Volume II: Cool Online Resources

When I told a friend that this month’s editorial would be about recommending cool online resources, she said, “Aren’t you afraid of giving away all your secrets?” My response… Combine the Internet of things with Google’s algorithms, add in a tech-savvy generation of buyers armed (and seemingly connected to) powerful hand-held smart devices… and so (other than anything that appears after Page One of a Google search), there are no secrets.
On the other hand, there is now so much information out there, it is almost impossible to tell who is good and who is not. Travel Advisor and Yelp may be good for individual experiences, but a) groups are different and b) I don’t know anyone who actually writes those reviews anyway. Why should I trust the crowd if I don’t even like the crowd?
I digress.  That’s kind of what I do for group stuff… vet the suppliers and vendors and then recommend them to meeting planners who don’t have the time to wade through it all. It’s the relationship thing (if you’re into that).
So these “Cool OnLine Resources” are no secret unless you did not know about them already. Check them out (since they are cool). And of course, all this info gets posted on our web site and in our Library Archives. We’ll keep adding as we go so that we, too, will remain a very “cool on-line resource” for All Things Meetings. And I am not anonymous. You can actually talk to me.
First up… PeerSpace.com
Think of it as “AirBnB” for private event spaces but with lots of added value stuff thrown in. It’s a simple concept (now that someone thought of it). Want to have a private event in a cool venue in (for now) San Francisco, Los Angeles and soon to be New York City (and then the world)?
Go to their web site and create a free account (and say I sent you), and you can browse through their entire inventory of cool places, or use one of their many filters… and once you find something you can connect directly with the venue OR… you can chat with one of the PeerSpace people and they’ll help you find what you need. And they are nice too. I use these guys a lot.

And I should mention… it’s not just for “events” in the “let’s have a party” mode. Their staff works closely with their users to help them book space and plan for all kinds of activities, from client meetings and team off-sites to product launch events, photo shoots, executive retreats and all of those other “events that need space things” that I decided not to mention.

An important note… the way they make their money. The venue pays PS most of the finder’s fee…so that’s good… but you pay PeerSpace a fee equivalent to 5% of the venue rental. For example…if the venue charges you $1000, you pay the venue $1k and PeerSpace $50. If the venue charges $300 an hour, you pay that to the venue plus $15 an hour to PeerSpace. And like that.

Yes…it’s money. But you just saved yourself time and found some places you never would have found on your own. Click Here

Next up… VIPLuxurySuites.com
You’re a meeting and event planner. The boss says… “I want to entertain our 25 best customers at the next big game. Want one of those VIP suites. Set that up.” And you say OK… and then stare at your computer screen trying to figure out what to do next.

The answer? Go to LuxuryVIPSuites.com (makes sense). They just happen to be the main supplier of luxury suites at all sporting events and concerts in North America. And they are also really nice (at least to me, so far).

Important - They are NOT just another ticket broker. Truth be told, in a world of over 10,000 ticket brokers, nearly every suite purchased from a broker is coming from LuxuryVIPsuites. LVS is contracted with corporations and private suite owners who have long term contracts with the venue. They are the source! Hey… I can get it for you wholesale! (Just kidding). 
Anyway…good deals. And I say good deals assuming you understand that VIP Luxury Suites at major sporting events are not what you would call… cheap… but considering the ROI one gets from hanging out for a few hours with your top customers… worth it. Visit their web site… Click Here
Oh…this is an editorial and these guys have not paid me anything to say all of this about them. I chose it because I like them… but they said… tell your readers that if they mention All Things Meetings when they buy something, they’ll get a special gift. I have no idea what that is, and like I said, this is an editorial so you don’t have to say anything you don’t want to say. Just saying.

And finally (for today)… SFPDV.com
I get asked all the time… hey, can you recommend a restaurant in San Francisco with a private room that can seat x number of people on such and such a date? Easy question. Dilemma: It takes a lot of time to figure out what matches the client’s demographic and budget, and then find out what’s available. (Unlike many places in the world), SF restaurants usually don’t pay finders fees or commissions… (don’t get me started). What is the solution to the “lots of time for no money” dilemma? If I can’t convince my clients the benefits of having an exclusive event in a really cool private venue so they can theme it, choose the perfect menu… and all of the other things I say to them, then I recommend my clients go directly… and here’s why…

San Francisco Private Dining Venues is free search engine and RFP platform for event planners to locate the best possible venue for their private dining needs. Venues range from fun and casual to fine dining with lots of choices in between. You can submit an RFP on the web site and choose which restaurants should receive it. It’s actually pretty cool. Click Here

That’s it for the moment… but we’ll keep building the Library. Tell every meeting planner you know to visit the site and share their ideas (and click on everything :) 

Next month we'll be talking about Theme Parties … or whatever other random idea pops into my head between now and then.

Please share your "Most Wow" Team Building experience, or your recommendation for the "Coolest On-Line Resource" with us (and everyone) on the Blog on our new site (so we can all check it out).

Volume I: Team Building

(Like Love) Team building is one of those things that mean something different to everyone.  To the Organizational Development guy, Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but also learn to trust and support one another and respect one another's individual differences.

You know, that team building stuff. On the other end of the spectrum… let’s call them Company Outings. As much fun as they are, taking your group to a Giant’s Game is not really team building in the true sense of the word. It’s fun, and a good thing, and let’s people get to know each other as real people, not just as fellow workers… but still…it’s a company outing (side-note…take me). 

If I am an “attendee” and hear the event organizers announce team building, my brain groans and I think… "Can’t I just go back to my room and take a nap... or since I don’t have a TV at home, can I just find some Cops re-runs on Cable, lay on the bed, and relax until it’s time for the reception?"

But… I go, I participate, and (almost) always have a great time and feel closer to the group and to my fellow humans in general. That lasts for a few minutes, but it’s a great feeling. Just kidding. The reality of it is that  if done right, and with the proper follow-up, it actually changes the way you view yourself and how you work with people. You know, the relationship thing (that is, if you’re into that).

What is critical to the success of any team building exercise, or a company outing for that matter, is the follow-up. How do you translate the positive experience into something that can be used to increase harmony and productivity, because my friends… no matter what anyone says, that’s why it’s done. You know…the money thing.

So let me take a moment to highlight a few cool ideas you can do for your group right here in northern California…  there are dozens of possibilities but in deference to space and attention spans, we’ll have to grow the library as we go… just remember, whatever you do for your team, develop a strategy to follow-up, either with your team-builder or with your HR department. Like the Organizational Guy said, it’s an ongoing process. Otherwise it’s just a very expensive memory.

First Up Comedy Sportz The performers use improvisation skills onstage to get people laughing, but they specialize in teaching people HOW to use improvisation techniques in their work lives. Improvisation is not "winging it". It's a highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding.

  • Listening - with true focus, staying in the moment
  • Accepting - circumstances and what others bring to the table 
  • Supporting - making others look good
  • Taking Competent Risks - trusting and using your intuition
  • Letting Go of Mistakes - learn and move on

One of the most valuable team building skills… laughing together. There’s a lot more to it.  Click here to visit their web site

Want a little more physical action… try ACSailingSF…The “only” America’s Cup yacht in SF….’USA76’ (84 Ft of “awesomeness”!).

Your group races the yacht against the clock to get ‘USA76’ across the 2013 AC race course, around the Golden Gate Bridge and back to the starting line. Groups up to 20 are divided in two, team captains are educated in a short separate session and those leaders then have to dispense their new knowledge upon their team members to get this big yacht around the race course as quickly as possible. Four professional crew members are there for guidance and to make sure no one is left behind (important in a boat).

Want to sail but have a larger group? SF Sailing Company has multiple yachts (not Americas Cup yachts, but… still really cool yachts) and offers Intro to Sailing lessons - They divide up the groups and practice maneuvers such as tacking and jibbing which both require very clear communication and coordination not only for safety, but also to maximize the speed and efficiency of the boat. They then follow it with a race between multiple boats.

This 3  hour team builder is the standard event, but they also have full day activities built around sailing. Lots of possibilities. Click here to visit their web site.

They have two identical vessels that carry 28 and 36 passengers and with their partners can organize regattas and team building events for many more.  Click here to visit their web site.

We want to build on what we started last month and create a Library of some more cool “team-building ideas. So… here are a few more for you to consider, and please feel free to add to the conversation with some of the team building experiences you have had that proved successful. The idea is to let these ideas give you more ideas. You know… the sharing ideas thing.

rome urban safari.png

When in Rome… Gastaldi Travel presents the Urban Safari (with Flash Mob)

OK, you’ve got your normal Treasure Hunt with clues, puzzles and the need for creative thinking and team cooperation and then…. Add in a team building adventure powered by modern technology – TABLETS- SMART PHONES – GPS… and Rome.

Divided in teams each one equipped with devices to receive the game instructions and clues, guests will take Photos with their smart phones, send them to the “board”, that will assign scores, coordinate team positions via GPS, and then assign the next clue.

Participants will also prepare a short artistic flash mob, helped by Gastaldi’s choreographers (!), in some suitable location in Rome (there must be some somewhere). Connect with Gastaldi Travel

Maybe you’re not in Rome but still like the ‘teams of people wandering around an international city” idea?

Then… San Francisco Bay Area based Corporate Games might be just the thing.

The Amazing Journey - It’s part “foreign mission,” part intercontinental race. Teams must figure out the 10 cities in the world that comprise the “race route” by finding and deciphering clues, along with attempting fun challenges from facilitators stationed at different places around the city. There are creative elements that draw upon the skills of every team member. Resourcefulness, access to technology and the internet play key roles. The teams are also challenged to amass as much (play) money as possible as they go, since money is what would be needed to finance such a trip. CFO’s will like this part.

The Journey can be customized to fit your company’s current theme or history… or whatever. Visit Corporate Games Website


Don’t want to wander around too much? Hungry? How about Teambuilding ROI’s Food Truck Challenge?   http://www.teambuildingroi.com/

You do the “divide into teams” thing and assigned to a truck, and the number of food trucks depends on the size of your group. When the Giant Clock starts ticking, the teams compete to earn necessary items (like ingredients, décor, chalkboards etc), and then work with their Food Truck chef to prep, cook and serve their creations to the rest of the group and a panel of judges. You get the idea… fun, food, and more fun.

That’s it for the moment… but we’ll keep building the Library. Tell every meeting planner you know to visit the site and share their ideas (and click on everything :) 

Join the conversation! Share your thoughts, ideas, and/or experiences in the comment box below.

Next month we'll be talking about International Team Building Ideas… and whatever other random idea pops into my head between now and then.