Ideal Venue for a Company Retreat: City vs. Beach vs. Mountains

Published:
February 11, 2024
Milana Martinovic

Milana is the founder and CEO of Onsitehub. She is an expert in team retreats and startup operations. She started her career as an early employee at Airbnb and became the COO of Surf Office before founding her venture, Onsitehub. Now, she is passionate about helping remote teams bond better together through retreats at Onsitehub’s exclusive European destinations. She is a mother of two kids, living by the coast of the Adriatic Sea with her family.

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Planning a successful company retreat requires careful consideration of various factors, and one of the most critical decisions is selecting the right venue. The venue sets the stage for the entire retreat, impacting the overall experience, productivity, and team building opportunities. After all, if you want some work to get done, this is where you will spend the most critical part if your offsite in.

Based on the experience we have gathered with both small and large groups, we will share the key factors to think about when choosing a venue for a company retreat. Whether it's a corporate retreat, offsite meeting, or team-building getaway, these considerations will ensure you make the best choice for your event.

Location and Accessibility

If we should highlight a factor that plays the most important role in the success of a retreat it would be the location. Consider accessibility for all participants, including proximity to major transportation hubs and airports. Choose a venue that offers ease of travel, especially if attendees are coming from different locations and time zones. Rule of thumb is 1h diameter from a major airport, but it can differ. If you’re open to a slightly further commute, do not let distance from the airport stand in your way of coming to a dream location. Remote gems offer solitude, exclusivity, peace of mind and guarantee focus.

Additionally, think about the surroundings—opt for venues with scenic views, proximity to nature, or access to recreational activities to enhance the overall retreat experience. At the same time make sure not to overdo it – you do not want to book an exclusive resort on a paradise beach, just to keep your employees locked in a meeting, distractedly longing for the white sands outside.

Here is a comparative overview of different surroundings:

MOUNTAINS
Pros Cons
Natural beauty and stunning landscapes. Limited accessibility for some participants.
Peaceful and serene environment. Altitude-related challenges for some individuals.
Opportunity for outdoor activities and adventure. Weather can be unpredictable and affect plans.
Fresh mountain air and clean environment. Limited availability of amenities and services.
Privacy and seclusion for focused retreats. Higher costs for transportation and logistics.
Inspiration and creativity from scenic views. Limited dining and entertainment options.
BEACH
Pros Cons
Relaxing and tranquil environment. Crowded beaches, especially during peak seasons.
Access to natural beauty and scenic views. Potential distractions from beach activities.
Opportunities for team-building water sports. Limited privacy and potential noise from nearby beachgoers.
Vitamin D boost from sun exposure. Weather conditions can be unpredictable.
Availability of beachfront accommodations. Limited dining options, especially in remote beach locations.
CITY
Pros Cons
Wide range of accommodation options. Potential for noise and distractions.
Access to diverse dining and entertainment. Higher costs for accommodations and activities.
Availability of meeting and conference venues. Limited access to natural environments and scenery.
Convenient transportation options. Crowded and busy city environments.
Networking opportunities with other businesses. Potential for information overload and overwhelm.
Cultural and historical attractions to explore. Lack of privacy and seclusion for focused retreats.

Capacity and Accommodation:

The size and capacity of the venue are crucial factors to accommodate your team comfortably. Evaluate the number of participants and ensure the venue can accommodate everyone without feeling overcrowded. Additionally, check the availability of various types of accommodations, such as single rooms, shared rooms, or cabins, to cater to different preferences and budgets.

Even if you are a small team and consider yourselves a family, we do not suggest booking double rooms for your team members. Privacy is important and nobody wants to discover their working buddy is a heavy snorer or find out about their hygienic habits incompatibility. Instead of strengthening the bond, it could actually ruin it. If you have to share rooms, due to budget constraints, make sure the venue offers twin bed loging, not double beds.

Pro tip: Identify the management team to the venue crew so they can give them priority if upgrade options open up.

Meeting Spaces and Amenities

Evaluate the available meeting spaces and amenities within the venue. Three most important aspects are number and sizes of meeting rooms, availability of audiovisual equipment, and high-speed internet access. Remember that “high-speed internet” does have different meaning in different parts of the world and that wi-fi routers are bottlenecks of the internet infrastructure.

The venue should have the necessary facilities to support your planned activities, presentations, and workshops. Most of the time whiteboards, flipcharts and projectors come with extra cost. Additionally, look for amenities like breakout areas, lounges, and outdoor spaces that foster creativity and collaboration.

On-Site Services and Support

Check the on-site services and support offered by the venue. This includes catering options, availability of professional event staff, and technical support for audiovisual equipment. A well-trained and experienced event staff can handle logistics smoothly, ensuring that your retreat runs seamlessly. If you have already thought about your agenda, then you are aware that a seemingly innocent 1h hiccup (burnt projector bulb, network error, late catering, …) can cause you thousands in damage, tainted event and ruined reputation with the employer. Having a dedicated person on-site (that speaks the local language) can prevent disasters.

Budget Considerations

What does it matter if you have found a perfect venue if it is outside of your range. Or is it? Consider your budget and evaluate the value provided by each venue. Look beyond the initial cost and consider what's included in the package, such as meals, accommodation, and access to amenities.

Compare multiple venues and assess the cost-effectiveness based on the services, facilities, and overall experience they offer. Remember to account for any additional costs, such as transportation, off-site activities, or equipment rentals. Budgeting is a science in itself, and the most efficient way to handle it is to look at it in a comprehensive way, fill out all the line items and then check the total number at the bottom.

Finally, many great deals open up every day which don’t show up high in search results. That’s why it is smart to hook up with a retreat organizing company – they do regular market research and get better deals solely on the basis of bulk work they bring to venues.

Reviews and Recommendations

Last but not least, before finalizing a venue, research online reviews and seek recommendations from colleagues or industry peers who have organized similar events. Reading reviews can provide insights into the quality of service, customer satisfaction, and overall experience of past attendees. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words – but maybe not so in this case. Every venue showcases its breakfast buffets and room views while hiding the moldy spots and wall cracks. How many times did you book something just to be underwhelmed when you actually came to a venue.

There are two ways to tackle this. First, you can do a in-person site inspection, come to see the venue yourself, check the rooms, facilities, food, etc. This is by far the best way to do it because you can visualize the whole event, adapt old ideas and develop new ones, but it costs time and money and it comes with a risk of discovering that the venue is not a fit.

The second way is to hire a retreat organizing company who guarantee that the venues they have partnered with conform to the retreat organizing standards. They will, of course, always check if the venue matches the particularities of your event, and if it doesn’t – they have plenty of proven backup options at hand. At Onsite Hub, you can even browse through the venue database using several filters.

Choosing the right venue for a company retreat is a crucial step in ensuring a successful and memorable experience for your team. Consider factors such as location and accessibility, capacity and accommodation, meeting spaces and amenities, on-site services and support, budget considerations, as well as reviews and recommendations. By thoroughly evaluating these key factors, you'll be well-equipped to select a venue that aligns with your retreat goals, promotes team building, and facilitates a productive and enjoyable event.

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