Most companies are au fait with the idea that December is not the most productive time of the year for staff, therefore it's generally the best time to arrange a rewarding incentive trip or party (usually in the form of a Christmas getaway) for employees.A great boss knows that a good party is important for team morale, making sure that staff have a chance to let loose and let go of the shackles of a busy work year. Take it from the Virgin boss Richard Branson, who is renowned for them. The successful entrepreneur knows that just like a business deal, organising a good party is essential for staff to retain their healthy headspace.
The most important thing is to get planning right now. You might cringe at the thought that it’s not yet Halloween and you’re already thinking of Christmas parties but as we all know, everyone’s schedules fill up lightning fast in the season of jolliness, so much so that many companies book their Christmas venue as early as August. Try booking a party any later than early November and you’ll be facing stiff competition for the best nights, hotel accommodation and locations with a hefty price tag to boot.
If you’re booking a trip away anywhere in Europe, remember that Friday and Saturday nights tend to be the most popular and most expensive. If your boss is flexible, you can save money by booking a mid-week trip away. Whatever the plan, set a date and make sure staff know ASAP (and if their partners are invited) so they can plan their holidays. Remember, it’s ok to announce the date and venue before you’ve decided any other factors – the most important thing is to just lock it down.
Get creative with a trip away
Having a carte blanche to organise a staff trip away can be exciting and daunting in equal measures. We recommend looking at your budget and then your team’s personality – this can play a huge role in the success of a Christmas staff trip away.
We’ve put together the top three best Christmas trip ideas for employers this Christmas, depending on your budget and staff:
- Big budget - Lapland and The Northern Lights
Now if you lived in a real-life snow-globe with the presence of natural reindeer and pretty mountains straddling the Arctic Circle, we’re pretty sure you’d cash in on its loveliness too. And really, who doesn’t love reawakening their inner child at Christmas time with a trip to the home of Santa Claus? Napapiiri, in Lapland boasts two major Santa-themed villages- The Santa Claus Village (an amusement park), and the very popular Santa Park, featuring impressive ice sculptures and quaint shops. This is a good option if you want to really reward staff and also steer away from a typically booze-heavy Christmas trip.
Saying that, not every employee is keen on the idea of riding with huskies on sleds through the forest. An alternative, more grown-up version? Taking a trip to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis in northern Norway. This is another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one your employees will rave about to friends, family and clients for a long time to come.
- Medium budget – The Nüremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Germany
A trip to a famous Christmas market is a great way to get staff into the festive spirit without completely breaking the bank. Nüremberg in Germany is home to one of the most well-known Christmas markets in Europe, Christkindlesmarkt, dating back to 1628. This one usually ticks all of the boxes as the city is cosmopolitan enough to satisfy your staff as it's exactly what they are looking for in a trip away – good food, culture and enough glühwien to keep the masses happy! The Nüremberg Christkindlesmarkt is the quintessential winter wonderland and as you’re winding your way through the red and white cloth decorated stalls, try the famous 600-year-old recipe for Lebkuchen gingerbread, the well-crafted glühwien or the famous roasted Nüremberger Bratwurst.
The medieval Old Town with narrow streets and stone houses is great for the history buffs in your office. Let them shine, particularly with a visit to the Northern Renaissance artist, Albrecht Dürer‘s, beautiful timber-framed residence. In the evening, the market is softly lit with hundreds of tiny lights, and brass and jazz bands arrive to entertain the punters. Our top tip is to climb the stairs of the Church of Our Lady to be rewarded with a wonderful bird’s-eye-view of the entire market.
- Low budget – an overnight trip to Brussels, Belgium
Just because you’re on a strict budget doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. If you’re an organisational wizard, booking flights to Brussels at Christmas can be as cheap as €20 per person with Ryanair. The Belgian capital is also home to the Christmas market, Places d’Hiver, stretching from Place de la Monnaie to the Vismet. You’ll find dozens of stalls selling Christmas nibbles and trinkets, an ice skating rink and cosy stands selling mulled wine. The market is right in the city centre, so a great first stop for a staff night out on the tiles.
Some of the best-value hotels in Brussels are within walking distance of the market, so no matter how many glühwiens you’ve had, getting to a warm bed will be a piece of cake. Roomex is integrated with Google Maps, allowing you to pop in a preferred location in Brussels city centre, for example, and Roomex will provide almost 600 hotels for you to choose from with discounted corporate rates. Once this is locked and loaded, you can get to work seeing the city’s best sights. Our recommendation is to soak up the views of this magical winter wonderland from the top of the 55-metre tall Ferris wheel.
If you’re staying closer to home, and are interested in booking out a hotel for your Christmas bash, Roomex allows you to scan hotels from a global supply of over 650,000 hotels to find the best value for a large, group booking at company-negotiated rates. The site saves you on average 21% on hotel spend and allows you to book, reschedule or cancel the hotel booking on a 24/7 basis. So if you can spend less time hunting for the best deal, you’ll have more time to devote to planning the perfect end of year Christmas extravaganza.
And remember, if you are planning a corporate getaway this Christmas, then download our European City Guides for Business Travellers to get the inside scoop on Europe’s most popular cities. It’s written by locals with business travellers specifically in mind.