In a post-pandemic world, company retreats are more important than ever. SA Expeditions’ managing partner Riva Bacquet has seen first-hand the transformative power of nature-based retreats to spectacular destinations. Read on to find out how your company could benefit…
With the rise of remote work and other technological advancements, businesses are struggling to navigate new challenges while maintaining positive corporate culture and team performance. Small to medium size companies increasingly made up of widespread virtual teams are striving to promote productivity, innovation, and engagement under unfamiliar circumstances.
In a post-pandemic world, we’ve all been reminded of the essential role that human connection and in-person engagement play in our personal and professional lives. With reduced face time, businesses are challenged to make better use of what have become increasingly valuable in-person opportunities. To make the most of time actually spent together, more and more teams are recognizing the benefits of company retreats. But not all company retreats are created equal. How you plan your off-site adventure is more critical than ever.
At SA Expeditions, we coach you on how to make the most of your investment in corporate retreats by planning one-of-a-kind experiences in nature-based destinations that have been proven to transform your team and address your business's specific strategic goals.
Company retreats have the power to dramatically alter the trajectory of your business, producing countless rewards that directly favor your ROI. After a decade of retreat planning experience, we’ve seen firsthand that retreats are not a perk but a necessity. Off-sites can result in a long list of benefits, including:
Attract and retain top-performing talent
Reduce turnover and training costs
More effective communication and engagement
More explicit strategy and goal alignment
Improve big-picture perspective (no distraction by daily tasks)
Foster trust, collaboration, and personal connections
Spur innovation, creativity, and cross-department ideation
Enhance sense of common purpose and belonging
Build morale, cohesion, and motivation
Allow me to walk you through the crucial aspects we believe to be essential for a successful retreat. I'll give examples of each aspect in practice by referencing a recent Patagonia retreat we organized (case study is in italics). It goes without saying that your retreat will be uniquely designed to suit your business needs.
Our exec team will provide a free consultation to review your circumstances, co-develop the vision, and create a strategic proposal to achieve your goals.
The Patagonia 2023 Retreat itinerary was explicitly designed to address several business needs, including:
Team bonding for more effective collaboration
Strategy alignment to understand the company's current priorities
Specific skill development for the sales team
Generate public relations content and enhance authority
Co-promotion of the destination
Every moment of the experience was optimized to address one or more of these business needs.
Our retreats are held in unique destinations worldwide that inspire teams to explore new cultures and natural surroundings. This boosts creativity, engagement, and connection.
Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile was selected as the destination for this 9-day, 12-person retreat. It was chosen for its remote setting, fascinating culture, wide selection of nature-based activities, and unmatched natural surroundings. With rugged highland steppes, massive glaciers, and towering mountains, Patagonia is a gaucho-trodden wild frontier that awakens the senses and inspires the explorer in everyone.
We suggest boutique properties with unique architecture, artistic design, and culinary prowess that have been personally tested for quality, location, and value by SA Expeditions.
Las Torres Lodge in Torres del Paine, National Park was selected as the principal accommodations for the Patagonia 2023 retreat. The property tells a unique story, having begun as a family farming ranch before transitioning to a conservation-focused lodge. The lodge is well-located in the center of an ecological reserve and at the head of the most famous trail to the granite towers the park is named after. All the rooms are comfortable, with breathtaking views, and the common areas are open and inviting.
For a successful retreat, your attendees need to feel well taken care of. This includes being thoughtful about sleeping arrangements, dietary restrictions, fitness levels, and cultural nuances to ensure an inclusive and positive team dynamic. For the wow factor, go a step further and consider including unexpected details and surprises.
All attendees’ individual sleeping, dietary, and other needs were considered. What’s more, every attendee received a carefully thought-out welcome gift pack comprising a blowup pillow, thermos, and branded hat suitable for the destination. Walking sticks, extra windbreakers, and packing tips were provided for attendees' convenience on the walking trails. The closing evening party consisted of several bigger surprises, such as a masterclass in mixology and dancing around a crackling fire.
Taking part in unique nature-based activities together unites you as a team, building trust and interpersonal connection, and converting you into a more cohesive and productive organization.
Nature-based activities included a sundowner city walk in Santiago, a wine tour, a scenic walking tour in the historic center of Punta Arenas, a sheep shearing demonstration at a traditional estancia, a glacier navigation, and two challenging hiking days in the Torres del Paine National Park. All activities promoted authentic engagement, but the most impactful activities were the physically challenging hiking days, as they united the team under a common objective.
Intentionally holding space for strategy formulation to emerge is vital during a corporate retreat. Depending on your specific goals, we'll create time and spaces that support strategy creation.
Team leaders were coached to bring the conversation to specific aspects of strategy throughout the event – and specifically at moments conducive to ideation, such as while hiking along Grey Lake. Trekking among gorgeous green mountains and flowing waterfalls, your neurons fire in new ways and unexpected ideas emerge. Furthermore, a special seminar was scheduled on the final day of the event to promote strategic alignment. At the seminar, the company founder gave an inspiring speech followed by pre-recorded video clips.
Delicious cuisine and optimal dining settings are great ways to enlighten and engage your team through new sensory experiences.
Timing of meals and snacks was scheduled to ensure attendees were always comfortable and satisfied. Locations ranged from swanky restaurants and atmospheric wine cellars to outdoor picnics and remote estancias for a variety of inspirational and breathtaking settings. Meal choices highlighted local ingredients and cuisine while ensuring all dietary restrictions were accommodated.
Strengthening relationships is a unique art that requires thoughtful consideration of the nuances of social activities, entertainment, and the moments in between. Our retreats are designed to hold space for authentic connection in various settings and at seemingly unexpected moments.
Between activities there was loads of impromptu socializing in the hotel common areas. But it wasn’t purely accidental. These inviting spaces were designed to encourage entertainment with large tables, lots of natural light, waiters on standby to order complimentary snacks and a gorgeous bar equipped with elaborate mixology-inspired drinks (including non-alcoholic). In addition to this off-the-cuff mingling, planned mixer events were coordinated on select evenings to promote authentic engagement in a relaxed environment.
You may like to invite guest participants to join you to train, inspire, or facilitate select sessions during the retreat.
Since co-promotion of the destination was one of the unique retreat goals, a journalist was invited to participate in the entire event for an insider look at the business retreat and the destination. She provided a unique perspective and went on to publish several articles to build awareness of the destination and promote industry authority for the business.
While this may not be the focus of your retreat, as a certified B Corp SA Expeditions is committed to designing retreats in such a way that all stakeholders benefit – the local community, the local environment, the attendees, and the team orchestrating the experience.
The entire Patagonia retreat was carbon-neutral, including flights, transportation, accommodations, and activities. What’s more, partners were selected for their mutual commitment to sustainability and land conservation.
Originally from California and a resident of Peru for a decade, Nick Stanziano straddles two worlds and has traveled to over 50 countries. He has a BA in South American Studies from the University of California and a trans-global MBA from Saint Mary's College of California. With over a decade of corporate event planning and entrepreneurial experience, Nick knows how to serve dynamic company needs and support your business's brand, team, and vision by designing and executing meaningful and transformational retreats.
Currently resident in Austin, Texas, Staci has lived in various destinations around the world from Colorado and California to Peru and Tasmania. A passionate and experienced traveler, she is always exploring some new destination in search of insider tips and experiences to share with her clients. Having personally designed thousands of custom private trips for discerning travelers, she’s a true expert in creating seamless transformational experiences. Combining trip planning and business acumen, she’s uniquely skilled in crafting effective, one-of-a-kind off-sites.
How long should the retreat last?
We can create an effective retreat in as little as two days and as many as ten days. That said, most of our clients find 4-5 days appropriate to meet various essential business goals. We will make recommendations depending on your specific needs and your preferred destination.
What are good destinations?
The best destination inspires you, combines beautiful natural surroundings and cultural experiences that awaken the explorer in all of us, and is relatively accessible for your entire team. We have executed successful retreats all over the world, including the Galapagos Islands, Rio de Janeiro, Torres del Paine National Park, Merida (Mexico), Panama City, the Pacific Coast of Northern California, and more. We can discuss the pros of each spot to ensure the best match for your goals and vision.
What are example activities?
Our suggested activities will vary as much as the destinations, depending on the goals of the retreats. That said, we always include nature-based activities given their influential role in changing perspectives, opening minds, and allowing for genuine connection. Example activities include trekking among lakes and forests, learning the history of local street art on city walking tours, kayaking in crystal clear waters, horseback riding on traditional estancias, taking boat rides among pink dolphins, biking between vineyards, and so much more.
How far in advance should we plan?
It's helpful to provide advanced notice for your attendees and to plan early enough to ensure availability of preferred accommodations. For this reason, we suggest a minimum of three months. Even getting started a year in advance doesn't hurt, as it allows many months of pre-departure excitement to simmer among your team.
What's the expected budget?
The budget will vary depending on the size and length of your event. We will work with you in the initial stages to define your budget and goals to ensure there's a match before we proceed.
What's the ideal group size?
For a powerful and transformative experience, we suggest an intimate group of anywhere from 4 to 40 attendees. However, we can build in intimacy with breakoff excursions and activities among larger retreats of 100+ people and are well-equipped to plan for off-sites of any size.
What are common retreat goals?
Retreat goals can vary as much as teams do. Common overarching themes include team bonding and collaboration, leadership cohesion, showing appreciation, team strategy alignment, innovation and project workshopping from a unique perspective, skills training or specific problem-solving, and galvanizing your team behind a common company purpose.
Do you feel like your company would benefit from a nature-based retreat to a jaw-dropping destination? Drop us a line to schedule your complementary consultation and let’s get the ball rolling…