Cost of company retreat: How to stay within budget

Organizing a company or corporate retreat can be very exciting and challenging at the same time. It allows you to be creative, think about what your colleagues will enjoy and create an event full of their memories. But it also implies a significant time commitment, extensive logistical planning and the need to manage costs.

Every event that goes above the budget is detrimental to the existence of the planner. Whether you organize an event for your large, multinational company or your budding startup, budgeting for your next company retreat is going to create or break the event. So, let’s take a look at some of the basics of budgeting to back up an incredible company.

It’s all about location, location, location

And no, we still can’t talk about space. When we say “location”, we literally mean cities, towns, provinces, countries, seas, mountains, planets, what you have, where your company will be offsite. Different locations represent radically different costs, both in terms of the cost of staying in that location and how much it will cost to get there.

I think so. Suppose you are a Tallahassee-based company that really wants to deal with your employees traveling to Paris. First off – good work, things are going pretty well for you. Secondly, Paris is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. The cost of transportation around the city, the food at the restaurant, the accommodation and much more you need to consider when budgeting for this amazing retreat.

Royal Exhibition Building Australia

Your spectacular retreat venue

Let’s deal. Everyone wants to go on a spectacular retreat – and a very important element of that is space. Whether you’re working overnight at a spa resort or renting a converted factory event space for the day, the venue is something your coworkers will probably remember the most.

Of course, a spectacular retreat venue can come with spectacularly high costs. Before committing to any one venue you should always do some benchmarking so that you know exactly where you can get the right price-to-value ratio. Here are some important things to consider in your venue:

  • Does it offer accommodation options? Will your coworkers get their own room or need to share one?
  • What benefits are available? Is there anything that one venue can offer that another cannot?
  • Does the venue meet all your professional needs? Does it offer adequate conference room? Is there a separate workspace for coworkers who have to jump on the call? Is there a table or whiteboard for groups to do brainstorming sessions?
  • How hard is it to reach? Do you have to arrange for expensive transportation like a flight or will one bus be enough for the whole group?
  • What catering options are provided? How well is this aspect of things being reviewed? What kind of drinking options does Venue offer?

These are just some of the many questions that retreat planners need to ask themselves before choosing a location.

You are planning this event during the year

Believe it or not, it really makes a huge difference. For example, the summer months can be a particularly difficult time for a variety of reasons – at least June, July and August represent the peak of the tourist season.

I mean two things. First, it means that your coworkers or employees will probably have booked their own vacation during those months and it will be difficult to find a time that works for everyone. Second, prices will skyrocket due to the onslaught of demand from leisure travelers.

That’s why April, May, September and October may work best for you. Given that this is a low season for tourism, you will probably be able to find more exciting and affordable accommodation and transportation options. What’s more, your coworkers will probably be more available – the kids will be at school and most people will schedule their main vacation time around the summer and winter holidays.

The number of people expecting your presence

When planning your retreat, understanding how many people will be present ahead of time will determine the outcome of your spending. Naturally, the bigger the event, the more expensive it will be. However, sometimes planning for larger groups and more team members means you can get bundles and discounts from your providers.

Of course, the way you organize these events and who attends them depends on the culture of your company. Some companies prefer to do one-on-one, all-hand super gates once a year for the whole team. Others host a company-wide 1-day event and then choose to mix and match departments with the opportunity to come together for some more intimate team bonding.

Regardless of the type of event you are organizing, understanding the size and scope is the first step in figuring out how big a budget you will need. This will form the basis of all your other decisions, such as where you can go and what kind of space you can rent.

Different transportation costs

Especially when it comes to remote parties, transportation is a really significant expense that you would personally incur to plan an event. As the workforce becomes increasingly distributed and hybrid or remote work becomes more normal, chances are you will have to arrange travel and transportation for many people at once.

This also applies to individual hub based organizations. If your entire company is in New York and you want to take your team to a desert in Colorado – you guessed it, you have to pick and pay for transportation (and accommodation, as we mentioned above).

According to our own research, 68% of retreat or event planners claim that transportation and accommodation is what they need most when organizing such events. This is especially true of group bookings and last minute changes or cancellations. All of that can be a significant response to your budget.

To avoid organizational headaches, you may want to consider working with a travel management company that can help you make the planning process more seamless. For example, we’ve launched TravelPerk Events, which helps organizers manage event participants, highlight event details, and book yes, and manage transportation and accommodation. This tool gives users access to FlexiPerk, a service that ensures you can change or cancel any booking and still get your money back.

Team-building activities (and how great you want them to be)

Don’t forget that one of the key drivers of organizing such events is to connect the teams and give them a chance to get to know each other. This type of retreat offers countless benefits for any business but is particularly effective in enhancing the employee’s sense of belonging, inspiring team members, increasing creativity and strengthening the company culture. That’s where team-building activities come into play.

Of course, there are a number of these bonding activities that you can run for free. You can tie an egg drop, a scavenger hunt, or a man without any financial investment at all. And those activities are great – but if you want to add some “wow factor” to these activities, chances are you’ll have to pay for them. A sailing day, a cocktail making class, an escape room, a karaoke night, a day at a theme park … all the activities your team will love but it requires a portion of your budget.

It is important to outline these activities in advance so that you can accurately calculate them in your budget plan. You don’t want to splurge on an amazing hotel in Barbados and then you have no money left for a memorable activity!

Don’t forget the swag

The basic premise of any company retreat is that it is for your employees. While swag may not seem like the most important thing on this list, it is certainly an advantage that people enjoy and appreciate. Something as simple as a reusable water bottle, a notebook, or a small sports bag attached to your company logo can be both a source of pride for people and a sense of belonging to your organization.

Of course, this also has budgetary implications. When it comes to making swag, bulk ordering can often be a more profitable way. This is great if you can create an ad-hoc swag for each individual company event, but if that’s not possible, think for your entire year and see what happens. That way, you can plan what kind of swag you want and get more desirable prices by ordering more.

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