Right now, the idea of a corporate retreat seems like something that will remain far in the distance, but the reality is that they are possible long before 2020 comes to an end. In fact, they are a trending topic. This is because the events, thus far, in 2020 are similar in tone to those of 2008. It was then that a major crash in the real estate market led to a series of other disasters in other markets, and on a global scale.
At that time, the corporate retreat faded quickly into the background because it seemed wrong for executives and corporate leaders to spend enormous sums for leadership to enjoy a getaway. Quite quickly, though, the concept shifted into a rewards system that was accessible to almost all levels of management.
Corporate retreat planners (once limited to someone within a firm) suddenly began to appear as freelance agents, helping companies to organize luxury corporate retreats or find the ideal business retreat locations to allow meetings and team-building to occur, but in tremendous comfort and style.
The idea of a corporate retreat as a team “bonding” experience also emerged, and it was then that companies began to recognize that long-term success had much to do with what could happen during a retreat.
The Ideal Corporate Retreat
While corporate retreat trends of the past were focused on the teams getting out and having some fun each day, and perhaps having some meetings or one gathering, trends now differ. As one travel editor noted, participants are no longer “just stuck in a hotel boardroom talking about sales goals and editorial work…[but are] also out doing scavenger hunts, food tours, and biking.”
Enjoying real-world experiences alongside periods of work in a unique setting allows those involved to “truly listen to each other for the first time,” notes that same editor, going on to explain that participants now have a shared experience that can bring them together in a way that everyday work or long meetings just cannot.
Positive Business Travel and the New Corporate Retreat
Today is far different from 2008. An entirely new generation of professionals are entering the fray. Deemed the “millennial” generation, they have a radically different set of wishes and wants from an employer. Not only do millennials tend to want their work to have more meaning, but they want authenticity in everything they do for their employer.
Thus, corporate getaways and retreats are important. As an example, one firm specializing in corporate events explains that it often organizes corporate retreats, and that many of the companies request more authentic local experiences. It might be about food, it could be about a specific art or craft, or it might even be about a local activity, such as diving in cenotes.
Naturally, food is an ideal option for a corporate retreat focused on team bonding. After all, learning how to use regional foods and ingredients, spices and flavors, and all in the context of preparing a meal or dish is the ultimate in teambuilding.
Location, Location, Location
Naturally, heading out on a corporate retreat also means finding somewhere that everyone will enjoy visiting. A large city may have its appeal, but it can also be distracting and noisy. It can be tempting to head out individually or in small groups to explore a city when the goal is team building.
Because of that, it is a good idea to have some resources in team retreat locations, and the more remote, the better. It does not have to a small town setting with very little to do. Instead, it should be a spot with excellent weather and a lot of group activities available.
For example, some of the best spots for corporate retreat rentals are those with seasonal activities like skiing (think Colorado or the different areas of the Alps, such as Courchevel or Verbier), beachfront options like Turks & Caicos, St Barts, or Barbados, or spots where larger luxury rentals create a private campus-like setting. And the latter is especially good for the smaller scale group that defines the new retreats.
Such settings will allow an entire team the chance to both work hard and play hard and is something entirely different from what most envision when the words corporate retreat are mentioned.
It is All About Bonding
If you take a moment to visualize the old-fashioned idea of a corporate retreat, you can begin to see the greater appeal and effectiveness of this new format. In the past, a corporate retreat was an event in which huge groups would gather in larger cities, such as Las Vegas or Orlando. There, a large meeting might occur with dozens to hundreds at one time. These could allow for some networking, and then everyone would depart to explore the city or the sights.
With the newer, smaller approach to a corporate getaway, the idea of an authentic retreat is more accessible. Everyone involved interacts with all other participants on a deeper level and everyone enjoys experiencing the place, the local culture, the people, and the activities shared.
With the recent quarantine period in early 2020, the concept of remote work and remote teams seems as if it might be a permanent part of the modern business model. This means less chance for authentic “face time” within teams of all sizes. While that means it might be a wise idea to consider starting a corporate retreat business, it also means that corporate retreat planning has to change.
It has to be about connecting, relationship building, and experiencing things as a team. Starting with a unique accommodation, such as the luxury villas mentioned, is a great idea. By setting the event in a home-like space, and allowing meetings to occur right on the premises, it creates a different tone. At once more productive, it will also be far more engaging, comfortable, and encouraging. That is the new norm for corporate retreats, and one that should be followed once your teams can begin meeting again.