10-Step Corporate Team Offsite Planning Template to Plan a Flawless Offsite
Planning a corporate team offsite can be overwhelming. But our experts at Moniker have created an ideal retreat planning template for you. From determining your offsite budget to conducting a post-mortem analysis, our corporate team offsite planning template covers all the necessary steps to ensure your event is a success. Ready to plan your company’s best offsite yet!
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of planning your company's upcoming offsite? We get it! Organizing a successful corporate team offsite can be daunting, which is why we have created a ten-step process to make your planning experience seamless. Whether you are a seasoned planner or new to the task, the offsie planning template we’re sharing today ensures that no stone is left unturned.
Ready to dive in?
Step 1 | Determining Your Team Offsite Budget
Before you do anything, you need to crunch the numbers. Your budget will guide every single decision when it comes to planning your company offsite.
What we like to do for every corporate team offsite planning template is follow the rule, “When in doubt, quarter it out.” There are four main categories for spending for any retreat that you want to consider:
- Flights and Transportation
- Food and Beverage
While each of these can be broken down into subcategories for spending when you’re in the preliminary phases of budgeting, stick with the basics. If you’re wondering what exactly to look at in terms of budgeting for these four areas, our Moniker planning experts shared their secret budgeting tips and things to consider in this budgeting post.
Step 2 | Finding the Right Retreat Destination
Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to choose a date and select a destination and venue! Now, it’s not as easy as pointing to a map or choosing a spot close to your headquarters. There are a few important areas of consideration you want to consider when narrowing down your destination choices:
- Prioritize your offsite goals. Is your offsite mostly for team building, strategizing, training, or relaxation? The destination should align with these objectives.
- Consider your budget: You want to ensure that the hotels in the destination are within the budget you created in step one.
- Ensure the destination is accessible. Consider how easy it is for all participants to reach the destination. Proximity to airports, train stations, or major highways is so important. You don’t want your team to spend days traveling.
- Think about the seasons. Check the climate and weather conditions for the dates you’re thinking about. Make sure it fits what you’re envisioning for activities. For example, if you want to ski, choose Lake Tahoe in February. If beach days are more your team’s vibe, choose Mexico any time of year – but avoid hurricane season.
- Research what’s going on. Check the dates you’re looking for to see if there are any major events happening in your destination. Things like citywide conferences or sports tournaments can drive up prices of transportation, hotels, and activities.
- Research hotels and venues. You want to be sure that there are properties that uniquely suit your goals with sufficient meeting spaces and facilities for the type of corporate team offsite you’re planning.
Once you have a few destinations in mind, put together a request for proposal and compare your options. Not sure where to even begin? Here are a few of our favorite destinations and venues across the world to spark some inspiration as you go through this step:
If you want support in this, our Moniker team helps planners source venues in the most incredible retreat locations every day.
Step 3 | Negotiating the Contract and Planning a Site Visit
Once you review the proposals, it’s time to select your venue and get a contract in place to secure those dates! Our top tip is don’t sign on first offer, hotel contracts always have room for negotiation and you want to ensure it works in your favor. Typically, standard contracts don’t have all the necessary clauses to protect your investment, and the hotel will give some perks if you ask for them in many cases.
Here are a few things to consider and negotiate:
- Don’t sign a contract without a force majeure clause. If COVID taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen. A force majeure clause will protect you in the case of unforeseeable circumstances or events that are beyond a party's control and can excuse them from fulfilling their contractual obligations.
- Try to get additional protective clauses added. In addition to force majeure, see if you can include clauses like hidden fees, a no-walk clause, 24-hour hold on event spaces, change of management and/or cancellation of event by hotel, and renovation. The more clauses added, the greater your investment is protected!
- Negotiate concessions. Concessions are perks, discounts, and upgrades given by the hotel as a benefit for signing a contract and using a minimum number of rooms. You can request things like a 10% AV discount for meeting-heavy retreats, the group rate three nights pre- or post-meeting so your team can extend at a discount, complimentary meeting space, a complimentary guest room or two for a site-tour pre-event, and/or a 1:40 complimentary room and a few VIP room upgrades.
- Triple-check all your event specifics. Make sure all your dates, room blocks, room types, your event agenda with assigned spaces, concessions, and financial commitments are in line with what was discussed with the property. Ensure there is a clause that states the hotel can’t re-assign your meeting space without written permission from your group.
Now, there’s another thing you want to consider, either pre-venue choice or after, and that’s a site tour. Site tours are visits to the venue to assess the viability of your event or get to planning and visualizing.
You can either schedule them when you’re making your final decision, visiting your top few choices or after you’re done contracting to plan for the event. Up to you and how confident you are in your venue choice. Then, when in the final stages of the contracting phase, it’s also a good idea to ask when you can plan a site tour.
Here are our top tips for a successful site:
- Go in with a rough idea of what you’d like to achieve at the offsite. Think about how many meetings and the number of people in each breakout. Consider if you want post-dinner after-party spaces, VIP hospitality suites, or a natural meeting point for your team to gravitate to after meeting hours. Keep all this in mind as you navigate through the spaces and perhaps create a corporate retreat planning template with a checklist you can bring with you.
- Consider ease and functionality. Pay close attention to the layout of the meeting space and how easy it will be for attendees to navigate from the main hotel and then from plenary to breakouts. If it's a multi-level space, make note of additional directional signage that will be required.
- Get a taste of what you’ll experience on-site. If a hotel has multiple dining outlets, ensure to sample a meal at each to get an overall picture of the standard of the food and where may be the best place to book executive dinners versus team dine-around.
- Think about the arrival experience. For very large groups, is there a private check-in area/ coach arrival area, or will this take place in the main lobby amongst leisure guests
- Ask about overlap with other groups. If you do not have exclusivity of the meeting/ convention area, ensure other groups won’t interfere with the flow of your meetings, coffee breaks, and lunch setups!
Step 4 | Scheduling Your Team Offsite
After you have dates, a venue, and a budget, it’s time to start diving into the details! When it comes to planning your agenda – this is a great time to reference a corporate team offsirte planning template. So, we have a couple for you!
The first is our most popular five-day itinerary that’s broken down into:
- One travel day to allow people to ease in
- Three days for work and meetings
- One fun day for team building or leisure activities
Here’s the full breakdown and sample agenda.
But that isn’t the only way to do it. Depending on your retreat goals, you may want more time for leisure and team building. This post shares five different schedules and itineraries that you can mirror for yourself! It’s a mix of 3-4 nights with either a balance between meetings and team building or a more leisure-focused agenda.
Again, the structure you decide on for your corporate retreat will go back to your goals and budget, so focusing on that at the beginning of planning is critical.
Step 5 | Using Project Management Software to Keep Track of Important Dates
Now, as you can imagine, when you’re organizing all these activities, team travel, contract dates, etc., it can become a bit overwhelming. We recommend finding a project management software or utilizing systems your team has in place to track:
- Hotel deposit dates
- Vendor deposit and payment dates (for caterers, audiovisual, transportation, external speakers or entertainment, off-site dinners, activities, etc.)
- RSVPs for optional activities
- Dates minimums and final details are due for vendors and your venue
- Hotel attrition dates
- Rooming lists and team travel information
- Order deadlines for swag, event signage, and meeting materials
- Staffing plans
- Presentation materials from external and internal speakers
- On-site timelines
Asana, Monday.com and Trello are all great project management tools to help teams track tasks and deadlines. And the added bonus is many of them offer free versions to help you get started.
Step 6 | Open Registration for the Retreat
Once the agenda is planned, activities are outlined, and the venue details are zipped up, it’s time to get your team on board! Send out a pre-event registration form that will give you all the information you need to finalize details. Here is a list of things you need to ensure that you gather from the form:
- Preferred name/ pronouns for name tags, table tents, and any print materials
- Dietary restrictions and allergies
- Special accommodations or accessibility requirements
- Swag sizes and preferences
- Fun facts about them
- Emergency contact information
- Passport details if you are booking flights on behalf of each attendee
- Guest information if guests are allowed to join, along with a list of activities they can join with a checklist for their RSVP to those events
- If they intend to stay pre-post meeting for leisure
- What activities they’d like to participate in if you have optional activities that need counts for the vendors
- Photo and video release form so you can use content on-site for HR & marketing purposes
- Acknowledgement of the code of conduct for company travel or review of the travel policy
- Space for relevant information or questions they may have
- Space for session suggestions if you’re still determining actual meeting content and want to hear what your team would like to work on;
You can use an internal system to send these, do a simple Google Form, or a survey tool like Typeform. Whatever you think will work best!
Step 7 | Book Attendee Flights
When it comes to booking attendee flights, it’s important to have a solid plan in place to ensure that everything goes smoothly. To start, make sure to use a company offsite planning template that has a tracking tab for employee travel at the bare minimum.
Then, here are a few things to consider:
- Avoid layovers whenever possible. It's also crucial to consider the closest airports and direct flights to reduce travel stress and help your team stay fresh and productive for your team retreat activities.
- Use a corporate travel booking tool like Navan or AllFly. These platforms are quite literally designed for team travel and expense tracking and will give you great tools to stay organized and on budget.
- Leverage credit card points. If you book all team travel with a credit card, you’ll be able to bank those points for VIP upgrades or future team travel for extra savings.
Step 8 | Event and Team-Building Activity Planning
Once everyone has RSVP’d and you have a solid agenda with timelines, it’s time to fill in the blanks. What are you doing during those sessions?
We always recommend a mix of icebreakers, games, and offsite activities that are related to the destination, like horseback riding in Pikes Peak, Colorado, or wine tasting in Cape Town. The latter may want to be planned in full before you send out those registration surveys, though, if they’re optional activities – if they’re required, they can wait until this step.
Step 9 | Pre-Event Preparation
Finally, it’s game time! In the weeks leading up to the team offsite, you want to make sure you have all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted. This typically means organizing everything into a run sheet.
What’s a run sheet, you ask?
It’s a detailed document that outlines the chronological order of activities, tasks, and key milestones for your corporate retreat. It serves as a comprehensive guide for event organizers, staff, and participants, ensuring that everyone involved is aware of what needs to happen and when during the event. The major plus of doing this, besides being organized on-site, is it helps you see any gaps you may still need to button up details on.
The last page of your run sheet should be a list of important contacts like the vendors, property contacts, stakeholders, and planners from your team or your third-party planner like Moniker. This can be distributed as you see fit. You can also have a separate version just for team members, too, so they have a point person on site in case they need anything.
From there, send your run sheet to the venue and/or hotel so they’re in the loop and set up a time for a pre-conference meeting, also called a pre-con. During this meeting, your event manager will gather the banquet manager, catering manager, audio-visual point person, etc. – anyone who will play a role in your event – to go through the run sheets and banquet event orders to ensure everything is in order for an incredible team offsite.
Then, it’s time to make it happen!
Step 10 | Post-Mortem Analysis
Last but not least, you’ll want to do a little analysis to see how you can improve future offsites. Send out a survey to all participants that includes the following questions:
Then, get together with the planning team, analyze that data, and create a Stop, Start, Continue list with team feedback to guide future corporate retreat planning efforts!
- Start: Things that may have been beneficial that you didn’t do this time around.
- Stop: Things you did that didn’t go well.
- Continue: Things you did that went well and you’d like to bring into future corporate retreats.
While we know this can feel like a lot, our team has planned countless retreats and offsites seamlessly using this very structure. And, if you want more support beyond a corporate retreat planning template, contact us for more information about our custom corporate retreat planning services!