Planning an Exciting and Effective Corporate Retreat in 2023 and 2024: Checklist, Process, Tips, and Fun Activities

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It’s a Monday and you haven’t had enough of your weekend fun. You fight your way in against traffic to log in at exactly 8 AM. You proceed directly to your desk in front of your PC to start your work. Then you are at your desk for the next seven to eight hours. You may take a break for half to an hour during lunch and maybe some short coffee breaks. And this goes on until Friday to be repeated the next work week.

That’s only a five-line story about a typical work week for an office job, but you can already anticipate the exhaustion of that mundane situation for yourself or other members of your team sitting at your desks all week and looking forward to years of sitting at a desk, while trying to be engaged and productive. It can be hard to stay focused or motivated

And this is not just you. 

According to a study, many corporate workers are experiencing prolonged sitting fatigue alongside an increased risk of acquiring hypertension and some musculoskeletal disorder symptoms. 

Furthermore, the same study suggests that prolonged sitting behavior increases job dissatisfaction. And if this isn’t alarming enough, prolonged sitting can furthermore drain brain power and stifle creativity. Sticking up within the 4 corners of your office isn’t only physically unhealthy but also mentally ineffective.

We can control our working environment, company retreats can help.

For most working adults, office and desk work are things that cannot be avoided. We work in a digital world, so sitting in front of a desk is just part of the job. However, we are responsible (in a way) for choosing the working environment we are in. 

And we can work to improve the working conditions for ourselves or our team members so we will learn to like our work more, be more productive and stay motivated as a team. 

We can offer team members multiple locations to work so that one spot does not seem depressing. Additionally, we can let people work together in several locations, or work on different projects to let people get more variety in their work.

Taking breaks during a work day or collectively as a team can help energize and refocus a team. Employees and corporate staff need occasional breaks and informal gatherings where they can unwind, relax, reset and recharge. What better way to do this than host a corporate retreat?

What is a Company Retreat?

By definition, a corporate retreat is a coordinated event that is planned and facilitated for employees of a company or members of an organization. It is mostly done outside of the workplace environment.

Retreats take many different forms, from indoor seminars and workshops to outdoor team-building exercises or a weekend getaway with colleagues. All of these give time for rest and socializing through various activities like discussions and group or team exercises, as well as fun competitions.

Why Plan a Company Retreat?

Most of us will agree that keeping a company or an organization running can be draining and super exhausting not only for its leaders but also for its employees and members. Corporate retreats are a valuable investment for a company, as they promote a positive and productive work environment. This also increases employee satisfaction which in turn boosts employee retention.

In addition to this, an organizational or corporate retreat is a great opportunity for corporate workers and for organizations to work together away from the usual four corners of the office or the usual work venue. 

Its purpose is to help build and strengthen relationships among team members, enhance communication, cultivate creativity, and provide an opportunity for the corporate staff to recharge.

In short, company retreats keep employees and staff happy and satisfied. And you know what they say; happy employees, happy company. However, a retreat should not be only done as the need arises. You don’t have to wait until your employees look haggard and depleted. 

Instead, a corporate retreat should be a recurring event for your company. An annual retreat or semi-annual retreat must be a constant event in your corporate calendar.

How to Plan a Corporate Retreat: Step-by-Step Process/ Checklist

We can’t stress enough how important event planning is. Some may agree that if planning is done right, you get half the job done. So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of what you need to do during corporate retreat planning: 

1. Decide on Retreat Goals and Outcomes

This is the first step of every event planning. You need to correctly and strategically determine what it is that the company wants to accomplish through the retreat. Some of the common retreat goals are:

  • To improve productivity in the office or among the team.
  • To enhance and strengthen the relationship of team members.
  • To address and solve specific issues of the company.
  • To brainstorm and formulate new strategies.
  • Or to refresh, replenish and re-energize employees.

In order to identify the major needs and problems that the company needs to address, you need to talk to team leaders, managers (or other corporate leaders), team members, and those people who are meeting with customers. As leaders and direct contact with customers, they have a bird’s eye view of the situation and condition of the company and clients.  

2. Build Your Budget Plan

Calculate how much you have to work with by how much the company can afford or is willing to spend on the company retreat.

Allocate and manage resources conscientiously to be sure you stay within the limits of your budget. Include in your budget planning the cost of accommodations, transportation, food, activities, logistics, vendors, and other expenses.

3. Rally the Participants, Organize a Committee

Determine who will be participating in the retreat. Make sure that you have an accurate and clear list of your target attendees. This may include facilitators and speakers (if you plan to invite one). To determine participants, decide who the retreat is for.

Is it a staff retreat for the whole company, a team retreat for one of the departments of the company, or is it a board retreat for the leaders of the company? Have your participants pre-register for the retreat event to find out the number of attendees.

You can either sell tickets to the retreat event or if the company is paying, let attendees register online through an online RSVP form. You can easily do this if you partner with Event Espresso.

One very important tip for an event planner like you: let participants fill out liability forms or waivers before traveling for the retreat. This will inform the participants of certain risks that may happen during the event and may protect your organization from any liability. Though, it is wise to include a first-aider in case a medical situation will arise.

4. Lock in the Schedule

After identifying who the retreat is for, your next job is to set the event date and itinerary. Having a fixed schedule will allow you to know what needs to be done on specific dates. When choosing the event date, it’s crucial to know any upcoming corporate events or meetings.

While it’s common sense that you make sure that the retreat doesn’t overlap with a major event, it’s also extra productive if you schedule the retreat before launching a marketing campaign, perhaps (or introducing a new product), or it can be done after a major company success.  

5. Choose the Right Retreat Facility/ Outdoor Space

It is beyond a doubt that the retreat venue plays a big part in the success of the corporate retreat. The venue directly determines the ambiance, services that will be provided, aesthetics and mood, and will even help set the right expectations.

Choose a retreat location that is conducive to the type of retreat you are planning. Somewhere convenient and accessible for all attendees, yet a place your team members or the attendees don’t frequently go. Consider also size, climate, scenery, and local amenities when selecting a venue.

Venues with great scenery will help stimulate new ideas. As claimed by the American Psychological Association; spending time with nature can act as a balm for our busy brains. Choose a retreat center where your team can spend time with nature.

A secluded place without the usual office and life interruptions is a great retreat venue. It can be a hotel, rental property, or camping site. Be that as it may, make sure that accommodations are comfortable, safe, and suitable for your team’s needs.

6. Keep an Open Communication

Clear, consistent, effective communication with participants and within committees before, during, and after is needed to make sure that everyone is working towards one vision and goal.

Communicate all of the important details and updates related to the retreat event to your attendees, using a variety of channels, such as email, social media, and a dedicated event website.

7. Logistics and Transportation

Choose a convenient, safe, and affordable mode of transportation, whether that means driving, flying, or taking public transportation for retreat participants. And if it is possible, use eco-friendly transportation. Make sure that transportation and parking arrangements are convenient and available for everyone.

If the company does not provide transportation, arrange a car rental or offer them a group carpooling. Inform retreat participants about the time and date of travel and give them tips for individual preparation like packing.

8. Finalize Your Meal Plan

Good food always brings people together. In order to know the preferences of your participants, you can conduct a pre-event survey. Just to make sure that you’ll serve food that they will really enjoy.

Additionally, you need to take note of any dietary restrictions of your attendees when planning meals. Write which food a particular person has allergies to. Some may unable to eat some specific foods due to religious beliefs so make sure that you know who these people are.

9. Retreat Strategy

To help you achieve your goals, consider an agenda for the retreat. Dedicate some time for relaxation, education, team building, resting, and meetings. You can make different assignments to team members to ask everyone to participate.

When planning for the retreat strategy and retreat structure, remember that one purpose of a retreat is to give the team time to refresh and relax. Include in your retreat business plan a fun and engaging agenda that includes a mix of both social activities and business. 

Strategically design your retreat agenda taking into consideration the number of days of the retreat and its daily activities. Schedule the activities down to the minutes to maximize time and to keep everyone on track, especially the retreat leader. 

10. Put Activities that Support Your Purpose and Goals

Plan activities according to the retreat theme and objective, and of course the needs of the team. Come up with a variety of activities that will keep attendees engaged, challenged, and inspired. 

Figure out activities that build relationships and community. Activities like gathering together for a meal, team-building games and exercises, workshops, outdoor adventures, and relaxation opportunities give quality time to everyone.

11. Decorations and Theme

Decorations add life and spice to the retreat. It can make the place more welcoming and calming. Before doing so, you need to come up with a theme. Corporate retreat themes can vary depending on the set agenda. 

It can be leadership development, wellness and mindfulness, diversity and inclusion, innovation and creativity, celebrations or theme building.

To incorporate your theme, you can design and choose merchandises and decorations that will fit the theme.

12. Entertainment

A successful retreat is not without merrymaking. Take entertainment into account in your strategic plan for the retreat. Interactive games and activities, live music, and comedy acts are some that you can try.

13. Assessment and Follow-up Survey

After the retreat is over, it’s important to evaluate its success and determine if it met the desired objectives. This can be challenging, as it requires careful analysis of feedback from participants and an honest assessment of whether the retreat met the intended goals.

Negative feedback isn’t something to be disappointed about but it’s something you can use to become better and plan a better retreat next time. That’s why don’t be afraid to take on an honest response.

The Challenges of Planning a Retreat and Tips to Overcome

Planning a retreat can be stimulating yet complicated, but with proper preparation and planning, it can also be a rewarding and successful experience. Here are common challenges in planning a retreat and tips to overcome them. 

Budget Restraint

Let’s face it, retreats are expensive, and it can be challenging to balance the desired level of luxury with the budget available. It’s important to carefully consider all costs involved and to be realistic about what is affordable.

Tips:

  • Creativity with budgeting may be very helpful but the thing is you need to be strategic.
  • Strategize and prioritize expenditures based on the goals and objectives of the retreat and that of the company.
  • Think of other options and sources of funds such as sponsorship or partnership. 

Company employees are all seated around a table during team building activity of their corporate retreat; planning a retreat concept

Scheduling Compatibility

Taking a group of employees away from the office for an extended period can disrupt business operations. That’s why retreats are ideally held on weekends because it is easy, especially for corporate and business people to attend. 

But retreats that last longer also have undeniable benefits. You can do more, bond more, and teach more if the retreat is longer.

Tips:

  • Corporate retreats and team-building activities must be part of companies annual event planning. Therefore plan months ahead; at least 3 months.
  • Communicate clearly with everyone to avoid conflicts in schedules.
  • Rally everyone involved to prioritize the retreat and not make other schedules sometime near the retreat.

Coming Up with Suitable Activities

Ensuring that all employees are fully engaged in the retreat and its activities can be challenging, particularly if the group includes individuals with diverse interests and preferences. That’s why, knowing your event participants is a must. When you do so, you can then create activities that will surely interest and engage them and at the same time hit your desired goals. 

Tips:

  • Design an assortment of activities, including a mix of both outdoor and indoor activities, team-building activities, and leisure times.
  • Consider the different interests, capabilities, and personalities of team members when coming up with activities.
  • It is also best that you include personality development activities on your retreat like a workshop or training session.

Unexpected Circumstances

Even with the best retreat planning, unexpected circumstances can happen. Though accidents may be unavoidable, you can protect the event’s overall success by preparing for such circumstances.

Tips:

  • Plan for a worst-case scenario.
  • Be prepared for surprises to arise.
  • Be flexible not just with plans and with your attitude as well – you want to provide a stress-free atmosphere to already stressed corporate workers.
  • Consider other alternatives or create a contingency plan.

Securing the Best Venue

Venues this year are fast selling out on booking since the surge of in-person events. Hence, booking the right venue can be tough.

Tips:

  • Research different locations and compare their amenities, facilities, and prices. And what is included in their package.
  • Before booking, consider the preferences and needs of your participants. Find out what are their accommodation options and what are local attractions and other things you can do. Also, determine how accessible the venue is for everyone involved.
  • Book well in advance and book the venue right away once you have made the decision. To lock in on your chosen date to ensure its availability and to secure the best rates.

Safety and Security

Safety and security might be a challenge especially if you’re in unfamiliar and remote locations. Accidents may easily occur on a camping site or nature reserve. Weather conditions can change from time to time. To help keep everyone secure and safe, consider the following tips.

Tips:

  • Include safety and security (hire security personnel) in the contingency plan in case of emergencies and unexpected events.
  • Brief everyone on awareness of emergency procedures and protocols.
  • Take note and disseminate emergency numbers in the local area of your venue.

Meeting Expectations

Managing and meeting the expectations of your attendees can be a serious challenge to event planners. Previous experiences, preferences and even cultural background can all affect a person’s expectations. While no one can please everyone, here are some helpful tips to get you through.

Tips:

  • Provide detailed information about the retreat; the schedule, activities, and expectations for participants.
  • Promote open and free communication to everyone involved. Encourage and be open to feedback and suggestions from team members.
  • Lay down the expectations of the different roles of every person involved.

Success Metrics

Without a set of metrics for success, you can never really know if the retreat was indeed a success or not.

Tips:

  • Develop a predetermined KPI for the retreat outcome.
  • Create action steps for participants to do or apply in their work after the retreat.

Fun Activities You Can Do on Your Company Retreat

Depending on the retreat facility and retreat venue of your choice, here are samples of activities you can do for your retreat event.

Mountain Retreat Activities

  1. Team Hike
  2. Sunrise Viewing
  3. Camping Trip
  4. Blindfolded Tent Building 
  5. Mountain Biking
  6. Trekking
  7. Snowboarding/ Skiing
  8. Biking
  9. Ziplining
  10. Backpacking 

Water (beach, lake, river) Retreat Activities

  1. Shore Excursions
  2. Kayaking
  3. Sailing
  4. Fishing
  5. Diving 
  6. Cruise Ship Retreat 
  7. Island Hopping
  8. Beach Volleyball
  9. Picnic
  10. Sports Tournament

Outdoor or Wilderness Retreat Activities

  1. Team Sports
  2. Scavenger hunt
  3. Horseback Riding
  4. Team Skydive
  5. Safari Trip
  6. Local Community Tour
  7. Hunting Trip
  8. Horseback Riding
  9. Go-kart Track
  10. Sports Event

Indoor Retreat Activities

  1. Host a hackathon
  2. Trivia Games or any group games
  3. Karaoke 
  4. Workshops
  5. Eat a meal together
  6. Team jigsaw puzzle
  7. Wine tasting or Bake-off
  8. Spa Afternoon
  9. Brainstorming meetings
  10. Motivational work sessions

Plan An Efficient Corporate Retreat with Event Espresso

Create a successful and meaningful corporate event that supports your business goals and strengthens relationships with your stakeholders. Ensure that all important elements of your corporate event are covered by considering all the mentioned steps of planning a retreat.

Here at Event Espresso, it’s our lifelong mission to help event planners, organizers, nonprofits and organizations have successful and valuable events. With Event Espresso, all your registration and ticketing needs are covered.

Want to experience what thousands of successful organizers have talked about? Try our demo for free.

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