Archive for the ‘Company Adventures’ Category
One of Kidbilly Music’s team-building sessions, courtesy of kidbillymusic.com.
Whether coming up with ways to spruce up a dull room’s decor or figuring out how to stay under budget, meeting planners need to think creatively to be successful. Of course, it’s easy to get bogged down in the daily details of any job, so how does one keep that creative spirit strong and active? There are lots of suggestions to help planners stay positive in this month’s Smart Meetings cover story, but Billy Kirsch of team-building company Kidbilly Music has one more: Try writing a song about it.
North America’s first ice hotel, Hotel de Glace, is located 10 minutes outside of central Quebec City in Eastern Canada. Due to weather conditions, it is only open Jan. 6–Mar. 24, 2013. So, make reservations today. Whatever happens, it’s bound to be memorable.
Guest rooms range from the original rustic igloo-feel to lavish suites with themes that depict hockey scenes or jazz musicians, and some are outfitted with fireplaces, dramatic lighting and in-room spas.
Yacht cruises are fun with a group almost any way you view it. It allows guests to mingle and network in a relaxed setting with plenty to see and do to break the conversation ice. For well-acquainted groups, it’s a chance to relax in a new atmosphere. The food is often tasty, so munching and sipping out on a bay from Boston to San Francisco and San Diego to ports in Florida is often the perfect event solution. In some cases, groups can share part of scheduled cruise (often saving money) or charter a private affair.
In April we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Smart Meetings,with a special look back at the last decade in our April issue. We’re kicking things off early on the website, though. You’ll want to make sure you enter our 10th Anniversary Contest, with opportunities to win a host of exciting prizes such as hotel stays, spa treatments, admissions to top attractions and more.
Here on the Smart Meetings blog, we’ll be featuring a few of our veteran staffers that have helped make the company such a success.
Here at Smart Meetings, we spend a lot of time writing about the value of team building. But I don’t think I truly understood the significance until I donned a pair of fake eyeglasses, pulled my pants up over my waist, put on some high-knee socks and started singing a geek-inspired ditty to the tune of the Ghostbusters theme.
The reason for this tomfoolery (which was captured on video to serve as future blackmail material) was a Smart Meetings team-building sales blitz. The whole staff was divided into sales teams, and each team was tasked with coming up with a theme, costume and skit to perform. My partners in crime—Salesperson Brenda, Assistant to the Publisher Gerald and Finance Manager Andrew—chose to go with a geek theme. After a Dollar Tree run, we ended up looking like this:
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for two years now and never made the 30-minute trek south of San Francisco to San Mateo County. And after last week, I have no idea why not.
Home to Stanford University, as well as sports greats Tom Brady, Barry Bonds and John Madden, it’s understandable why this slice of Silicon Valley is a place to be and to visit. The weather is at least 10 degrees warmer than the ever-cool San Francisco; an abundance of oak, magnolia and palm trees line the streets, making for an old-time suburbia feel; and the high-tech corporate world is at your fingertips. This is a place where celebrity sightings consist of Google Exec Eric E. Schmidt and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg. In fact, Zuckerburg just purchased his first home in Palo Alto for $7 million.
Needless to say, the area is full of intellectuals, and that aura of innovation is what makes it an inspiring place to meet—especially if you plan in the corporate world. The Garden Court Hotel, for instance, caters to those on business during the week. The smell of fresh (Peet’s) coffee, pastries and fruit fill the hallways every morning, and each of the hotel’s 62 guest rooms features a private balcony—the perfect spot to enjoy a newspaper or catch up on some e-mails using the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. It also provides planners with a variety of open-air meeting spaces. On the first floor, for instance, the property’s 3,100 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space opens up onto 1,200 sq. ft. outdoors, while the Grove Ballroom on the second floor has glass doors that open up onto a balcony.
Upon first glance at Florida’s northeastern coastline, you would just assume that this is an area of pleasant beach communities in a quiet suburb of Jacksonville. But dig beneath the surface and you’ll find that St. John’s County, better known as St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, is rich with history of all kinds—from the foundation of America to the foundation of the PGA Tour and everything in between.
Many of the juiciest stories can be traced back to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. Ponce de Leon landed there in 1513 and claimed the land for Spain, naming it La Florida, Spanish for “land of flowers.” It is also home to the historic Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. The town reflects its Spanish roots in the circa-1600 Plaza de la Constitucion and in its churches and narrow streets filled with cafes, shops and attractions. One of the most inherently Spanish looking structures, the Castillo de San Marcos, wasn’t part of the original plan, but was built in 1672 as a response to the city’s first attack by Sir Francis Drake and his crew. The pirates attacked and burned the city in 1585 under orders from the British government. The structure was created to further protect the city, says Barbara Golden, communications manager for the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau, and she adds that Sir Francis Drake’s pirating days aren’t really mentioned in the history books. And today the brand-new St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum (where groups can “relive the Golden Age of Piracy” and host private functions) recently set up shop next door explicitly because of this history. Pirates and their escapades are such a big part of the local culture that many locals clad in seafaring garb play full-time pirates.
My epiphany (which others have likely had) came at the end of my first day sipping varietals and munching on gourmet small bites at Sonoma’s Wine & Food Affair, one of several annual events in California Wine Country. The annual, two-day journey takes guests from winery to winery, where a sampling of wines are paired with food items ranging from braised-pork tamales to dark chocolate truffles.
Last week, Friday afternoons everywhere were jealous of ours. We left work at noon, carpooled into the city and were onboard a private Hornblower boat by 1 p.m.
And by 3:30 p.m., we were cruising directly underneath the roaring engines of the Blue Angels air show. A jaw-dropping part of the annual Fleet Week in San Francisco, the Blue Angels have been performing for more than 60 years. It’s honestly hard to decide which aspect of the show is more impressive: Is it the 18-inch gap between each wing when the Angels are in a diamond formation? The 50 feet between the water and the underbelly of the plane as it swoops in over the sailboats? Or is it the sheer speed at a maximum of 700 mph? Personally, I was in awe of it all.
When the pitcher hits a triple, it’s an omen. That lucky stroke, by Jonathan Sanchez, started the San Francisco Giants’ bid to become the National League West Champions this past Sunday. Seeing a Giants game is always fun for this fan, especially in our beautiful ballpark, but for the last game of the season in a nail-biting series with the rival San Diego Padres, it couldn’t have been sweeter.
I was among the lucky guests—a mix of press, meeting planners and travel agents—invited by the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for a chance to catch up on the news from their scenic corner of Arizona and, as it happened, watch catcher Buster Posey hit one out of the park.