Today’s Culture with Travel post is by Sarah Kearns
Company retreats have lots of benefits both for the employees and for the business. It’s a great opportunity to try and get through some large agenda items without the distractions of the office. If you’re considering the possibility of international travel for your company retreat, there are a lot of extra things to take into consideration. Most companies don’t want to invest in an international trip that doesn’t involve dealing with international business interests, but if you’re willing to put in the money and the effort, you can come away with some fantastic results and build a reputation as a great place to work.
Plan Your Budget Carefully
International travel is expensive. If your company is small, you might be better able to afford the trip if it means taking fewer people. Flights, hotels, transportation, meals; all of these things are going to add up when you’re travelling internationally. You also need to consider the time that the offices will be closed. If you wind up selecting a destination that will take 10 hours to travel to, you’re going to have to consider 2 extra days that those employees won’t be in the office- one there and one back.
Look for Group Discounts
Consider consulting with a travel agent. While there is an added cost, the knowledge and experience that they bring can actually save you money as they negotiate the best deals for a large group. They may also have some inside information on a quiet, off-the-beaten-path retreat center that you wouldn’t find otherwise. Give them flexibility with dates and times for travel and they’ll be able to provide you with the best possible deals on flights and hotels.
Provide Plenty of Notice
If you’re taking the step of planning an international retreat, you need to make sure that you give several months’ notice to employees that will be attending. Preparing passports can often take a few weeks or even months to get done if they aren’t already in order and there will likely be someone that doesn’t even have one yet. Making arrangements for childcare and house-sitting will also be more difficult, especially since there will likely be additional time away due to extensive travel times.
While you do want to give your employees the opportunity to explore another culture and see a part of the world that they otherwise might not, it’s important to consider the difficulties of navigating a new environment when you don’t speak the language. Either pick a destination that shares a language with you, or remember to invest in interpreters to assist your crew on the trip.
Make Sure There are Things to Do
For some of your employees, this will be a once-in-a lifetime trip. Consider visiting a location that has plenty to do and to see. If you’re going to spend the money and effort putting together a trip to another country, you want to experience more than the airport and the retreat center. Otherwise you would have been better off going to a center within driving distance and saved yourself the costs.
Give Employees Some Down-time
If you’re offering an international retreat as part of your strong benefits and wellness package, make sure that the employees can make the most of the trip. In addition to your workshops and planning sessions, make sure that you build in plenty of time for people to head out and explore a bit. If they aren’t getting a chance to engage with the local culture, what was the point of planning an international trip?
The rewards for planning to travel to a different country for your company retreat can be fantastic. Employee engagement, business reputation, loyalty, and morale can all be boosted by providing such an incredible opportunity to your employees. Just make sure you plan things well for as smooth a trip as possible.
Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living.