Finding The Perfect Company RETREAT Location

Finding the perfect venue for your next offsite or company retreat can take you to the widest corners of the internet. That feeling though, when you’ve uncovered the perfect venue and it has availability for your dates…nothing sweeter!

Quick Break: If you’re looking for the perfect venue outside of SF, we have our 2019 SF StartUp Venue RoundUp live.

Don’t get bogged down, we have some secret sauce to uncovering the perfect venue and it starts with taking a step back. Check it out below and let us know if you have any questions or need some quick ideas HERE.

The Art of The Perfect Venue

  1. Identify the GOALS, VISION and BUDGET of the event.

    At this stage, it’s not uncommon for the exact goals and budget to be a moving target so don’t go into a frenzy over those two point. We really want to focus on the vision.

    What does the perfect retreat look like? We ask visceral questions and feverishly take notes to get the vision on paper. Where is your office and how far do you imagine traveling? What do the accommodations look like? Are we camping, glamping, staying in a house, buying out a lodge or staying a big resort with all of the amenities.

    Now we want to look at the activities you are imagining on the retreat. A company-wide high ropes course experience is going to yield different search criteria than a bonfire on the beach. A whale watching tour is going to focus us on the coast just as a kayak tour or snowboarding is going to send us searching in the nearest mountain town.

    Now we take that vision a step further to thinking about the primary goals and requirements you have the retreat. These will give us an idea of how time is spent playing and how much is working. Do we need a large room for an all-hands session and then smaller areas break-outs? Do we prefer to use local restaurants or perhaps we want to bring in private chef for catering? What is the company alcohol policy? Is it open bar all day and night or do we want to limit to beer and wine during Happy Hour and Dinner?

    Thinking about the vision first and then designing a rough itinerary before you get into a venue search will greatly streamline your process.

  2. How many people are coming?

    You mostly likely won’t have an exact number of this until 30 days or so leading up to your retreat. For now, let’s focus on a good estimate. If you’re planning a company-wide retreat and you have 300 people that work in your office and another 50 traveling for the retreat, we can make some basic assumption. Assume 10% of your local colleagues won’t be able to make it. Then assume 15%-20% of your remote colleagues are not going to be able to attend.

    For now though, I like the plan that everyone is going to come to the retreat!

  3. What is your ideal budget?

    Creating a lodging or venue specific budget can be a bit tricky. We use percentages when we first take on a project. If you have $1,000/attendee for an all-inclusive experience; our goal is going to be to keep the lodging and venue portion in the 35%-45% of the total budget.

    So now we have a target budget of $400/employee for the lodging and venue.

    PRO TIP: If you are presenting the venue/lodging options to your boss or a team, we highly recommend spending some time to organize the options into an easily consumable deck or presentation. You can highlight the destination, the venue, the rooms, the workspace and, what we call, an Out The Door price per night.

    PRO TIP #2: Remember that you have the purchasing power here. If a venue tells you it is $300/night/room and your team absolutely loves the space for your retreat. Go back to them and tell them you want to sign a contract but you need to be at $275/night (OUT THE DOOR).

  4. What is the optimal travel time?

    Our recommendation is very simple. No more than 1.5 hours per night that your team is staying. We ALWAYS stay under that and even shoot for no more than 1 hr.

Planning a retreat and need some quick ideas? | LET’S CHAT

What a pleasure getting to chat with Mat about offsite ideas! Working with an incredibly tight budget, we were having a tough time figuring out something for a team of 20 people...and Mat came prepared with a million helpful suggestions to kickstart our process in an extremely supportive way. Really looking forward to working with him in the future :)
— Maria |

Ok! We have a very specific search criteria set for your upcoming venue search!

Now it’s time to hit the internet and see what is out there.

Start with a search and a spreadsheet. If you find a place that is a good fit, add the name, the website link and the group sales phone number to your spreadsheet. Your goal is going to be to have no less than 5 and no more than 10 venues on this sheet before your start hitting the phone.

Once you have five or so venues, go back to spreadsheet and start calling the front desk…not the group sales lines. Get info like # of rooms, beds, average price per night and ask about the availability for your dates. You will be able to discard or keep the venue in the playbook with this information.

Pro Tip: If you have a specific requirement that you can’t find the answer to on the website of the venue, call the front-deck as if you’re booking a room for a night. A lot of times you can quickly filter the venue options in or out via a quick conversation with the front-desk.

Pro Tip: Ask for the Out The Door Pricing. Venues are famous, to us at least, for giving extraordinarily low nightly room rates over the phone or in a proposal. Once you have read through the taxes, fee’s and food and beverage minimums; the price-point has completely run away from you.

We hope this quick guide helps you on your venue search for your upcoming company retreat! It’s a lot of work for the event planner and we know you don’t get enough credit for the time and energy it takes to put these together.

If we can help in anyway, please don’t hesitate to hit us up HERE. We’ll ask you a few questions about your upcoming retreat and be able to provide a host of venues perfect for your offsite within a couple days.

Download The Ultimate Retreat Planning Guide.

The Best Venues | Just Around The Corner

The Offsite Co. partners with each client to design highly curated retreat experiences. Everything revolves around your teams unique goals, vision and budget. Provide some color on your retreat and we’ll be in touch within the hour.

GuidesMat MacDonell