A breath of fresh air: should you take your meeting outside?

Ah, summertime in Britain. A risky game what with the jet stream and prevailing winds coming in from the southwest. However, while the threat of rain is a constant, the hope of sunshine is what keeps most of us going. With summer here, why not complement an impromptu meeting with some outdoor activities? Or, better yet, set the chairs up outside to begin with?

“Who wants to be inside a conference room when the sun is out? Not many,” says Kerry Buthee, senior project manager at drp. “Where possible, it is essential to try and bring elements of the outdoors into an event. There are some ways you can do this easily.

“Teambuilding activities like treasure hunting for instance, which require exploring, gathering and working together in the outdoors. We did this for one of our clients, it worked really well, and brought people together.”

Ellie Jones, national account manager at Center Parcs says that their venues have seen an increase in clients who are choosing to run  morning conference sessions before engaging in some outdoor teambuilding activities in the afternoon.

She says: “Organisers are recognising that a full day spent inside is not conducive to getting the best out of delegates, and some time spent outside can reinvigorate and re-energise them.

“If teambuilding is not on the conference agenda, then event bookers can still include an element of the outdoors. Breakout sessions outside are a great way to inspire creativity among delegates, while drinks receptions in the great outdoors offer a more informal, relaxed environment to end the day.

“Other outdoor activities we have suggested to clients in the past have included a walk or cycle through the forest before a meeting, which is a great way to help enhance alertness and concentration among delegates for the day ahead.”

The De Vere Beaumont Estate in Windsor benefits from being to able host events outdoors, with the reassurance that should it rain, the delegation can move inside.

While meetings outside are more popular in the summer, the grounds of the estate are commonly used for teambuilding activities.

Michael Yeung, senior sales manager, says: “To help you choose your activities we have listed three event companies that we work in partnership with.

“They all offer a wide variety of activities; from favourites such as It’s a Knockout, country sports and treasure hunts, to some more novel activates such as falconry, Segways and duck herding, although maybe not all at the same time!”

With temperatures averaging around 17 degrees and with up to four more hours of daylight than in London, taking advantage of summer in Scotland is a less obvious choice. 

Lucy McCaul, marketing communications manager, VisitScotland Business Events says:

“Amazing Days has corporate event programmes to suit all tastes. From a speedboat adventure on Loch Lomond to 4×4 off-roading in the Highlands, to a murder mystery hunt in Glasgow’s city centre, there are a host of outdoor pursuits to encourage team members to work together.”

Sometimes, though, it takes more than just arranging seats outside. Making use of nature can add a touch of class to an event. Candle Arbors is an events supply agency, and one of their popular products is tree wrapping. Without the need for stepladders and scaffolding, experienced climbers decorate trees to the client’s specifications, which includes the rigging of lighting.

Sam Forbes, founder of Candle Arbors, said: “We reach places and rig lights where most can’t, the result is a completed project that perfectly matches each customer’s concept.

“As well as the tree wrapping service Candle Arbors offers, the firm can also string lantern between trees or from branches and use discreetly placed spotlights to illuminate trees or other features. All options are suitable for all weathers and are battery operated, meaning there are no trailing cables.”

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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