Organising the best team building event ever

Organising the best team building event ever

Organising team building events seems to be one task that most assistants are asked to manage, which is not much of a surprise considering we are pretty awesome at organising events! However, team building is actually pretty tricky. There are many elements to consider. Think about it. Firstly, you have to know exactly why your team needs building – getting objectives for any event can be really difficult. A lot of managers will be given a budget for team building because that is what organisations do, but they have not thought through the areas that are causing concern within the team and how an event can help rectify those issues. Next, you have to know what the budget is. Again – not easy.  Once you have an idea of how much you can spend you actually have to organise the event and that includes venue, activities, which members of staff are invited, catering, how to incorporate fun, overnight accommodation, transport and literally everything in between. So, how can you go about organising the best team building event ever? Here is how you get started!

Organising the best team building event ever is not easy!

But, it is possible. It just takes a lot of planning. As I’ve always said organising events is a full time job and PAs are often asked to organise something while also managing all of their other day to day tasks. So, it is important when organising a team building event you get some help from the professionals. In today’s blog post I’ve pulled together a great list of resources that will help you organise the best team building event ever.

Return on investment 

  1. Ask your team what they want to do. In this article from Plan Your Meetings, they suggest that you conduct a survey prior to the event so that you get a clear idea of what the team want to achieve through the team building event. The post also makes a good point about documenting the day – some people will just see this as a day off so if you ask everyone to write a brief summary about the outcomes from the day this will ensure they take things a little more seriously and will help justify the cost. ROI people!
  2. Bizbash have a great article on how you can extend your team building activities through collaboration and communication. You know that fuzzy feeling you get after a team building event? Well, these tips ensure peeps bring it back to the office.

Team building activities 

Okay, here is the fun stuff. This is a list of brilliant fun ideas for team building activities.

Some general tips on great team building events

Venues 

Here are 5 questions to ask when contacting a venue about a team building event

  1. Has the venue regularly held team building events? Team building events have many elements and the venue needs to know what it is doing to ensure they are a success.
  2. Is there enough space to hold everything and everyone? A lot of team building venues are situated outside of cities, so there is more space to host all of the different activities including private dining, outdoor pursuits, training and meetings.
  3. Are there other guests or does your group have the entire venue? Again, this can make a difference when you book the venue. Do you want total privacy or are you happy to use the space with other teams?
  4. Is overnight accommodation needed and is it provided by the venue? If you expect your team to be together into the evening you might want to think about overnight accommodation and it certainly makes it easier if they are in the same place.
  5. What are the hidden extras? I’m sure your team building venue can and will say they can pull all of your requirements together, but it is always worth checking if this is included in the price or extra. If you agree to all of their suggestions just make sure you have the budget for it.

Organising the best team building event ever is a lot of work, but it is a great way for you to show off some of your awesome skills. It is a really visible task and, in my experience, one that can lead to a whole new level of appreciation from colleagues and other members of staff.

Seven tips: What to look for in an event supplier

Seven tips: What to look for in an event supplier

Recently, the OpenMeet team had the pleasure of participating in the annual Practically Perfect PA Assist Conference 2017, where we ran a few workshops. The discussions amongst our workshop participants were so interesting that we decided it would be a shame to restrict the knowledge we gained for the people in the room!

Instead, we are going to share what we learned over the next few OpenMeet blogs, so stay tuned!

We used a combination of iPads and Post-it notes to ask our workshop attendees questions about what makes an event supplier great, and what makes them not-so-great…

What does a good event supplier do?

  • Excellent communication skills, keep in touch with their clients
  • Upfront about service costs, no hidden fees
  • Client-focused service, listen to client needs
  • Professional, fulfils agreed expectations

What is frustrating from an event supplier?

  • Lack of appreciation for the client relationship, e.g. Not understanding the client’s needs, or not rewarding repeat business
  • Issues with deadline management, e.g. Meeting deadlines or having unclear invoice deadlines
  • Poor service, being unreliable and not communicating

Event supplier ‘Red Lines’ – things to avoid!

  • Asking for the full payment before providing their services
  • The supplier can’t prove previous successful services
  • The supplier won’t accept feedback

In summary, our 7 key tips for choosing a great event supplier are to make sure that your supplier:

  1. Has strong communication skills, keeps in regular contact with their clients and provides prompt updates
  2. Is upfront about what their services cost
  3. Will respond to your needs and provide solutions
  4. Will meet deadlines
  5. Can demonstrate their past successful services (for instance, they can refer you to other clients)
  6. Does not demand full payment up front (a deposit is reasonable)
  7. Accepts feedback, including criticism. Bonus points if they display this feedback somewhere prominent for prospective clients to read!

In terms of ensuring that you are choosing a supplier who will do these things, a certain amount can be determined by internet research and by preliminary meetings with the supplier. However, sometimes nothing is better than experience and word-of-mouth, so take advantage of PA networks as much as possible!

Our next few blogs will be based on the insightful information we gathered from our workshop participants at the Assist Conference, covering topics such as how to ensure career development is central to the PA role, and how to ensure organisations value the work PAs do.

For more information on OpenMeet technology, please contact us here, or visit our blog to read more tips and advice about how to improve audience engagement at your meetings and events.

8 Easy Contract Changes to Make for More Sustainable Events

8 Easy Contract Changes to Make for More Sustainable Events

It is our responsibility to make the changes we can to be more sustainable but naturally we cannot all chain ourselves to an oil rig and declare to stop flying places. We can however use the events industry to make small but significant changes. We can review our venue contracts and make conscious decisions to ask the questions about waste and sustainable resources.

Here are 5 easy changes that can be made today.

1. Food wastage

Think of the amount of food waste during any one event. Whether it is a corporate dinner, a lunch buffet or a mass participation sporting event.

Catering is greatly wasted and not only is it environmentally really bad it is ethically heartbreaking.

Ensure your venue has special measures in place for its food waste. Healthy and safety laws make it much more difficult now with food leaving premises but with the right disclaimers and pre planning you can have local food kitchens collect the unused food or at the very least packaged up for crew to take home.

2. Buy local

Wherever you are planning your event ask your venue to ensure they buy local food and drink product and wherever possible use local suppliers. We are able to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by reducing our import levels and more importantly we are supporting our local workers. This notion is true of whatever city you are in.
If you are buying wine in France, buy French wine.

3. Recycle

I’m not saying you have to go paperless. Sometimes we just need things written down and all we really want is an agenda on a piece of paper! But make sure the venue has suitable recycling facilities available and put confidential recycling bins all around your event.

It is not the use of paper that causes the problems, it is the lack of correct disposal facilities meaning paper goes into the regular bin, then to the regular dump and then into good old regular landfill.

4. Reduce washing

Ask your venue what its policy is on towel and bedding washing. Then also explain to your delegates that this is the case. Most people know that a towel in the bath means wash me, but if people thought about the frivolous waste of detergents and water that washing towels and bedding once a day creates they might think twice. After all, do you wash your towels every day at home? Unlikely.

5. Utilise Students

Developing our future event professionals is key to ethical sustainability. Ask your venue what their policy is on work experience and graduates and if they don’t have something in place bring in your own! The University of Greenwich run a great placement programme for corporates and agencies looking for interns and event students. They may also be your most enthusiastic and dynamic employees and are perfect for registration and hospitality support.

6. Arrange arrival and departure transfers

Commuting accounts for a third of all car travel and events are a great opportunity to reduce that. Make sure you have provided in advance adequate group transport instructions and also utilise coaches to reduce individual cars. Organise arrival transfers from the station, from the office, from a convenient location. Just don’t leave it up to all attendees to “hop in a taxi.” It affects both carbon emissions and the amount of expense receipts coming through!

7. Save energy

Have your venue put in writing that they will turn off all lights and air conditioning when meeting spaces are not in use and make sure they stick to it. Have your event manager walk around the venue an hour after the meeting and turn off all switches and electricity outputs. If you are at an offsite dinner you do not need the air conditioning on in your meeting room!

8. Communicate

Let your delegates know that you are making these changes. Do not just call your event “green” and hope that does the job. It is not enough and it will not resonate with people. Outline the exact changes you have made and what they can do. It also reduces resistance if they are prepared in advance that towels are not being washed daily!

Sustainability is not just about being “paperless” but it is easier than you think to bring sustainable measures into your programme. No event manager really wants to see food go to waste when someone is in need and every successful event professional was given their break by someone, so pay it forward and get event students on board!

Chances are your venue and suppliers are willing to make all these changes, they just need to be asked the right questions!

Hannah Luffman
@hannahluffman

Hannah very kindly spoke at Assist Travel which took place in London on 9th September.

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Finding a space for private dining events is a pretty common task given to assistants these days. We are asked pretty regularly to find something different, quiet or impressive. Usually at the drop of a hat and when our organisations have really important clients in town. Private dining spaces are popular and can be booked up month’s in advance so it is always worthwhile having a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to finding the perfect private dining venue. Here are a few tips…

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