What We Learned From Planning a Team Meetup

Portrait of Melina Panitsidis
by Melina Panitsidis
May 26, 2022

In February, we hosted a Direct Sales retreat in Arizona. It had been a while since the last BuySellAds meetup, so this particular meetup was important for a few reasons.

For one thing, we recently hired a handful of new team members, and a retreat was the perfect environment for everyone to connect. It also allowed us to align on our annual team goals and ensure we’re working together to achieve them. And finally, having been stuck inside the last couple of years, we were looking forward to an in-person event!

Our goal with this retreat was simple: build meaningful relationships and align our team’s efforts while having fun and recharging.

Planning process

We’re happy to report that our planning efforts paid off. That’s why we wanted to share how we made it happen, in case you’re considering having a team retreat (hint: you should)!

Location, location, location

One of the most exciting parts of a retreat is exploring a new place! When we were narrowing down our location, there were three criteria that we needed to meet:

  1. Close to a major airport. We wanted to make pick up and drop off easy, quick, and accessible for everyone.
  2. Everything is on-site. It was important to find a place where there wasn’t a need to venture off of the property.
  3. Epic views. Because why not?

Following these basic guidelines helped us narrow it down and ultimately decide on the best location for our team and needs.

We made team-building a priority

This one might be obvious, but it’s important. Since we all work remotely, some of us were meeting for the first time. Intentionally setting aside time for ice-breakers and team-building activities was essential in allowing everyone to get to know and understand each other. We went for a mix of formal and informal activities, such as a welcome happy hour and an exercise where everyone shared their ideal work day.

We planned out smaller group adventures

Just because it’s a company retreat doesn’t mean it’s all about work. Offering different small group activities each day was a great way to strengthen team connections. We went hiking in the desert, did some golfing, went on a desert jeep tour, and tasted a few of Arizona’s wines.

We hired an event planner

We teamed up with Dynamo Events (shoutout to Mackenzie!) to help us make the most of our meetup. Mackenzie was on site with us to keep things organized and running smoothly. They covered everything from airport logistics and resort accommodations to dinner reservations and activity planning. It allowed everyone at the retreat to enjoy their time without any team member taking on the role of retreat coordinator as well.

What we learned

This event was definitely a learning experience for us. Here is what we learned from planning and hosting this retreat:

Schedule everything in advance

And we mean everything. From working sessions and team activities, to downtime and meals. Not only will this make for smoother transitions throughout the day, but it will give everyone an idea of what to expect before arriving.

Make extra time for casual coworking

While structured sessions foster tons of collaboration, we found that casual coworking further fueled team brainstorming. In hindsight, we wish we baked in more time for unstructured work because we found that it sparked a flow of ideas from the team.

Focus on collaboration over work

Take the pressure off of getting regular work done and use your time to build team connections and collaborate on ideas. Build time in for work catch up, client check-ins, and reviewing project timelines but focus on team building over anything else. To make this easier, let people in your organization and your clients know that you’re attending a retreat, and response times might be longer than usual. We promise it’s worth it!

Hire an events company

If you can afford to, hire someone to help you plan and execute the retreat. The biggest benefit to this is that no one on the team will have to manage being fully present while also running the event themselves.

Wrapping up

Planning a retreat can be overwhelming, but it is definitely worth it. For us, this meetup acted as an experiment to help us inform all future BSA meetups. So now we have a pretty good idea of what to do (and what not to do) next time. These tips helped us, and we hope they help your team plan an unforgettable retreat too.