Monday, August 16

On taking meeting participants outside of their comfort zone


A weekend ranch getaway to one of my favourite places and a column featuring this great resource in our local daily this morning prompts me take another look at the role comfort zones play in meetings, retreats and conventions development. Meeting planners are always looking for new team-building activities. This means they seek affordable activities that do not take too long, unless the objective of the meeting itself is to take participants outside of their comfort zone over a weekend, for instance.

We have had some great successes in working over the years with organizations like the University of Regina's women hockey team. The aboriginal cultural immersion weekend we crafted for them a few years ago stands out.

Last fall, U of R Cougars coach Sarah Howald approached us once more to design another similar activity using different resources. We came up this time with a Natural horsemanship weekend out of town again on one of our ranches in a beautiful prairie valley setting half-way between Regina and Saskatoon.

Sarah subsequently forwarded these comments:

"Our team retreat at the ranch through Great Excursions was perfect for our group of young players. It allowed us to get to know each other better, but more importantly, we each learned more about ourselves. We learned skills in assertiveness, confidence, and communication that we continued to come back to all season long. Chris and Lyle are great hosts and great teachers!"

It is featured this morning in a Ron Petrie article in the Leader-Post.

This is not for everyone, in the sense that participants have to enjoy exploring non-urban environments and to love animals, but the teachings are very much real. They tie into the place where they are delivered, and the rewards, beyond the fresh outlook on life and workplaces, extend to renewed appreciation for the skills of other team players. Teambuilding is after all about learning or relearning how to harness all team players' potential.

When time is limited, shortcuts are taken to focus more directly on key objectives. Often, there is only time for a quick visit as an opportunity to get a better sense of the setting where a larger meeting is hosted. This was the case when one of our national clients hosted its annual conference in Regina last summer. The ranch portion of our program included a an demonstration of the foundations of natural horsemanship. Fresh, locally baked snacks and refreshments were offered and a hads-on introduction to grasslands plants and their significance for livestock grazing was included. This is after a cattle ranch.

The role we play as a destination management company is one of director, or event/tour producer. We develop a theme with our client and we illustrate it with the resources at our disposal, we flesh out the program with clear, per-determined objectives in mind. We have proven methods to do this. Working with us ensures the clients get the best possible value, it saves time for all involved because we are experts and we can likely do more, while protecting the client's investment. This brings an added sense of security should unpredictable circumstances arise.

We will handle a range of needs including:

-Activities, workshops, team duilding and Corporate Retreats


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