Despite constant advances in technology, there is only so much that the electronic medium can do for organizations. Maximizing learning and productivity among employees, or communicating and building trust with clients, requires face-to-face connections. To make sure in-person meetings reach their full potential, planners encourage greater understanding and bonding among participants by creating activities and events that go beyond formal educational and discussion sessions.
At Kiawah Island Golf Resort (KIGR) — an oceanfront meetings property set just outside Charleston, SC — the conference sales and services team understand that memorable networking experiences are a huge driver of participant satisfaction, and a strong contributor to meeting ROI.
Given their deep expertise, KIGR's conference staffers are able to provide planners with a wide variety of activities so that each group's specific objective for networking, teambuilding and bonding are met. What's more, the unique natural setting of KIGR — on a barrier island with abundant unspoiled forest as well as panoramic coastal views — allows for events that are truly unique.
For instance, one of the most popular half-day activities is a variation of the TV show The Amazing Race. Teams of four to eight people are tasked with bicycling the nature paths that crisscross the island. At each location, they will engage in a mental or mildly physical challenge. Upon completion of a task, the group rides to the next destination and challenge. Barbara Steele, the Director of Conference services for the Villas at KIGR, notes that the activity can last from 90 minutes to four hours, and "each excursion is customized to a group's demographics, plus the larger business objective they want to achieve. So the meeting's themes are reinforced through the challenges, while people are enjoying the outdoors together."
For the more adventurous groups, a five-minute shuttle ride to Mingo Point — a riverside recreation area — brings them to the resort's fleet of kayaks. The task: paddle to a designated location and pick for oysters, then return to Mingo Point and enjoy a seafood cookout. Steele says that "among hard-driving sales teams, this type of activity really makes a lasting impression that leaves them inspired long after they have returned to their office."
Of course, KIGR offers a slew of more genteel activities that let colleagues simply relax as they get to know one another on a deeper level. At both The Ocean Course Clubhouse and The Sanctuary, huge manicured lawns with sweeping ocean views host team building receptions on a regular basis. The games offered during these "carnival style" receptions include corn hole, where players toss beanbags at wooden targets at ground level, and ladder golf, where players toss two golf balls attached with string at wooden ladders whose rungs have differing point values. "When a newer employee or client is partnered with a company executive to play one of these simple games, the value of the activity becomes clear," Steele notes.
Given the top-notch reputation of KIGR's golf offerings, it's a sure thing that golf-related teambuilding activities are among the most popular for meeting groups. All five golf clubhouses have large practice putting greens that can host miniature-golf competitions complimented by cocktail and buffet stations. What's more, golf can be used even after the sun goes down. Night golf is an activity where teams of four to six people play two holes of the golf course, hitting glow-in-the-dark golf balls towards each green that is illuminated only by glow sticks and moonlight. For experienced golfers as well as those who have never even picked up a golf club, this star-studded activity is truly memorable.
For meeting groups that want their networking activities to have a charitable or social-resonsibility component, KIGR offers several options. Groups can team up with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to spend a day building or refurbishing local homes. Alternatively, groups can have a bicycle-building competition among several teams of attendees, and then donate their finished products to a local charity for underprivileged children. If a group has only an hour or two to spare, they can pack supply bags for members of the armed services presently stationed overseas, while enjoying refreshments and an ocean view.
Gathering people in one location facilitates the ability to share not only their knowledge with each other, but new experiences as well. This builds the type of trust, goodwill and camaraderie among colleagues with which online meetings simply cannot compete!