6 Tips for Planning Your First Company Retreat

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As a female small business owner, you’ve faced your fair share of challenges along the way. From drafting that first business plan from transitioning from entrepreneur to bona fide small business owner, it hasn’t been easy. However, now that your first company retreat is coming up, it’s no time to drop the ball. If you don’t have an event planner in your midst, it’s all up to you. Make sure you set the bar high, because an inaugural flop isn’t going to inject much camaraderie into your employees

First, make sure you choose the ultimate venue as well as lodging. Sometimes these are one and the same, but other times you need to find fantastic group lodging that’s accessible to your meeting venue. Depending on the length of the retreat, consider accommodations that are spacious with kitchen suites to help your employees save on dining out costs.

Here are a few more insider tips from corporate event planners:

1. Have an itinerary that’s “just right”

It’s tempting to want to jam pack the itinerary full of team building activities and other allegedly “fun” things to do. However, the best company retreats are ones that balance scheduled activities with free time. Especially is your retreat is being held in a different region or city, give your employees time to explore on their own. Get some tips from Salon on exploring a new city, and include maps, discount coupons and other goodies in packets to encourage discovery.

2. Put employees in charge

Depending on the size of the business, you may want to delegate chairpersons or committees. This lets your employees feel like they have real ownership over the company as well as the retreat. However, use this opportunity to group employees together in ways that aren’t common during the daily grind, mixing HR with sales, marketing with accounting, and customer service with the web team. Working in groups is important according to Chron, particularly when the groups are “new”.

3. Stick within budget

It can be tempting to blow the budget in order to guarantee the “best first retreat ever.” However, you don’t need to overspend in order to have a great retreat. Think about camping, pot lucks, and free activities such as checking out a hiking trail or creating quilts for seniors in your area. Make sure you take everyone’s abilities into consideration, and before you make your first move have a written budget in place.

4. Set your goals

What are the real goals of your company retreat and how do you plan to achieve them? It’s not enough to jot something down like, “Build camaraderie.” What does that mean to you and your employees, how can you achieve that, and what are some actual figures that will help you gauge if you meet them? If you don’t have goals, you’re basically forcing your employees to attend an outing or party of your choosing.

5. Ask for expert help

If you can swing it, ask for industry experts or other professionals to make guest appearances (or simply help you with planning). A retreat should feature insights and inspiration that your employees don’t get on a regular basis. If you want them to look forward to the retreat, give them something special.

6. Let your employees have a say in the retreat’s direction

Of course, as the business owner you have some goals you want to achieve, but what about your employees? Get their input and recommendations when planning the retreat. If they’re excited about it and are feeling heard, that’s what will make it memorable.

Not all company retreats are guaranteed successes. There will be hits and misses, but with everyone on board you have a much higher chance of getting it right the first time around.

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