Case Study: Houseparty in Santa Cruz

Earth Missions is a leading travel agency specializing in company retreats, executive trips, and branded content travel experiences. We create monumental experiences of ‘work and play’ to bring the members of a team closer together enabling it to grow stronger, more efficient and thus, more profitable. The culture and environment of every company are unique and so are our retreats. We take into account even the slightest of details about a company and create an experience accordingly. Our retreats are fully customized according to the requirements and nature of a team’s company culture.

We follow a 4-step formula of Learn – Connect – Plan – Execute to help a team accomplish its high-level goals and make its retreat fun and memorable. Our process remains the same whether we’re working with a small startup of 5 members or a huge corporation of 500 members. Below is an outline of our 4-step formula put into action with one of our all-time favorite clients, Houseparty.

Learn

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Our first step is to learn about the culture of our client team. We learn their goals and priorities which allow us to plan an experience best suited for fulfilling those goals. We learn everything about them and do not miss out any details so as to create a unique and customized retreat experience for them.

So our first step in the case of Houseparty retreat was to learn about them and their goals. We learned that Houseparty was a tech company comprising of a remotely operating workforce. Their main goal was to bring their teams together so as to increase the bonding between the team enabling the team to grow. They not only wanted their team to bond well on the retreat but also wanted to have an unforgettable fun experience as well.

After learning about the main goal of our clients, we focus on finding every detail that might help in creating a retreat best suited for them. We generally ask our clients about the location of their headquarters and other team members so as to select a venue easily accessible for all of them. In case of Houseparty, we learned that their main office was located in San Francisco. After learning the goals and location, we present various venue options to our clients that are best suited for them and ask them their preferred choice. In case of Houseparty, the team selected Santa Cruz for having a fun retreat experience.

We always ask our clients about the estimated number of people who are expected to come on a retreat and how they would like to be accommodated so as to plan the events accordingly. In case of Houseparty, there was a large team who wanted luxury accommodations to spend their nights and a nice event space to host their work sessions, dinner parties, and team building activities. For the menu, the team wanted to have delicious and healthy foods throughout the retreat so as to fully enjoy their experience. They also wanted one big dinner on the last night of their retreat to celebrate their new app launch.

We always ask our clients a ‘work to play’ ratio so as to plan our events accordingly. Learning about this ratio is extremely important because we allocate the time and resources for all activities depending on it. Houseparty wanted to use 75% of their retreat time for fun team-bonding activities and rest of the time for work sessions and seminars.

Connect

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After we have learned about our clients’ goals and requirements we connect all avenues of expertise. We assemble a specialized team of local guides, team building coaches, executive chefs, keynote speakers, and influencers to fulfill our clients’ goals. All these people work under a specified local event director with the aim to connect our clients’ goals with a truly impactful retreat experience. After we have selected an event director to manage the retreat of a team, we fed him all information about the client which we have learned in the first step.

In the case of Houseparty, the team had selected Santa Cruz as their retreat location so we connected them to a local on-site event director from Santa Cruz. The event director, with his specialized team of experts, was responsible for planning and organizing the retreat. He presented them with various hotel options in Santa Cruz and explained the pros and cons of every option along with the budget required for them.

The event director was also responsible for the selection of the best event space available in Santa Cruz to host the team’s work sessions, dinner parties, and team building activities. The selection of the event space entirely depends on the requirements of clients and their ‘work to play’ ratio. Since the Houseparty wanted to use three-quarters of their time for fun team-bonding activities, therefore, a beautiful ranch was selected for this purpose.

The event director was also responsible for helping the team in selecting a catering company to provide healthy and delicious food for the team. The event director, being local to the venue, was familiar with the best food companies in Santa Cruz so he presented various ‘farm-to-table’ food companies to the team and explained every option along with its specialty and budget. The event manager also shared his valuable experiences to help the team in selecting the caterers.

The event director was also responsible for arranging the best local experiences for the team along with the team’s exploration of the beautiful beaches and mountains of Santa Cruz. He compiled a list of fun adventures and local experiences which were best suited for them. After a thorough explanation of all options available to them, the team was asked to select their preferred activities and experiences. The Houseparty team selected beach visits, coastal hikes, high ropes course, and some very exciting games for their stay in Santa Cruz.


Plan

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After we have connected our client with an on-site event director and the company’s team has been assembled, we start planning. We think through all pre-trip logistics and craft a detailed map covering all big and small things. We plan each step of the retreat from accommodations, to accessibility, itineraries to appetizers; we do not miss out even the slightest of details. While planning each step whether big or small, we specifically focus on the nature and culture of our client’s company so as to create a fully customized and unique experience for them.

Our event director for the Houseparty retreat made a preliminary site visit to Santa Cruz. The purpose of his visit was to properly plan the succeeding events and make necessary arrangements for their successful execution. The team had asked us to choose a hotel for them so we selected Hotel Paradox for them which was an urban, contemporary hotel with sophisticated accommodations in Downtown Santa Cruz. Our event director booked the hotel for the specified number of days and people. After reserving the hotel, our event director secured the ranch as the event space proposed earlier to the team.

After arranging the accommodation and the event space, our event director selected the best caterer in town. Our event director, with the help of caterer, prepared multiple menus and different dinner plans for the group to choose from. Special dinners were also planned for specific days, especially for the last day.

The next thing was to arrange a transportation service for the team so that they can easily move between their accommodation and event space. This was done to facilitate the members to attend work sessions, seminars, games, and activities while also allowing them to take a break whenever they want.

The last thing was to plan the fun activities meant to increase the bonding between team members. We planned Olympics games on the very first day of the retreat so as to start the trip on a lighter note. Our games were planned on the established grounds of team building principles.

We also planned to carry out a coastal hike for the team so that they can explore the unparalleled beauty of Santa Cruz’s beaches. A special lunch was also planned with this amazing trip. Lastly, we planned a high ropes course for the Houseparty team in the Santa Cruz Mountain.

We also planned work sessions, seminars, group meetings, keynote addresses among the above-mentioned fun activities. This was to maintain the specified ‘work to play’ ratio and enabling the team to achieve the most out of this retreat.

Execute

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After we have planned every big and small event, we then properly execute it. We enter each event with all preparation so that we can handle every situation that may arise. We produce an experience that accomplishes even the most ambitious goals leaving fun memories to remember until the next retreat with our company.

We executed Houseparty retreat just as we planned or we can confidently say, better than what we planned. The event space was set to reflect the greatness of the company. We decorated the event space with company flags and we used things having the company logo on them which created a feeling of proudness among the team members for being a part of the company.

We executed successful Olympic Games on the first day of the retreat. We created small teams comprising of people from different parts of the company and held a Houseparty Olympics among them. Games were played in teams for the sake of increasing the interaction between different members during the event and to give them something to talk about for a long time.  At the end of the day, one team was crowned champions of the 2017 Houseparty Retreat Olympics. The winning team can brag about themselves until the next Earth Missions retreat.

We also organized a poker tournament after the dinner on the first night of the stay. To ensure the involvement of every member, we organized poker tutorials for those guests which were not familiar with the game.

We also executed coastal hikes on beaches and ropes course in the mountain of Santa Cruz, just as we had planned. The work sessions, seminars, keynotes were successfully organized and executed as well.

The accommodation was luxurious, the event-space was beautiful, transportation services were easily available, and the food was healthy and delicious. We hosted several dinner parties on specific occasions. One big dinner party was also organized on the last day of retreat to celebrate the launch of the new app developed by the company.

In short, the Houseparty retreat was a complete success. The team achieved their goal of increasing the bonding between them through a lot of fun activities and also carried out the 25% work which they wanted to accomplish on this trip. The team was a totally different team at the end of retreat as compared to what it was at the start of the trip. Each member of the Houseparty returned with a promise in his eyes, a promise to bond with others and a promise to grow with others. Each member was looking forward to their next company retreat with Earth Missions.

 

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