Leading a Company Retreat to the Lost City of the Incas
How can you explain to an outsider that one of your nicest international travel experience you have had was with a group of 40 strangers...while WORKING? Well, work does not always have to be a bad experience, and if you like what you do and who you do it with, then it becomes a great adventure while learning and growing as a professional.
There is no secret that happy employees mean more productive employees. Nowadays more companies are taking this philosophy to a higher level; they will give their personnel a monetary bonus at the end of the year and some others, plan a trip to unforgettable destinations for their employees. The Millennials are the majority of the work force, bosses need to get creative and come up with nicer ways to compensate their staff, anyways- Who wouldn’t like a job that lets you travel?
About two months ago, we had the opportunity to help MaidPro, a national maid service, plan their yearly company adventure trip to Peru for 9 day days. They were 42 people from this company, but just around 15 of them worked at the same office. The other 27 were part of their franchise program, which means that for some of them it was going to be the first time they were all together. At the same time, I got the chance to join them as their trip leader/facilitator which gave me the opportunity to enjoy every single part of their trip while doing two of my favorite things: traveling and working with people.
This trip was scheduled for May, and even when we had worked with this group for about a year, making sure all the details were ready for their departure there are always last minute changes that we must deal with on the fly. I had to make sure the hotel check ins were quick and efficient (which is not easy with 42 passengers), I had to make sure everyone was on the bus when we were on to our next attraction. I had to findlost delayed/lost baggage, give briefings, translate from Spanish to English and many other tasks.
On their first day in Lima, they visited an Orphanage Center and for a few hours played, shared gifts, and ate lunch with some little kids that were extremely happy to see such nice gesture from some visitors.
The clients had so much fun and took a lot of pictures. Surprisingly I think this was one of the highlights of the fun filled trip for our clients (and me).
Our next stop was Puerto Maldonado, an entrance city to the Amazon jungle in Peru. We took a boat up river and hiked to Refugios Amazonas a lodge in the middle of the jungle on a room with 3 walls…yeah, not four, just 3! In place of the 4th wall was a great opening into the Amazon rain forest. The sounds of the jungle lulled us to sleep at night and woke us up in the morning. It was such a great experience for everyone including me! When everyone came out of their rooms they were all commenting on how cool and calm the ambiance was, how good the food was, as well as how fun and educational the tour guides were. We saw capybaras, a caiman, did some hiking, “navigated” on very rustic catamaran and fed piranhas. We also found Hoatzin birds, a harpy eagle, saw tarantulas, macaws, around 4 types of monkeys, scorpions, frogs, etc., It was so exciting every time we spotted an animal that we had to control ourselves not to make noise and scare the animals away. Nature rewarded our silence and patience with a big family of monkeys hopping through the trees right on top of us. The group was all smiles for the rest of the day.
After enough time sharing our privacy with the wildlife, we moved on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where everyone was ready to cross some stuff off of their bucket list on the way to Machu Picchu.
Most nights during the trip we were having dinner together and this was one of my favorite parts of the day. It was the time when everyone would share their favorite moments; they also found time to discuss the success of their business and ways to improve and grow. This was a great way to improve teamwork and the environment at the office.
The train tickets to Machu Picchu were all bought on the same cabin, so between us and the guides, we had the whole train car to ourselves. Once we arrived at Machu Picchu, one of the UNESCO World Heritage site, we were greeted by amazing weather and ambiance to enjoy the spectacular views. The guides were explaining all the details of the citadel; how it was found, when and why it was built…Our clients were extremely satisfied with all the information provided to them while on the tour. That same day we had some time to hang around and do some souvenir shopping and got to know the town of Aguas Calientes. The next day, we had to wake up, once again at 5 am to get to our different hikes, some of us took the Huayna Picchu Moutain and others, the Machuchu Mountain Hike. I went with the first group to Huayna Picchu, and it was amazing! The weather wasn’t as nice as the day before, we had to hike up under the rain, but when we reached the top, there wasn’t a better place to be. We were highly rewarded with a wonderful view of the Citadel and a well-deserved 5 min rest.
We were all tired and proud to make it to the top! Our last stop was Cuzco, a magical city where we took our clients to some of the most iconic places in town such as the ruins, Sacsayhuaman which is pronounced by the visitors as “Sexy Woman”, Koricancha and the Beautiful Cathedral.
Did I mention how happy and satisfied all of the clients were after the trip? All the anxiety that I felt before their arrival, about them enjoying the trip went away. They bonded, creating some shared memories to remember in the future and I feel confident that this trip made them feel part of a family and not just an employee at a company. I was there to help them with all they needed, and they had a blast. Mission accomplished!
What are you waiting for to plan your next company adventure?