The Ultimate Guide: How to Plan a Retreat

Maggie Korte

It's not difficult for a competent adult to feel caught in a rut, regardless of career, personality, or social status. There are plenty of ways people break their routines. These measures vary from the generally blissful, such as traveling abroad and going on a challenging hike, to the potentially hazardous, such as jumping out of a plane.

Whatever activity you're inclined to choose, one thing is certain: we all need a break every now and then. You'll also reach a point where mindless entertainment isn't as effective as it once was. You deserve something meaningful that gives you a breather while also allowing you to learn something new. A retreat might be what you’re looking for.

If you relate to the scenario above, your team members probably do, too. If you're at the helm of division at work, or if you own a company with employees, planning a retreat might be something you need to consider. Once you get around the planning part, the execution will be a breeze as EventSprout can help you arrange an events page and distribute tickets online.

Why Plan a Retreat?

As previously said, retreats may benefit your division's staff, volunteers for an initiative you're running, and even your board of directors. Below are the practical reasons why a retreat is something you should seriously consider.

1. Help people get away from the distractions of daily life

A change of scenery, far different from the office or work-from-home environment, might revitalize your people, allowing them to see things differently and potentially come up with new ideas. You’ll be amazed at how much a break from the ordinary helps people's mental health and gives them new perspectives.

2. Build excitement and dedication among staff

They will realize their job is not just a job for you, nor are they just another number in the company. Once they can grasp this, they can potentially be more committed to the organization and ultimately get behind the vision and mission.

3. Foster a relaxed and unpressured atmosphere

While everyone understands deadlines are crucial for any business to achieve its objectives, it can be exhausting to constantly have deadlines hovering over one's head. A retreat is one of the times people aren’t under pressure to perform and can simply be themselves and have fun.

4. Create a feeling of shared experience and camaraderie

Never underestimate the value of a shared experience. A simple parlor game or a shared breakfast between two coworkers might spell out the difference between collaboration and hostility. Retreats have been shown time and time again to build lasting relationships that often translate to people working together more effectively afterward.

5. Provide an opportunity to address critical issues

Organizations face problems on a regular basis. Many of these concerns, however, are kept under the rug for too long due to the pressure to produce and prioritize the organization's bottom line. Retreats provide your team the opportunity to resolve issues.

6. Enable you to re-evaluate your goals, objectives, and activities

We spent a lot of time talking about how retreats benefit your team, but you probably need one just as much. When your employees are having a good time engaged in productive recreation, you have time and space to re-evaluate your own values, your personal goals, and the direction the organization should take.

If one or more of these reasons seem compelling enough to you, then planning that retreat should be among your priorities. Let’s cover some retreat ideas and the exact steps you should take.

Creativity is paramount to planning a successful retreat. As you might notice, the idea of retreats is not exactly something new for your people. Many of them have had similar experiences in their previous jobs or even in school. You certainly don't want your people to think it's "the same old thing." It is up to you to spice things up and make it interesting.

Now, you can't expect all your people to jump over the moon with enthusiasm, but at the very least, you need to generate some intrigue. Fortunately, we have strung together some interesting retreat themes with the goal of giving you a bit of inspiration in planning this whole thing.

1. Wellness-inspired Retreat

A growing number of organizations are emphasizing workers' psychological health and general well-being. Companies have realized a healthy staff not only fosters a pleasant work atmosphere but also aids effectiveness and productivity in the workplace. Wellness retreats are for everyone, but they are a popular women’s retreat idea.

Programs that enhance physical health, such as a yoga session or a reiki treatment, might be included in wellness events. You may also select caterers who prepare fresh and organic ingredients, or provide plant-based dishes.

Organizing a fun sporting vacation is one of the best ways to develop collaboration and team-building. For this type of retreat, divide your staff into teams. Encourage friendly rivalry by rewarding the winning team with a fun prize. Competitive sporting events are enjoyed by many, however, they are a common men’s retreat idea.

However, if you need non-exercise choices for your competitive tournaments, try events like karaoke contests, parlor games, and other entertaining activities that don't require you to break a sweat.

3. Leadership-focused Retreat

One of the most popular retreat themes is leadership. An executive business retreat is an excellent approach to developing vital leadership abilities that come in handy in the future.

A business getaway focused on leadership training usually involves a few qualified speakers from industry pioneers, Q&A panels where staff may question sector specialists about their career paths, and networking periods when employees interact with industry leaders.

4. Creative Retreat

Give your team a refreshing change of scenery by organizing an outdoorsy corporate trip with cultural activities to help them rediscover their creative inspiration. Pay a visit to a museum of art or history, where they can marvel at works of art and learn about different artists and trends.

Alternatively, organize a night out and attend a concert, which may be anywhere between a classical play to a full-on rock concert. Painting courses, culinary workshops, musical appreciation seminars, and photography sessions are some more ideas in this theme.

5. Cultural Immersion Retreat

If your firm is relocating to a new headquarters or starting a new branch in a foreign country, organize a culturally immersive weekend for your staff to learn everything there is to know about the new location. Take them on organized city walking or biking tours that include stops at all key sights and attractions. Treat them to a delectable meal, including local specialties and fresh native products.

How to Plan a Retreat

As the famous line goes, "failing to plan is planning to fail'. This certainly holds true in your intent to organize a retreat. There are plenty of details you might overlook, so this is the part that requires your focus.

While some errors may still inevitably happen, planning ahead gives you some headspace to anticipate possible mishaps and shortcomings. A good plan also deters unnecessary anxiety as the day approaches. Give yourself ample time for preparation. Different retreat specialists have varying perspectives on when you should start preparing, a basic guideline to give yourself two to four months to plan a retreat.

Here is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to planning your next retreat.

1. Make a list of objectives for your retreat

If this feels like a no-brainer, that’s because it is. Before anything else, develop a clear sense of what you want to get out of this retreat. Is this a brainstorming session? Is it for employee development? Is it for conflict resolution in your group after a turbulent season? Is it only to revitalize your staff? Determine the why before the how.

2. Decide on a theme

As mentioned above, the creativity of the theme can be the difference between the success or failure of the event. Revisit the list above or consult other resources, then decide on a theme of your retreat. You may also get feedback from the participants to get a feel for what they want.

Pro-tip: Check out our list of event planning resources to help you get started planning a memorable retreat.

3. Start scouting for suitable venues

Start calling places and request pamphlets or other materials on their amenities and rates if you're hosting your retreat at a campsite, resort, hotel, or recreation center. To seek advice on venues, talk to other organizations like yours that have recently conducted retreats.

4. Determine who will be present

Is this a getaway for a specific group of employees or the whole staff? Is this a retreat for the board of directors? Are you planning on involving volunteers? Knowing the retreat's objectives will help you identify who can best serve to achieve those objectives, and this should help you pick who should be there.

5. Determine the length of the retreat

Imagine how long it will take to achieve your retreat goals. Make sure it's long enough to include some enjoyable group events as well as some free time for participants. Is it going to last an afternoon? Is it really three days and two nights or perhaps a whole weekend?

Consider the lifestyles of your participants. Do most of them have kids they can't leave for too long? Are there elderly people in the staff that might not be able to participate in late-night activities?

6. Decide on a retreat date

When choosing a date, make sure it's one the individuals you want to invite will be able to attend. Make absolutely certain your date doesn't fall on a religious holiday, for example. You can decide that a weekend is the best option.

Suppose the majority of the people you want to attend the retreat are unable to go on weekends. In that case, a weekday retreat might be preferable. Keep in mind what's going on in the lives of your possible participants. Are there any upcoming weddings? Are there staff members mourning a loss? Take note that you won't please everyone, so go with the dates that work with the majority.

7. Begin researching potential lecturers or advisors

This is another factor that is dependent on the size and the objectives of your retreat. It's often a brilliant idea to hire someone who isn't affiliated with your company—for instance, if the retreat's goal is to resolve a problem, having an unbiased third-party conflict resolution specialist might be wise.

Great facilitators and well-known speakers are sometimes booked a year or more in advance, so verify his or her availability immediately if you know who you want. There are also event planners out there who are wizards at executing your plans, so look into those, too.

8. Draft an initial budget

It's okay if you don't have it quite figured out to the last cent. A rough notion of the amount you can afford is vital. Make a preliminary budget for site fees, lodging, food, transportation, amusement, lecturer or consultant costs, photocopies, audio-visual devices, and other expenses. Anticipate every possible expense that may arise. Make sure to write these down in a detailed spreadsheet.

Pro-tip: If you need help raising funds for your retreat, consider getting sponsors to help make it affordable. Read our article about how to get sponsors for any event.

9. Delegate organizing responsibilities

Depending on the number of your participants, you may just need a few employees to handle administrative responsibilities. If it's a modest project, one person could be able to manage everything. If it's a large-scale retreat, though, allocate planning responsibilities to a few people or even establish committees.

It's also important not to include too many people in the planning stage, as you want to generate intrigue among the majority of your participants.

10. Decide on the Activities

This might be the most crucial part. All activities should be in harmony with your objectives. Make sure all aspects of the program serve a purpose. Consider what types of things you want to do in advance. Interactive activities are considerably more likely than lectures to foster group morale as well as keep people alert.

Changing things up throughout a session, such as small groups and activities with networking can help keep people engaged. This is also a time you can get ideas from other organizations.

You also need to decide when each of those activities will take place and how long they will last. Make a general timetable, with careful allotments reserved for unforeseen circumstances. Remember to insert breaks and free time for participants as you don't want them to be exhausted from the sheer amount of activities.

11. Make a formal reservation for a location

Choosing an excellent location for your retreat might be the most significant stage in the process. If you can, pay the venue upfront. This makes the plan tangible, and you will be forced to follow through. It will force you to be serious with your schedule and not put it aside when inconveniences arise.

Selling Tickets to Your Retreat

Now that you have a solid plan in place, the next step is to make sure your attendance is rock solid. Understandably, the detailed recommendations and complete strategy we provided in the preceding sections may seem daunting to manage, much alone put into action. This is where we'll step in to help you and ensure that everything happens as planned.

The easiest way to sell tickets online and in-person is with EventSprout. You may or may not be charging for a team event, but you might want to offer to bring family members in for part of the retreat, and you can ticket that part separately and charge a fee. It simplifies event registration, ticket sales, and ticket scanning, allowing you to focus on putting on an incredible event.

With EventSprout, selling tickets online is a breeze. Even though our platform is robust and offers a multitude of customization possibilities, our primary objective is to make event setup quick and straightforward.

You can begin selling tickets online for free in four easy steps.

1. Create Events Quickly

We make it simple to design a customized event page for your event, whether you're planning a large festival or a small charity run. You can even add your company's logo, photographs, color scheme, and other details.

Making an event website with EventSprout Source: EventSprout

2. Get the word out about the event and sell tickets

Sell tickets and promote your event online. Alternatively, you may use the EventSprout mobile app to sell tickets in person, even if you don't have internet access.

EventSprout ticket selling platform Source: EventSprout

3. Get Paid Immediately

Money from each ticket sale is immediately deposited into your account, allowing you to access and spend your ticket earnings as quickly as possible. We don't have any mysterious holding periods, and online ticketing is always free for event organizers.

4. Scan Tickets & Track Attendees

Do you need to keep track of how many people attended your event? You can follow attendance across different devices and entry points with the EventSprout mobile app.

The Bottom Line: How to Plan a Retreat

Regardless of why you're holding a retreat for your business or endeavor, the key is meticulous preparation. Because a retreat is designed to help you take a breather and look at your roles, your team, or your business with fresh eyes, it's critical to do it in a way that doesn't stress you out or deplete your resources. Use these ideas and our step-by-step guide to plan a successful retreat and manage it all with EventSprout’s robust platform.