Company retreats, when planned and executed properly, can truly do a world of good for your organization. What used to be largely considered a frivolous excursion of forced bonding during which time zero work happens has had a much-needed makeover in recent times in favor of a more balanced approach. As company retreats have evolved, they’ve become quite conducive to accomplishing forward progress without the feeling of actually doing work. Now more structured and with specific goals in mind for what should come from the experience, there’s generally time allotted for work (in the non-traditional sense) and play as a group in equal parts.
Just getting out of the confines of the day-to-day work environment and into a different place altogether can set the stage for improvement in many different areas, individually and collectively. It can be the conduit for increased productivity, improved morale, and facilitate the development of meaningful relationships that extends back into the workplace when the event has concluded. It can help to encourage creativity and provides the opportunity for an open exchange of ideas where everyone is on the same level. This temporary-but-profoundly-impactful equal playing field allows you to become better acquainted with your team as a boss or for those in leadership roles, with each other as co-workers, or with others in different departments or teams, all together while doing something fun or interesting. And that’s just a quick run-down of the more prominent benefits.
As far as planning a company retreat goes, you’ll want to set a budget, select the location(s), structure the agenda to include meaningful activities, and arrange for the necessities, such as a meal, downtime, transportation, etc., or even lodging accommodations if you’re venturing on a trip together. For those who are considering planning such an event in Lincoln or surrounding areas, we’ve provided a few ideas to consider. We’ve also tried them out ourselves as a team, so they are all Strictly Business approved! (And for those who are thinking about planning a trip for their company retreat, our team just ventured on one and detailed our experience, so make sure to check out our travel series feature in this month’s issue to check out what we did on ours!)
Experience The Great Outdoors
There is something very restorative about fresh air and getting outdoors, whether for the entire day or just a few hours. Add in your choice of enjoyable activities and you’re all set!
Since it is common for coworkers to get together outside of the workplace and enjoy a few adult beverages off the clock on occasion, it’s an even better proposition when you get paid to do the same thing! We are lucky to have many great breweries and wineries in the area, and the latter provides the opportunity to get a little ways out of town and into nature for a more relaxed, leisurely feel along with the space and freedom to incorporate both indoor and outdoor activities on site. It’s pretty safe to say that very few people would be disappointed with a corporate retreat that involved a winery outing.
The newest addition to the local winery scene, Capitol View Winery & Vineyards recently opened and is ready to host your group!
“When you are planning a retreat or team-building event it is important to find a location where your group can unwind and relax,” advises Les Meyer of Capitol View Winery & Vineyards. “Most are more innovative, open to new ideas and challenges don’t seem so bad when they are in a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. Our quiet country setting is the perfect place to get away for a rejuvenating experience as a team. Here at Capitol View Winery & Vineyards we have a comfortable indoor space and with our property spanning 22 acres, there is plenty of space for outdoor activities and many possibilities for configuration based on your needs and wants. Located just a short 15 minutes from downtown Lincoln, you can plan to stay for the day or include it as a part of the day’s itinerary.
Our staff will work with groups on everything from the setup of meeting space anywhere on the property that’s desired to making arrangements for catering, making it possible to focus on the purpose of the retreat or corporate event. Our guests are also welcome to bring their own food or snacks, or bring in their favorite vendor for catering. For those seeking a unique experience, we are happy to do tours of the vineyard and production area and offer wine tastings.”
He also offers the following suggestion: “Similar to the benefits of getting out of the office, with so many spending the majority of their time behind screens at work – computers, smartphones, mobile devices, etc. – the opportunity for personal interaction that a company retreat provides is invaluable. Consider eliminating the use of devices for all or part of your event and instead, spend the time talking with one another face-to-face. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.”
You might recognize James Arthur Vineyards as a classic here in Nebraska, and it’s an excellent destination for a company retreat too. As a team, simply enjoy the natural beauty of the estate and their signature wines together, or plan team-building activities to do during your stay. The facilities on-site offer a warm and relaxed atmosphere that’s ideal for breakthrough thinking and highly effective meetings. James Arthur Vineyards is the largest winery in Nebraska and is located near Raymond about 10 miles from downtown Lincoln, which makes it a close enough trip to be able to get out of the city without breaking the bank on travel expenses.
“We can host any size group, and offer tours of our grounds and facilities, samples of our award-winning wines or scheduled tastings, and an opportunity to unwind with your co-workers,” says James Ballard of James Arthur Vineyards. “We have several private party spaces featuring comfortable furnishings, rich décor, spectacular views that have been popular among companies booking meetings and retreats, and we do have customized catering options as well. Every summer we host special events at James Arthur Vineyards that could easily be incorporated into a company event too.”
Bryson Airboat Tours, which is situated along the banks of the Platte River near Fremont, NE, is another great option for getting your group away from the office, out of the city, and into the great outdoors.
With the group packages, you’ll not only have access to unlimited airboat rides during your scheduled time, but there’s a nice entertaining area that accommodates groups of all sizes. Amenities on-site include a grilling area with plenty of tables and seating, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball, swimming in the river, bean bag toss, and you are also welcome to bring games of your own or set up various activities for your attendees to take part in while they’re not on the airboat.
“In terms of finding something unique for a company retreat, truly just hopping on one of our tour boats and going for an airboat ride is going to be a completely different experience for anybody,” emphasizes Bryson of Bryson’s Airboat Tours. “Our three hours of fun package is the most popular, as it’s a good amount of time to get everyone out on the boat at least once if not more depending on the size of your group.
While the airboat rides are generally the highlight of the outing for most, I’ve seen so many different ways that our guests have utilized the outdoor space for team-building activities that have been a big hit. As a word of advice, for anyone who chooses to have an outdoor event in Nebraska, consider spending money on renting a tent just in case, whether it’s shelter from a sporadic rain shower that pops up or to have a designated place to get out of the sun for a bit, especially in July and August. We book events from Memorial Day through Labor Day and can still accommodate your retreat this season.”
There’s no better way to get the creative juices flowing than to engage in something artistic together. A local paint and sip studio here in Lincoln, Pinot’s Palette delivers the perfect blend of entertainment, relaxation, creativity, inspiration, fun and social interaction. Featuring a very cool purpose-built studio, fine wines (and great beers too), a treasure trove of copyrighted paintings to choose from that have been designed by its national network of artists, and of course, plenty of paint at your disposal, you’ll have an instructor who is actually a trained artist guide your team through the creation process. While listening to great tunes, everyone will get to do their own thing with their paintings while still being considered a group activity. At the end of the experience, everyone will take home their very own masterpiece! Or, display them all in the office or your place of business – it’s very cool to see all of the variations and people’s different interpretations of the same design side by side. “We are fortunate to have highly skilled artists in our Lincoln studio that facilitate the classes, which can be booked as private events,” says J. Christopher Cook of Pinot’s Palette. “We can also design unique paintings for groups and parties to fit with the theme or your décor. We’re happy to help you plan and will do our best to accommodate any special requests you may have.”
Hit The Lanes
The bowling alley is one of those iconic places that appeals to just about everyone, eliminating much of the worry about people not being able to participate or being out of their element in doing so. For those who plan to hit the lanes for their company retreat, Jennifer Davis-Korn of 48 Bowl offers the following suggestions:
“A bowling center might not be the first venue you think of for a company retreat, but using one of the 48 Bowl, Inc. centers (Parkway Lanes or Hollywood Bowl) has its advantages. First of all, we’ve got meeting space, games and food, all in one place, making your planning and transition time between activities a snap. Our staff can assist you with planning a teams tournament using traditional or fun, alternative scoring methods. If you provide us with names and teams in advance, we can provide you with complete scoring results at the end of your play.
If you are planning to provide food for your staff, we can help connect you with Fred’s at Parkway (American Fare with numerous ‘Best Of Lincoln’ awards for their burgers) to set up buffet-style or pre-ordered meals. If your event is at Hollywood Bowl, you may arrange to bring in whatever food you like! Beverage service at both centers is easy with our full line of soft drinks, spirits, wine, and extensive draught and bottled beer menu.
We have years of experience working with groups and budgets of all sizes. If you are unsure of what your budget is able to provide, give us a call and we can help you put together a package that meets your group’s needs. Call and ask to speak with a manager about a group event at Parkway Lanes at (402) 483-7763 or Hollywood Bowl at (402) 466-1911.”
Catch A Game
Sporting events are also a fun way to get together as a team – it’s quite fitting. Here in Husker country, there are opportunities aplenty. There’s another popular option that’s familiar to most – hockey games with our own Lincoln Stars! These events are so much fun, and it’s easy and affordable to make arrangements for groups of all sizes. There are several private spaces available, which are particularly nice for getting together because it allows for conversation amongst one another and everyone has a great view of the game all the while. And it fits nicely into the schedule for those who don’t have much spare time to allocate to a company retreat but still want to make it happen.
Good Eats & Tasty Treats
Keeping the team’s energy up is important for the success of company retreats, so most times arranging for a meal or snack will be in order.
There are situations when you’ll want something quick, easy, and not terribly messy. For these, a sandwich tray from Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is the way to go. Or perhaps you want to cap off the day’s or afternoon’s events with a nice dinner, or start off with a good lunch. Consider making a reservation in the Haymarket, as there’s so much other great stuff for groups to do while they’re down there! Yowie’s Lodge Sports Bar is an excellent option for groups who wish to dine in and also offers event catering off-site.
With summertime upon us – or any time of the year, really – you might want to consider treating your team to a refreshing delicacy from Rita’s of Lincoln! “What better way to recharge at a company retreat or outing than refreshing and delicious Rita’s Italian Ice or Frozen Custard,” says Mike Malone with Rita’s of Lincoln. “With over 80 flavors of Italian Ice and a large variety of flavors of frozen custard, there is something for everyone and every event. For any size group, consider a Rita’s treat to be part of your retreat!”
Travel In Style
Arranging for group transportation is a great alternative to coordinating to meet at a specific destination as it provides more time for conversation in between events. It’s also the responsible way to go when drinking is involved, even if it’s just a few.
“Our fleet includes a wide array of sedans, SUVs, several different sizes of limousines, and a 34-passenger limo bus, allowing us to accommodate both small and large groups,” says Lori Hiebner of Leisure Limousine & Sedan. “We are a premier transportation service, so you can count on us to provide a safe and professional experience no matter what you have planned for your company retreat.”
To sum things up, we encourage you to find the time to plan and execute your own company retreat, and if you’re staying local, to utilize the venues and vendors here in our community to set the stage for the magic to happen. It’s truly well worth your time, as the benefits are numerous and extend far beyond what we’ve covered thus far. The hardest part of any event is planning it, so turn to the experts for support and guidance with that and you’re well on your way to a company retreat that will yield the results you desire.