Group of people at an art studio looking at paintings on a table.
From team size to accommodations, there are several things to consider when creating and planning a company retreat budget. — Getty Images/Maskot

Company retreats can be a major expense, but are often worth the investment for the team productivity and cultural benefits. Solid financial planning can help a business of any size host an enjoyable, engaging experience while ensuring that retreat spending doesn’t go overboard.

What should my company's retreat budget be?

Before deciding on a budget, consider what your company can realistically afford. Don’t stretch your business so thin that any over-expenditure would place it in jeopardy.

From there, consider your team’s retreat preferences, then allocate portions of the budget to spend on each. For example, you may dedicate 35% of the budget to the venue, 25% to food and beverages, 25% to team-building activities, and 15% to miscellaneous expenses, including team swag and transportation costs.

If you don’t know where to start, stick to the “quarter rule” — devote 25% of your budget to each of the following four main parts: accommodation, flight and transportation, food and beverage, and activities.

[Read more: How to Plan a Productive—and Enjoyable—Company Retreat]

If you don’t know where to start, stick to the “quarter rule” — devote 25% of your budget to each of the following four main parts: accommodation, flight and transportation, food and beverage, and activities.

How to optimize your company retreat spending

Consider team size

The number of people who attend your retreat will affect the bottom line and can mean the difference between holding one large retreat or breaking it down by department. The larger your team, the more you’ll need to set aside in your retreat budget.

Choose an accessible location

Make sure the retreat location is accessible to the majority of your team members. Metropolitan areas, for example, will have accessible transportation and more activity options. However, there may be increased distractions for your team, and city lodging could cost more in the long run. On the other hand, rural cabins and chalets may offer more seclusion, but they often require longer travel times and can incur high transportation costs.

Find accommodations with fun built-in

Booking a location with built-in activities enables your team to do things together (besides sitting and talking) while spending little extra money. Find a hotel or venue with restaurants, a pool, mini golf, a rooftop bar, a game room, etc. Alternatively, search for a lodging rental with an outdoor pool, fire pit, or games to engage your team at no additional expense.

Encourage coworkers to carpool

Employees who live close to each other — or who can coordinate their travel — may benefit from carpooling. This way, the business isn’t paying for each employee’s travel fare if two or more are in a single car.

Make your meals

Especially for smaller teams, buying groceries and cooking meals together will not only save money, but it will also create space for team bonding. Additionally, consider hosting a potluck dinner on the first night so arriving employees can bring dishes from home to share with the group.

Let team-building activities double as favors

If you don’t have a big budget for swag bags, opt to plan one or two craft-based activities so employees can bring home something to remember the trip by. Examples include painting, candle-making, or designing a T-shirt.

[Read more: Inventory Management Challenges and Tips for Small Businesses]

Find ways to leverage the retreat for business

Consider specific ways the retreat can propel your business forward. For example, hire a professional to take team headshots and group photos while your employees are in the same space. Additionally, an in-person brainstorming session may prove more productive than the typical virtual meeting or jumbled instant message threads.

Plan activities wisely

Choose activities that don’t have high associated costs. Trivia, field day activities, cooking classes, video game/board game tournaments, escape rooms, mini golf, beach days, and yoga classes are all low or no-cost options to consider

Hunt for deals on accommodations, food, and activities

If your team is a larger group, deals on hotel rooms, tickets, or catering may lower the overall cost of your retreat plans. Don’t be shy to ask vendors for “bulk” or “wholesale” discounts to find the best deal.

Travel during off-seasons

According to TravelPerk, the off-season months best for company retreat travel include April, May, September, and October. However, be mindful of any holidays or special events that will take place in your chosen city or location when planning.

[Read More: 8 Employee Expense Tools to Make Your Business More Efficient]

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Published December 14, 2022