By Beth Buehler
Whether it’s for a corporation, nonprofit or association, taking a break from busy schedules to gather an executive team for strategic planning, brainstorming, discussing new products and services, and looking at topics of major importance sometimes takes getting out of the office to really focus. Executive business retreats can do just that by scheduling a few nights away in an inspiring setting like Colorado and mixing in a little fun with the laser focus.
Here are five major benefits of executive business retreats in Colorado and how to make these gatherings anticipated opportunities instead of dreaded time away.
Get Out of the Office – This ranks high on the list of when someone asks, “Why do we need to do this?” It’s not much different than being a college student, going beyond your dorm room to study and experiencing something different, which in turn might launch the next great idea for a paper or senior project. About a year ago, a board that I serve on was able to spend a weekend attending camp at a place we send middle school and high school kids to and raise money for. We also shared a big house meant for groups like ours, and it truly was a more energetic and fun way to make plans for the following year around a big mountain-style dining room table than a lackluster conference room. Plus, I enjoyed getting out on hikes to continue the discussions one-on-one and having extra time with our regional director.
Bring Everyone Together – Some companies and organizations have offices around the country and globe, making executive retreats a great chance to bring teams together for valuable face-to-face meetings. Or perhaps team members are constantly traveling for work, and a retreat gets everyone in one location. Add the word “retreat” to a meeting title, and the vision of the gathering becomes less formal and I almost breath a sigh of relief knowing that the approach will be slightly different and perhaps more interactive than typical meetings. Denver International Airport provides easy access to The Mile High City as well as surrounding Front Range communities and mountain resorts or fly into regional airports located in places like Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Eagle, Aspen, Montrose and Gunnison. At Denver International Airport, there is even a hotel with extensive meeting space on-site or take the fairly new, constantly running train to reach downtown in under 40 minutes or book an executive car.
See Colleagues in a New Light – Traveling to a beautiful Colorado destination that offers some kind of unique lodging in a slopeside hotel, cabins along the river, a fishing lodge or working ranch can get executives or board members in a different mindset and seeing each other in a different light. Maybe everyone typically wears suits, dresses and the like to work, so invite the group to leave this type of clothing at home and instead wear casual apparel that works for an indoor session, a break on the patio, a work session at a microbrewery and a gondola ride to a mid-mountain restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Experience Something Different Together – Being paired off with one or two colleagues and a fly-fishing guide and casting on local waters is sure to form new bonds. Or it might be enjoying a locally distilled spirit or a glass of wine from a Western Slope vineyard around a campfire that prompts new conversations and respect. Riding a snowcat to dinner or to untracked ski and snowboard terrain also is a good chance to make connections. Or head out on a brewery tour on bikes or a trolley. There are all sorts of unique and memorable ways to experience something together as a team and then build it into meeting conversations the next day. Send executives home with a framed photo of a Colorado experience or a special/useful item to remember the excursion and retreat.
Mindful Meetings – This continues to be a hot topic in the meetings and events industry and rightly so. Maybe it is even most important at this level of gathering! While retreats are likely to involve some major thinking, brainstorming and sharing of ideas, an itinerary doesn’t have to be jam-packed from dawn to dusk and held within the same four walls. Give attendees free time to wander around on their own for an hour or two, get a massage or take part in classes offered in a resort’s fitness center. Provide healthy break foods like fresh-pressed juices, smoothies and a make-your-own trail mix station, and break up the day with an off-site activity before resuming meetings later in the afternoon. Getting up and moving can help creativity flow and make a retreat feel different than a boring, all-day meeting. It might be as simple as discussing a company challenge, giving people the option of going out by the lake with a notepad and coming back to share solutions.
Destination management companies, hotel and venue staff, and local marketing organizations stand ready to make Colorado-based executive retreats both productive and memorable. Whether held in a city, among the orchards and vineyards on the Western Slope or a secluded setting in the Rocky Mountains, match the place with the meeting’s purpose and people, and you’re sure to find success!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.