Step-By-Step Guide: Planning Your Next Company Retreat

Planning a company retreat is a difficult task. It takes hours of research and then hours of presentation time to the decision maker. Once a location is decided on; the planning, booking and curating of events, meals and workspace takes even longer and can be more scrupulous.

The success of a company retreat depends on its careful planning because it establishes the foundation for all the events and activities which have to be executed subsequently.

In order to get the most out of your trip, you have to craft a detailed plan which will cover its every aspect. If you are having a problem in planning your next company retreat then below we have provided you a step-by-step guide which covers even the tiniest bit of detail about planning the perfect company retreat.

Know the purpose of your retreat

The first and the most important step of planning a successful company retreat is to know the purpose of your retreat. You should be crystal clear about the motivation behind your retreat, the problems which you want to address and the goals which you want to attain at the end.

You should know whether you are bringing your team together for the sake of improving the co-worker relationships, or a fun party, or some creative work in a changed environment. The goal behind your retreat is the ultimate trigger which will dictate and control the subsequent planning aspects so be very sure of it.

Identify the problems which need to be addressed

Other than having an unforgettable fun experience, company retreats are the best ways to address and eliminate the existent problems within a corporate environment. So before moving on to the next phases, identify what you are lacking within your team. Is there a communication gap between the members or have they got tired of the monotonous office routine and need a break to replenish their creativity and innovation? Or your team needs a changed environment to overcome a certain deficiency? Or is it just that they need to sit together and discuss what they have in store? Or perhaps your team just needs a morale boost or a specific injection of field knowledge?

You have to identify each and every problem and think about everything. It is only after this stage that you can set the objectives for your team to achieve by the end of the retreat.

Set goals and objectives

Many company retreats fail to achieve the benefits which they should have achieved due to one single reason, the absence of set objectives or pre-determined agenda. Knowing the goals and objectives to address the company’s targeted problems or needs is the foundation of planning.

Divide your goals into easily attainable objectives so that you can incorporate them later while organizing and executing the retreat. For instance, if your goal is to increase team building then you will set out extra-curricular activities, indoor and outdoor games, and travel and fun experiences as your objectives. If your goal is to tackle a specific problem or develop a tangible/intangible product during your trip then your objectives will be strategy meetings, work sessions, meet-ups, and conferences.

Stay focused

A common mistake while planning a retreat is unrealistic expectations from the team. Trying to perform too much or do too many things in a single trip often results in failures. Remember that no matter how much you try or how good your team is, there is still a limit to how much it can accomplish during the retreat. So stay focused while determining your goals and objectives and make sure that your agenda is specific as well as attainable.

Find who to invite

Find out who you are supposed to invite to the retreat as per your agenda. The decision behind filtration of specific groups of employees for invitation solely depends on the purpose and goals of your retreat. For instance, if you want to bring your team together for a fun experience meant to increase the bonding between them then each and every person of your company should be invited on the trip. On the other hand, if you are planning a work retreat then only the employees from the corresponding department of the company should be invited.

Invite and ask

After deciding who to invite, send formal invitations to the members via email or ask them yourself, in case it is a small company. It would be wise to ask them about their availability, the number of days they can spare, their preferred location for having a retreat experience, their desired menu etc. You can give them forms to fill this information. Google forms are the best and the most efficient way to record and maintain the response of your team members so try to use that.

Ensure the presence of executives

After you have invited the respective employees then it is time to talk to the company’s high ranking officials because the presence of these executives is crucial to the success of any company retreat. Their presence will not only encourage a better turnout but will also increase the interest of other attendees who will be looking forward to knowing their bosses out of the office environment. It will create a sense of harmony among the employees.

Communicate your goals to the team

Make sure to communicate your objectives and goals to your team so that they don’t get any wrong idea. Tell them what you expect from them by the end of retreat so that they can mentally prepare themselves. For instance, if you are planning a work retreat but your team thinks they are going on a vacation then such retreat will undoubtedly create a lot of confusion and will end in shear failure. That’s why it is important to share everything with your team and take their feedback.

Select the date and duration

With the help of previously recorded responses, select a date which suits all or, at least, most of the members. As for the selection of duration, it again depends on the goals and the purpose of your retreat. Usually retreats range from 2 to 10 days, with the ideal one comprising of 7 days. Shorter retreats will result in inefficient results and the longer ones will create problems for the members having other commitments. If you have to bring together a team working internationally then you will also have to consider the flight durations. In such case, go for a longer retreat to give everyone sufficient time to explore and visit the retreat location.

Find the perfect location for your retreat

It is probably the most difficult thing to plan for a company retreat because everyone wants to go to his desired place. The best way to select the perfect retreat location is to consider the following things:

Majority of responses: The number of the responses, recorded previously by the employees, is the biggest factor to decide on a location. Remember that majority is always the authority so it will be a wiser decision to select a location recommended by the majority of your team members.

Budget & the size of your team: You cannot select a location unless your budget allows it even if everyone wants to go there. Of course, we don’t get everything we want! So always consider all limitations such as the size of your team and the budget allocated for it, before selecting the retreat location. A smaller team has more degree of freedom and can even opt to other countries for having a retreat experience.

Weather conditions: If you are looking for fun and exciting adventures then it is probably the deciding factor for the selection of a location. Select a location with opposite weather as of your current weather to experience an enlightening change in life.

Work limitations: The selection of a retreat location also depends upon work limitations, but only if it is a work retreat planned for meeting executives of other companies or attending conferences etc.

Find what type of venue best suits you

Decide what type of venue will be most suitable to help you achieve the goals behind your retreat. For instance, for a work retreat, the best venue options will be the hotels or accommodations containing meeting rooms, ergonomic tables, and chairs. If it is a fun retreat then a ranch or any other open place providing space for executing games and fun activities will work for you.

Before selecting a venue check whether it is specifically built for hosting retreats or not. If the venue doesn’t specifically cater for retreats then you will face problems while organizing the events, so also consider this point before selecting a place. In such case, you must make a list of all those facilities which are not being provided by the venue so that you can arrange them on your own.

Bonus point: It is always wiser to take your own Wi-Fi devices as a backup plan!

Plan transportation facilities

You know the number of people going to the retreat and you also know the number of days you will be staying. So you can easily acquire the services of a transportation company for facilitating the movement of your employees between their workspace, accommodations, and tourist spots. Plan the number and type of vehicles you will need during your retreat so that you can easily negotiate a package.

Plan the menu

Plan a delicious and healthy menu staying within the budget. Before planning a menu by yourself, have a look at your crew size. For larger crews and work-oriented retreat, it would be wiser to dine in hotels or acquire the services of a catering company. In case of a retreat meant to increase team building, the best way of having this done, along with tons of fun as well, is to take your own cook with you, or maybe cook yourself!

Plan the activities of your retreat

Now comes the most interesting part! You have to plan all the activities including work sessions, keynotes, conferences, indoor games, outdoor adventures, parties, dinners and literally everything!

Planning what you would be doing throughout the retreat is not an easy task as you have to think about everyone, every single member of the team, otherwise, you will not succeed in achieving your goals. The biggest problem while planning the activities is the varied interests of the people. An activity liked by X may be the one hated by Y. You have to specifically think about the introverts and shouldn’t plan any activities which may make them uncomfortable.

Well, it is never easy to please everyone and get the desired results at the same time. To get some amazing ideas and avoid all the fuss read these 16 fun company retreat team building activities everyone will love.

Schedule everything!

After you have determined the activities of your retreat, make a list and schedule them. You can do this manually or even use scheduling software, whichever works best for you. Allocate appropriate time to each activity as per its importance. Schedule everything, every meeting, every dinner, every game, in short, every event. Make sure to give the members frequent free time within the schedule- a time totally theirs so that they can take rest or do anything they want in their dream location.

So that’s it! That’s how you plan a successful and fun retreat loved by everyone.

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