All this changed in 2008 with the AIG scandal, when corporate retreats came to a screeching halt.
Here is a recap from Meetings Focus of why planners and suppliers are optimistic about the future of these C-suite meetings and what they see as the changing landscape of executive retreats.
"I think we’ve gotten through the worst of it," said Julie Walker, President of Choice Meetings. "I don’t think companies are as scared as they were a few years ago."
"I’ve seen executive meetings pick up since about the third quarter of 2010, which is a great sign," said Wendy Burk, CEO of CADENCE.
"Our business in 2010 was significantly up from 2009 and we anticipate continued growth in this sector," says Phil BeMiller, Director of Marketing at The Westin Columbus.
So…What Has Changed?
LEAD TIMES and STAY TIMES
Executive Retreats used to be be planned 1 year to 18 months in advance. In 2008-10, many were canceled or scaled back and held on the company location.
Now organizations are planning them 1 to 6 months in advance and scaling back the time away from the office.
"Since the crash — so in the last 18 to 24 months — the booking window has gotten incredibly short," says Karen Thomson, Director of Sales and Marketing for Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan property. "We are still booking meetings for next month."
"I’m seeing executive meetings have shorter and busier agendas than ever before," says Andy Bishop, Director of Sales and Marketing at Grand Hyatt Seattle. "A meeting a few years ago may have been 4 days is now 2."
When on-site, the executives are extremely low-key, using taxis or walking to area eating establishments or attractions.
"I’m not seeing a lot of limos going to baseball games anymore, which I think is a result of budget and perception," says Thomson. "Instead of a cocktail reception, they will opt for a short break."
Even though the C-suite is venturing out away from the corporate location, that doesn’t mean the budgets have returned to the level they were in 2008.
"We are having to look for unique ways to provide over-the-top-experiences at severely decreased budgets," says Burk.
AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST
When running an executive retreat, what event audio visual rental equipment do you need?
- Wi-Fi Booster: Executives are going to be in constant need of fast, reliable, and secure Internet access. All venues are going to say they have Wi-Fi, but depending on the number of guests in the hotel and different meetings going on, the network could run at a snail’s pace, or worse, completely crash. Don’t leave anything to chance. Rent a Wi-Fi booster and the connectivity will be at lighting speed for your executives.
- Powerpoint presentation equipment: which will include LCD projector and screen rentals.
- Recording device: Used to capture all ideas and discussions and can be referred back to at a later date.