Baller Retreat on a Bootstrap Budget

Most every EA or OM, at some point, is tasked with the planning, management and execution of a company-wide retreat or team offsite. If you’re reading this, you have probably found yourself in this exact position. If this is your first go-around at planning one of these, please let us at least give you some starter tips and tricks. A quick call with our team will save you hours of initial research. it’s a free consultation and we’d really love to help.

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company retreat planning budget

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Ok, so you’ve been tasked with a retreat or offsite and either you’ve been given a budget or you know it’s going to be slim. No Worries! Let’s go over a few ways to keep the planning simplified and the budget on-point.

1. Vision, Goals and Budget

We always start here, no matter the size of the project. Meet with your boss or leadership team and get a firm idea of their vision and goals for the upcoming offsite. Sometimes it’s helpful to walk in with a number to this meeting. Our recommendation for a starting number, for an all-inclusive experience, is $500/night/person. If their jaws drop to the floor at that number, we’re going to have to get really creative!

2. Outline The Details

Here are some of the details we want to have a good idea of going into the planning phase. Number of People for the Offsite, Number of Nights, How far your team is willing to travel, what are the main goals of the retreat, what are the primary requirements from your team.

3. Venue Search

Transportation is an initial element we’re going to want to work-around as it can costly, quick. We’re going to want to focus on venues within 1.5 hrs of your office or where most of your colleagues live. This will enable us to suggest a simple carpool schedule to the venue you’re hosting the company retreat.

Vibe of Offsite: Are you thinking mountains, wine country, beach or city? Get an idea of what would be best for your team so you can narrow your venue search accordingly. Make a list of the top 3 beach regions and maybe throw in two mountain regions if those were your top two choices.

All-Inclusive: Venues that will help you design an all-inclusive retreat experience for your company will most likely be able to work best with you on staying in budget. For clients with especially tight budgets, we tend to avoid keymark hotels in the destinations we’re looking. These typically have higher-than-average room rates and the Food & Beverage Minimum’s can get quite costly. Find a camp, a lodge or a chain hotel that will work with you on staying in budget.

Pro Tip: Monday - Wednesday stays are always cheaper than the other days in the week.

Pro-Tip: Negotiate as much as you can with each venue to get inclusions like breakfast, a happy hour and workspace included.

Let’s say you found your venue and you have landed on a carpool system to get everyone to the venue.

4. Food + Drink:

Food and Drink on Company Offsite

If you have an F&B minimum at your venue, use it to cover breakfast, snacks and maybe a lunch at the venue. Doing meals and events within these venues, primarily hotels, are typically more costly than designing it offsite. This is where we come in. :)

Contact a local catering company for your “big dinner” with the team. Decide on price-per-head and we recommend have that number include food, alcohol, non-alcoholic drinks and the venue. $90-$150/head is a reasonable number to start with her, depending on your destination. Local catering companies will often have connections with local venues that can host your team.

You can use a ride-share app or get transportation for just that evening to move everyone around.

5. Team Building:

I told you we were going to get creative! One of our favorite low-budget and fun team building events for a company retreat is People Trivia. Send out a form to everyone within your company and have them share a story or funny event from their life that most people in the company won’t know about. Only you and your planning team will see this information. Create a slideshow with each persons trivia item on it. At the event, you’re going to need AV equipment to display on a projector. Each person in the audience will have a small whiteboard and dry-erase marker. When the story is up on the big-screen, everyone writes down who they think “fought a bear in Yosemite”. The people who guessed the correct colleague get a point. At the end, the points are added and winners take home “The Big Prize.”

Some other fun, low-budget company retreat team building activities: Plan a Hike, Sunrise Yoga led by someone on your team, Meditation Session ( Sign up for a quick consultation with our team and we can run through more team building games we recommend on a retreat.

6. Alcohol:

Buying a beer in a bar is going to cost you 7x what it costs you to pop one at home. The same is true when on a retreat. We always try to find venues that allow us to BYOB for a company retreat on a tight budget.

General tips for keeping costs low on your next company offsite:

  1. Shared Rooms (have everyone share a room but everyone has their own bed)

  2. Avoid hotels and venues that have F&B minimums or that require you to use their catering partners.

  3. Negotiate workspace to be included in the venue/lodging you have chosen.

  4. Utilize your team to lead activities like yoga, hiking, meditation etc.

  5. Plan an UpSkill Sessions: Find 5-10 of your colleagues that an interesting skill set or knowledge base outside of work. Offer a 1 hr workshop or discussion led by those colleagues that your team members can sign up for.

We hope this helps as your start planning your next company offsite. One of the goals is always to see ROI in a more connected and better performing team. You don’t need to break the bank to create a unique and amazing experience on this retreat. You just to need to get creative and use the amazing people inside of your company to help.

As always, we’re available to brainstorm and provide more helpful ideas unique to your event. Just book a quick consultation HERE.

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