Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ideas for the Post COVID-19 Retreat

Originally posted on

Ideas for the Post COVID-19 Retreat

The meetings world as we knew it is changing. Many aspects of live meetings and events will join the history books. All events — tradeshows, conferences, board meetings and retreats — will operate differently as live meetings. Every aspect  will be adjusted to fit into the post-COVID-19 world. Even smaller company and leadership retreats will look different as we adhere to new safety guidelines.

Company retreats have always been a separate breed of events. Usually smaller in size, longer in length, and with a schedule conducive to networking and team bonding, the way they look post COVID-19 will change. While it will still be important to build in “free time”, and team building activities like personality assessments (DISC), a few aspects will change. What exactly will a retreat agenda look like?
Retreats should continue to have a more relaxed schedule, and format. Start your day a little later, have a few breaks, and provide downtime. Team building activities are key—both outside and inside activities. Click here for a sample retreat schedule.

Here are a some ideas for changes you can incorporate into your next live retreat:

Masks will be required by most, and if not many attendees will still likely wear them.
Temperature checks at entrance.
Ample hand sanitizer will be stationed at registration tables—really, everywhere.
Try having attendees register online ahead of time to avoid a bottleneck of people in a crowded space.  Also try, mailing badges and materials ahead of meetings.
Signs will be placed throughout the meeting space, reminding and to encouraging hand washing.
Hand shaking will be discouraged. Air hugs and foot taps are the new handshake.
Additional hotel staff will need to be secured to assist with cleaning surfaces, distributing coffee, and assisting with food.
If there are any 1:1 or small group meetings, you may be meeting through a plexiglass shield, and wiping it down after each meeting.
Meals will be modified. Nix the buffet and try ordering pre-packaged lunches for attendees or have stations, like a coffee station or cafeteria-style setup, where hotel staff will serve to avoid multiple people touching the serving tools.
The amount of meeting space you’ll need will increase. The new setup will discourage lots of people sitting at each table—you may see four people at 60” rounds now instead of 8-10.
If you’re seating format is theatre or classroom, you’ll need enough space to accommodate your group with current safety guidelines.
Snack breaks and happy hours will no longer consist of passed hors d’oeuvres and finger foods. Instead, opt for individually packaged foods and boxed options.
Try going digital with collateral. Goodie bags and giveaways may be a thing of the past now as well. Instead of receiving a bag with branded pens, stress balls, and stickers, your giveaway will likely be a bottle of hand sanitizer, your badge, mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, and wipes. And that Maui Jim sunglass experience may be regulated to a gift card to go online and redeem your elected pair—without the ability to try on first. The new norm will be gifting companies creating custom gift experiences at home using technology and shipping methods.
How will you be changing up your next live retreat?

About Andrea Cannistraci
Andrea is the President & Founder of andgreat—a marketing, branding, and events firm that specializes in helping businesses design unique and unforgettable experiential marketing programs.