Match Goals
Don’t get sidetracked on activities that might not match your purpose (refer to tip #1). Sure, going into a salt and pepper shaker museum might be fun. But it likely doesn’t fit your purpose. Instead, think of fun activities that do fit. For example, the purpose of our trip was to build teamwork, so I arranged for us to go white water rafting. After all, there’s no better way to build teamwork than trying to keep everyone in a raft.
4. Don’t Think Too Hard
Planning a trip isn’t easy and it can be very stressful if you allow it to be. But don’t let it bring you down. Have fun! Someone trusted you enough to appoint you as the person planning a major trip for your organization. Take ownership in that and work hard to make it wonderful, but don’t get too bent out of shape in the process.
5. Get [Really] Creative
From the bus ride to the places your team will have meetings, get creative with ways to occupy your team. The last thing you want to hear when it’s over is, “I’m so glad to be back. That retreat was worse than last year’s.”
6. Make Things Easy for Everyone
If your trip requires co-workers to sign waivers, have them do that in advance. Here’s another great idea – create a packing list. Go the extra mile to ensure that everyone is set and ready to go!
7. Ask for Assistance
Obstacles are inevitable in the planning process. It should be no surprise when you run out of ideas after planning your trip for months. Thankfully, there is a simple solution – ask a friend or teammate for their opinions. I had a few people at my company send me suggestions for the trip that were very helpful. Each time I communicated with my team, I would ask for ideas.
8. Pay Attention to Weather
If your trip includes outdoor activities, find out what the weather will be like. Of course, you can’t look into to the future and magically know the weather 90 days from now. But, be mindful of the chances of rain when planning. Ask vendors what their policy is in regards to weather. Do they offer refunds in that case? You want your money back – No rain checks.
9. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
I want to say it again – SCHEDULE! Scheduling out payments and times when you need to reach out to vendors is very important. May sure you do not miss a step by tracking your actions and payments. Log your invoices and keep a list of the people you have been in contact with.
10. Gain Feedback
Ok, so the planning phase is over and the trip was a success…but there’s still one last step! Ask for feedback from your company. (You may have guessed it, but I recommend a survey). This step can prep you for the next time you have to play the Company Retreat Extraordinaire!
photo credit: cogdogblog via photopin cc
Anna Case is a Marketing Strategist at TechnologyAdvice. Although she can usually be found creating ad copies for paid media, it’s not uncommon to find her taking on additional responsibilities such as organizing the company’s retreat.