By Codie Sanchez, International Investment Head, Speaker, Writer, Entrepreneur & Investor. Head of LatAm Investments for First Trust, CEO & Founder CSB LLC.
Remember when business retreats used to mean holing up in a Marriott or going on a corporate outing? I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Those days are over. Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and they aren't satisfied with the status quo of older generations. With fast and affordable travel and a globalized economy, today's workforce is interested in experiences and adventures, not cocktails in the hotel lobby.
If I don't have your attention yet, these facts should help. Unemployment is at 4.1 percent, the lowest it has been in 17 years. Sixty-eight percent of all human resources heads say that talent shortage for full-time positions is one of the biggest challenges they are facing. What does this mean? It means that if you want to attract and keep talent, you need to differentiate yourself. Changing the way your company travels might be just what you need.
Creating New Experiences
A friend of mine told me a story that illustrates this perfectly. On a recent trip to Mexico City, his six-person consulting team shared an Airbnb rental in a trendy part of the city instead of paying for hotel rooms. In the evening, they hung out in the shared space of the high-rise apartment and sampled street food from the markets. Some members of his team extended their stay for the weekend and explored other parts of the country on their own. This unique bonding experience led them to an innovative breakthrough with their client and a pivot in the direction he took his business.
They aren't the only ones. My teams have been known to fly to Mexico, where they take boxing lessons in the evenings and tour our clients' construction sites during the daytime. We even made a trip over to Valle de Bravo for a sailing competition. We may have lost that competition to the point of near embarrassment, but we got to know our clients personally and our team made the kind of memories that families share.
Making Your Company Look Good
What do these trends mean for you and your company? It's time to think outside the box. When you begin planning your next business retreat, mid-year meeting or stakeholder conference, go for something different. For less than you would spend to take your team to a resort in Palm Springs, California, you can share in an international experience while improving employee retention.
In other words, this is an easy way to make your company more attractive and earn bragging rights in your industry. After all, who doesn't want to be known as the company that takes vacations abroad? According to The Boston Consulting Group, companies that don't reach out to millennials today, risk missing the boat as they become the core producers and consumers in our society.
Planning a Company Trip
Planning a company getaway to another country might be intimidating for the decision makers at your firm. That's why I recommend using one of the many travel-planning services that have popped up recently. Remember to price check and make sure the company you choose offers the type of experience you are looking for.
One of my favorites tools for planning is Mezi. Think of it as a free, personal-travel virtual assistant. They take trips from a twinkle in my perpetually wanderlust-inclined eye to reality by booking everything from outings, restaurants, hotels and flights -- and ensure my team gets the best deals. And a couple services that I've researched and would like to try myself include Digital Outposts, which specializes in "workcations" from two weeks to two months long, and Surf Office -- a beachfront workspace that can accommodate up to 80 people.
As for where to go, I prefer Latin America. You can find everything you need for a successful corporate outing at a great price. If you're looking for an authentic cultural experience, you can't beat it for its exotic food, fantastic music and friendly locals.
In the end, hosting your company retreat is about innovating your company's culture. When you get back to the office after a well-planned trip, expect to see better communication, increased efficiency and lower employee turnover.
Still not convinced? I'll leave you with this. In my experience, people who travel and seek out new adventures are more innovative. And, often, when innovation grows among your employees, so does your bottom line. So it's not a question of, "Can I afford to take my team overseas?" It's a question of, "Can I afford not to?"
Codie Sanchez is an International Investment Head, Speaker, Writer, Entrepreneur & Investor. Head of LatAm Investments for First Trust, CEO & Founder CSB LLC.