Corporate retreats are much more than just getting out of the office. They provide a chance for leadership teams to come together, put away distractions, and focus on their opportunities for success.
When you’re planning one of these events, your focus should be on finding a space for collaboration, for connection and for innovation.
And, it should be on creating an environment where the focus is on brainstorming and working together. Minimizing distractions is a crucial part of your role as the corporate leadership retreat planner.
We’ve compiled some topics you should consider when selecting a location for your corporate retreat, as well as questions you should ask your location coordinator, so you can ensure you’re prepared and ready to focus when the day arrives.
1. Set clear expectations.
You want your team to know ahead of time what they should expect from the event. If you’re planning to do some outdoor activities together, like Ellicottville ropes course or a tour, give them that information ahead of time so they can mentally prepare (and so they can pack accordingly!). Create a Custom Corporate Retreat in Wingate located in the heart of Ellicottville, NY.
2. Create defined spaces for work.
You want your team members to think and function strategically and innovatively. If they’re feeling burned out by a 24-hour focus on business, they may find it difficult to engage their most creative parts of their brains.
Instead, determine what kind of conference or business space might work for your team. Talk to your event coordinator to determine whether they can leave their work behind in that area after sessions are done for the day. That limits their access during off-hours, and it also encourages them to mentally close the door on the working part of the retreat, so they can be fresh for the next day.
3. Don’t make it all fun, but do plan some fun.
You’re not scheduling this trip just as a way to get out of the office and skylark for a few days. However, the fun parts of a retreat do serve a purpose; they help you build an additional framework of trust and collegiality with your coworkers.
When you’re looking for a corporate retreat location, you may consider one that has built-in opportunities for the social/fun part of your trip.
That gives you one less thing to plan, so that you can also feel free to enjoy the excursions and connect with your colleagues. As an example, The Giacomo offers a variety of tours and packages, including Niagara Falls excursions and tastings at local breweries and wineries.
4. Make sure the Wi-Fi works.
You don’t want retreat attendees constantly focused on their phones. However, if you do need to access presentations, emails or statistics during the meeting, you want to make sure that you have working Wi-Fi and other technology.
Talk to your event planner about making internet access available, then make sure you share the details with event attendees as they arrive on-site so they don’t have to ask or figure it out on their own.
5. Keep as much as possible on-site.
If you’re hosting a retreat for an out-of-town company, it makes sense to keep all your events in one place. After all, your attendees don’t likely want to rent cars and drive all over town.
However, if you’re hosting a retreat for an in-town business, it can make just as much sense to keep all your activities in one place. When you’re in town, it can be tempting for attendees to take detours between sessions, leaving the scheduled events and spaces to check in with family, handle errands or run back to the office to handle the latest crisis.
When a location has restaurants and activities accessible on-site, you limit the opportunities to be drawn away. For example, the Wyndham Garden in Williamsville offers both Tres Aurae, a luxurious on-site spa and Hooked, a restaurant renowned for its fine, locally sourced fare.
6. Encourage opportunities for idea sharing.
While your corporate team should feel comfortable with one another, it can sometimes still be difficult for attendees to speak up if there are other extremely outgoing or commanding personalities in the room.
A thoughtful event planner should come up with options to make everyone feel comfortable with sharing their ideas in different ways. That could mean doing something high-tech like using a team communication tool like Slack to gather ideas, or doing something more traditional like having white board space or flip charts available to notate ideas in a group setting.
7. Right-size your attendee list.
Depending on your corporate retreat topic, you may not need the entire team to come. While some smaller businesses may find cultural value in bringing the majority of the staff together, many larger companies can benefit from hosting only senior management teams in a retreat setting.
Once you’ve put together your list, scrutinize it to see if there are cuts or adjustments you should make.
You may find that you need a large space to bring everyone together and reinforce company-wide standards; in that case, some of the largest (and most aesthetically inspiring) meeting places in 500 Pearl may fit well into your plans.
In other scenarios, you may be able to create more of a feeling of collaboration and teamwork by hosting the event in a more intimate setting and offering more activities for bonding activities.
The most important tip we can offer for planning a corporate leadership retreat or event. Be prepared for surprises. Everything won’t always go perfectly; if you anticipate that from the beginning, you’ll be better prepared to cope when minor mishaps occur.
Make sure you’ve dedicated time to talking with your on-site event coordination partner to walk through the scenarios that most concern you. By having them serve as an ally, you’ll be confident that you can make it through any situation to create the kind of event that helps your business grow and succeed.