There are many ways to grow your business and develop your team, and throwing a business cruise is quickly becoming one of the most popular options for annual retreats and seminar training. Many cruise franchises have come up that specialize in helping you organize and manage a successful event, so don’t think that you have to plan it all out yourself.
Determine Your Purpose for the Cruise
There are many reasons why you might want to take some or all of your employees on a business cruise. Your purpose for the cruise will have a powerful effect on the outcome and on your organization.
Suppose you have a small sales team, and you’re using an annual cruise as a reward to motivate your employees to hit their sales targets. You’ve done the cruise for a few years in a row, and it’s proven to be a wonderful team-building event. Every year, the entire sales team hits their targets and goes on the cruise. But this year, one of your team members who normally hits the minimum sales quota falls short and is left out—how will that affect his morale?
If the goal is to have an all-inclusive event that brings the whole team together for some relaxing yet productive team-building and bonding activities, then the cruise should not be based on performance standards because someone might end up being left out—creating resentment and defeating the whole purpose. That doesn’t mean that incentivizing the cruise is a bad idea, but it just needs to fit your purposes.
So determine a clear purpose and goals for the cruise. Is it to motivate your team to perform at higher levels? Is it to educate your team about a new product launch? Is it to build relationships with your top clients? Setting a clear purpose will keep your event on track and avoid getting mixed results.
Create an Itinerary and Stick to It
You might have a clear picture in your mind about all the awesome meetings you’re going to have with your executives on this cruise. But if you haven’t created an itinerary for everyone, they might have completely different expectation, and it’s going to be chaos once the ship leaves the docks and everyone scatters to do their own thing.
So make a plan. Discuss it with your team in advance. Get some feedback along the way, and make sure everyone knows what to expect.
Make Off-Ship Excursions Optional
If you’re planning on doing a lot of recreational activities at the different ports you’ll be stopping at, try to make some of them optional. Some of your employees simply want to kick back and relax on this cruise, or maybe they want to explore on their own when you hit land in different cities. So try to allow for some flexibility and not force everyone to stick with the group for every hour of the trip.
Give Opportunities to Develop Leadership Skills
One of your top goals—no matter how big or small your company is—should be to develop your up-and-coming leaders. Do you know who your replacement will be when the time comes for you to move on to bigger and better things? If you’ve seen some team members who seem to have some leadership potential, this retreat will be a great time to give them some leadership experience.
You might have them plan one of the events themselves or give a presentation during one of the meetings. Or you could assign someone to take photos and write up some blurbs to post on social media or on the company blog to document the event.
Don’t Just Throw Money Around
Most employees appreciate the efforts and expense that employers go through to send them on a corporate cruise. But if you’re a cheapskate at the office all year long, taking your top people on a big expensive party cruise can backfire on you. While the boss’ favorites are out living it up, are the rest of your employees stuck in the office sipping stale coffee while sitting in creaky, tattered chairs with broken wheels? Are they wondering why you can spend big bucks on the sales team yet can’t afford to fix that copy machine or get a refrigerator that doesn’t make the whole breakroom smell like cheese?
A business cruise can be an awesome experience for you and your staff. Take some of these five tips into considerations when planning and executing this event to ensure its success for everyone involved and for your organization as a whole.