After more than two years of remote working, there was no question in Brian O’Grady’s mind that his digital marketing team needed an in-person retreat.
“We knew that we needed to get together as soon as possible, not necessarily for business reasons, but more for human reasons,” says O’Grady, founder and principal consultant at Search Warrant, based in Guelph. “If you’re going to keep performing at a really high level in a competitive industry, you need more to keep you going. You need that team spirit, that mingling of creative juices.”
For O’Grady and his staff – who work together from various locations in Canada and the U.S. – finding a central location with a great atmosphere was essential for the three-day reunion in June. The group decided on Kingston – a city that sparked excitement among staff for its “marquee attractions” and waterfront location. In addition, Search Warrant counts Tourism Kingston as one of its clients, and the trip was a perfect opportunity to learn more about what the city has to offer.
“We were expecting to have a good time, because of the knowledge we already had, about activities like the 1,000 Islands cruises, the Kingston Penitentiary tour, and Fort Henry. But what surprised us were all the little things and how well they came together, the little extras that make a group experience so much better,” says O’Grady.
These little things included the ease of travel in walkable downtown Kingston, through historic limestone-surrounded walkways, along the scenic waterfront, and past exceptional restaurants.
“There’s a thriving food scene in Kingston that punches well above its weight,” O’Grady explains. “So while you’re doing that walkaround, you can pop into any number of places and get amazing gelato and incredible tapas, anything you can think of. There are also hidden courtyards and patios to discover – great places to enjoy a drink and live music later in the evening.”
For the retreat, the Search Warrant team turned to Ted Robinson, Business Events Specialist at Tourism Kingston.
Robinson specializes in creating signature experiences tailor-made for each group, from wellness experiences to microbrewery tours and kayaking excursions.
“When you’re building an itinerary from a distance that absolutely needs to go right, it is really valuable to have somebody who is local and knows all the things to see and do,” says O’Grady.
It was essential for him to keep this trip light and fun, focused on reconnection instead of work.
“This may not be everyone’s approach, but I wanted to put good people in a good situation and let that germinate and gel and see what happens,” says O’Grady. “After two years of working apart, I wanted this to be about being together. And since the retreat, there has been a positive vibe running through the team – that esprit de corps that you really need has definitely come charging back.”
Written by Wanda Praamsma