This year, I decided to devote some quality time to exploring what Europe has to offer for team building and corporate events. When I met with exhibitors at IMEX Frankfurt 2012 and M&I Forums America in Palm Beach, I was blown away by what I discovered. Time your visit well and you can also take in take in recreational activities like Formula 1 Events, horse shows, culinary events, and various festivals.
Here is a small sample of what’s available for corporate teams in the Eurozone. Remember, to integrate any activities into team building it is essential to:
– Set the context and show the links between the activities and business
– Take the group through facilitated business exercises
– Facilitate the activity
– Debrief it fully for lessons learned and take-aways for business
From Paris to the French Riviera, team building with a French flair can incorporate gourmet cooking challenges, fashion, and beach challenges. Team events can include wine tasting, art appreciation, Segways, and thrilling adventures with luxury cars are available along the French Riviera. There are many spectacular event venues including palaces, galleries, museums, wineries, parks, and historical sites.
I was so impressed by The Netherlands their booth was my top pick at IMEX Frankfurt. The Netherlands suffered less damage than many other parts of Europe during World War II. As a result, Holland has a high concentration of truly authentic historical sites to provide a backdrop for team building and corporate events. For example, for corporate events, some cheese factories offer tours complete with wine pairings. How about cheese making for some fun. Ziplines and abseiling are available for thrill seekers.
In the winter, ice sculpture competitions can be used for cool corporate team events. Let’s not forget the beach resorts at which a range of water based activities can be woven into team building simulations.
There are many galleries and historical sites that are amazing event venues.
Brussels was the first place I visited in Europe. Bright Putman from the Flanders-Brussels Convention Bureau described the team events and team building simulations can incorporate chocolate making. He also described the chocolate factory tours, glass factory tours, and even a visit to a diamond factory with interactive exhibits that can be used for corporate events.
The Flower Carpet is rolled out in Brussels every other year. Competing to design and create flower carpets would be a unique activity for corporate team building to strengthen brainstorming skills and the ability to create results in tight timeframe. Historical venues, breweries, and parks are available for corporate events.
There is no shortage of historical sites to explore in Belgium. In Antwerp, the warehouses of the Red Star Line, which transported millions of immigrants to Ellis Island, will soon be opening as a museum. Bruges, which was hardly disturbed during World War II, has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage sits. Its boundaries are unchanged since the Middle Ages.
I met with Laura D’Elsa of the German Convention Bureau in Toronto and re-connected again at IMEX Frankfurt and MI Forums. She and her colleagues brought me up to speed on the options for corporate team events in Germany that run the gamut from luxury car events (e.g. BMW, Mercedes-Benz), sand sculpture competitions, and Segway tours to wine tasting and beer making. Some of these activities can be incorporated into team building simulations.
Historical areas and venues are being restored to their pre-World War II glory. For example, the historical area of Frankfurt is being restored and corporate teams can explore castles and palaces in many parts of Germany.
Annual events like Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets offer many possiblitities as a backdrop for team building simulations and team events.
I was introduced to Llubljana as Canadian immigrants from this areas used to have a pavilion at Toronto’s annual Metro International Caravan. When I asked Peter Susnik from City Hotel about activities that could be incorporated into team building or used for corporate events, his list of possibilities was endless. There is horse riding, caving, rock climbing, ziplines, rafting, fishing, rowing and hunting. He also told me about hydrospeeding, an exhilirating activity with which I was not familiar. Who knew? Take a peek.
Nico Timmermans from Gran Meliá Don Pepe filled me in on the beach team building, cooking events (featuring paella, tapas and other Spanish specialities), and, of course, soccer related team building that is available in Spain. In Spain, it is easy for corporate groups to split their time between Madrid and a beach resort.
Portugal offers many possibilities for mountain team building that Executive Oasis International has, up until now been offering in Oman. There is also wine tasting and corporate treasure hunts. Business simulations can be designed to incorporate ceramic making and activities involving bikes. Unique event venues include castles and even a Coach Museum. Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, features 19th century architecture against the back of the Sintra mountains.
In Italy, team events range from galas and adventures with themes reflecting Caeasar, the Roman Empire and James Bond. Wine and cooking events, winter activities and luxury car events on the track or in breathtaking countryside settings are all possible.
Where to Host Team Building and Corporate Events in Europe
In Europe, there are a number of boutique hotels at which coroporate teams can arrange exclusive use if they book far enough in advance. Large groups can select from conference hotels and resorts with world renowned spas. To ensure the ease and comfort of facilitators and participants, you’ll find state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, complimentary Wi-Fi, and green event venues. Event venues such as urban beaches, castles, palaces, greenhouses, glass houses and gardens can be found in many parts of Europe.
Team building with a European twist is accessible as there are direct flights to major European capitals from North America, the Middle East and Asia.
I’m out of time and space and I still haven’t had time to describe the incredible adventures in Eastern Europe or the United Kingdom and the unique experiences in Scandinavian countries.
For our expanding options for Team Building in Europe, visit the Executive Oasis International website.
Photo Credit: glindsay65