If you have ever planned an event, you know that events are a lot of fun, but that planning events can also be extremely stressful to plan and to host!
Something is bound to go “wrong” as your retreat unfolds, it’s just a matter of what will go wrong. It is important to be ready to attend to any issues right as they happen or even before they happen!
Since retreats are vital to maintaining and improving company culture, they can be more important than outside events which is unfortunately sometimes and oversight.
These best practices are vital if you want to thrive under pressure, in the days leading up to your retreat and during your retreat:
#1 Booking Your Venue
Choose and book your venue before you share the retreat date and details with your team.
Never assume that a venue is available. It doesn’t matter if you have “the hookup” or if you have used the same venue on the same date for the last five years, always confirm availability and make a reservation.
Its also a good idea to poll team members before choosing a date. You can use Doodle Poll to see who is available when right off the bat.
#2 Give Advance Notice
Announce the event to your team five months or more in advance so that your team can plan accordingly.
You know how busy your team members are. They also may have families to plan around. Be courteous to and respect people’s needs to make arrangements for pets and/or childcare.
If you plan to invite families on the retreat, make sure to plan family friendly activities and/or to provide ample childcare for team members that have children.
#3 Have a List of Contacts In Hand At All Times
You need to have a hard copy (yes that’s right, print it out!) of your contacts list on hand at all times. In an ideal world, our smartphones and electronic spreadsheets will be accessible during the event - however you cannot rely on cell service, reliable wifi, or properly charged devices.
Your contact list includes all retreat attendees and their emergency contacts, everybody who is involved in planning and facilitating the retreat, as well as any phone numbers you may need in case of an emergency on the day of the event. Find the numbers of the fire department, local hospital, and other such numbers you hope you won’t need, but just in case!
#4 Hope for the Best Plan for the Worst
Have an event “emergency kit” on hand. This kit can include Benadryl, Advil/Tylenol, coffee, Tums, ginger, hand sanitizer, Neosporin, band-aids, scissors, safety pins, tiger balm, sharpie markers, and much more! You will continue adding to the contents of the kit as time goes on and after a few events you will have everything you could possibly need in the kit!
It’s also worth checking with any and all venues you are incorporating into your retreat to educate yourself about their emergency procedures. It is always imperative to know the drill for an emergency in specific venues so that if anything were to go wrong that you are prepared and can direct others in the right direction.
#5 Plan B, C, D…
This one goes without saying, but always have a backup plan for everything. Make sure to have a handle on every aspect of the week[end] retreat.
Do you have a backup plan for lodging? For instance, if a member of your team gets sick and is sharing a room - what would you do?
You have planned for a bus to transport your team to dinners and a group activity, but what if the bus breaks down? Will you use Uber or is the town in a remote place where Uber is not a viable option?
You can never count on wifi to work at your event, especially if you are at a remote location. You can download any information you may need, but if you need access to internet at your retreat, always have a backup plan such as Karma.
#6 There is NO I in Team
Involve your team members in the planning process.
It is important to get an idea of what activities your team will enjoy before you plan an entire retreat. It would totally suck to put in all that leg work just to discover that nobody is interested in the activities you planned!
Other important things to consider include (but are not limited to):
- Do any guests have food allergies/preferences?
Who is introverted/extroverted?
Do team members have time bound religious practice that will impact their availability on retreat?
#7 Plan it, Try it, Fix it
Create a survey for event guests to complete after and/or during the event - you can use the results from the survey to inform and improve any future events.
Always embrace negative feedback, as it is gold. You can use Google Forms or Wufoo to create forms and to analyze data.
Now that you are prepared, go enjoy your event!
Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie Birch, Rachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!
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