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Year: 2021

Roy Charette, a founding partner of Best Corporate Events, recently joined Phil Brandt, president, and CEO of AAIM, on The Morning Briefing podcast. They discussed the current labor market, team building, philanthropy, employee retention, social media, and much more.

The full podcast runs 33 minutes, and it’s well worth listening to. But we know many of you are pressed for time, so here are 13 bite-sized nuggets of wisdom Phil and Roy shared during their conversation.

1.) Host Phil Brandt shares some eye-opening statistics about “the great resignation” and the top business challenges facing leaders today. (1:04)

2.) What’s the most popular type of team building program? Roy answers what it is, and why. (0:42)

3.) How do companies choose from among the 120+ different types of team building programs that Best Corporate Events offers? Roy explains the detailed, up-front assessment process used to help clients choose the ideal option. (0:41)

4.) Here’s one of the most important reasons business executives are doing team building events right now. (0:45)

5.) Roy details examples of two programs that are very popular currently. (1:06)

6.) Here’s a brief explanation of why team building events are more important than ever right now. (0:48)

7.) In-person, virtual, or hybrid events—here’s how Best Corporate Events accommodates the preferences and comfort level of every client. (1:24)

8.) Roy explains how team building helps accomplish several different business objectives. (1:15)

9.) Here’s how team building intersects with social media and personal branding. (0:39)

10.) In this tight labor market, here’s how team building can help to not only retain employees but turn them into enthusiastic advocates who help recruit new talent. (3:14) 

11.) Not every employee is always excited about participating in team building events. Here’s how to increase attendance, and what even those hesitant workers usually come away with. (2:04)

12.) Roy has personally led more than 1,200 workshops and seminars. Here’s one particular experience that stands out. This story will touch your heart. (1:21)

13.) From research, these are the two main factors in employee retention—and how team building supports both. (1:03)

Most team building activities are competitive—and for good reasons.

Competition is fun, it’s engaging, and it helps set clear goals for the exercise. And business itself is, of course, a constant competition for the attention, loyalty, and dollars of clients and customers.
But success within an organization frequently relies more on collaboration than competition. People need to work together to design the best products, make the best decisions, and deliver the best customer experiences.

How do competitive team building activities provide value to organizations? How can they be used to teach collaboration? And how can team building combine competition with collaboration to deliver the “best of both worlds”?

Here are the answers to those questions and more.

Teaching Collaboration is Hard

Why? Because for most people, competition is their default. It’s innate, hard-wired into us. Collaboration is not.

Think about it. Turn a group of small children loose on a playground, then sit back and watch. What do they do? They race. They see who can get to the top of the monkey bars the fastest. They play tag—and try not to be “it.”

When you’re in college, you’re competing against other students for grades. When you’re going out to get your first job, there may be eight people vying for that job, and only one person is going to get it. When you get the job, four people are being eyed for promotion; you’re one of them. You’re always competing.

Even within the same company in the same sales department, people will compete for regions, compete for clients…no matter how much collaboration there is, people are usually rewarded for shining, for standing out.

The results of competition are also much more straightforward to measure. It’s easy to see who crossed the finish line first, who got the high score, who’s numbers look best.
Even in team sports, where collaboration is crucial, it’s hard to tease out its exact value. To what extent did the New England Patriots win six Super Bowls because they out-collaborated their opponents—and to what extent was it the individual performance of Tom Brady? The same could be asked about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, or Maya Moore with the Minnesota Lynx.

Collaboration doesn’t come automatically. Competition does. All of that makes teaching collaboration much harder than simply telling people to share information.

So, when it comes to teaching collaboration in a team-building workshop, it is one of the most difficult things to do. An effective facilitator can model the behavior, point it out, and celebrate it. But to actually teach it and have it ingrained takes a highly skilled facilitator plus great program content. Leadership, problem-solving, and communication are teachable. Collaboration is the most difficult skill to ingrain into people.

Competition Can Be Constructive

Of course, the competitive aspect of team building is certainly valuable. It just depends upon what the goals are. At Best Corporate Events, about a third of our clients just want competition. They’re thinking A Minute to Win It, Catapult, Corporate Survivor, Go-Kart Competition, Team Olympics, or a scavenger hunt. They want groups of x employees to compete, and to have one winner, or three teams to win the Gold, Silver, and Bronze while all the other teams are losers.

We offer many different programs, in-person or online, wherein one team is going to have the most points. They win the gold medals. Competition can drive people to make extraordinary efforts to win, which is great.

But what makes these team building competitions even more impactful is that although participants are competing against other teams, they are working highly collaboratively with the other people on their team.

Team members are problem-solving, brainstorming, looking for solutions, and pumping each other up. Within each group, the efforts are tremendously collaborative, but all the groups are competing against each other. So these programs provide the best of both worlds.

But Collaboration is More Powerful

Another way to teach collaboration in a competitive team building situation is to add all of the teams’ scores together and make that the score for the activity. When participants realize the goal is to maximize every team’s score rather than simply out-scoring the other group, they will share information and discoveries in order to help the other team(s), and therefore maximize the overall point total.

Organizations often identify that realization as one of the highlights of the entire day: that even though the program was set up like a competition, someone recognized collaboration, verbalized it, and got the entire room to understand. Suddenly these teams of employees, who were all too willing to immediately compete for the highest score, started sharing information instead of hoarding it.
A twist on that is to recognize the high-scoring teams but also add the scores of all the teams together and calculate the average. Then there is a “half time” called. The highest-scoring teams are asked to share what they did, to identify and share best practices so that every team does better in the second half.

And then in the second half, though all teams are still operating and being scored independently, all the scores are added together again. The goal is for all of the teams combined to achieve a 25% or 30% improvement compared to the overall scores in the first half. That’s collaborating to compete.

Bringing It All Together

The business benefit is the mindset those employees take back to the workplace. They look for opportunities to collaborate, and are excited about it. They focus more on how their activities and communications impact the overall organization, not just their own roles.

Virtually all of our team building programs involve competition. Most incorporate some level of collaboration as well. And if the idea of improving collaboration through competition sounds really intriguing, you may want to check out our trademarked Competition to Collaboration® program.

If Charles Dickens was writing his classic novel today, the opening line might read “It was the weirdest of times.”

Job openings in the U.S. hit a record high in September, as companies across industries and regions struggle to find enough help. There are a record number of container ships waiting to unload off the California coast because there aren’t enough dock workers to unload them. Even if there were, there aren’t enough truck drivers to pick up the containers. Even if there were, there aren’t enough warehouse workers to unload the trucks.

And so it goes, across companies and job categories. The economy is rebounding, but a record number of workers are quitting their jobs. In many industries, there aren’t enough employees to go around now. Businesses are struggling to find enough employees.

Employers have to think hard about retention and recruitment. Many are raising wages, but know they need to offer more than a paycheck. How does a company become an employer of choice—a place that people want to join and don’t want to leave?

One answer is to emphasize corporate social responsibility (CSR). How does community philanthropy impact employment choices? While its importance varies from individual to individual, as a whole, people feel pretty good about reaching out and helping others. And when a company does that, it’s not just saying, but showing that its leadership cares about more than just the bottom line.

Invest in Your People

Any type of team building activity—whether the objective is to improve collaboration, problem-solving, or professional skills—improves employee engagement.

It demonstrates to employees that their worth to your company is more than just the immediate value of their daily efforts. You’re willing to invest in improving their skills and their work life over the long term. You’re paying them not to do their regular jobs for a few hours because you place a priority on team building.

Even more than holiday bonuses or employee surveys, team building programs let individuals know your company really does care about them, by investing in developing their leadership and interpersonal skills, while having fun doing it!

We all know the statistics about how difficult and expensive it is to retrain someone when a good person leaves your company. So, retention is so critical. Employee engagement done correctly equates to retention and enthusiasm.

Show Your Heart

Incorporating CSR in your team building takes it to a whole different level. It’s tremendous when a company is willing to do something charity-related or philanthropic in combination with developing their people.

From the perspective of employees, it has to do with heart. It has to do with the spirit of the company, with the culture that your company embraces. At one of our recent team-building events, the client said, “I feel like every time we do one of these activities, it enhances who we are, the culture that we have as a company.” That’s a pretty powerful statement.

This manager felt that the fact the company took some time to do a team-building activity enhanced the culture; it had the entire group feeling unified because they had just worked through a very difficult activity together. They had just celebrated together, with each of the participants sharing something they learned from the activity.

At our Bike Build Donation® events, we usually don’t tell the participants that kids are going to be there; it’s a “reveal” at the end of the activity. When those kids come in, it’s very emotional.
Many of those kids have never even owned a bike before. And when the facilitator asks everyone to close their eyes, and they sneak the kids in and tell a story, when everybody opens their eyes and the kids are standing there with the bikes, it’s really powerful

It’s so emotional that it has an impact on employee engagement and employee retention. It’s above and beyond working.

A bike-build program has all of the pillars for a team-building event. It’s got a goal, roles, fun, communication, competition, collaboration, and problem-solving, plus it’s got building. Everything an organization could want in a team-building program happens in the bike build. All of our charity events have an inherent team-building foundation. It’s a double bonus.

Or there’s our Build-a-Wheelchair® events, often done in collaboration with Disabled American Veterans and other veterans’ support organizations. In one of these programs, a charitable representative came with two retired service members in wheelchairs…that really had an emotional impact on the participants.

For our Project Alzheimer’s™ program—we get calls from people who go to our website and might say, “I just went through this very difficult situation with my mom with Alzheimer’s. And I saw you have an Alzheimer’s program. I know one of my workers is dealing with the same thing. We’re absolutely doing this program.”

All of our CSR programs allow participants to reach out to others. It’s about emotions, caring, company culture, the community. Those are all things that any of our charity programs represent.

Make It Part of Something Bigger

More often than not, our team building program options are a part of a full-day or multi-day offsite employee meeting. In those cases, the company is making a broader investment in enhancing the knowledge and skills of its employees, as well as defining their corporate culture.

Team building is a vital piece of that investment. A CSR program might even be a surprise piece of that because it has such a tremendous impact.

But whether the CSR team building event is hosted in a hotel, conference center, or on the campus of a Fortune 500 company, it enhances company culture in a powerful way.

Make an Impact on Your Community

Some companies allow employees to take a few days off each year, separate from their vacation days, when they’re paid to volunteer for different nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or their local soup kitchen. For employees who value giving back to the community, any type of CSR policy or activity has a powerful impact on loyalty, engagement, and retention.

Again, any type of team building program has a positive impact on employee morale and engagement. But incorporating CSR takes those effects to a higher level.

For any team building or professional development program we deliver, we can end with a surprise CSR component. It’s the best of both worlds when team building is combined with charity.

For example, we’ll take off the tablecloths, and lo and behold, there are all these school supplies. What are these school supplies for? Because we’re going to be putting them into backpacks and donating them.

How about our Golf Build Food Donation program? In two hours, your group gets to build a mini-golf course using canned and boxed goods, play a round of golf with medals to the winners, and then donate all the canned and boxed goods to a local food bank – it doesn’t get any better than that!

BEST CSR activities increase employee loyalty and engagement by enhancing your culture and creating an emotional as well as practical impact.

An impactful and memorable team building event starts with effective facilitation. Having an experienced, engaging facilitator is vital to creating an experience that teaches leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills to participants while also being fun and engaging.

Why is that person called a “facilitator” instead of something else, like a team building leader, organizer, or instructor? Because facilitator is the most descriptive term and encompasses all the different roles involved in creating an enjoyable and valuable experience.

An effective team building facilitator is able to transition through several distinct roles very quickly, ultimately going from initially being the focus to transitioning to making the team members the focus seamlessly. Here are four essential roles that the facilitator progresses through during the course of the team building exercise.

The Four Roles of a Facilitator

The facilitator’s first role is that of organizer. This happens before the team members even arrive or any activities begin. In this role, the facilitator has spoken to the client/meeting planner (if necessary) and has assured that the activity(s) that have been chosen is the best one for the team based on goals and shared outcomes. Upon arrival, the facilitator will spend time making sure the room/outdoor space is set up ideally for the participants to enjoy and will get the most out of the experience, including making makes sure the tables and chairs are arranged properly and the sound system works. They ensure that all of the materials and equipment needed are on hand. That the room isn’t too hot or cold. They know where the bathrooms are.

The critical objective in this role is to create an environment for success. The facilitator works to make sure the room or other event venue is comfortable, organized, and as free of distractions as possible so that the participants can focus on working through the activity (and on having fun doing it).

The second role is that of (temporary) leader. Once the team members arrive and are ready to take part, the facilitator introduces the activity, explains the objective, answers any questions, and provides the team members with the information and materials they need.

The third role is to be a coach. As quickly as possible, the facilitator makes the participants the focus. In this role, the “coach” applauds team members, celebrates their successes, gives feedback and guidance, keeps the activity running smoothly, allows fun and friendly competition, and, if applicable, recognizes team members when they come up with solutions that everyone in the group can learn from. Like any good coach, they put the spotlight on the “players,” making the team members the superstars of the activity or program.

The final role of the facilitator is to be a role model. Part of the way they teach communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and engagement is by modeling that behavior. They communicate clearly, answer clarifying questions, and collaborate with the participants.

A facilitator needs to be able to adjust to any situation that arises once the program has started. They problem-solve on the spot, manage change on the fly, and demonstrate everything they want from the participants, so those team members know they are in the hands of a facilitator who can confidently and competently “drive the bus.”

Bringing It All Together

Through the course of the team building program, what the facilitator asks from team members evolves as well: from attention and observation to participation and collaboration. Great facilitation is key to enabling participants to walk away with a valuable and enjoyable experience.

An effective team building program can accomplish several important business objectives: improving employee communication, engagement, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership skills, among others.

It requires an investment in time, resources, and taking employees away from their regular roles. To optimize your return on that investment, it’s essential to create an environment where employees are comfortable and able to focus on the team building activity.

While it’s natural for workers to want to get out of the office and enjoy the fresh air, outdoor venues are usually not the best setting for team building (with the obvious exception of scavenger hunts or other activities specifically designed to be held outside).

Here’s why—and how to create the best environment for success, whatever environment you choose.

Focus on the—hey, squirrel!

Team building facilitators want to introduce activities in a way where nothing will interfere with the group’s ability to succeed. With any outdoor venue, almost anywhere and at any time, weather is a concern: heat, cold, wind, and/or rain can make conditions miserable. In a public outdoor setting such as a park, there are also potential distractions from other people, pets, extraneous noise, Frisbees, balls of various types, and other sources.

The goal of the facilitator is to explain and deliver activities in an environment with as few distractions as possible. This maximizes your group’s ability to succeed and increases the positive impact of your workshop.

In a purpose-built indoor space—such as a large meeting room on a corporate campus or a ballroom in a hotel or casino—it’s much easier to eliminate distractions so everyone can focus on the team building activity. The climate is controlled, the sound system is built-in, and tables and chairs can be easily arranged to fit the program.

But if you really want to be outdoors…

There are times when the allure of the outdoors is hard to resist. Maybe it’s (forecasted to be) a gorgeous Friday afternoon. Maybe it’s (forecasted to be) one of those first 70-degree days of the spring in Minneapolis, or the fall in Phoenix.

If that’s the case, here are a few strategies to maximize your chances of success:

  • Have a backup indoor space where you can host the team building activity in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
  • Choose a private, dedicated, or reserved location where you’ll be free of distractions from other people, animals, and extraneous noise.
  • If you are traveling to a different city and your backup indoor space isn’t adjacent to your outdoor space, arrange for transportation in case it becomes necessary.
  • Three to five days out from the program, check the current weather forecast. If it looks less than ideal, consider moving the program indoors. If that’s not an option, decide if you simply want to warn employees to dress for the weather (e.g., it looks like it will be gray and cool but dry) or postpone the event (storms are likely). You want participants to benefit from and enjoy the activity—not to be miserable because they’re too cold, too hot, or too wet.
  • Have a “plan A” and a “plan B” to address the conditions. If it looks like the day will be damp, but not a washout, you may choose to move activities indoors, or keep it outside but use different materials (e.g., no paper or cardboard).

Wrapping it up

It’s easy to understand why people love the idea of doing team building activities outdoors. But nature doesn’t always accommodate.

Depending on your situation, you may decide the risks of trying to pull off a successful outdoor event are too great, and an indoor venue really is preferable. Or you may arrange for an outdoor location, with a backup indoor space or at least a “plan B” in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

What’s most important is to create an environment where distractions are minimized; where you have plenty of space for the activity (follow the recommendations of your team building provider); and where employees are comfortable and able to focus on the activity. That will maximize the enjoyment for participants, the benefits they get from the team building program, and the return on your organization’s investment in increasing employee engagement.

Improving employee engagement is always a productive move, but it’s crucial now more than ever. Here’s why, and how to accomplish that goal.

Highly engaged employees see their work as meaningful. They feel trusted and respected and often feel an emotional commitment to their organization. As a result, they are more productive, more consistently, which ultimately leads to a happier workplace attitude and higher profits for their employers.

That’s always been true. But with the structure of work changing in this post-pandemic environment, increasing employee engagement is both more vital and more challenging than before. Many employees are coming back to the office on a part-time basis, while others work remotely most or all of the time.

Maintaining engagement when employees are physically separated is difficult but essential to preserving that sense of connection and high productivity. Team building programs can be highly effective in sustaining and strengthening the bonds that keep employees highly engaged. Here’s what you need to know.

Team Building is Inherently Engaging

By their very nature, team building activities and initiatives incorporate certain essential pillars for engagement: communication, leadership, problem-solving, and establishing roles.

Whatever the specific program, the foundation is the same: bringing together a group of co-workers and presenting them with a challenge to solve or a project to complete. Out of necessity, the group must begin communicating, asking questions to understand the activity, goal, rules, and guidelines.

The team (or teams) then work together to achieve the objective. It’s fun, collaborative, and engaging. And when it’s over, this experience translates directly into positive workplace attitudes and behaviors.

Team building takes engagement to a new level when it involves corporate social responsibility (CSR). Engagement, problem solving, team bonding, and doing good for the community are all objectives of CSR activities.

Get a GRPI

GRPI stands for goals, roles, personalities, and interpersonal relations. This is a core component of effective team building. What are the goals the group must accomplish? What different roles will team members establish to complete the task? How will the different personalities in the group affect the roles chosen? And in terms of the interpersonal aspect, how are team members getting along? How effectively are they working together as a unit to complete the task?

Again, these are skills that employees will learn and hone as part of the team building program—and have fun doing it! And they will bring these new and enhanced skills back into the workplace with them, increasing their engagement with the organization.

Another benefit is that with many programs, the unique skills of certain employees come to light – skills needed in the position the employee fills in the company. Management often observes employees in team building exercises displaying abilities they didn’t know they possessed.

Create a New, Shared Experience

Team building increases engagement by encouraging communication, collaboration, and problem-solving in an activity the participants have never done before. It’s not basketball, or rock climbing, or bowling. The facilitator is introducing activities that are brand new to everyone in the room.

That puts all team members on equal footing, starting on a level playing field with the same information. Everyone starts with the same (limited) knowledge, so no one is “the boss,” and no one is shy about asking questions. As participants engage more in the activity, the facilitator acknowledges fruitful collaboration and recognizes individuals for solid communication.

Today’s team building activities are less physical than old-fashioned team building: “trust falls,” obstacle courses, boot camp. Now, team building is more cerebral.

These activities allow for full and active participation, regardless of the physical condition of any participant. Every team member, even someone with back problems, a sprained ankle, or mobility limitations, can take a full and active part in the team building because everyone has roles. That structure keeps all participants engaged.

Enhance Engagement by Showing What Matters

Employers are in the midst of the great resignation. There’s evidence that labor shortages will persist as companies compete for a shrinking pool of workers. Engagement is more critical than ever. How can companies retain their best employees and make new employees feel like part of the team, even if they aren’t physically in the office?

To maximize engagement, you need to make your employees feel that you care about them as individuals. Every employer offers a paycheck and benefits. What sets some employers apart in this competitive environment for talent is hosting social events for employees (live or virtual), giving back to the community, and team building activities.

Send employees (particularly those working remotely) little gift boxes with cheese, crackers, and beverages. Maybe an engraved wine glass or coffee mug. Conduct surveys to help increase engagement—report on the results. Announce what you’ll start doing, do differently, or do more of.

Show employees they are important by investing in team building activities: a scavenger hunt, a charitable event, a Trivia Game Show. All these types of actions show you care about each person beyond what they do to drive revenue for your company.

The payoff in engagement means you retain your best people, bring new people up to speed more quickly, and make all of your employees happier in their work and more consistently productive.

The practice of corporate team building has been around for almost a century. But it’s never been more critical than today, as businesses struggle with the “new normal” of the post-COVID economy. Here’s why.

Although business is constantly evolving, rarely has so much changed in such a short time in terms of human resources. The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot recently, but in terms of the speed and scope of change in the workplace, that word fits what enterprises face today.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of posts aimed at helping you get and keep employees on the same page as COVID recedes and the new normal takes shape.

Team building encompasses a wide range of activities, from uplifting programs and fun charitable CSR events to impactful training and professional development workshops. And there are virtual events like game shows and escape rooms to bring your team together. Here are six reasons why team building is more important than ever in the post-COVID work world.

To Welcome and Onboard New Employees

Many organizations have experienced significant turnover during the pandemic, as new employees have come on board to replace those who have retired or left to pursue other opportunities.

Fun team building activities are a great way to welcome new staff and introduce them to others and play a crucial role in new employee orientation.

Beyond the benefit of getting acquainted with team members enjoyably, team building provides practical benefits in making new employees more productive, faster.

To Adapt to a Different Type of Workforce

The pandemic accelerated retirement plans for many workers. According to NPR, roughly two million more workers retired over the past two years than would otherwise have been expected.

In addition, with schools and daycare facilities closed during much of the pandemic and only now (tentatively, in many places) reopening, young mothers have been forced out of the workforce in disproportionately large numbers. Though that trend will reverse itself at some point (hopefully soon!), it’s still impacting the structure of the workforce today.

Together, these changes mean that your organization may have not only new workers but different types of workers: more young workers, fewer older workers, and more people at ages in between re-entering the workforce or changing jobs.

Team building programs are not only great for welcoming new workers but also for positively impacting the morale of existing employees and making them more comfortable, more quickly, with their new coworkers.

To Support Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Most workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. Diversity is valuable in surfacing better ideas by bringing together a broader range of perspectives.

Team building activities focused on diversity, inclusion, and culture help organizations maximize the productivity and benefits of a diverse workplace while helping everyone understand each other better, so they feel comfortable working together.

To Make the New Structure of Work Function More Effectively

The pandemic forced millions of workers out of their offices to work from home or other remote locations. Over time, many workers have grown comfortable working remotely. And many employers have concluded that they can maintain (or increase) productivity while reducing real estate needs by not having all of their employees on-site every day.

Team building increases employee engagement, which can be a challenge when workers aren’t physically together. It helps ensure that employees are working together effectively as a team, no matter where they are.

What’s more, because our team building programs can be delivered in-person, virtually, or as hybrid team events, they can fit the structure of your workplace—whatever that structure may be.

To Help Upskill Your New (and Existing) Team

Team building programs focused on professional development and leadership skills are an engaging and enjoyable way for workers to expand their knowledge and understanding and ultimately do their jobs better.

These programs are helpful in bringing new employees up to speed faster as well as enhancing the abilities of your current staff.

To Do Well by Doing Good

Employees today are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to work for organizations that have a larger purpose, give back to the community, and provide a sense of contributing to the greater good.

That’s why the majority of In-Person engagements we managed last year were charitable CSR programs, including Build-a-Wheelchair, Bike Build Donation, Build-a-Guitar, Donation Nation, Project Alzheimer’s, STEM Backpacks for Kids, Fostering Hope, and Kids Rock! Other CSR events include Bear and Blankets, Charity Game Show, We Care For Schools, and Operation Military Care.

Whether delivered in-person or as hybrid events, these programs are fun; they develop teamwork skills; they enhance employee engagement; they provide the opportunity to support a great cause in your local community.

Look for more posts in the weeks ahead about specific aspects of why team building is more important than ever and the many ways it can help your teams work better and collaborate more effectively in the post-COVID workplace.

A version of this post originally appeared on

In June, organizations across America were excited about the return of in-person events, and the enticing potential of hybrid events. How quickly things change.

By late July, COVID-19 cases were again spiking across the United States. Corporations, universities, government agencies, and associations abruptly began rethinking the structure of their conferences and team building events for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.

The result is a chaotic, volatile environment in which meeting and event planners are struggling to optimally balance their meeting objectives with attendee preferences and safety, constantly changing guidance from the CDC, and local government rules restrictions.

What are planners to do? Here’s a look at the current state of popular options, plus the only wrong choice.

Live In-Person Events

The current status of in-person events varies widely from state to state, and even city to city, based on several factors:

Local case loads: While virus cases are increasing across the country, the impact is uneven. Some states are seeing fairly modest increases in positive tests, while others are seeing more widespread outbreaks.

Local regulations: Broadly reflecting those variations in impact, regulations vary considerably from place to place. While some communities are still imposing capacity restraints and mask mandates, others are mostly open. The governor of Nevada recently announced, for example, that large venues can do away with mask mandates as long as attendees are fully vaccinated and raise the attendance limit to 4,000.

Community standards: Not only from place to place from organization to organization, different groups of employees have a different comfort level with the risk/reward calculation for live gatherings.

The venue also matters. Recent research from the UK concluded that “mass events can take place safely” if held outdoors and with reasonable precautions.

The near-term outlook for in-person events is impossible to forecast. Tomorrow’s news may bring new concerns over the Epsilon and Gamma variants—or show new cases declining again after recent spikes.

Virtual Events

Regardless of what happens with live events, “virtual events are here to stay,” according to Steve Gottlieb, CEO of virtual event platform provider Shindig. “The cost savings are just too compelling, and online events are less disruptive. Virtual or hybrid events enable organizers to greatly expand the number of participants. And with the right technology, the networking and interaction in online events can mimic the natural mixing and mingling of in-person gatherings.”

Meeting and event planners recognize these benefits and are taking advantage of significant advances in virtual event technology over the past 18 months. The possibilities have dramatically expanded beyond the limitations of lecture-style webinars and boxy “Hollywood Squares” type interfaces in a short time.

Corporations recognize the benefits of team building activities, regardless of the format: from virtual team building bingo or a minefield game to charity events (such as bike donation) and professional development activities.

Scott Flynn, CEO of team building provider Best Corporate Events, says his company saw a surge in bookings for live events in June only to see interest pivot back to virtual events more recently. Now, in late August, live events bookings are surging again.

“We’re agnostic about the format,” he notes. “Pretty much any team building program, from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to professional development to game shows, escape rooms, or physical activities can be delivered in virtual, in-person, or even hybrid environments.”

Whether for team building, other corporate events, or even fundraising galas, Tracy Fuller of InnovativEvents, an event planning firm in Des Moines, Iowa, is seeing the same shift.

“We’ve had game shows and galas that have far outreached their regular live audience with virtual events, and this means more donations for their charity and more awareness as well. It’s a win/win,” she says.

Hybrid Events

Throughout the first half of this year, hybrid events were generating tremendous buzz. Then planners began experiencing the increased costs and challenges of actually executing hybrid events, and skepticism set in.

Li Hayes of speaker management agency Go Leeward argued here in early August that hybrid is dead. “The primary barrier is the return on investment,” she wrote. Describing a large event that went hybrid for one year, “the organizers said, ‘Never again.’ The cost of production, between software and other resources needed to pull off a simultaneous virtual immersion experience, increased their budget by more than 30 percent, and the work to plan a hybrid was like planning two entire events at the same time.

“But the financial return wasn’t there… even with an overall increase in attendees, the added expense wasn’t covered. Their conference planner decided that in the future, events will be either all live, or all virtual, but not a combination of the two.”

Yet despite those arguments and increased skepticism, hybrid is not in fact “dead.” Event technology consultant Brandt Krueger argued just two weeks later, in Debunking Hybrid Event Myths, that concerns over increased complexity, higher costs, lower security, and cannibalization of in-person audiences, are overblown.

“A decade ago, I was extremely lucky to be around the early pioneers of hybrid events, and I saw early on the benefits they could provide, including expanded audience, increased accessibility, creating connections between people in locations around the world, and serving as a tool to promote and encourage people to attend in person,” he wrote. “Almost all the hard-learned lessons from those early days still stand as best practices today.”

The bottom line, according to Bryan Burns, COO of team building apps provider SmartHunts, is that hybrid is definitely a viable option, even if not always the best choice.

“With the right technology, activities like team building scavenger hunts, amazing race games, and CSR programs can work in any format (live, virtual, or hybrid), and often indoors or outside. What’s most important is for meeting planners to explore the capabilities of the technology, then determine the best way to align their objectives with what the technology can deliver.”

“I think hybrid events are here to stay,” adds Tracy Fuller. “Why wouldn’t they be, having more reach and more impact with a small amount of additional cost to larger funds raised? It just makes sense.

“I don’t think you can discount the ability to reach more people with your message either. This last year, as things loosened up with COVID rules, we saw many watch parties take place for some of our charity events and galas. Small groups of people got together to watch the gatherings on-screen in a home or office, essentially creating their very own hybrid event. And it worked.”

The Only Wrong Choice

Clearly, the current environment is fluid. In-person events may be a viable option, particularly for outdoor activities, but there are many factors to consider. Live events have come a long way since early 2020, as the technology has advanced, organizers have honed their skills, and audiences have grown more comfortable with online participation. Hybrid events still present challenges but offer unique benefits as well.

So what is the only wrong choice?

“Doing nothing,” says Roy Charette, co-founder of higher-education focused provider of team building programs for colleges and universities, Best Collegiate Events. “The only bad choice organizers can make right now is to allow the uncertainty of the current environment to paralyze their decision making, leading them to postpone or cancel events.

“Students, as well as corporate employees crave connection, possibly even more so now. Businesses need team building events to integrate new employees with existing teams in light of turnover and market changes.

“Colleges and universities, of course, turn over roughly a quarter of their student body every year,” he notes. “And with more schools requiring vaccination, in-person team building events are a great way to welcome new students and provide healthy activities for upperclassmen.”

The fluidity of the current environment for team building and other events makes choosing the best format difficult. For virtual events, one key is to avoid over-reliance on a single technology platform and instead choose the best tool for every type of event. For hybrid events, it’s determining how to manage and minimize the unique challenges. And for in-person events, the best guidance may be, as they used to say in broadcast TV, “check your local listings” for the latest updates on your planned location and venue.

Best Corporate Events has been a proud sponsor of the Clearwater Jazz Festival for the past four years. This fantastic organization hosts an annual four-day music festival that incorporates fundraisers for music programs and also facilitates outreach events year-round.

Our participation over the years has spanned from delivering our signature Build-a-Guitar program during Clearwater Jazz events to raise money for the organization, to providing instruments like guitars, bass guitars, drum sets, and more, for donation initiatives in the Clearwater area schools.

CJH collects donated instruments and also works with partners to help inspire young people to continue on their musical journey with programs that provide onsite group guitar lessons throughout the year and identify opportunities to inspire young musicians with the gift of music. Whether it is for a school jazz or band program, a committed student who may not otherwise be able to afford an instrument outside of the school system, or a dedicated proven talent, these gifts of beginner and professional-grade instruments are a symbol of CJH’s strong belief in these young talents and the power of music to change lives.

Beyond providing inspiration and opportunity to experience music for students in our community, studies show that music education can have an assortment of positive benefits including higher test scores and graduation rates, increased math, listening, and language skills, improved self-esteem and creativity, and more. Bringing more music into the community also benefits people of all ages, as music has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve moods and cognition, and even boost energy levels.

To get involved, attend upcoming Clearwater Jazz events to support year-long education and outreach!

Clearwater Jazz Holiday October 14-17, 2021
Tickets, Lineup, and Daily Schedule

CJH Presents Wanderlust
Tickets & 2021 Event Calendar:

The past 16 months have been both challenging and rewarding for our company. The pandemic posed a lot of new and unique challenges to businesses everywhere, and the events industry especially. So, Best Corporate Events had to come up with new and unique solutions to address those challenges, custom tailoring our efforts to the situation at hand.

For many years we have been able to offer our experience in customizing and delivering great programs to our corporate clients and DMC partners. Whether we tailored our programs to fit with the rest of a DMC client’s agenda or created an original program for a client with a vision and a need for our expertise, customization has been a valuable tool.

For the last year-plus, customization has become even more important, not just for tailoring program content, but also for providing quality customer experiences by listening to our DMC partners about the needs of their clients. Information provided by DMCs and meeting planners allows us to tailor our entire business accordingly to the needs of the time, from adapting to virtual environments for planning, producing, and delivering events, to tailoring event parameters to a wide variety of different platforms, time frames, time zones, previous program experiences, and beyond. Conducting a thorough needs assessment allows us to provide the client with a unique experience that fits their specific needs and goals from planning to execution.

Did you enjoy learning about how Best Corporate Events embraced our third and final theme – Customization – over the past year? Check out our previous two posts on Reinvention and Innovation!

Welcome to the BEST blog, a collection of team building articles, industry insights and news about our large collection of programs and events offered in locations across North America.





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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

      If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

      Phone: 800.849.8326

      What is a Keynote Speaker?

      Keynote Speaker is an often-misunderstood term associated with simply a motivational speaker, breakout speaker, industry expert, etc. Most professional speakers are not actual trained Keynote Speakers, who are specialists, therefore in much lower supply, and in higher demand.

      Keynote Speakers are experienced, professional communicators who engage an audience, capturing the essence of a client’s meeting. They are able to highlight it to their audience while simultaneously delivering their own key concepts and proprietary content in an entertaining and impactful way. Most companies understand that this specialization is very much worth the time (around an hour) and the investment.

      In order to capture the perfect essence, a Keynote Speaker spends the necessary time researching a client’s industry, their issues, and their audience to craft a customized presentation into a unique and distinctive moment specifically for the client’s event.

      As a top Keynote Speaker, Tom Leu strategically uses compelling storytelling, humor, powerful visuals, audio and video clips, and audience participation elements to weave an impactful message into your event in a fun and memorable way. Tom can also pair his Keynote with Best Corporate Events programming, laying a foundation and setting a tone that best prepares participants for maximum engagement in the forthcoming team events that day.