Incentive travel and team building, like cheese and wine, work perfectly well on their own, but they can be sensational together, if matched correctly. Like wine and cheese tasting, this kind of corporate events are meant to be pleasurable, but they also require skills and knowledge and, holding on to the gastronomic metaphor for one more sentence, getting them wrong will give you a serious headache. Our recent experience tells us that fewer and fewer companies are choosing one of this activities without the other. After all, if you are going to get your employees to work on their leadership skills, you might as well do it in a spectacular location, and if you are going to treat them to an exotic trip, you might as well take the opportunity to strengthen the bonds between members of a team. You never know: they might go on to achieve results even more outstanding than those which prompted you to offer them travel incentives in the first place. Our client Bankasa knows that, as they organise a yearly convention that serves two important purposes: it rewards extraordinary performance with luxury trips and it provides a perfect chance for team building activities. In July, we took a team of 50 people to Lake Garda, for a weekend of relax, light-hearted fun and some intense team building. Sure, we work hard and we play hard, but we relax harder.
The cool summer of Lake Garda
Having long-term clients is both a privilege and a challenge. It is a privilege because it is a testimony of a client’s trust and because it allows us to grow professionally, to build on former projects and to experiment with new solutions. It is a challenge because we have to keep our contacts and our location portfolio always fresh and up to date, in order to be able to offer a different experience to the same client, every year. Our latest summer projects with Bankasa took us to Spain and Sardinia, in sunny seaside villages that witnessed our teams rowing, mountain-biking, swimming and partying wildly on the beach. This year we decided to try something different, choosing one of the few locations in Italy that are not stiflingly hot in the summer. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and the surrounding area is blessed with a cool summer weather, with hills to the south and mountains to the north sheltering it from both the bitter cold of the alpine winter and the scorching heat of the Italian summer. The scenery is a shining dream of deep greens and light blues, the local flora and fauna resembling more the mediterranean environment of the southern regions than the mitteleuropean feel of the north-east. The nearby cities and villages offer countless opportunities for cultural excursions and nature trails, as well as an exciting nightlife.
In the lap of luxury: what incentive travel is really about
When the time set for a project is limited, smart scheduling is of the essence. While incentive travel and team building work wonders when managed correctly, they seldom turn out good results if the activities are crammed into the same time-slot with no clear distinction between the two. A relaxing morning at a spa should not be marred by the thought that we are expected to go hiking in two hours. In the same way, the prospect of an afternoon of shopping and poolside drinks might take the edge off our commitment to a morning’s team building exercise. On this occasion, we decided to set off the proceedings by reminding our guests that this was first and foremost a reward for their excellent work. The accommodation we chose created the perfect mood for that: nothing says “well done” like checking in into a four star hotel and being treated like royalty for the rest of the day. Next on our schedule was a full day at the spa, followed by a poolside aperitivo during which awards were assigned to those who had achieved the best results over the former trimester. Part of our group was relaxed, mellow and in the mood for a good night’s sleep after that and did not take advantage of the next item on our packed R&R schedule. Those who did, spent the best part of the night at the Coco Beach, one of the most exclusive lakeside discos in the area.
Don’t look down. Team building by the lake
Staying up all night dancing and being up for a mountain-bike treasure hunt on the next day is no picnic. Unless by “picnic” you mean having lunch in a vineyard, in the cool shade of the vines, in which case a picnic is exactly what it is. The treasure hunt was first on our schedule for day two. If you have been following our blog for a while, you might already know that we are passionate about treasure hunts and we love finding new way of making this favourite among our childhood games into a fun and interesting activity for grownups. The mountain bike element was the special touch of this particular project. We already knew from previous projects that our team members were passionate about sports and outdoor activities and that they liked a challenge. Each clue required a task to be completed. When designing each exercise, we focused on tasks that required creative thinking (such as building certain objects our of legos or playing our own-brand version of scrabble) and adaptability in our team members, such as retrieving apples from a bucket full of water with their hands tied behind their back. The most exciting experience of the day by far was the zipline, which is halfway between a game and a sport, not unlike bungee jumping or tibetan bridge crossing, and just as unsuitable for the faint-hearted. The hilly area on the Trentino-Alto-Adige side of the lake is ideally suited for this particular activity. All of our team members had a terrific time, although, had we catered for a group whose members were even slightly afraid of heights, we might have chosen something closer to the ground for our grand finale. As it happened, all were quite happy to fly over a valley strapped to a pulley, sliding down a steel tope suspended between two hills. Ok, technically that was not the grand finale. The real grand finale happened after dinner, when we got to spend a proper wild night of clubbing at the nearby Hollywood disco in Bardolino. It’s much easier to party like there’s no tomorrow, if the only thing you have planned for the following day is a session of hard-core lounging on the beautiful lake beach before heading home in the evening.