While the objectives of company retreats are familiar to most, what may not be so obvious are the many different ways you can plan a unique event that will fit your staff and your goals perfectly.  Whether you are able to invest a whole day or only a few hours, it really is nice to get out of the office together, if even for the refreshing change of scenery that can be a welcome respite from the monotony and stress of the daily grind.  There are just some things that you likely won’t be able to work through in a one or two hour meeting, and a change of pace or eliminating daily work distractions definitely helps to set the tone for progress.

Company retreats are without a doubt a great way to rejuvenate your staff and build team camaraderie amongst employees.  Creating a fun environment outside of the office where staff members can work on communication without the day-to-day business in the way is great way to build overall team morale.

Wilderness Ridge presents many creative options for utilizing their venue and services, including:

• Clinic Demonstrations led by PGA Golf Pro which can be booked for 30 minutes or one hour, and can be for beginners or more experienced golfers and can be focused for practicing on driving, putting, etc.

• Golfing on the Championship or Executive Course, which can also be scaled down to 4 or 5 holes in order to accommodate any time constraints.

• FootGolf is also an option on the Executive course and takes about an hour and a half.  FootGolf is a round of golf played with a soccer ball and special cups located on each hole.

• Possible Night Golf packages are available, with the option to come in and have cocktails and appetizers before or after, play the 9 hole Executive Course (minimums apply), and/or host a Night Golf Putting Competition

• Cooking Demonstrations, with a variety of customizable options such as learning to pipe frosting with their Pastry Chef or a demonstration by the culinary team as they prepare a lunch/snack for the group.

Photo_Chris_Thomson_Wilderness_Ridge_Lincoln_NebraskaChris Thomson, Director of Golf at Wilderness Ridge, advises, “When planning your company retreat, remember that no two people are the same, so consider all of your employees and try your best to create a day that all will enjoy.  You know your group best, including their likes and dislikes.  Wilderness Ridge wants our guests to be able to customize their retreat day to fit their group, which is why we allow them to customize their retreat into something that the whole team will find enjoyable.  Packages can be set up for a full day of activities or for morning, afternoon or evening sessions.”

As getting out of the office and into the outdoors and the community is one of the main objectives in planning a company retreat, what better way to make this happen than on a Group Therapy Bike Tour!  Furthermore, it is their belief that taking one two-hour tour will help anyone experience maximum stress relief.  Group Therapy provides tours in the Lincoln area, with pre-planned routes and itineraries available, but they are also able to customize a tour just for you.  The pedal-powered trolley that accommodates 15 passengers (six on each side and a bench seat that fits three) can be brought to any destination and their fun, knowledgeable tour guides get you around safely and ensure that a good time is had by all!

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive activity to build camaraderie between employees, bowling is the nation’s number one participation sport for a good reason – anyone can bowl! Jennifer Davis-Korn, Programs and Marketing Director at 48 Bowl, explains, “If you’re thinking about hosting a company retreat, here are a few ideas you might want to run with: Give it a theme. For example, if it’s teamwork you want to build, give it a theme of “League Night.” Split your employees into teams and have some light-hearted competition for a trophy that you display at the office. We’ll enter the bowler’s names and tally the scores for you. Or if you want to strengthen relationships between co-workers, how about an indoor picnic theme? (This is great in the summer because we’re air conditioned and you can’t get rained out.) We’re known for our awesome pulled pork, burgers and hotdogs and we can add sides like beans, chips, cookies, lemonade and tea. We can do all the cooking and beverage service and clean-up while your employees mingle and bowl.

To host a great company retreat at our centers, try scheduling it for off-peak hours. Our busiest time of day is after dinner and the weekends, so weekdays are good times for your group to get star treatment and also to take advantage of our least expensive rates. When you call to schedule a group event, make sure you know the date(s) and time(s) you would like, how many people are in your group, and if you’d like food and beverage service to be part of your package. If you’re not sure what you can afford, give us your budget and your ‘wish list’ and we can give you options. We do require deposits for booking lanes and catering, but booking can be done over the phone and deposits can be paid online, making your planning time easy and minimal.

• Other things to consider ahead of time are:

• Would you like a private meeting room?

• Would you like music?

• Do you need help organizing a tournament or special scoring like No-Tap or Red Pin Bowling?

• Do you need access to our projector screen, WiFi, or PA system?

We can arrange any of these requests ahead of time! We’re happy to give you lead time to set up or decorate your area and service to your group will be a priority while you’re in our building. If you think you have a crazy request for your bowling center gathering, try us. We like surprising our customers with our service. Give us a call at either center and ask to speak to a manager about your company retreat.  Parkway Lanes can be reached at (402) 483-7763, and Hollywood Bowl at (402) 466-1911, or email me at jenniferd@48bowl.com for more information.”

Country Inn and Suites offers comfortable meeting spaces in the hotel and in their restaurant for hosting company retreats, but it can also be a central place to gather for part of the retreat if other planned activities are in close proximity.  A line-up of amenities offered to all guests includes a free hot breakfast prepared fresh every morning, free parking, free wireless internet, a great indoor swimming pool and an exercise facility.  This allows it to be used as a staging point for other activities during your retreat or you can make arrangements for your company retreat to be on location—which presents a lot of flexibility when planning your event.  Deborah Carroll of Country Inn and Suites says, “We can assist with ideas from other retreats we have hosted in the past, and we can also help you source people and places for specific ‘fun’ activities off-site that your guests might enjoy. We are happy to help you create a certain environment, whether your vision includes comfortable arm chairs that groups can relax in while meeting or training or just a great dinner where they can gather and socialize or network.  My advice is to do your research in order to find the venue that best suits the goals of your retreat. Consider the overall purpose of the retreat, and you might even poll your attending guests ahead of time to see what projects and activities they would enjoy the most. This is a time to bond and strengthen work relationships. It should be a time for creative thought and targeted goal setting. Why? So that employees come back refreshed, with new ideas and a renewed commitment to projects and goals.”

Catering is a popular choice for this type of event, as you want your guests to be comfortable and taken care of without having to expend a lot of time and energy by handling meal preparation or service by yourself.  In addition to traditional catering companies, there are many wonderful restaurants in Lincoln that also provide off-site catering services, and a wide range of cuisine is available for just about any theme or preference.  Additionally, many times a special menu can be created especially for your specific event.

Photo_Aaron_Young_Chefauchef_Catering_Lincoln_NebraskaChefauChef Catering can make just about anything happen when it comes to food for your event—from catering a private meal to providing delivery of box lunches, or even delivering a full buffet to the site of your event.  Owner Aaron Young says, “ChefauChef can help make your event unique, whether through our catering services or by designing a retreat around a culinary challenge in a fun and challenging environment at my restaurant, A Café, which can assist in improving everything from communication skills to getting better at ‘thinking on the fly.’  The most important benefit of a company retreat is team building outside of the day-to-day work life.  It is also very refreshing to get away from what you are used to doing in order to spend time with your fellow workers and employees while building your skill set and/or relaxing.  My advice to anyone who is considering a company retreats is to plan, plan, plan.  Make sure you use the time wisely and have goals set on paper to ensure that everyone walks away with something they have learned with the time they have invested.  Think of the skills you want your team to learn or improve upon, and search for activities that can help with those skills.”

Photo_Jennifer_Jones_Raising_Canes_Lincoln_NebraskaFor the best chicken fingers in town, Raising Cane’s has you covered because that’s their specialty.  And with their new mobile food truck, they can bring the restaurant to you!  The truck comes with friendly Cane’s crew members who will prepare as much food as you need, and guests can even watch as their food is being cooked.  From small to large groups, they can customize a package that fits your needs perfectly.  Their tailgate packages also work really well for company retreats, and gallons of freshly squeezed lemonade and sweet or iced tea definitely will hit the spot on a hot summer day.  Jennifer Jones, owner of the Lincoln Raising Cane’s locations, says, “A lot of businesses choose to host company retreats during the summer months as it is so nice outside and the weather is more apt to cooperate, so we work closely with a lot of businesses this time of year in order to tailor options that work best for their event.  When planning food for a group, whether just your employees or their families as well, you need items that appeal to the masses—and who doesn’t love chicken fingers?  Simple is often best for this type of event, along with a great product at a great price with great service.  That is what we bring to the table, and we take pride in our friendly crew members who provide the same experience at any location that you would get in a Raising Cane’s restaurant.  I always advise those planning company retreats, as with any gathering, to know how many people you will be hosting, whether you are looking to have a snack or a full meal, and what will work best in the location you have chosen.  Our mobile food truck is a very convenient option for most, as we roll up at the scheduled time, cook the food so it is served hot and fresh, and you don’t have to do anything or clean up afterwards.”  She adds, “As business owners, we value the people that work for us.  We certainly couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful crew members!  Employees’ personalities and smiling faces are just as important as their skills when it comes to promoting a product or marketing a company.  A company retreat can also serve as an excellent way to show your appreciation for what they do for you and your business every day. ”

Photo_Michele_Barron_Gretas_Gourmet_Lincoln_NebraskaMichele Barron, Catering Manager at Greta’s Gourmet, adds, “A company retreat can be a great way to get to know your co-workers and employees in a non-work environment.  Getting together outside of the workplace can help everyone to relax, open up to one another, and participate in some team building activities.  When planning a company retreat, make sure all of your bases are covered from the event space to the day’s activities and food/beverages – of course I’d say food is the most important part!  Greta’s Gourmet has recently been voted Lincoln’s #1 Choice in Catering and we love to work with companies to create an exceptional day for the entire staff.  We can cater breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night snacks and everything in between!  Our menus can vary from casual BBQ or sandwiches to a hog roast to upscale multi-course meals and hors d’oeuvres.  We cater to many spaces around Lincoln that would be perfect spots for a company retreat such as Rule G on Canopy Street, Hidden Valley Golf Course, The Rococo Theatre, The DelRay Ballroom, The Grand Manse & The Apothecary Building.  We’re also happy to cater to any private residence hosting the event.  Our staff will help you cover every detail of your company retreat!  You can contact me at (402) 420-6328 or Catering@GretasGourmetFood.com to begin planning your company retreat today.”

Photo_Todd_Knorr_Zoup_Lincoln_NebraskaIf you are looking for something new and delicious to treat your team, Zoup can definitely accommodate catering of their signature soups, salads and sandwiches for groups of any size.  Todd Knorr of Zoup says, “Zoup’s fresh concept allows us to offer something unique and different for your retreat.  Our base catering can involve any combination of our soups, salads and sandwiches and you can pick from our entire selection of menu items.  This allows you to plan for as heavy or light of a meal or snack as you need, we have plenty of different catering options.  We also offer seasonal items—a great choice for summer events is our cold soups, or Gazpachos.  This summer we are offering four varieties, including our original Simply Gazpacho as well as Southwest Bean Gazpacho, Four Pepper Jalapeno Gazpacho and Cucumber Gazpacho.  We also accommodate dietary restrictions with gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options to name a few.  We are excited to share what we have to offer with the Lincoln community, and look forward to assisting you with your next event!”

Photo_Annette_Marquez_The_Perfect_Occasion_Lincoln_NebraskaRegarding recommendations for those who are considering or who will be planning a company retreat, Annette Marquez of The Perfect Occasion LLC states, “When planning a retreat it is important to identify your objectives and what you want to achieve. Some possibilities are to motivate, develop a business plan with staff input, improve staff retention, improve company morale, incorporate new sales procedures or develop a new approach to an ongoing function.

I advise those putting the event together to plan the retreat carefully, making sure that in addition to speakers or workgroups, there is time to relax and chat informally with the other attendees. It is important to build in reasons to move around–sitting all day can sap energy and creativity.  Furthermore, it is just as important to take your participants into account as you plan the activities. Asking people to step outside their comfort zone can encourage team building and get creative ideas flowing, but activities that cause too much discomfort or even fear can have the reverse effect.

Also, pick an off-site location that will ensure the attendees are able to focus on the purpose of the retreat without being distracted by their daily routines. The specific location will be influenced by a variety of factors such as who is coming, travel distance, length of time of the retreat, types of services required, and your budget. The important thing is to get off-site!”

As owner and President of The Perfect Occasion LLC, Annette Marquez can help you plan and execute a retreat by working with you at each step in the process. She can help you decide the type of retreat you want and then work with you to find just the right site and suppliers to provide the appropriate products and services. The Perfect Occasion LLC can manage the onsite logistics so all of the attendees can participate fully without having to worry about the logistics during the retreat.  For more information call (402) 261-6738 or email annette@theperfectoccasion.net.

Retreats can be used for all sorts of activities such as celebrating business successes, setting goals, developing business plans, team building, training of all sorts, and having fun just to name a few. Some organizations also integrate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects into their retreats, and there are plenty of local organizations that would benefit from your time.

A company retreat gets employees away from the office allowing them to step back from their day-to-day responsibilities and take a fresh look at how things are working.  It is a great way to re-evaluate company goals and procedures and to recharge.  A well-planned retreat will give employees a chance to share creative ideas for the organization, to get to know their colleagues more fully and boost morale.  If you are looking for some more creative ideas, make sure to check out what the Strictly Business staff did on our recent company retreat featured in this month’s issue!