Is it possible to plan a corporate retreat that helps develop a more cultural, sustainable and creative M.I.C.E. industry while guaranteeing well-being and fun for participants? Yes, it is!
At Italian Special Occasions DMC & Events (ISO DMC), we are happy to share some of our tried-and-tested formulas for doing just that. We will use the practical example of a recent workation we organised. It was a very successful corporate retreat, mixing work and leisure with elements of local culture, history and environmental protection!
The corporate retreat venue near Rome, yet off the beaten path
Our Client for this workation was the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Rome was the arrival point for the international delegates, and we proposed the Tuscia Laziale as a beautiful and little-known destination for the event, just one hour from the Italian capital. OGP did not know the place but was charmed by our idea, acknowledging that being in the middle of nature and surrounded by history would inspire the participants.
Terme di Stigliano was the venue we chose for the workation, a historical building surrounded by a 20-hectare thermal park. The ancient Etruscans and Romans already used these hot springs. Roman soldiers would stop here to rest and purify themselves when returning from military campaigns. The park also hosts the ruins of a temple dedicated to Apollo, the god of healing.
The OGP delegates spent most of their day working and really enjoyed the outdoor spaces for their brainstorming sessions! From the beginning, it was clear that this was the perfect venue to work with focus and inspiration and relax after the intensive meetings and long work hours.
The team building and workation activities
One of the team-building activities we organised involved food, environment and culture.
Our environmental guide prepared an entertaining presentation for all the participants to learn about the Tuscia territory, from its location to curious facts about its soil, history, weather and plants. This information was all linked to the ingredients the OGP participants would use during the challenge: preparing a classic Italian aperitivo and a cocktail!
The delegates were split into two groups, each dedicated to preparing the aperitif and the drink. It was a fun and surprising activity, an absolute success! The participants were amazed by the history of this Italian custom and the way Italians are attentive in preparing food and selecting ingredients. They were also inspired by our guide, who is part of the Tree Nation reforestation and conservation projects. Thanks to this collaboration with our selected supplier, a tree was planted for the reforestation of woodlands in France!
Another activity that was very popular during the free time, especially at the end of meetings, was to go for a walk in nature on a nearby hiking trail, reachable on foot without the need for any polluting means of transport. This was great for the participants’ well-being and the local ecosystem!
5 key takeaways for an innovative and sustainable company retreat
- Combine work with activities centred on the delegates’ well-being, protecting the environment and educating about historical and cultural heritage.
- Organise the retreat in an unknown place where the local community benefits from hosting small groups, and there is no negative pressure on the ecosystem. Of course, be transparent with the Client: highlight the positive aspects of the proposed location but also explain its limits, such as the lack of infrastructure of a city.
- Since the workation involves focusing on meetings and work but also leisure time, choose locations with a mix of nature and history to inspire, entertain and educate the participants.
- Selecting partners, venues and suppliers who also embrace sustainability is paramount to the commitment to being genuinely green and avoiding greenwash.
- Fulfilling the abovementioned four points requires a HUGE amount of work on the event planner’s side. We at ISO DMC travelled extensively to inspect sites, understand the logistics, and manage the destination without spoiling it while educating the Client and the local community.
Plan a workation to flip the script in the M.I.C.E sector
A corporate retreat organised as a workation with the ISO DMC strategy is a compelling way to reduce emissions and food waste while creating a positive chain within the events sector.
Small groups visiting places off the beaten path can discover surprising activities and ways of life that will positively impact their careers and private lifestyle back home. Just to mention another example that amazed another Client of ours: apple picking in Abruzzo! Participants got to hand-pick organic apples in the Giovenco Valley within the Abruzzo National Park, understanding the process and value of sustainable cultivation.
Choosing places and activities like these for corporate events helps small local businesses keep going and create a chain to change the way of organising events and enjoying life. Small groups also produce less food waste and carbon emissions, which can be further reduced by choosing the right suppliers and means of transport.
In the OGP workation, we are very proud of the collaboration between our Client, the venue and our DMC to reduce the use of plastic. We distributed our branded reusable water bottles to all participants. At the same time, the hotel made a water dispenser available, so there was no need to use plastic bottles throughout the event. We estimated that in three days, we avoided using about 360 plastic bottles per day! And what’s more, is that the proceeds from our reusable bottles help fund educational activities in Kenya.
And finally, we were incredibly proud of the feedback received from the Client: “Thank you for all your help; it has been amazing; huge thank you again for all your hard work this week”. The CEO congratulated us for the “divine organisation” and the “magical moments” we created.
If you want to know how to start your journey to reduce carbon emissions, we suggest signing up for the Race to Zero Accelerator Programme.