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Business and Pleasure – Adding the Wow Factor to Corporate Summer Parties

Imagine hurtling to the earth from 4,000 metres at 200 km/h as you ponder your options for promotion at work after the summer break. Not all that appealing? How about an alternative Plan B: landing at Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport by the more traditional means of a passenger aircraft, then heading to the local village of Campillos and the newly set up Fly4Real – Spain’s first outdoor skydiving simulator.

Located within the KartCenter Campillos complex, the simulator is the same one used by Tom Cruise to train for his film stunts in “Mission Impossible-Fallout”. According to Fly4Real’s team, it is “an addictive, exciting and thrilling experience… the perfect way to find out what skydiving feels like without jumping from an aeroplane. Suitable for all the family, people can fly from the age of five to 95. It is also excellent for companies to reward their employees with an exciting and unique team-building experience.”

Or team-building as part of a corporate summer party in the renowned southern Spanish sun… If you are planning for a longer full weekend of corporate thrill-seeking, conveniently located 50 kilometres away is another stunning attraction: the Caminito del Rey. Once known as the “world’s most dangerous walkway” the “King’s Pathway” was re-opened in 2015 after undergoing a major renovation and today it provides secure passage for hikers through the steep cliff-faces of the El Chorro gorge, so safe in fact that even inveterate vertigo sufferers have been known to survive the intrepid excursion without undue suffering. It is now hugely popular, with thousands of annual visitors, so reservations (well in advance) are a must.

Finding the Ideal Summer Destination

There are several reasons why the Costa del Sol is such a popular holiday destination for tourists and travellers – including its attractive climate, excellent transport connections and modern infrastructure – but during the summer months other areas in northern Europe also offer an appealing combination of attractions for a corporate summer party. Finland, for example, is at its picture-postcard best from June to August, with the country home to nearly 190,000 lakes of more than 500 square metres and around half a million summer cottages.

If a little business is being mixed with pleasure, Helsinki – the capital city where Presidents Trump and Putin met for their summer 2018 summit – is home to Finlandia Hall, named during the Bea World Festival in Portugal as the best event venue. Located near Töölölahti Bay, a picturesque “green heart” of Helsinki, the building will be back in the international spotlight in the second half of 2019 when Finland takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union.

For corporate event organisers seeking something more remote – with no business distractions – Ylläshilla is a luxurious log cabin in Äkäslompolo, offering breathtaking Arctic wilderness scenery.

During summer, the “Midnight Sun” doesn’t set for more than 70 consecutive days. “The biggest difference,” explains Ylläshilla, “comes from the incredible change in the nature of the light – the sun takes on a reddish-yellow colour and everything around you is bathed in an unimaginably warm, bright light… You can hike, swim, paddle, go fishing and enjoy the nightless night. The endless summer days under the midnight sun are perfect for watching wildlife and exploring the great outdoors… the fresh air and pristine countryside really lets you reconnect with nature.”

Of course, not all corporate summer revellers necessarily want to disconnect – which is where (returning south) Avalon Events join the party. As organisers of corporate events in Monaco and the French Riviera, they promise “endless energy, creativity and unforgettable memories”.

In addition to traditional summer activities, in July and August this hotspot of European glamour hosts the Nice Jazz Festival, Cannes International Fireworks Contest, and summer concerts at the Principe Palace.

Setting the Right Festive Scene

Once the destination and venue have been chosen, the serious business begins. As The Arabian Tent Company notes, Whether you’re planning a summer party where staff kick-back and relax with each other, or putting on a party to celebrate a team achievement, or making staff feel appreciated at Christmas for a year of hard work… creating an inviting environment that will delight and inspire guests, adding décor for them to remark at and relax in, has to be the best start to any corporate event?”

In addition to creating bespoke marquees, the UK-based event specialists have access to an extensive range of furniture items, fabrics and props to transform indoor spaces (even providing “luxury loos”), as well as assisting with catering and recommending entertainment options.

Keeping the Food and Wine Flowing

Of course, no summer party is going to be particularly popular if the culinary aspects are inadequate. One of the highlights of London’s soirée season is the “Secret Garden Summer Party”, with catering by Lettice. So what are the secrets of a successful garden party?

“Garden parties are about mingling rather than sitting down to a meal,” says the family-run company. “Bite-sized canapés, finger food and sharing platters should dominate the menu. For the ingredients, keep it seasonal and fresh, such as tomato and feta pesto bites or roasted red pepper and halloumi skewers. Of course, don’t forget the sweets. But if baking isn’t your forte, don’t stress… Simply pick up something fresh from your local bakery or market and garnish it yourself… with edible flowers, fresh berries and cream or passion fruit pulp.”

And for drinks? “Keep it simple with classic summer mixes such as gin & tonic with freshly picked rosemary from the garden, or Aperol Spritz with a generous wedge of orange straight from the tree. Non-alcoholic options could include elderflower with soda water and a slice of cucumber or a sparkling rosewater lemonade with fresh mint. Cocktail jugs are both a crowd-pleaser and something that can be prepared easily before your guests arrive.”

Saying Goodbye with Style

Finally… the eagerly awaited goodie bag. These are usually reserved for more formal conferences, where business is on the agenda, but will also be well-received after a corporate summer party. “Conference swag bags are a double-edged sword,” warns Rich’s List. “If you opt not to hand out gift bags to conference attendees, they may feel you don’t fully appreciate their presence. However, a corporate goodie bag that doesn’t impress means that your guests are tossing their gifts in the trash before heading home.”

They recommend choosing quality over quantity, focusing on sustainability, customising gifts and keeping airport security in mind. “The best conference gift bags are filled with useful, high-quality items that fit easily in carry-on luggage. You want guests to leave with a positive opinion of your event.”

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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