Let’s get real for a moment. Organizing a company offsite is difficult. It requires a significant budget, substantial planning, plenty of time, advance notice, the ability to coordinate groups of people, and more. It’s not exactly the kind of thing you can do over a casual coffee on a Friday afternoon.
And what’s even more difficult than the logistical side of things is figuring out how to make the benefits of your offsite or company retreat last. Sure, it’s easy to make people feel a sense of belonging or motivation for what’s to come while they’re there.
But how do you take that further? How can you make sure that all the effort you put in actually translates into long-term benefits for your company and your business?
That’s what we’re here to find out. At TravelPerk, we believe in the value of bringing team members together in real life. Company offsite events like kick-offs or retreats are an incredible way to foster company culture, drive employee engagement, and align everyone on your strategic vision for the quarter or year ahead.
Here are our top 5 tips on how you can plan a successful team offsite meeting with a lasting impact.
1. Get your goals and objectives straight
You need to lay the groundwork before starting any kind of logistical planning. Understanding what you want to achieve from a real-life meeting offsite will form the foundation of what your event will actually need.
Do you need your leadership team to get together for an intensive, 2-day strategic planning session? Then you need to organize an offsite just for them, somewhere isolated and quiet but equipped with all of the tools for brainstorming, collaborative work, and creativity. Are you bringing your entire sales team together to help them acquire new skills, get psyched for the coming quarter, and build camaraderie? Then you need a large space with plenty of time for team-building activities and even a party at the end.
Your first step when planning your next team offsite should be to set goals. Making sure that attendees and team members are aware of that in advance will make them more engaged and better prepared. It’ll strengthen the quality and value of your event.
2. Start dealing with logistics early
The earlier you can start handling things like accommodation, transport, and catering, the better. Particularly if you’re dealing with a hybrid or remote team, getting people together in person can be quite costly and time-consuming to organize. Getting a jump on all of these things will not only mean having more options available, but it’ll also likely save you money by booking ahead of time.
Here is a breakdown of just a few of the logistical steps you’ll need to take, whether you’re dealing with a large or small group:
Accommodation – are you getting a hotel or a shared space like a country house?
Sleeping arrangements – will people be sharing rooms or sleeping individually? Main venue – where will the bulk of your event be taking place?
Transportation – where are people coming from? How will you get them to your offsite location?
Facilities – what facilities and technology will you require for all your workshops, training sessions, and brainstorming breakouts?
Team-building activities – will there be some time dedicated to this? If so, what activities will you organize? Will you need to hire an external guide for these activities?
Food – are you going to a venue that is catered or do you need to sort out meals yourself?
Music – will there be a celebration component to your offsite? Who will handle the music?
3. Prepare a detailed agenda
Lucky for you, we’ve already got an offsite meeting agenda template ready! Check it out here.
When it comes to sorting out your offsite agenda, granularity is key. Once your objectives and goals are set, it’s important to figure out what activities and presentations are going to help you achieve that goal. Divide them up into the types of presentations that your entire team needs to see and what optional workshops they can attend.
Make sure you provide the agenda to all attendees ahead of time and include all of the details of the event therein. Let them know what they can expect, where they’re going, and when each key component of the event is taking place.
If attendees can choose workshops, for example, make sure there are descriptions for each. It’s always motivating and inspiring to include a creative or problem-solving activity that takes employees out of their day-to-day and helps them think outside of the box.
4. Don’t forget, this is meant to be fun
Yes, an offsite is absolutely a tool to help you achieve broader company goals. But it should also be an enjoyable and unforgettable experience for employees! If you’re simply moving people to a cool venue to do the same things they’d do on-site, then you may be missing out on an opportunity for teams to bond and create memories together.
There are a number of ways you can do that. Involving your community of attendees in the planning process is one example. Ask team members whether they want to lead any initiatives or activities during the event – for example, a yoga class or a craft-making session.
Having a fun icebreaker session at the beginning of your event can also very much boost engagement and give everyone a sense of enjoyment and relaxation from early on. Ending your event with a party or celebration is always a wonderful option as well!
5. Stay in touch after the event
Getting feedback from your event attendees is the best way to understand what worked for them and what didn’t. Ultimately, every offsite event you manage is for them. That’s why it’s important to get as much detailed feedback as possible in your follow-up communications. Here are a few sample questions you can ask:
What was the most useful part of the offsite for you? If you could change anything about the offsite, what would it be? What was the highlight of the event for you? Did you meet any new colleagues? Do you feel more aligned with your goals, mission, and vision? How did you find the accommodation/transport/food?
For more qualitative feedback, you can also think about selecting a couple of attendees and organizing a one-on-one session. There, you can ask them for more specifics and details that will help you outline your action items when planning the next big event.
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