Are Corporate Retreats Worth Planning?

When I think of corporate retreats, images of adults acting like kids at summer camp, cocktail hour gossip, and company softball games stream to mind. For many, this is the same conception of corporate retreats that have been crafted from movies and passed around by employee stories. The new wave of corporate retreats seems to differ, but the topic still remains controversial. Are these getaways truly worth the money and time? Who has the final say and whose opinion can you trust? The numbers and human nature.

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According to Maritz Travel Company, there was a 30% increase in corporate incentive programs in 2016 alone. More and more businesses are realizing the benefits of these getaways and with hotels also vouching for this trend, companies are jumping on the corporate retreat train with zealous glee. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants report roughly half of their corporate business involves retreats, and Hilton Worldwide is seeing double-digit increases in corporate retreat funds. Since these retreats are leading to increased financial profits as well as improving work environments, it makes more sense to devote time to these getaways as opposed to pushing employees toward their breaking points without reward.

So take a break that actually benefits your business and plan a getaway. But don’t just do it because you have been told that everyone else is; do it because IT WORKS. As social beings, there’s a good chance many of your employees will jump at the opportunity to mold new relationships, especially if it could lead to a promotion down the road. Particularly with millennials, employees are increasingly feeling the need to be included and build relationships with coworkers and especially their C-Suite executives. And while networking is helpful for your employees, it is also beneficial for your company. These new links in your business network can help traffic new ideas and information that can increase efficiency and quality of work. A corporate retreat can create a more hospitable nature in the office that ultimately may prompt team members to feel more comfortable asking for help because, face it, when was the last time you asked a stranger a question? No more wasted days of work because an employee sat staring at a problem they didn’t know how to fix just because they were too proud or nervous to ask a question.

For instance, think about your favorite sports team: one all-star player can’t single handedly win every game just as Cristiano Ronaldo can’t beat an entire team on his own. Your company needs to share the field and accomplish a win together by passing the ball to every player to give them a chance at making a goal. It’s time for employees to put aside their titles and work as a team towards bettering the company. Like the age-old saying goes, there is no “I” in team.

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Engaging your employees with a retreat may also happen to increase their loyalty to your business since they often become more integrated into the company atmosphere throughout their time spent away. Though not our most admirable quality as humans, people are much more likely to provide quality work for people they know over people they don’t know so it’s important to foster a communal environment in the office in order to get peers working towards success together. Soon enough your company will start working like a well-oiled machine and these company getaways will become an essential part of its functionality.

But not just any retreat can bring about these benefits. Like any good fashionista might tell you, every outfit has many components that have to be considered in order to create the perfect outfit as a whole. Companies must also think about all components as a whole to design the best trip for their specific needs. Location, activities, food, goals, fun? It all depends on what it is you want out of the retreat! Nature focused trips can improve performance and provide an isolated environment far from any cubicle. The tasks and experiences must also differentiate from a conference call while being inclusive since undoubtedly not everyone will want to fish or hike. The point of this new environment is to foster creativity and innovation to help your business, so make sure the trip is not just all fun and games but also includes discussions of work-related problems and ideas.

All in all, maybe a summer camp for adults isn’t such a bad thing in the end. If we had fun as kids, who’s to say we won’t have fun as adults? Yes we have more responsibilities, a family, friends, pets, and bills to pay; but if companies don’t offer their employees a break from the grind now then worse things could happen down the road. It’s time to pick up the books and make room in the budget for the betterment of your employees and your business with a company retreat. As Plato once wisely said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. And as I have been told my whole life, the more you know, the better.

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3 Digital Trends in Hotels Today

Think about the last time you went on a trip and didn’t bring along your phone or laptop. That time probably only existed prior to purchasing your first addictive device, which, let’s face it, was years and years ago. Now every time you go to pack for a trip you double check, sometimes triple check, that you have your phone charger, laptop charger, and of course, your trusty phone in your pocket. 

Hotels know this technology dependence has evolved. They have watched and taken note on how to successfully ride the wave of digital trends that have overtaken every other aspect of customers’ personal lives. Some of these trends are still taking shape, but most trends have already altered the way hotels and their guests function. Which is why when you walk into a hotel today, you can bet your new iPhone 7 that they have anticipated and calculated your technology needs.

One of the biggest trends currently in hotels is mobile accessibility. Say goodbye to the days of fumbling through your pockets, purses, or briefcases to find that inexplicably lost room key, or standing in a 20 minute line at the front desk to check-in. In today’s world of tech, hotel branded apps are solving these nuisances, popping up on the market with easy to use services and online help. These apps replace dated hotel keys with mobile check-ins and allow you to check-out online, or access your room details so that you can skip the lobby and head straight to your room. Maybe you’ve already used a hotel app, or you’ve stood your ground and remained true to the traditional booking methods, either way, expect hotel apps to become more common as hotels themselves are pushing apps as a new form of streamlined digital communication and care.       

Alongside those savvy apps, hotels are catering more and more to customers’ expectations of technology services. This means trying to match the technology experience that people have at home by increasing budgets for new HD smart TVs, better WiFi, and faster networks. According to a J.D. Power survey, customers rated WiFi as the number ONE most important amenity at a hotel. As the reigning most important amenity, WiFi connection and speed therefore determine the fate of most customer opinions. Hotels have no choice but to live up to the digital needs of a modern day netflix-streaming, facebook-roaming, conference call-making, WiFi-thirsty guest.

Another key component of mobile accessibility and use is the storage of customer data and its, knock-on-wood, security. Hotels have pooled together information about customers that allow guests to experience personalized stays. Notes about customers’ eating schedules, favorite wine and annual convention stays are useful for hotels who don't just want to impress a guest but also make that guest remember their excellent stay for future reference. However, having an abundance of stored personal information makes hotels desirable targets. Increasing every year, hotels’ budgets for data security have overtaken other previously top of the list expenditures. Although the cost is large, it is the price hotels have to pay in order to maintain customers’ trust.

Technology has jumpstarted a new age in the hotel industry. In this new age, making guests happy and chasing technological advances are one in the same. Improved customer communication and faster services are just some of the perks to the new and improved digital era of hotels that we’ve now entered.

Event Sponsorship 101

When you're the person responsible for organizing an event or a conference, you need to know that these things take time. It's not easy to organize events when there are so many layers involved. From the budget to the registration, from the venue booking to the catering, from the transportation to the conference material, and even up to the sponsors, there’s so much to get ready! 

The moment you know that you're the one responsible for the entire event, as well as your support team, you should plan to have at least 12 to 18 months until the actual event. This will give you time to make everything right… especially when you need to take care of sponsorship!

Getting the right sponsors can be somewhat tricky, especially if this is the first time you're doing it. So, here are four steps you will need to take to make sure that you get the best sponsors on board in time for your amazing event.

 

#1: Timing, Timing, Timing.

WHEN you ask is even more important than WHAT you ask for. Companies set their budgets in the fourth quarter of the current year for the entire next fiscal year. Most sponsorship dollars come from marketing budgets, NOT “charitable donations” - which means that you want your prospective sponsors to build in dollars for your event as a marketing expense. If you have an event in December of 2018, for example, you will have a MUCH greater chance of success if you approach the company between September & November of 2017, as opposed to waiting until March or April of 2018. Sure, you might still get $500 left in an unused category – but big money is planned well in advance.

 

#2: Plan your event with the sponsors you want in mind.

While you are still planning the event, take into account the kind of sponsors you'll be contacting. Usually, most events tend to be only planned considering the participants. (This just makes sense, but…) if you take one step ahead before you actually contact the sponsors or even invite the guests, this may help you get your sponsors on board.

 

#3: Identify what you have to offer the sponsors – and present it professionally!

You’ve already got the location – just take a look around and see how you can integrate sponsors’ logos and brand names. Do you have participant t-shirts, programs, banners, etc? Logos on these items catch a lot of peoples’ eyes whether it is conscious or subconscious. How about letting sponsors speak or air a commercial at your event? Can you give them a dedicated eBlast or Social Media post to your followers? Hand out marketing materials? If you can use your imagination and get creative, they will be much more likely to be your sponsor.

Also - talk in marketing lingo. How will their investment pay off by getting them in front of your audience? Tell them about your mailing list of 20,000 people who’ll be getting a postcard with their logo. If they’re buying a $5,000 sponsorship, that’s only 25 cents per impression, which is better than lots of the advertising they are probably doing. Make it easy for them to see why spending dollars on your event will pay off BIG for them.

Speaking of materials - make sure your ask is done professionally. Gone are the days of using Microsoft Word templates for sponsorship decks. Have your introduction letter, deck and agreement created by a graphic designer. Everything you send out reflects the image of your event – so make sure it’s branded and polished!

 

#4: Target the Audience.

When you reach out to a sponsor about your event, one of the first things they will ask you will be about your audience. They need to know who is going to be seeing their name everywhere and if your event is even worth their time. Ultimately, you need to understand that they receive a lot of proposals, and unless your audience and theirs are similar, they have no interest in sponsoring your event. So, make sure that your audiences are similar before you even approach them.

Only after you have all of these things covered should you try to reach a sponsor for the first time. As you can imagine, booking the right place, finding the audience that will attend your event, and every single factor that can affect the sponsor's answer needs to be known before the first contact. However, even after all of that, there are still many open questions that need to be discussed, such as: an original proposal that can be accepted or not, editing the proposal, negotiating the agreement, and finally reaching a good solution for both parts. All of these things take a lot of time.

Although you may think your work with the sponsors for your event is over as soon as you have the agreement signed, you're assumption is wrong. (Sorry, kid!) You need to make sure that you always keep the sponsors up to date on what's happening with the event preparation, and definitely make sure you're complying with your part of the agreement.

Although 12-18 months seems like a lot of time, it really isn't. Some people even say that the best time frame to consider for this job is between 18 to 24 months! (Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true!) So, make sure that you have everything planned to start contacting your potential sponsors as soon as possible. This will allow you to accommodate any changes and negotiations of the final agreement.

Hopefully, you see the importance of all of these steps and why they need so much time, because I assure you, your sponsors do!

7 Factors for Meeting Destination Mastery

Where you host your event is a big deal. And by big deal, I mean BIG DEAL. I’m not just talking about the venue, although that’s definitely important. I’m talking about the city or destination that’s hosting the event. This is especially important if you have what I like to call a “roaming event” that goes to a new destination each year/occurrence.

Not that we profess to be mind-readers, but we do know that Meeting & Conference organizers choose their event destination based on a number of contributing factors and have detailed the most common ones below:

 

1. Meeting Budget

There may be other factors folks would consider first, but we find that budget tends to be the most important piece to review right away. For example, a multi-day corporate training event has to consider the room rate in their budget. If your event can’t exceed a $129 per night room rate, there are a handful of destinations that are immediately off-limits certain times of year (and a few that are off-limits all year… ahem… San Francisco).

Also, if you have no room in your budget for meals, you may want to choose a destination that has enough “foodie appeal” that people are excited to eat the food in the destination and not be cooped up in the meeting room all day every day – you could use this to your advantage!

Finalizing your budget and how much you are going to spend on the different areas of your event can help determine whether or not you can afford to host your event overseas, a few states away, or if you will have to put it all together in your company’s home town.

 

2. Event Size

This may seem silly. Every destination has lots of hotel and meeting space, right? Kinda…  If you’re doing a smaller 250 attendee event, you have many more destination options than if you’re doing a 50,000 attendee festival. There are just some cities that are not equipped to handle that kind of influx of business because of all the details that go into being the host destination – air and ground transportation, safety, security, restaurants, attractions, etc… For example, Chicago, IL is far more equipped to handle a large convention than, say, Rochester, NY. Not to say that it’s impossible, but it’s just important to know these details as you start to weigh your options.  

 

3. Attendee Profile

Who’s coming to this event? Is it 350 Church pastors who are discussing how to help their congregation stay pure in the social media age? Then, you may not want to have your event in Las Vegas, NV. However, if you’re doing an event for 1,500 millennials about tech entrepreneurship, Vegas might be the best destination to serve their needs. If your event is a family retreat for families of children with special needs, New Orleans may not be as great of a fit for their needs as Anaheim, CA (DISNEY, DISNEY, DISNEY)! Makes sense right? Think about who you’re targeting and ensure that your event is in an appropriate destination for your peeps!

Next you are going to want to determine what the feel of your event is – why are you having an event? What do you want to get out of it, and what do you want your attendees to get out of it? The entire mood of an event can drastically change depending on who is coming and that will majorly inform your destination decisions.

 

4. Destination Appeal

What will you be doing inside and outside of this event? These days, meeting rooms and conference rooms are not enough. You need to make sure there are plenty of relevant activities to enjoy inside and outside of your venue or hotel. Are there any restaurants close by? Movie theaters? Gondola rides? Your attendees won’t be sitting inside listening to you talk all day, so make sure there are plenty of things to do once they leave the convention center for the evening.

And don’t forget to consider what the weather will be like on these days! For instance, changing seasons (or lack there-of) play an important role in many events. Many people from the Midwest would much rather go to a warmer location such as Arizona during the middle of their winter than to a place that is equally as cold as their hometown. Choosing the right season to have your event is an important consideration factor.

 

5. Transportation and Proximity

My rule of thumb is to try to stay within 2-3-hour flight distance from most of your event attendees; closer if you have a loose association (typical home buyer expo attendees) and further if you have a really close association with the attendees (employees in your corporation). Unless you are hosting an all-expense paid overseas conference that everyone can’t stop dreaming about, then you will probably want to follow the 2-3 hour flight rule of thumb.

I am sure for someone living in Maryland, the thought about traveling to Seattle is enticing, but not when they know they need to be back by 2pm on the final day of the conference because they must attend parent teacher conferences. But if the event was in New York, they could make that work so they don’t have to travel all the way across the country! Likewise, if you are hosting an event for people from all over the country, then we would definitely suggest choosing a location in the middle of everyone, such as Dallas, Texas.

And of course, if you ever get stuck deciding, don’t be afraid to reach out! Here at Nuila Events, LLC, we are constantly comparing and sourcing different destinations for various events. We would love to put our proprietary bench-marking and destination comparison tools to work to help you find the perfect fit for your next meeting!

Quit Engaging Millennials

Quit Engaging Millennials

Ah!  No!  We have to reach them – they’re a new market and critical to our success as a (event, business, venue, etc…)!

Stop. It.

For all the talk, print, and news that has worried employers, other generations, and the general populace like no other, the entire idea of “engaging millennials” has gone far enough.

Marriott and Starwood: What We Know So Far...

Marriott and Starwood: What We Know So Far...

A shift in the hotel business universe is upon us because Marriott International has just become the largest hotel chain in the world! How? Well, they completed and approved a 13-billion-dollar acquisition of Starwood Resort and Hotels back in September 2016, but the full effect of the purchase is starting to be felt by loyal guests of both companies.

The Story Secret

There’s an old saying in sales – “facts tell and stories sell” and anyone that has ever sold anything knows that this is so true.  Smart salespeople and entrepreneurs realized this long ago and inevitably bring “story” into the conversation when they are working with prospects. 

Image courtesy of Engagient.com

Image courtesy of Engagient.com

Far more than just features and benefits, story puts you into a completely different place in the buying conversation – you start to envision yourself in the story and guess what?  You start making the same decisions that the storyteller made.

Before you know it, you’ve bought the item, be it a tool for the kitchen, a new phone, or a house.

Here at Nuila Events, we’re happy to share an interactive opportunity to craft your own story and learn to use it for your business! Presented by The Honest Entrepreneur, The Story Secret event welcomes expert storyteller, Michael Kass, who teaches participants how to reframe sales tactics and build instant connections using their own expertly crafted stories. Watch this short video as Michael introduces the event and shares about what you can expect to take away from the event!

Event organizers - think about your own story for a few minutes and how it applies to an event that you are putting on – be it for the holidays or for the company.  What is the story that you are telling in how the event is organized?  Is it one of success?  Struggle?  The best year ever?  

All these things need to go into your own event planning because they are all a part of the message that you convey to your guests.  In many cases, the nature of the party suggests what the expectation of the event is.  In the end, putting on a great event has a lot more to do with the feel of the event versus how good the entertainment or the food was – again – storytelling.  

We’re truly looking forward to hosting this event on March 10th, 2017.  As specialists in helping clients to create story through their events, working with an expert in actually creating the story that small businesses use is going to be a great experience.  You can find out more about The Story Secret by clicking right here; and if you've found yourself with end-of-year meeting planning that has left you in a panic, make sure that you reach out to us at Nuila Events and let's see what we can do to help you write a different ending to the story, too.

Drilling Your Teeth at Home?

Hey guys!  I wanted to share a great new process that you can use to save a bunch of money.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve read a lot about it online and it sounds great!

Simply put, you can use a 3/8 drill motor and some two-part epoxy to drill out any cavities.  Think of the money you save on your dental insurance!

Vibrant Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Vibrant Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Now, that sounds absurd, and I’m sure there is somebody “off the grid” that might actually be doing that.  In the real world, though, there are just some things that you can’t compromise on.  In this same world, there are only 168 hours in the week, so having an expert handle things like replacing your car’s brakes, dentistry, and event planning is not only a no-brainer, it’s also a lot less expensive than using your own time to do it.

After all, why trust an unknown source online to give you advice when you can engage with experts in the field?  

Let’s look at an example from our specialty here at Nuila Events – simply booking the venue for an event.  As Meeting & Event Consultants who specialize in handling bookings for hotels for conferences and conventions, the truth is that most people don’t know the language of that business.  We have a large network that has spent years developing relationships with hotels all around the country, and as a result of that experience, we know which days are best to book, how to approach each venue and negotiate the best rates for our clients, and how to create equitable agreements with the host venue that allow us to get great rates and avoid costly “gotchas” in those agreements.  

ZeeBlu

ZeeBlu

Thus, the venue often has the upper hand when many people come to negotiate – and that is why it is so important to work with a professional.  Our experience in dealing with and benchmarking literally thousands of events lets us help you find the best deal.  

Now, understand one thing … you absolutely can do all the legwork yourself.  No doubt about it.  The downside is that all the research can take days or even weeks, and then, although you are well informed, the next step – and the most critical one – is the actual agreement and contract.  Most venues have a standard contract in place, but it is one that is written by their lawyers and one that is written in their favor.

The Morris Law Firm, LLC

The Morris Law Firm, LLC

What does that mean?  Even though you are well-informed, you still can be taken advantage of since most of these documents are private.  When you partner with seasoned experts like Nuila Events and Experient, we know what the correct rates are in any given town (and they vary by season, location, and even day!) so we can absolutely help you to nail down the right price, the right time, and the event agreement that protects you instead of just protecting the venue hosting the event.

Come to think of it, this is the exact reason that we got into this business in the first place – to help people just like you to plan those major business events that most people rarely have to think about – and make the entire event come together flawlessly.  Isn’t that a whole lot better than drilling your own teeth?

Lynkos

Lynkos

P.S. I know that it still feels too early to be thinking about it, but the company Christmas party is less than 8 weeks away.  If you haven’t figured out everything yet, guess what?  You’re behind.  Venues are booking up and prices are going up, so the ideal time to get the process going is two weeks ago.  Reach out to us today to catch up and get ready to be in the Holiday Spirit!