You want to have an offsite - Now what?

Here are 10 steps to planning an impactful offsite!

So you’re thinking about having an offsite? Maybe your team is absolutely crushing their goals and you want to reward them with a retreat. Maybe you are a fully remote team and some of your employees have never even met in real life. Maybe you have a pivotal executive decision to make and you want to discuss in person. Either way, you’ve defined your “why”! All are great reasons to consider an offsite or retreat!

There are endless reasons why you may want to host an offsite, and for each significant planning is involved. Below is a step by step guide to ensure it is a success. (Does 10 steps sound like too much? Let us handle it all, from A to Zinnia.)

1. Choose a destination

  • There are many factors to consider when choosing a destination and it is up to your team to weigh the importance of each. Is affordability or a unique experience more important? Do you want a warm beach or a snowy mountain vibe? Are you down for an adventure or looking for efficiency?
  • At Zinnia we help you find a destination that fits your desires, while being in proximity to a large airport for easy accessibility. Our proposals take into account your team’s departure cities and real-time flight data to help you save up to 20% of your budget!

2. Select a venue

  • Now that you know where you want to go, it is time to select where to stay! 
  • You have many options when it comes to venue and lodging. Does each attendee need their own room, or are you happy to bunk up? Do you want a large sleek hotel chain, a small funky boutique hotel, or an entire buyout of a luxury resort? 
  • Once you decide the vibe you desire, start calling around to the options in the city of your choice. Not sure what to ask for? Let Zinnia take care of it for you!

3. Plan your content/agenda

  • This is arguably the most important part of the planning process. Align your content and agenda with your ‘Why’. If your goal is to establish team bonding, focus more time on bonding activities. If your goal is to discuss difficult decisions, ensure your environment is conducive to collaboration. 
  • If you aren’t sure where to start, there are many great resources for icebreakers or workshops online. Zinnia also offers templatized agendas that are easy to customize to your team and goals!

4. Choose your gastronomy/catering

  • Make sure to take tabs of your team’s allergies and dietary restrictions before planning catering and making restaurant reservations. Also, be sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic options. This will help every individual feel seen and respected.
  • Gastronomy can be fun! There are ways to turn meals into activities. Make it a cooking class. Plan a picnic in the park. Have a family-style cook-off!

5. Organize ancillary/bonding events

  • Now for the fun part! Meetings and productivity are only half of the event. The other half is bringing your team together to bond, relax, enjoy, and feel celebrated by you! 
  • There are tons of ways you can entertain your attendees, but try to think outside the box. Every city has great axe throwing and escape rooms, but what makes the city unique? Greenville has an interactive adult playground (Group Therapy), while Denver has whitewater rafting and high ropes courses deep in the mountains. 

6. Take care of details

  • Now that the bulk of planning is done, make sure to take care of the details! Now is the time to consider ordering swag or gifts for the attendees. Make sure you have A/V secured for the meeting space and events where it is needed. 
  • Don’t forget to add a special touch! Employees will better retain information and look back fondly when there is something memorable. At Zinnia, we call these our Magic Moments!

7. Communicate to your team expectations

  • Offsites start before the actual event. Do you want your team to read a book before they arrive for a group discussion onsite?? Do you want them to have a presentation ready? Communicating pre-work and expectations for the offsite is vital to an event’s success.
  • Providing clear guidance to your employees as to schedule, dress code, and unique packing list (don’t forget your company shirt!) will ensure everyone feels comfortable going into the event.

8. Book travel and logistics

  • Will you be booking flights on behalf of your attendees? If not, ensure you communicate arrival and departure expectations so employees know how to best book!
  • Is your destination far from the local airport? Try to have your attendees arrive together so you can save on transportation by booking a coach bus! If there is public transportation, make sure your team has clear instructions on what lines to take!
  • Finally, make sure you collect all flight numbers and times to watch out for travel delays and cancellations.

9. Coordinate Day of Event

  • Are there multiple different rooms for sessions and meals? Ensure everything goes smoothly by providing proper signage and working with your venue events manager. 
  • Making sure everyone feels comfortable is important! Provide plenty of beverages throughout the meetings and ensure all ADA needs are met.

10. Capture Content and Feedback

  • Your company is great to work for! Tell the world by making sure there is plenty of content for your attendees to share. Take plenty of pictures, and stop for team photo opportunities. Add some fun and ask your team to post about their favorite #memorablemoment!
  • Feedback is always king! What did your attendees enjoy? What do they wish they got to learn? Use this to make your next offsite even more impactful!
Now is the time to dive into the planning for your next event and you have all the steps to do it. We’re here should you need any help along the way!