Everyone is trying to figure out the best way to bring their teams together today. In a world changed by the pandemic and limiting face-to-face interaction for so long, individual preferences have changed. Gone are the days of an easy happy hour and free food to engage your teams. They want more, if they are going to give you more of their time.
As an event planner, I’m always working to find new ways to work with my clients and keep their employees engaged. Over the course of the pandemic, this involved a lot of creative online experiences that were paired with a delivery of some kind. For instance, my team developed a “virtual adventure” that was delivered via Discord. It included a home delivery to each individual employee which included a lockbox with a riddle that they would collaborate virtually with their team to solve. Once solved, it was an invitation to an experience online the next day. Discord is an online chat service that allows you to set up private servers and control permissions for your attendees. We used this to set up a private server for each group that took part in this experience, and deliver the adventure via video, photo, and text. We led our attendees through puzzles and riddles and wove a story throughout that required them to collaborate with their team members to achieve a common goal. The reviews on this experience were fantastic, and we ended up developing a couple more that were delivered similarly, but always with a twist.
Now that we are able to meet in person once again, my team is using that same creativity to make people want to attend their office functions. We’re turning a client’s office into an escape adventure, developing custom puzzles around a theme that client is celebrating that week and transforming their meeting spaces into activity stations for this adventure. We’re planning unique small events that are customized to the team and their interests. We’re looking for hands-on activities that allow people to learn a new skill or about a new-to-them process. We’re planning an East Coast Kitchen Party complete with instruments for attendees to jam along with the performer. These experiences are interesting and interactive and they’re more intentional than many of these corporate activities often were in the past.
In the new world of in-person team building, companies want to make sure that they are planning engaging experiences. It’s not as simple as booking a table at a restaurant and paying for dinner. Where that used to work almost universally, that new level of engagement and interest is really coming to the forefront in this area. Though people still love quality food and beverage, they have become more purposeful about how they spend their time. If they are going to check in to a work event and take that time away from their family and friends, employees need to see the value in the experience.
With all the discussion of “quiet quitting” it’s important that event professionals think outside the box when planning meetings and working with clients. Our industry is known for innovation and this is another way we need to do that. We can help our clients cultivate the right relationships with their employees by developing purposeful, engaging experiences. This really shows the impact and importance of events, and it ensures that people are interested and want to attend.
We all know that events build connection, but in order for that to work we need to get people in the door. This is done by building teams outside the box – elevating what we are offering for building experiences, pushing the envelope as only the meeting and event industry can do.
Kristin Glass, CMP is an event professional in Edmonton. She leads a creative team at her own company, Kristin Glass Events, where they collaborate on a variety of event projects from galas and team building events to off-site meetings, gifting, and more. She enjoys being an active member of Meeting Professionals International.