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I remember my first corporate getaway when I was doing my internship in a large media company. As the marketing intern, I was privy to the process of planning our annual sales conference with the big guys from the UK. I was fresh off the farm and in my first corporate position in the big city, so it goes without saying I was a little bit naive when it comes to corporate getaways. My senior colleague who was responsible for planning the conference was on her way out of the company to get married in another city and seemed to be somewhat distracted in the run-up to the sales conference but I didn’t question things too much. I just did what she asked like a good little lackey – I meant intern. I was actually quite excited to experience my first corporate getaway and the day dawned beautifully. I made my way to work, excited to get out of the city to the beautiful Tuscan escape that has been booked out for the conference. I arrived in the parking lot to chaos. You see, my mentor, in upper management had kindly offered to take me with her to the venue. As an intern, I was only there to observe so I was not booked in with the rest of the conference attendees, rather I was going to be checked in as a day guest separately. Unfortunately, this meant I had no idea what was going on with passenger transport arrangements for the rest of my colleagues. It turns out that my soon-to-be-married colleague had neglected to hire the luxury coaches that were meant to transport everyone to the venue – which was 45 minutes out of the city. As I walked up to the irate looking group of people, the colleague in question accusingly turned towards me and asked me, ‘How many times did I tell you to confirm the bus rentals?’ Lucky, my patience with her had also begun to run thin and I managed to ask her to please show me where in our email correspondence she had ever delegated this task of coach hire to me. Fortunately, we only communicated via email with management privy to all emails and this was evident in my favour. As it turns out, she had been so distracted with planning her out of town wedding that she had even forgotten to arrange for airport transfers for our UK guests. This was my first lesson in planning corporate events and incorporate teamwork. Start by planning the essentials, be loyal, work as part of a team and work with checklists! To make things easier for you, here is an essential checklist for planning a great corporate getaway – and don’t forget to Hire The Damn Bus.

Step 1: Planning your corporate getaway

Start by confirming what type of getaway this will be, is it a sales conference or a teambuilding weekend? The function that the getaway needs to serve will determine the venue you choose. If it is a teambuilding weekend you will need to look at venues that have group activities suitable for teambuilding. A sales conference, on the other hand, will require smaller boardrooms, an auditorium and some form of recreation on the premises for rest and relaxation. Make sure your venue, catering and transport all adhere to your budget as corporate getaways can get expensive! Shop around for packages; there are many travel and tour agents in South Africa that offer corporate packages which will include services like airport transfers and coach charters as well as accommodation and catering. Packages can be more cost-effective (travel agent negotiated discounts are always a winner) and it simplifies your planning process. With all the logistics taken care of you can just focus on the content or activities that need to be planned for your corporate getaway.

Choose a date that is most suitable for your company calendar and send out save the date invitations to attendees at least 2 months prior to the event. This is especially important if you are expecting people to stay at your venue for a few days or over a weekend. Once everyone has RSVPed, pay the deposit required to secure your venue.

Step 2: the Food

First things first, let’s talk about the FOOD. Food is important to everyone and bad food can really ruin your corporate getaway because it can make everyone miserable. Miserable guests can lead to compromised work quality or team building. Try to choose a menu with your venue that includes options for vegetarians, meat lovers and people with bigger appetites. Buffets usually work well if you have a larger group. Don’t forget to send out an email detailing the menu for the corporate event. Ask for specific diet preferences to be confirmed at least 30 days prior to the event so you can make sure the venue is prepared for your guests appropriately. You may need to arrange for some outside catering if your venue does not meet any of your guest’s dietary requirements.

Step 3: Arrange your transport

There are many companies that offer hiring services for larger passenger vehicles as wells as bus rentals to accommodate for corporate outings and events. Do your homework and find a company that is reputable to transport your passengers. Confirm with them at least 30 days prior to the event and follow up in the week prior to your corporate getaway to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Step 4: Plan and confirm your agenda

Whether it is fun team building exercises or back to back sales information, people like to know what to expect. Set out an agenda for the getaway detailing exactly what is happening at specific times. Include times for meals, tea, corporate bus schedules, private recreation and planned group activities on the agenda. Send this information out to all attendees at least a week before the event. If attendees are required to prep themselves for a conference or for anything work-related, detail these requirements in a separate brief so they can come to the conference prepared. Send out any other relevant information to them a few days before the conference.

A week before your event check in with your venue to ensure conference rooms, auditoriums and meeting rooms are all ready for you. Don’t forget to book and confirm any extra activities or teambuilding exercises you have planned for your guests as well!

Step 5: Relax

Remember, the most successful corporate events and conferences help to facilitate better relationships between colleagues. Better relationships in the workplace can make for a pleasant work environment, motivated staff and less office conflict. If you have done the planning correctly it is possible to have a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at your corporate getaway to facilitate better relationships and more efficient work dynamics!

This post is brought to you by CK Travel and Tours, experts in corporate hiring services. We offer transport for hire in Durban to corporate clients at budget-friendly prices. Our bus hire prices are the most reasonable in Durban. We have minibus taxis and 22-seaters for hire in Durban as well. We also offer a bus service in Durban and surrounds. Our tour buses and luxury buses (for hire) have gained a reputation for being the best in Durban.