The Dos and Don'ts of Planning a Team Building Retreat in San Francisco

San Francisco is thriving again. Don't be discouraged by the news, there are so many wonderful things happening in San Francisco. Like any city, there are dos and don’ts of planning, let us help you streamline your preparation with some helpful tips from long-time locals. Check it out! Interested in designing an amazing corporate event in San Francisco or the surrounding area? Let’s chat and take your team meeting to the next level!

Are you looking for team building retreat ideas in San Francisco? Look no further! Planning a corporate team offsite or incentive trip to the San Francisco Bay Area is a great way to reward and motivate your team. In this blog post, we will go over the dos and don'ts of planning a team building retreat in San Francisco, so you can make sure your next outing is a success!

Beacon Grand Hotel SF represents the splendor of old and new San Francisco

Do: Research the Location

When it comes to planning the perfect team retreat or offsite in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is no shortage of options. With everything from Union Square to the Presidio to Japantown to the Embarcadero, you'll have plenty of venues and activities to choose from when planning your team's retreat.  We love the Beacon Grand Hotel SF in Union Square, LINE Hotel in Mid-Market, Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, and Inn at the Presidio for a unique experience for smaller groups.

If you want to take your team a bit further afield, why not try a day trip or overnight trip to Napa Valley, Sonoma County, or Monterey? Spoil your team with a dreamy executive offsite at the Montage Healdsburg, an experience they will never forget.  There are plenty of team retreat ideas and activities in each of these locations to ensure that your team will have an amazing time. From wine tasting and hot air ballooning to team-building games and kayaking excursions for employees, there is something for everyone. 

E-bike with your team over San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge

Do: Select Activities that Bring Teams Together

The San Francisco Bay Area has endless activities to choose from. A great way to make sure everyone is having fun and working together as a team is to select activities that bring everyone together. Make sure you do your research ahead of time, survey your group for fitness levels and activity preferences to ensure you craft the perfect team offsite agenda and activities. Here are some of our favorite team offsite ideas and offsite team building activities in San Francisco: 

  1. Historical Scavenger Hunt: Take your team back in time with an exciting scavenger hunt around town! Find out the hidden secrets of San Francisco by exploring its diverse neighborhoods, getting clues along the way, and engaging in a little friendly competition.
  2. Art Walks: Take a stroll through some of the most iconic art districts in San Francisco while learning about the history and culture of the area. Immerse yourself in street art, murals, sculptures, galleries, and more!
  3. Avital Food Tours: Take your team on a food journey through some of San Francisco's most famous neighborhoods and discover the delicious flavors of the city. Learn about the unique cultures and cuisines that make up this vibrant city.
  4. GoCar Tours: For an action-packed day, take your team on an exhilarating tour of San Francisco with GoCar! Explore all the sights and sounds of the city in style with an unforgettable GoCar tour experience.
  5. E-Bike the Golden Gate Bridge: For those looking for an outdoor adventure, e-bike your way across the Golden Gate Bridge and take in the breathtaking views. Land in Sausalito for a delicious team lunch at Bar Bocce or Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib before you adventure back to SF.  Enjoy a healthy dose of fresh air and stunning scenery with this exciting activity.
  6. Entertainment at Bimbo’s 365 Club or Halcyon: End your offsite with a fun night out at one of San Francisco’s famous entertainment venues! Book your own cover band or headline talent and WOW your group with a night they won’t forget.  Whether it’s a show at Bimbo’s 365 Club or live music at Halcyon, there’s something for everyone.
Off the Grid at Fort Mason a built-in team event for your corporate offsite‍

Do: Set a Budget

Let’s face it, San Francisco Bay Area isn’t the cheapest place in the country to host your corporate team offsite, but there are lots of ways to get creative and stretch your budget.  Afterall, one of the most important considerations is budgeting. In order to have a successful team retreat or incentive trip, it’s important to understand all costs before booking any travel and accommodations.

The biggest expenses for most trips are lodging, transportation and food and beverage. It’s important to outline the most significant expenses first, then use the balance of the budget for fun activities that bring teams together. 

For lodging, research hotel options in the areas you plan on visiting and compare prices for rooms. As the city revives, there are some great deals to be had - now is the time to come!  When it comes to transportation, look into walkable areas, buses for group transportation or have fun and use public transportation. 

Local restaurants are always in high demand, so for group dinners, you will want to plan at least 30 - 60 days ahead of time.  Most San Francisco restaurants require a group booking with a pre-set menu and an F&B minimum.  That’s OK though, the food is so delicious, you’ll always want more!  Consider a twist and leverage one of the cool food truck parks, like SPARK SF, or Off the Grid at Fort Mason Center food truck event.

By researching these major expenses ahead of time and setting a budget accordingly, you can ensure you have enough money to have a successful team retreat or incentive trip in San Francisco.

Beacon Grand Hotel SF represents the splendor of old and new San Francisco

Do: Book Early

Team building trips require a lot of planning and preparation, and if you’re planning a trip in the San Francisco Bay Area post-Covid, then you need to book early. Due to the pandemic, many cities have been heavily impacted and with more people wanting to travel, accommodations and activities can be limited. Booking early ensures that you secure your desired activities and accommodations and gives you more options to choose from.  So plan ahead, book early and get ready for a great time!

Don't: Wait Until the Last Minute

It goes without saying that it’s essential to plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute can cause a lot of headaches, stress, and potential logistical problems. First and foremost, it can be difficult to secure the best venues or activities at a reasonable rate if you don’t give yourself ample time to research and negotiate. 

If you’re traveling with a large group, the earlier you book, the better. Hotel rooms and flights can sell out quickly, with so much competition from leisure travelers and digital nomads.  If you wait until the last minute, you may be left with few options that don’t fit your budget. It's also important to make sure that you have all the necessary permits, insurance, contracts, and paperwork in order so that there are no surprises along the way. 

Additionally, waiting until the last minute can rob you of some creative ideas. When you start planning your team offsite early, it gives you more time to research new trends and find innovative ways to make your team retreat memorable.  Planning ahead is key when it comes to organizing a corporate team offsite in the San Francisco Bay Area. Give yourself plenty of time to research and book accommodations and activities so that you get the best deals, avoid logistical issues, and come up with some really creative ideas.

Don't: Overlook the Details

For goodness sake…. do not overlook the details!  The finer details on things like transportation, cool lodging options, on-trend meals, engaging activities and creative gifting can often be overlooked and may lead to unforeseen costs and issues later on.  Get a local’s perspective on the best meals and treats that will give your team the ultimate culinary experience. Make the most of the world-renowned chefs in San Francisco, support these amazing culinary talents by gifting a copy of their cookbooks or pre-packaged goodies, like the classic cookbooks from A16 and Tartine.  You can also leave your guests with a lasting impression by gifting them local SF goodies like TCHO chocolate, Bariani Olive Oil and Wrecking Ball Coffee.  Celebrate and support San Francisco makers in all of your design choices and make sure to take full advantage of the unique amenities that make SF a one-of-a-kind destination.  With the right attention to these details, your team will have a smooth and memorable experience. 

Don't: Forget to Have Fun!

You know what they say…. I left my heart in San Francisco.  This is a city of love with a very friendly spirit.  Infuse the “SF” spirit into your events, sprinkle a little San Francisco love into your team building retreat, and you’ll surely strengthen the bonds between coworkers and bring the team closer together.  To do this, it’s important to select activities that will bring everyone together and encourage bonding. Wether you are wine tasting in Napa Valley, team sailing in the San Francisco Bay, exploring Alcatraz Island, going on a culinary tour through Chinatown, doing a day trip to Muir Woods National Monument or going on an outdoor adventure such as kayaking, biking, hiking, or rock climbing, bring the San Francisco joy and spirit of togetherness.

No matter what activities you choose for your corporate retreat, be sure to make it an enjoyable experience for all involved. Your team building retreat should be memorable and something that everyone looks forward to. With thoughtful planning and consideration of everyone’s interests, you can ensure that your team building retreat in San Francisco Bay Area will be successful and fun for all.

Whatever type of corporate event you’re planning, you’ll be sure to find the right venue and activities in the San Francisco Bay Area that fits your needs. From modern convention centers to historic landmarks, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.  

Interested in designing an amazing corporate event in San Francisco or the surrounding area? Let’s chat and take your team meeting to the next level!

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