Although how to plan a group retreat may at first seem like a daunting task, in reality, with the proper organizational skills, you can succeed.
How to Plan a Group Retreat with Success
If you pay attention to detail, define the purpose, get the input of others, and allow for plenty of time in advance, you will be able to plan a successful group retreat. Follow these tips for a retreat that will meet the needs of your entire group.
Form a Committee
The first item to plan for is the retreat committee. If you can have at least two people who are able to meet either in person or by phone over the course of the planning time, this will ensure for a well-thought out and organized retreat.
Be sure to get the ball rolling well in advance. Planning at least four to six months before the retreat date is vital if you need to book hotels, air travel, or conference rooms. Early planning is critical to being able to hold the retreat where you want it to be. Assign jobs to each other. Touch base often. A week before the retreat make sure to clarify what is still left to be done.
One of the key details is the budget. How much do you intend to spend? If you are part of an organization that has budgeted money toward a retreat, decide how much is allowed per person. If each member of the group must pay part of or all of his or her own way, you will want to get everyone's feedback on the amount each is willing to spend for the group retreat. How much money you have will be a key factor in determining where the location of the group retreat is to be held.
The Length of the Retreat
If you are able to meet in a scenic location and the retreat covers a couple of days, there are many places ready to help with your group retreat needs. If the retreat covers only one day, a nice conference room at a nearby hotel can suffice. Some cities and towns have retreat centers run by churches or civic organizations. Check to see if your city has a center to host your group retreat.
Goals to Be Accomplished
Define what the purpose of this retreat is. It can be any of the following, and hopefully a combination of at least two or three.
- Goal building within the organization
- Relaxation and fun
- Team building
- Problem solving
Lodging and Meals
Once again, if the retreat is a one-day event, there will be no need for hotel accommodations. However, food is always a highlight of any gathering and you will need to determine how much will be spent on it. Will you need a caterer or will the hotel or resort prepare the food and serve it? As you choose the menu for the meal or meals your group will be eating, make sure to inquire about vegetarian choices especially if there are vegetarians in your group.
As you look at what the goals of the retreat are, determine what needs to be scheduled during your time together. Decide whether to have a guest speaker. A good rule is to choose at least two preferred speakers in case your first choice is unable to attend. Ask the speaker at least four months in advance. Will you have workshops? There may be a time for team-building exercises. If the retreat is over a two-day period, plan for some downtime. Free time to sightsee is especially important if your retreat is held in a vicinity far away from your organization's office. If you've decided to go to a retreat center out of state, be sure to allow time to see some of the attractions.
A Great Planned Retreat
Last, but not least, create an evaluation sheet so that each participant has the opportunity to share his/her opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the retreat. The feedback you receive from this evaluation will be valuable and save you time in planning your next group retreat.
Hopefully, these guidelines on how to plan a group retreat will help you and your committee experience a smooth path for a great retreat.