Making Recreation Work For Your Event: Recreation, particularly of the outdoors variety, continues as a growing trend for team building and peer bonding at meetings and conferences. Recreation can offer an advantageous backdrop to meetings and events, but it must be approached strategically. From golf to kayak excursions to zip line adventures to guided nature hikes, consider these three essentials from industry professionals as best practice considerations from the trenches:
- 1. LEVERAGE THE EXPERTS
Most full-service properties and meeting destinations offer some level of recreation consulting, whether it’s a concierge service or full-service recreation department. Heath Carter, Regional VP of Sales and Marketing for Coral Hospitality, suggested that groups that reach out to these professionals as a first step will save a lot of time and effort.
“That’s why we’re here. We are the experts and are able to come up with those creative ideas,” Carter said. “Each of our properties has somebody specifically dedicated to team building and planning your adventure while you are there. They will work to understand what you are trying to accomplish and pair you up with the right activity and cost.”
Based in Naples, Fla., Coral Hospitality currently manages six state park properties throughout Georgia, including Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club, Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge, George T. Bagby State Park, Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa, Unicoi State Park and Lodge, and Amicalola State Park and Lodge. According to Carter, each of the properties offers a host of recreation opportuni- ties as well as meeting facilities and guest rooms that can appeal to a variety of groups.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR PARTICIPANTS
Kevin Hellmich, vice president of sales for PCH Resorts, pointed out that knowing your attendees and planning recreation accordingly is critical to success. This means understanding their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities to choose suitable activities. Once a decision is made, attendees should be given advance notice of what to expect and the attire that will be needed.
Responding to expectations for more unique recreation offerings, his organization has put a different twist on golf. Included are night golf with glow-in-the-dark golf balls and food stations, along with FootGolf — a new and growing combination of soccer and traditional golf.
Other unique recreation offerings are team boat building, in which final designs are “sea tested” in Mobile Bay, and historic scavenger hunts across the grounds of Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Alabama.
3. CHOOSE ACTIVITIES TO ACCOMPLISH GOALS
Especially with team building activities, Eric Kuester, director of group sales with Pinehurst Resort, suggested that groups choose activities that will make people work together and use a lot of different skills and strengths. For instance, combining mental and physical exercises can force disparate types of personalities to work together.
While championship golf is central to the Pinehurst experience, Kuester noted that the resort has established a full program outside of traditional recreation opportunities with many things “uniquely Pinehurst.” For instance, the Pinehurst Triathlon includes a putting challenge, tennis skill challenge and trivia challenge, and has proven to be a solid option for team building because it’s interactive, intergenerational and not overly strenuous.