Fans of A&E Channel’s “Mad Men” will recall one of the final scenes of season 5 when Peggy Olson, newly departed from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, is happily holed up in a drab motel room with a grin on her face and a glass of wine in her hand. She was on her first business trip, and she had the look of a woman who had arrived.
“Even though this is a sh-- hotel room in God-knows-where and it doesn’t look like anything glamorous, it was exactly what she’s always wanted,” actress Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy, told TV Guide. “It’s exciting, and I think this is what she wants. She’s never ridden on a plane before. She gets to take a plane on a business trip. It’s her dream.”
Women have come a long way in corporate America since then (“Mad Men” is set in the 1960s) and so have business trips. But there are aspects of hitting the road for work that remain unchanged, particularly when you’re with a group of colleagues and away from the routine of the regular workday.
Many of those in sales are on the road as much as they’re at home, so scheduling a team event can induce eye-rolling and heavy sighs. What’s more, today’s technology allows businesses to accomplish everything they used to bring teams together for with only an Internet connection and streaming video. Tough economic times make that an even more inviting proposition.
In our March/April issue, we reported on recent research by IMEX Group that shows individuals are more creative and productive in terms of producing innovative ideas when they meet face to face.
This issue’s cover story is not intended to convince readers of the value of offsite events. The preponderance of evidence continues to support that despite myriad technological advancements. Companies that fight that fact in order to shrink budgets are being penny wise and pound foolish.
We set out to talk with some people in the know — corporate meeting planners and hospitality industry professionals — about trends that are shaping today’s offsite events. We discovered that companies are using team time away from the office to accomplish important goals and also enjoy time together.
In that sense, some might say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.