• December 19, 2023

Behind the scenes: OrangeDoor’s team offsite

Behind the scenes: OrangeDoor’s team offsite

Behind the scenes: OrangeDoor’s team offsite 1024 683 micebook.

Creating memorable and engaging events for people who work in events is never an easy feat, as team micebook knows all too well. And I’ve always thought it must be the same for event agencies when they create their own internal events. If you employ a team of people who are experts in designing and delivering exceptional experiences for your clients, they’re bound to have high expectations of their team off-site.

So, when OrangeDoor founder and CEO Elizabeth Heron, called me several months back to ask if I’d like to join the agency’s off-site Chewton Glen at the end of November, I jumped at the opportunity. I was intrigued to see how it was done. And so, on a chilly and rather drizzly Monday morning, I set off to the New Forest to join team OrangeDoor and immerse myself in the agency’s brand and culture for two days. Elizabeth was keen to demonstrate how she personally had worked closely with Lisa Lernoux-Dock, Iconic Luxury Hotels group sales director, and the team at Chewton Glen, to come up with a creative programme full of surprises and personalised touches (all a closely guarded secret pre-event), showcasing the benefits of a a great partnership.

“It was important to find a hotel that reflects our brand and values. So, it was a no brainer for me to work with an Iconic brand. I think Lisa is one of the best in the industry. She is so creative, and she just gets it. We bounce off each other,” she explains. “I also needed to find somewhere where the team would feel treated and cared for. I wanted them to experience exactly the sort of unique activities and details we are trying to get our clients to introduce into their events.”

She admits that it was a huge pressure putting the event together: “I felt I would be being watched by a team that deliver excellence all the time. So, I had to show that as CEO, I know how to do it. It’s my opportunity to give back to the team and do something for them.”

Kicking off the day with a difference…

When the team arrived on Monday morning, they were served fresh ginger shots and smoothies, with caffeine on hold until after the first activity – a sound bath. When they entered the meeting room, they were greeted with yoga mats, blankets and scented candles, rather than chairs and tables, and treated to a relaxing crystal sound bath led by someone introduced by Chewton Glen’s spa director.

“It’s something I have always wanted to try, and rather than delving straight into the day, I wanted everyone to stop and take a moment. One of the purposes of the offsite was to refresh and refocus, so it was the perfect way to start the day. It was something completely different, but it didn’t cost a huge amount, proving you don’t have to spend a fortune to elevate an event, you just need to think a little outside the box,” says Elizabeth.

After the sound bath (which I have never done before and absolutely loved), the room was quickly turned around, but instead of the usual conference room furniture and set up, furniture was borrowed from around the hotel including sofas and comfortable chairs and coffee tables to give the room a more intimate feel and encourage conversation and collaboration.

Creating memorable moments…

Lisa adds: “I love working with Elizabeth because she challenges us to come up with new ideas, but they are fantastic ideas, and it inspires us to be better and make the most out of the hotel. Sometimes, these things cost very little or nothing, like the sound bath, cold-water swimming and hot chocolate on the beach, an interactive lunch, or a kitchen tour en route to dinner, but they are unexpected and memorable.”

While the rest of the morning was dedicated to business, reviewing financials and company targets, interviews with the SLT and an in-depth look at OrangeDoor’s brand house, the afternoon was given over to interactive activities and free time to enjoy the spa, before a Christmas dinner and party in the evening. We headed to the hotel’s Kitchen Cookery School to make our own pizzas for lunch – something the hotel hasn’t offered as an activity for meeting and event groups before but worked well and was good fun, as well as tasty.

Thanks to an introduction by Lisa, OrangeDoor worked with local company Walder Events to create an afternoon team building activity – a GPS Treasure Hunt around the grounds of Chewton Glen that got them competing in tasks in teams, exploring what the property has to offer, while also reinforcing some of the brand messages shared in the morning session.

“One of my objectives, as a thank you to the hotel, was to get the team to see as much of the hotel as possible, which is why we worked with the operations team to make sure that lunch was somewhere different, pre-dinner drinks were served in another space, and tea and coffee were served in the walled garden,” says Elizabeth, “Where possible, we tried to utilise different spaces you might not necessarily think of, to inspire the team, push them out of their comfort zone and encourage them to think more creatively.”

A fresh start…

After letting their hair down over a festive dinner and disco, on the second morning, the team were invited to walk down to the beach and for those who dared (I wasn’t brave enough), enjoy a cold-water swim in the sea. It was a beautiful sunny, but fresh morning, and OrangeDoor branded hoodies were designed and gifted for the occasion with Chewton Glen providing much-needed warming hot chocolate and mince pies on the beach.

After an invigorating start to the day, leadership expert, author and speaker Manley Hopkinson, also introduced to Elizabeth by Lisa, ran an interactive session on unlocking collective brilliance, before a final lunch, a session setting goals for the year ahead, and afternoon tea to close the event. “We have never invested in a keynote before for our team, but Manley was excellent and hit every single key message that we wanted to get across.”

As OrangeDoor is a registered B Corp, Lisa and the team at Chewton Glen worked closely with Elizabeth to ensure the event reflected the values of the business. “Everyone really embraced it from our side. We organised locally sourced beer and produce, and Mermaid Gin, a local distiller, sponsored the evening drinks reception. Our team were excited, and it was great to see the OrangeDoor team enjoying themselves – you could tell that everyone felt privileged and special,” says Lisa.

Elizabeth adds: “The highlight for me was bringing the team together in a fantastic location. I know how brilliant and amazing they are, but it was great to share time with them and all get to know each other better.”

From my perspective as an objective observer, it was not only a seamlessly organised and engaging event – no less than I expected from a partnership between an award-winning agency and award-winning hotel brand – but it did have a special feel to it.  I also felt privileged to be there, and while it was clear the team needed that time to unwind after what sounds like a crazy couple of months, it felt like they were genuinely happy to be there spending time together and I could sense there is a strong culture and loyalty to both the brand and their teammates.

Huge thanks to Elizabeth and Lisa for inviting me to see their collaboration in action.

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