What makes a good team building event?

Ben Parkinson from Blue Hat Team Building, discusses what makes a good team building event and why Cheltenham Racecourse is an ideal venue for Team Building.

I was recently asked this question by an event booker, ‘There seem to be so many providers of team building activities, how do I know I am choosing the one that will deliver exactly what I need?’

After some thought, my conclusion was that there are several things to consider, so I’ve summarised the key points below.

It all starts with your brief – do you give it enough thought?

Find a team building provider that takes a consultative approach. Ask them for advice and recommendation. Understand why they are putting one activity forward over another. The better you understand the detail and principles of the activities on offer and how they will deliver on your brief, the better choices you can make.

To get the most appropriate and relevant advice and options in the first place, you’ll first need to give a well-considered description of what you are hoping to achieve and why.

The most insight around any specific activity will always come from the people who created it. If your full-service agency relationship is a transparent one, they’ll organise a conversation for you with their recommended experts for team building activities.

How should a team building event make your delegates feel?

The bottom line is that your delegates walk away from the activity either buzzing, energised, motivated, inspired or all the above. You decide in advance how you want them to feel and it’s then your team building company’s job to get them there through a well thought out and engaging experience.

For example, if you want more than ‘just for fun’, then you are probably looking for positive changes in behaviours when back at the office. If this is the case, you should consider a facilitated learning session around the activity. A well-crafted facilitated session will include thought provoking questions to make people think and draw their own conclusions. We call this learning style ‘self-discovery’ and I believe it is the most powerful form of learning. If people feel they have found an answer themselves, they are much more likely to act on them than if they’ve simply been told.

The 3 elements to the perfect team building experience.

First impressions of an activity dramatically affect the engagement of the delegates. Are they enthused by what they walk into or do they default to the cliché “Not another one of these team building things!”?

After you’ve captivated them with the initial impression, will your activity engage throughout, or fall short after the initial novelty factor has worn off? A more sophisticated team building concept will have a strong storyline running through, giving it a point and a purpose and a life and soul. This is the first part of a truly engaging experience.

Next consider the equipment and props your delegates will interact with. Do they feel authentic, or do delegates feel they have to ‘pretend’? Avoid events that are patronising to intelligent people in business.  The attention to detail and personalisation of the equipment and props will go along way to achieving this.

Having exceptional equipment and props is one thing, but great staff are equally an essential component to the very best experiences.

The 3 checks to make so you know you are making the right choice.

Often the name of an event, or the paragraph on the fact sheet can look similar, yet rarely are. So how do you know what you’re going to get on the day? Do these three things to help you make the best choice for your team;

  1. Try and work with recommendations from people who have experienced team building events in the past, rather than a random internet
  2. Be thorough in asking challenging questions (like above) when speaking to potential providers.
  3. Ask to see the equipment first-hand to see what your delegates will experience on the event.

And don’t forget the 4th element…the venue.

The venue is another important dynamic to consider for a well-rounded delegate experience.

The first thing delegates will see is the venue itself. As guests arrive, they’ll should expect a warm welcome, an uncomplicated set up and great F&B.

From an organisers point of view, a venue team that proactively does whatever it takes to maximise the guest and supplier experience tops my list. Whatever the nature or style of the architecture, it’s the people that make the real difference.

One such venue I’ve experienced recently that ticks the boxes so much so that I felt compelled to share it with you, is Cheltenham Racecourse. I’ve always been greeted with a warm and welcoming smile when visiting or running events there. It’s handily in the unique position to be able to host events from the small and exclusive, to the very large (I’m talking 1000+) such is the vast range of different spaces available all under one place.

We recently ran our Roman Races team activity which fitted the theme of the venue perfectly, which you can see in action here.

If I had to pick a ‘venue of the month’ then Cheltenham Racecourse would be it.


About the Author

Ben Parkinson co-founded Blue Hat Teambuilding with his business partner Neil Harvey. Ben has been designing high quality and unique team building experiences for 25 years for corporate and agency clients around the world. Working with highly skilled individuals at the Hertfordshire head office, Ben and his team create unique ways to address team event briefs. The result is an extensive event portfolio of team activities and business games designed to be more engaging, more involving, more sophisticated and more fun to participate in.

Cheltenham Racecourse