Incentive travel or team building? Comfort o exotic charm? You will not be too surprised to learn that the answer might well be “both”. When we think of exotic destinations, luxury and adventure, the scenarios we picture are likely to be taken from shows or movies. They might feature palms and beaches, urban landscapes and thrilling chases on expensive cars or, for lovers of certain timeless classics, Sean Connery emerging from the sea and slipping gracefully out of a scuba suit as he reveals a spotless tuxedo underneath. Sometimes, on the other hand, glamour might be literally round the corner and be perfectly obvious to an external observer, while we might not be aware of it. Rome, to us, is a perfect example of one such destination. Seldom qualifying as an “exotic” destination for Italian travellers, it is enormously popular among tourists from all over the world. Over the last few decades, Rome has inspired hundreds of filmmakers and provided the perfect setting for a number of masterpieces of cinematic history, thus adding to the city’s charm and peerless heritage. Among the latest movies that have been shot in Rome, we focused on Spectre – the twenty-fourth instalment of the James Bond franchise – as the theme for a recent team-building project with our colleagues from Suebo, for an international client.
Our mission: James Bond in Rome
The original idea came from the client, that had in fact sponsored the movie itself. The project was meant as an incentive travel reward for outstanding results among the salesforce. Suebo asked us to design a project that combined the gratification of incentive travel and the benefits of team-building. Rome proved to be an ideal choice in that respect. The sheer beauty of the city and the prestigious locations we selected made for a perfect setting to a memorable experience. The Rome that our client experienced was not the one featured in classic movies from the 50s and the 60s. There was no Fellini-vibe nor the light-hearted brilliance of Audrey Hepburn on a vespa about it. What we offered to our client was the dark, mysterious, thrilling city along whose river Daniel Craig launched in a wild car-chase. Out “special mission” therefore consisted in recreating, in the space of a weekend, both the atmosphere of an international thriller and that of a well-deserved break from day-to-day routine. After all, James Bond himself is known as much for his cleverness and courage as for his appreciation of the good things in life.
1. Incentive travel: pleasure before business
Where incentive travel is concerned, details are paramount. Where would James Bond choose to stay, when he is not being held captive in a warehouse by a super-villain or saving someone from a shark tank? Surely he can be found in the best hotels, enjoying his Martini cocktail. We therefore started planning this weekend by selecting top-of-the-range accommodation for our teams at the Art Hotel in via Margutta. This celebrated street, looking directly towards the Spanish Steps, is famous for hosting art galleries and workshops and it is conveniently located only a short walk away from some of Rome’s most popular landmarks. The luxury theme was maintained throughout the evening, which was spent at the HiRes, one of the most exclusive clubs in Rome, with a magnificent terrace overlooking Villa Borghese. There’s no compromising on the quality of an incentive travel experience. This is supposed to be a reward, granted to those who have done exceptional work and it should reflect the singularity of the occasion in every detail. That’s why budget management is of the essence and it should be scrupulously thought through, with the help of qualified professionals with detailed knowledge of the territory and the local players. Picking a far-away and exotic destination might impact transportation costs dramatically, thus reducing the budget and forcing the project manager to look for cheap accommodation, thereby defying the whole point of incentive travel.
2. Discovering Rome
On the second day of our projects, team-members were allowed to explore the city at their leisure. This was still part of the incentive-travel side of the whole exercise, whereas the team-building part was scheduled for the following day. After devoting a whole morning to shopping – which is sort of inevitable when staying in one of the most popular fashion-districts in the world – we arranged for a special guided tour. We hired professional Italian- and German-speaking guides to lead our client’s employees on a walking tour of the City. The tour took in relevant landmarks – it is simply impossible to walk around Rome for five minutes and not come across world-renowned historical sights – but it focused on an unusual theme. We decided to visit those corners of the city that have been used as locations for outdoors scenes in Spectre. In the context of our project, we needed every activity to revolve around the main theme, in order for the atmosphere to be consistent throughout the whole experience. Having said that, this was Rome after all and there were a few classics we couldn’t possibly miss, such as dinner in Trastevere. We are, however, fairly sure that Daniel Craig too must have indulged in the pleasures of the local cuisine during his stay in the Capital.
3. Team building: the name is Bond. James Bond.
On the third day, we focused on the team-building activity that was the core of the whole project. We opted for a treasure-hunt, which proved to be an excellent idea. This particular “format” is incredibly versatile, enjoyable and effective when it comes to fostering team-spirit and stimulating creative thinking. The day’s missions were naturally designed to fit the main theme. In planning tasks for our guests, we selected activities that required interaction, teamwork and creativity, such as producing a small trailer for the movie. Sharing a joint creative effort in an unfamiliar environment and with limited means forced team members to ponder carefully before investing time and resources in a new task, be it a complex one or just a nominal one, such as ordering Agent 007’s favourite Martini cocktail (shaken, not stirred). An appropriately spectacular end to the day’s exertions was provided by dinner at Art Café, on the majestic terrace overlooking the Colusseum.
4. In conclusion
The key factors in a successful team-building project are creativity and the ability to offer the right stimuli to those taking part in the event. This is best done with the help of experienced professionals. As we proved with our incentive-travel to Milan, a familiar destination can be just as exciting as an exotic one, provided that we can look at it with new eyes. When offering your team an experience as immersive as our James Bond project, you should strive for every detail to be perfect, as the tiniest incongruity can spoil the atmosphere of the whole project. In order to do so, particularly over a large and complex geographical area, you will need the right team, the right connections and a thorough understanding of the local territory. In order to achieve outstanding results, we teamed up with Suebo and Rome Walks (you can read more about them here), in order to offer the best possible experience to out client.