The first question our venue planner asks new clients is, “Have you planned a retreat before?” Those who have been through the process will have learned a few things the hard way, including the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get everything you want in one venue. Think of it like looking for the perfect home – there’s always a compromise.
The idea of a retreat and imagining the geographical possibilities is the fun part, finding the right location can be overwhelming and costs can quickly add up. We begin by first identifying the most suitable geographical location and accommodation and then planning the actual details of the retreat – how the team’s time will be spent during work and play hours. There are a few crucial questions to answer to help narrow the field of locations and venues. The better you can clearly define the criteria for the retreat, the more successful it will be.
In order to choose the right setting: remote, rural, coastal or urban and the right accommodation: apartments, villas or a hotel, it’s important to be clear about the goal of the retreat and the needs of the group.
Is the goal to accomplish a project? Does the work require great focus and concentration?
If so, you may want to avoid big cities that can be distracting, or venues with lots of other people. Equally, it may be important to find a location that provides access to downtime activities like yoga on the beach, nature walks, or wine tastings that encourage the team to unwind and reset together or individually in order to be productive the following day.
Offline or online
Online work means fast, reliable broadband is non-negotiable, which can limit the venues available, whereas group brainstorming about strategy or other areas may mean the team can digitally disconnect in a more remote location.
A retreat can be a team-bonding experience to celebrate a win, or after a startup has won a funding round. If this is the case, appropriate workspaces may not matter, but how the group spends time together is key. Cities can offer great opportunities for a group to explore together or independently, but they can also be less cohesive than coastal locations or environments surrounded by nature. We have options that offer both: settings where a team can bond, but also enjoy the nightlife of a city within 30 minutes of the venue.
Location, location, location
Most of the companies we work with either have some or all team members working in different geographies, or the company has multiple offices. We’ve found a neutral location works best because it eliminates the problem of everyday life taking over for those with a home court advantage.
Equally, it’s important to keep flight duration, connections and costs, reasonable. We designed a Location Finder as a resource for finding destinations with direct connections for team members in different locations.
For example, if a company has two people in Budapest, three in Stockholm and two in New York, the location calculator results indicate Barcelona is the best option, showing flight times from each origin and the number of connections.
It also shows the average cost for all of the flights, which was lower than flights to other European cities.
Like a wedding, the cost of a retreat can easily get out of hand, especially if you’re planning to be in a city with big nights out for the team.
We recommend apartments with single, double or even triple occupancy for teams on a budget. Apartments can be booked with a workspace and provide a good option for fast-growing startups hosting a design sprint or a product innovation retreat. Typically, our apartment groups range in size from 10-40 people, staying for 4-6 nights. We offer apartments in Europe and the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.
Villas work well for smaller groups of 15-30 people staying 5-7 days or longer. We offer more than 10 rooms in a villa, which can be customized for single or double occupancy. Different living areas can be used as work or chill-out spaces. We have villas in Valencia, Ericeira and Mallorca and can help source homes in other destinations.
Hotel accommodations are ideal option for companies that are growing fast and need the flexibility to add participants even up to a few weeks before the beginning of their retreat (apartment buildings tend to be more limited). We typically offer standard offer 4-star hotel options combined with an event space or conference room. However, depending on the goal of the retreat, we also offer 3-star (more affordable) and 5-star hotels (for executive retreats or board member meetings). Our hotel options are available in Europe and the U.S.
Need more advice?
We work with trusted partners in destinations all over Europe and the U.S. In places where we don’t have partners, we know how to find them. We also have local contacts that help us plan memorable team experiences, whether it’s surfing, special meals at places you won’t read about on travel blogs, or other activities.
How to plan your first company retreat
With knowledge collected from: