Question: My team is spread out over the country. What is one piece of advice for planning/organizing an amazing company retreat without overspending?
Avoid Major Cities
"We organize a company retreat every year, and the best lesson I've learned is to avoid major cities but not major airports. Basically find a city nearby (within a 30-minute drive) from a major airport. This helps you get cheap airfare as well as a more affordable and nicer private property. You can rent a car service and coordinate arrival/departure times to save money on transportation from airport."
Make It a Virtual Retreat
"Retreats are about taking time out to work on major project, having clear time and space to think and networking. You can make that happen while staying in your current locations. Clear time, meetings and work loads for a day or two and offer that same time to your team to teleconference."
"It never hurts to ask, especially if you have a larger group. Let hotels, restaurants, transport and other services know you have numbers behind you and you're looking for a deal. Many businesses will cut you some slack just for asking. And some might even surprise you. "
Host a Cabin Getaway
"Rent a cabin for a weekend and fly your team in. Pay for groceries and cook together. Make it somewhere remote where people can disconnect from the outside world but connect with each other. "
Focus on Team Bonding
"Last year, Influence & Co. rented two large houses at a lake in Missouri and spent the entire retreat playing games and focusing on professional development while hanging out in the houses and in the park. We cooked meals in groups as a team (about 30 people at the time) and had a talent show where our employees provided the entertainment. It was not expensive but created amazing memories."
Focus on Your Goal
"The secret to conducting an effective retreat isn't wowing people with a fancy location or exciting activities. It's having your whole team come in prepared and focused on a shared goal. Craft an agenda and stick to it, taking full advantage of the time you have together."
Set an Intention
"Set an intention that everyone buys into. Everything you do should relate back to that intention. It will be an easy way of making sure you're only spending time and money on the activities that are creating the most value for your team."
Host the Retreat at Your Home
"Destination retreats are nice, but they are expensive and they feel more like vacations than work-related strategy. If you want to send your team on a destination, send them on a vacation with their family. However, if you want to really personalize and create a sense of connection and unity (perfect for strategic planning), host the event at your home. "
Piggyback on a Conference
"Our business is spread remotely throughout the country (Minnesota, Nevada, Texas, and North Carolina). We take advantage of industry conferences to get the entire team together. Not only does this save on cost, but it gives us a very focused business atmosphere. There is plenty of time for fun, dinners, and team building activities as well."