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How to Plan a Corporate Retreat: Tips from a Pro

By: Inn at Virginia Tech / 19 Jun 2024
how to plan a corporate retreat

Planning a corporate retreat can be daunting, especially for those who aren't professional meeting planners. Nevertheless, anyone can arrange a successful and memorable retreat if they carefully prepare and pay attention to every detail.

Teresa Hughes, Sales Director at The Inn at Virginia Tech, provides some expert advice on how to plan a corporate retreat that meets your goals and exceeds expectations.

Questions to Ask When Planning a Corporate Retreat

What Are the Retreat Goals?

When planning for a corporate retreat, the first thing is setting goals and objectives.

"Whether it's team building or strategic planning, you need to identify the main goals," Hughes advises. Clearly stated aims will guide every decision-making process, from choosing a location to picking activities.

Examples of Retreat Goals:

  • Team Building - Enhance better communication and collaboration among teammates. Trust exercises, group challenges, plus social events can help break down walls between people who work together, nurturing stronger relationships.
  • Strategic Planning - Create or refine company strategies. Retreats provide a chance to focus on work away from the daily routine, enabling deep thought and strategic discussions about the future direction of the business.
  • Training - Offer opportunities for professional growth among staff members. Conducting workshops, either by inviting guest speakers or through seminars, can equip employees with new skills to apply in their jobs day-to-day.
  • Who Will Attend?
  • Knowing who will attend the retreat is crucial, as it helps design activities and meals that suit them best.

"Think about your attendees' preferences and any dietary restrictions they might have," Hughes says. Personalizing the event to the participants' level ensures inclusivity, where no one feels left out or unappreciated.

Considerations for Attendees:

  • Dietary Needs - Ensure all meals account for different diets. Offering meal options such as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free shows concern for the well-being of everyone present.
  • Accessibility - Confirm that venue choice and planned activities are accessible to every participant. Think about physical accessibility, like ramps for wheelchairs and lifts, and pick activities suited to different fitness levels.
  • Interests - Plan activities that will captivate your team members' interests. Conduct a survey to find out what they enjoy most: outdoor adventures, relaxing at the spa, or attending intellectually stimulating workshops.

How Is It Planned?

When planning a corporate retreat, you must pay attention to the smallest details. Coordinate every part, from transportation to meal planning to team-building events.

Budgeting

Event planning requires early budgeting. "Your budget will influence many retreat decisions, including location, activities, and amenities," Hughes says.

Consider travel expenses, accommodation, meals, and additional costs like paying guest speakers or facilitators. Creating a comprehensive budget spreadsheet helps monitor all expenditures made during the organization phase, thus preventing overspending.

Selecting a Location

"Does the location align with your objectives?" Hughes asks. Event planners shouldn't pick venues haphazardly that may not relate to their set goals.

When choosing an appropriate site, consider proximity to the office area, meeting room availability, and quality of lodging facilities.

Also, make sure the facility has enough meeting rooms and lodging and can handle your meeting technical requirements—e.g., audio-visual equipment and high-speed internet.

Explore nearby recreational activities to enhance the retreat experience. Team-building activities like nature trails, cultural attractions, or sports facilities must be within easy reach.

Setting Dates

This step is crucial as it determines how many people will attend your event. "Take into account busy periods in your industry and steer clear of major holidays," Hughes says.

Choose dates that are convenient for most attendees so they can plan their schedules. You can always send a poll or survey to potential attendees to determine which dates work best.

Logistics

Organize all logistical details well in advance so as not to cause any inconveniences during the retreat itself.

"Reserve your travel and transportation, choose the venue, and get your meeting agenda and accommodations in place," Hughes stresses. Cover everything logistically before D-day to avoid last-minute rushes or problems.

Key Logistical Elements:

  • Travel Arrangements - Book flights, trains, or buses early to secure reasonable rates and ensure availability.
  • Local Transportation - Arrange for local transportation, such as shuttle buses or rental cars, which will pick up attendees from airports or stations and take them straight to the retreat venue.
  • Accommodations - Reserve hotel rooms as soon as possible; negotiate group rates if necessary, but ensure there's enough space available for everyone attending.

Communication

Any successful retreat depends on effective communication from start to finish! Share detailed information about dates, locations, travel, and accommodation arrangements.

"Provide that detailed information well in advance," Hughes adds. "You want to always include date, location, travel, and accommodation details—anything that you think they're going to need so they're well prepared."

How to Plan a Corporate Retreat? Here's Our Advice for First-Time Event Planners

According to Hughes, anyone can plan a successful retreat if they follow the proper steps.

"Last week, I attended a conference where one of the team-building activities was building sandcastles on the beach," she recalls. "It was a lot of fun and a great networking opportunity."

During The Inn at Virginia Tech retreat, guests can choose from various activities, like hiking, kayaking, or tubing. Hughes says such activities make the experience more enjoyable and memorable.

Planning a corporate retreat shouldn't send you into panic mode. 

By defining your goals, knowing your audience, and meticulously planning every detail, you'll have a productive event and lots of fun.

Have questions? Feel free to reach out to us here >>


 

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