In the course of any given year we tend to work at every conceivable type of corporate meeting venue that you can imagine.
These range from the stereotypically clinical and often soulless chain hotel meeting rooms, to the most obscure and far-flung country manor house at the back of beyond. In between there are on-site training rooms, funky converted old churches and warehouses, art galleries, boats, trains and event big tents.
What difference does the venue make? Arguably not always a huge one if the content is stimulating, relevant and well-delivered, but for genuine team and leadership development outcomes, every little bit can count. On this basis the novelty or uniqueness factors of a quirky venue can in fact have discernible impact.
When your more jaded meeting goers have become accustomed to the usual meeting room and ballroom vibes (up to and including the mints, flipcharts and buffet lunch) going a bit left of field can aid in sparking curiosity, engagement and also enhance the memorability of the occasion.
Often an important component of the team building and team development process is to create some sense of disequilibrium, and this aids in drawing out more authentic team and leadership behaviours. The novelty of the environment can add to this, whereas a stereotypical meeting venue may just feel like another day at work aesthetically.
As a cautionary note however, going too funky and too hipster too soon may be seen as a bit much, so avoid the temptations for ball pits, trapezes and tree house platforms at the other end of the ‘novel’ spectrums. Too many bells and whistles for the sake of it can also trigger the cynics.
There is somewhat of a Goldilocks style ‘just right’ zone with respect to achieving a nice sense of being ‘off-site’ and coming across as a bit of a ‘Google’ free workspace imitator. Naturally if the latter entirely suits the culture of the organisation, then go for it, as long as it doesn’t entirely distract from the meeting content.
The image used for this blog article is from a great location between Melbourne and Bendigo that we have worked at recently for a strategic Ernst & Young leadership retreat, the Ravenswood Homestead. The beautiful old manor house, the smell of open fireplaces and the period furnishings set a nice homely yet classy vibe.
This was a wonderful example of a venue helping to set the tone for comfort and open engagement between people.
Typically the type of programme we deliver at this sort of retreat are our Team and Leadership DNA approaches.