Every quarter, AdRoll’s Executive Assistant, Salome Donenfeld, plans two offsites for her Executive, Sales, Marketing, and Product teams. If you do the math, that’s over thirty offsites a year — making Salome quite the expert. After learning more about her meticulous planning process, it’s no surprise why her team values her support. The feeling is mutual for Salome, saying, “I get up each day knowing that these executives have my back like I have theirs.”
In addition to what she looks for in an offsite space, Salome shares her secrets on how she plans her offsites from start to finish. See how she stays sane amongst the madness with her pro tips and personal checklist.
- Start early! Pick your dates and space first and everything else will follow.
- Ask your IT person to arrive at the space one hour before the offsite begins. Bring them a coffee and feed them breakfast. That way, they can set up the IT/AV and can stick around until you feel comfortable having them leave.
- Feed your guests breakfast and lunch. Keep them hydrated and get them something sweet in the afternoon. It’s also important to feed them dinner before a night activity that involves alcohol.
- But, don’t order too much food. I find that we usually have leftovers. Programs like Replate will come pick up your food and give it to people in need. The host at The Garage actually helped us donate the rest of the food to needy folks nearby.
Food to fuel your team
For food and beverage I usually use Caviar, but I have used ZeroCater and Peerspace’s own catering concierge in the past. I set up breakfast and lunch delivery, as well as plan out an afternoon snack for a pick-me-up. Some favorites include SusieCakes, Dynamo Donuts, Doughbies, and Boba drinks. When deciding on food choices, I always think about mixing up cuisines while keeping in mind any dietary restrictions.
Keep it fresh
I like to plan fun team building activities such as Bubble Soccer, pumpkin picking, or a sushi making class. I keep a master Google Doc of fun things to do in San Francisco and the Bay Area so I never run out of great ideas for my teams.
My offsite checklist
- Book dates
- Send calendar invites to employees
- Check out the available spaces
- Book space
- Create agenda
- Invite others who are not on the team but who are presenting or attending (outside speakers, etc.)
- Book food and beverage
- Book your internal IT team to help
- Plan a fun activity to go along with the meeting (this usually happens on the third day or at night after a one day meeting)
- Finalize agenda and timing
- Pull together all decks that will be presented into a master deck
- Update the calendar invites with all information including location, how to get into the space, timeline of the day, what is on the menu, and contact information
- Order on Instacart (an app for groceries) for extras like water, candy, etc.
- Update employees with an email the night before the event including all info needed for the offsite. Get them pumped about the offsite and remind them about the fun activity that follows.
I love using Google Forms. I try to send the form out the day or night after the offsite ends so that everything is fresh in the employees’ minds. I ask them to rate the location, sessions, physical space, food and beverage, and of course the fun activity that accompanies each offsite from a scale of one to ten. I also ask for general feedback so that folks can speak freely. It’s great to look back on each time to see where I can improve but I try to remind myself that I can’t please everyone!
What I love most about my job
I love my job because of the people I support. I have a unique opportunity to assist eight very different people from different backgrounds. I love being an extension of these individuals.
I can’t start my day without: The Today Show. I turn it on before I even get out of the bed, and listen to it while I get ready for work. So glad Savannah Guthrie is back from maternity leave.
When I’m not working, you can find me: Taking a dance class, spending time in Marin County with my family, and planning my wedding!
Favorite app: Snapchat
How I de-stress after a long day: TV, TV, TV. I love my DVR almost as much as I love my fiancé.
Life motto: This one is for work and life. DNS (Do. Not. Schedule). At work it’s a way for me to create a good work-life balance experience for the executives by creating space in their day when they are not taking meetings, but it extends well beyond AdRoll for me. Everyone needs those moments, even if it’s 20 mins to turn off your cell phone, disengage and have a little “ me” time. Find that time for yourself and stick to it.