Corporate retreats: the return of the overnight away day

Following the global financial crash of 2008, many businesses cut down on spending – not just because budgets had shrunk, but because splashing the cash was no longer good PR. Nearly 10 years on, the corporate retreat is making a comeback. EventFULL explores why overnight away days are now back in vogue...
Corporate retreats: four people in a forest setting on a bench looking at a map
Center Parcs Longleat Forest

In 2008, days after US multinational insurance business AIG had been bailed out by the country’s Federal Reserve by $85bn (£68bn), one of the company’s subsidiaries spent nearly half a million dollars on a luxury corporate retreat. When the news leaked, the result was a monumental PR disaster, which saw AIG denounced across the press. The trend for luxury spending was over –and as the financial crisis swept the globe, UK companies cut budgets, like their US counterparts, and braced themselves for several years of austerity.

Nearly a decade on, and corporate retreats, it seems, are back in vogue. But what has prompted
their return?

“Companies are booking corporate retreats as they become more aware of the health and wellbeing needs of their staff,” explains Daniel Elliott, National Account Manager at Center Parcs.

“Whether it’s a need to reward them for their contributions, celebrate success, motivate teams or encourage team bonding, corporate retreats are one of the best ways to do this.”

Team building outdoors, Elliott adds, releases endorphins, which is linked to increased attention
and motivation. “Endorphins help combat the negative effects of stress that can be particularly detrimental to our wellbeing,” he adds.

Clevedon Hall, in north Somerset, has also seen a notable increase in corporate bookings in the last few years. John McCarthy, the venue’s Sales and Marketing Director, says the rise in popularity follows the UK’s recovery from the recession.

“Our customers tell us there has been a higher demand for activities to invigorate the internal team,” he explains. “[Corporate retreats] allow workers to get away from the day-to-day disruptions that exist in a normal office environment. Removing that hustle and bustle can be hugely beneficial in helping employees to engage with one another in a different way.”

But what are the benefits? According to Elliott, corporate retreats play a significant role in “mentally readying” employees for work. “Corporate retreats provide the perfect opportunity for staff to enjoy some time together as a team, away from the working environment and the stresses and strains of everyday life,” he adds.

McCarthy agrees. “An overnight retreat allows guests to be fully enveloped in the experience. While the extra hours ensure that all work-focused subject matter can be covered, an evening spent together as a business is a valuable opportunity for relaxed bonding time, which is vital for success.”

Corporate retreats
Clevedon Hall

4 tips for planning corporate retreat

  1. Prioritise a quality environment when selecting a destination
  2. Contact the venue and ask to be shown around – it’ll mean you get a better feel for the space and know whether it is suitable
  3. Identify the objectives behind the corporate retreat – and communicate this to the team to ensure the event is designed to meet those objectives
  4. Consider the demographic of your guests when it comes to choosing team-building or leisure activities – provide staff with a choice of activities so there is something for everyone

For more information on Clevedon Hall or Center Parcs Longleat Forest, visit
Clevedonhall Centerparcsevents

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