Boston Crawling: History, Brew, and all Things Boston

A little over two years ago Bobby Heaney found himself in a field he was not particularly fond of. He had a strong sense of wanderlust throughout his life and reevaluated what he loved about travel. Often times the best experiences revolved around beer, history, and meeting great people. He combined these experiences to create Boston Crawling. A company that guides groups throughout Boston to experience some of the rich history of the city with a local brew in hand.

Boston Crawling gives your employees the chance to get out of the office, learn some exciting history, and try out some beer totally unique to the city of Boston. These bars are not the obvious choice for tourists and locals alike. Be sure to take note because they will keep you coming back for that unique brew.

Boston Crawling Highlights

Pub crawling is a favorable way to enjoy a few exclusive beers of the area. Boston Crawling tours are sure to please everyone from the seasoned local to the fresh faced intern. The history your group will be learning is the not always taught in schools or books. So you will be sure to leave with new knowledge of this historic city!

  • A history lesson on Boston you were never taught! Tour guides will teach you about the important role beer has had in our nation’s history. As well as some stories about your favorite brews.
  • Boston is the home of Sam Adams and Harpoon, so you know you are going to be treated to some quality beer. Try exclusive Boston flavors or home brews by the pubs you will be visiting.
  • Some employees not a fan of beer? Try out one of the packages which allows employees to order wine or mixed drinks.
  • The Boston Crawling Tour is not just for tourists. You may live in the city and be considered a local but this history is hidden, just like the pubs.
  • No need to rent a car or figure out transportation to and from each location. You will be visiting four pubs within 2 blocks! All are close walking distance.
  • Boston Crawling does not provide food. However, if you would like to have food available at any of the locations they would be happy to set something up so participants can munch while they drink.
  • Listening to keynote speakers or trust falls may not be for everyone when it comes to team building. Some people prefer to just grab a beer and get to know one another in a pub setting. Go for something a little bit different to bond every employee.
  • Tours can be hosted for 10 to 150 people. Larger groups will be broken up into smaller sizes and rotated. This way everyone gets a chance to order and enjoy a drink!
  • Tours can last between 2 hours and 15 minutes up to 2 hours and 45 minutes. This depends on the size of the group and if food is requested.
  • Is it suggested that groups book 30 days in advance. However, not a problem if on a shorter notice.

Boston Crawling Package Options

Learn about the different package options offered with Boston Crawling to choose the one that fits best.

  1. Happy Hour Package – A guided Pub Crawl along Boston’s Freedom Trail. The package includes four local craft beers at each location. Priced at $55 per person.
  2. Dry Run Package – Includes the guided Pub Crawl along Boston’s Freedom trail. It does not include drinks but is a perfect option for those corporate groups looking to put all drinks on one tab. This also gives people the option of ordering wine or mixed drinks at each location.

Interview with Bobby, Owner and Chief Crawling Officer of Boston Crawling

Listen to my interview with Bobby, the owner and chief crawling officer of Boston Crawling. We talk about how he came up with Boston Crawling, the kind of history you will learn about on a tour, and what makes these bars so unique.

Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi, this is Kristen from Team Building Hero. Today we are interviewing Boston Crawling. I have Bobby who is the owner and the chief crawling officer. Thank you so much for joining me Bobby.

Bobby: Yea, thanks for having me.

Kristen: Awesome, so first can you just tell us how Boston Crawling got started?

Bobby: Sure, Boston Crawling is actually 2 years and 1 day old today. Our birthday was yesterday. It started because I am actually a recovering attorney. I practiced law for about 6 years before I started in Boston Crawling. It just wasn’t for me. I knew after one semester of law school that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but I am not a quitter! So I stayed with it, kept practicing, thinking it might get better. It got to the point where I was doing so bad that I didn’t want to go to sleep at night cause I didn’t want to wake up in the morning. I knew I had to change course.

I started with the question that they always tell you to start with but no one ever does and that is ‘what do I love?’ I wrote that at the top of a piece of paper and I realized that some of my happiest memories are of always traveling. I had Wanderlust in my younger days. I backpacked through Europe by myself. Studied in Australia …studied in Prague. I have driven from New York to San Francisco and back. I worked out in Yellowstone for a little bit. I have always had that kind of bug. I started to think, ‘what did I always like about that?’ I really loved meeting people from around the world. I loved learning history when I was traveling. Not the typical textbook history, like the nitty gritty dirty stuff that they teach on the tours. Then, of course, I always loved drinking the local beer when I was traveling. So I combined ….

-call dropped-

(2:40)
Bobby: So I combined those three things. Meeting people from around the world, hidden history, and good local craft beer, into a historic pub crawl company called Boston Crawling. That is how we were born.

Kristen: Fantastic, that is actually a really cool story. I am a bit of a recovering public accountant. I totally understand trying a new field and doing something a little bit maybe more adventurous. That is totally awesome. Can you walk us through a corporate event with Boston Crawling?

Bobby: Yea. So corporate events, we can basically do any size. Anywhere from 10 to — we have a booking for October for 150 people. What that entails is they will all meet at a central location. A historic spot here in Boston and then we take you to 4 different historic bars in Boston. All along the way we are giving a history tour. We try to keep it half socializing / half history. So you are not being lectured for too long. You get a chance to hang out with your fellow team members but you also get to learn about the city of Boston and some fun and cool stories that we offer.

Each bar has its own historic significance as well. We recommend good local beers that you cannot find anywhere else. The larger the group the more likely we’re going to have to split into multiple tours. So we can basically crawl up to 30 people on one tour as long as we have two guides. But say you have more than that, for example that 150 group. We are splitting it into multiple groups of 30. With guides starting at different bars and just going in a circle with everyone finishing at the same bar. But it is a good fun way to get your team out, get them interacting with each other but also to see the city of Boston a little bit.

Kristen: Awesome, so if you have a company you are doing an event for and the company is from Boston, they live there, do you go to hidden bars that they have never heard of before?

Bobby: Yea, so the bars we go to all have history and yet none of them are really tourist traps. So whether you are from Boston or not from Boston these bars are not likely ones that you are going to normally go into. We do try to find the hidden gems here in Boston. The history that we offer is often the stuff that is left out of an 8th grade social studies class. So a lot of Bostonians will say to us after, “Wow, I never knew any of that.” That is always a cool feeling.

Kristen: Is it history about the beer or how each place got started?

Bobby: Yea, so outside of each bar we offer history of the bar itself and what the bars background is. Once we are inside our little history presentation is on everything from how beer affected the landing at Plymouth Rock up to the start of the Revolution. We cover such significant events like the Boston massacre. We’ve discussed not only Sam Adams the beer but Sam Adams the person. So it is a little bit of everything.

Kristen: Awesome. So all these bars you go to, are they locally brewed or is there like a special aspect to them?

Bobby: So beer in the bars, some bars offer house brew made by Sam Adams or Harpoon brewery here in Boston. For the ones that don’t, we offer ones that Sam Adams and Harpoon only sell in Boston. While they might not be specific to that bar you are not going to find them from outside of the city.

Kristen: So what is included in these tours? Is there drinks included? Can you do like a lunch or maybe a dinner with them?

Bobby: We have two different standard options. The first is the happy hour package. That includes 4 beers, one at each bar we go to. So it comes out to 2 pints, a 12 ounce and a 10 ounce. That will cost $60 for a private group. That includes gratuity so you don’t have to worry about tipping the guide. That includes $5 per head in gratuity. Otherwise we offer a dry run reservation. That includes no beer and you would be responsible for directly buying the drinks from the bar. That is $35 also including gratuity. So a lot of corporate groups what they will do is they will buy the dry run and then just open one tab at each bar. Because it is hard to determine whether people are beer drinkers, wine drinkers, if they like harder alcohol, or if they don’t want to drink four beers at all. So usually we recommend for a private group to do the dry run option. We don’t normally include food in our standard pricing. However with corporate groups they often would like food. We can arrange with the bars to have the food ready. They can prepay for that or they can pay at the bar themselves. We would just need to speak with whoever is in charge of booking. In terms of food they want, how many bars they want to have food. Things like that.

Kristen: With these corporate events, so say a company wants to do a Boston Crawling event, if they want to implement team building skills or do more bonding is that something that you offer? Or is that something you encourage corporations to come up with on their own? Is there a way to do that?

Bobby: Yea, so at each bar we have plenty of time for socializing. We ourselves don’t offer any sort of team building activities besides the history and of course getting people beer, that seems to bring people together. But in terms of having the amount of time or something like that they can certainly do that in the bars themselves. Normally our tours run about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Giving us around a half hour to 45 minutes per bar. But again, with corporate groups we can vary the start time, vary the length and work to accommodate the group for exactly what they want.

Kristen: Ok, and do you drive to each of these locations or are they like walking distance?

Bobby: Yup, all of our bars are really close to each other. They are in the historic vanhull district of Boston. So the entire walking portion is literally 2 blocks. So we hit 4 bars in 2 blocks. We like to keep the bars as close together as possible. So we make the bars the experience, not necessarily the walking and also because we want to accommodate anyone who might need some help with traveling from spot to spot.

Kristen: Fantastic, so can you tell us a little bit about the price ranges and what is included in the price? I am sorry… we already covered that actually…yea I think actually you answered all of my questions. How far ahead should people book in advance?

Bobby: Yea, so our weekends book up pretty quickly. I would say, especially for a corporate group, you want to try to give 30 days notice. There are a lot of times where they want to start at a different time. We normally crawl at 3:00 and 7:00 everyday. But for private groups they may want to crawl at 5:00, they want to start at noon. We can arrange any of that as long as we have enough of a heads up. I would say 30 days is plenty of time, but we are always willing to take bookings when they come.

Kristen: Ok, and how long are these events?

Bobby: Yea, about 2 hours and 15 minutes. A larger group may run a little bit longer, like 2 and a half , 2 hours and 45, just cause you got to get everyone from bar to bar. Make sure everyone gets their drinks. But again if they order food I would say on the longer side that theirs too, would be about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Kristen: Ok, great. I think I actually went through all my questions. That was great. Do you have anything else that you would like to add about Boston Crawling?

Bobby: Yea, I would like to say that we are a fun alternative way to see the city. Because we get you your drinks and we get you your history. People find themselves debating whether they want to do drinks or a history tour. We are the perfect compromise for both. You will definitely have enough drinks to have a good time, but enough history to say that you learned something while you were here in Boston.

Kristen: Awesome, well thank you so much for your time. That was a lot of great information. Yea we are all set.

Bobby: Great, thanks Kristen. If you need anything else just let me know.

Kristen: Will do, thanks. You are listening to Team Building Hero. I am Kristen and that was Bobby the owner of Boston Crawling. Thanks

Bobby: Cheers!

Boston Crawling Reviews

Boston Crawling is an enjoyable way try some unique local brews you won’t be able to get anywhere else. Even if history is not your thing, learn some of the nitty gritty stories that your history teacher probably left out.

“Absolute awesome time. Great history lesson along with excellent beer. I will do this again with friends just so they can experience it. I would highly recommend this as a pub crawl if you’re looking to try one. Great tour guide(s).” – Josh Jacob, Facebook

“As someone who is native to the area, I found this really insightful. Not only was the tour guide was really knowledgeable about the history of Boston, but he had a perspective that was original and witty. If you want to have a text book tour, go somewhere else. If you want to know about the REAL history of Boston, while enjoying a Boston beer, take this tour!” – Daniela S., Yelp

“Entertained both out of towners and locals and everyone has a great time. Garrison shared some great stories of history and several debates spiraled off as we shared some of the local brews. Highly recommend as a night out doing something fun and different”. – Stephen W., Trip Advisor

Urban AdvenTours: Cycle Boston to Learn its Hidden History

In the early 2000s Boston was considered one of the worst cities for bike riders. Now it has quickly grown to one of the most bike friendly cities in the United States. The riders of Urban AdvenTours like to think they played a small part in making that happen and you can too! Book a team building event with Urban AdvenTours to take a ride through the streets of Boston.

Why a bike tour? How much do you really know about Boston? Sure you may have learned a lot in your social studies class decades ago. But with a ride led by their knowledgeable guides, they will reveal the hidden history of this historic city.

Urban AdvenTours Highlights

Team building with your coworkers by riding bikes through the city is a fun way to get some sunshine, exercise, and spend time with one another. Urban AdvenTours provides a number of ways for you to make the experience unique to your team while also making it an educational experience for everyone.

  • Not all tours are the same and there are plenty of exciting routes to choose from!
  • Don’t be worried about seeing the same old tourist sites in Boston. Tours can be anything from the famous Paul Revere ride to a customized tour relating to your business.
  • Your employees may just be interested in riding bikes around the city for an afternoon. Urban AdvenTours can accommodate you as well! Instead of signing up for a tour, rent bikes to explore the city.
  • What is a bike ride without food and drinks waiting for you at the destination? While Urban AdvenTours does not personally provide food or drinks they can incorporate these add ons for your event.
  • Depending upon the types of bikes the store has available, accommodations can be made for up to 150 people. In tour settings they suggest groups no larger than 30 people. You don’t want to be taking up too much of the street.
  • Tours typically last 2.5 to 3 hours long.

Urban AdvenTours Available Tours

Urban AdvenTours City tours are not just for travelers. They have plenty to offer for history buffs, beer enthusiasts, and the more advanced riders. One size does not fit all with their events, so check out some of the exciting options available.

  • City View Tour – This flagship and introduction to Boston tour will take you through some of the most popular sites in Boston. Visit Boston’s Italian and oldest residential neighborhood, Fenway Park, The Charles River Esplanade and Copley Square.
  • Paul Revere Ride – THE BRITISH ARE COMING! With this ride bikes will replace horses as you follow Paul Revere’s midnight ride from April 18th,1775.
  • Bike and Brew – Does your team love to exercise but also loves to enjoy a pint now and again? The Bike and Brew tour may be for you. End your tour near the Harpoon brewery for a tour of the facility and some straight from the source brew.
  • The Emerald Necklace Tour – A tour for the more advanced riders, bike through some of Boston’s most beautiful parks. For some extra visual appeal, book a tour between October and November to see the leaves change color.
  • Customized Tours – Don’t see any tours that speak to you? Create your own! Urban AdvenTours has done green architecture tours and water reservoir tours for special private groups. Contact a member of their staff on how to set up your own customized tour.
  • And more!

Urban AdvenTours Safety

Urban AdvenTours experienced staff will make sure you are safe during your entire ride. They recognize communication is important when navigating the streets of Boston and they will make sure you feel confident riding along.

  • With each bike rented riders are also provided a helmet.
  • All riders are asked to sign a waiver before they begin their journey. Waivers can be sent ahead of time or signed upon arrival.
  • On tours or optional rentals you will be led by experienced guides that know the city. While continuing down the route you will be instructed by the safest way to cross and navigate the streets of Boston.
  • If you are unsure about the experience level of the tours available most are for basic level riders. The only exception is the Emerald Necklace your which can be slightly more challenging.
  • If a rider does not feel completely confident riding a bike on their own there is the option of riding tandem. The rider can hop on the back of a tandem with an experienced rider to feel better about their ability to navigate the route.

Interview with Alex, Tour and Rental Manager of Urban AdvenTours

Listen to my interview with Alex, the tour and rental manager of Urban AdvenTours. We talk about the fun unique tours available and different ways to customize your team building event.

Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi, you are listening to Team Building Hero. I am Kristen and I have Alex here from Urban AdvenTours. He is the tour and rental manager. Thank you so much for joining me Alex.Alex: Thanks for having me Kristen.

Kristen: So just to begin can you tell us how Urban AdvenTours got started?

Alex: Sure. So our founder, Andres Prescott, he graduated from Wesleyan college. He is from Connecticut but he moved to Boston not long after graduating. He was an accountant, he was playing the corporate game. He saw some things that were less than honest and it didn’t rub him the right way. So he quit all that, left it behind. He had been a cyclist for most of his life so he decided to get into the bike business.

Now in the early 2000s Boston was not regarded as a bike friendly city at all. In fact it was rated as one of the worse in the country. But none the less he started selling bike tours out of his garage. In 2004 quickly moved to Boston Bicycle, which if you are familiar with Boston area it was recently superb bicycle and was recently shut down in the last couple months. He had a total of about 8 mountain bike tours all over the city. A couple years later he moved over to Landry’s on cal ave. Had a few bikes just underneath the stairs at that bike shop — continued growing and in 2009 moved to Atlantic avenue where we are now located today. In 2010 we opened up Urban Cycles, which is our bike shop right next door located in the same building. So really now-a-days we have really become to be a resource for all things cycling. We started off as Andrew just leading tours out of his garage and today we are really pushing for being cycling advocates in Boston. Doing what we can to promote cycling and get people out on the roads riding safely. We like to take a little bit of credit for the fact that Boston was really not bike friendly in the early 2000s and since we have been a part of the cycling culture here in Boston it has really become one of the best cycling cities in America. I like to think that we had a hand in making that happen.

Kristen: Wow, that is so interesting. So when you first started bikes were not a big part of the city. But now do you see a lot of other people biking and using that to get to work?

Alex: O absolutely. There is a bike lane right outside the window right here, that wasn’t here before we were in this neighborhood. There are a whole bunch of different advocacy groups that have grown up in Boston. It seems like they are putting in a new bike lane…a new bike path somewhere, every couple months. So we are pretty happy to see where the city has come. It looks like it is going to keep moving forward and to keep becoming better and better.

Kristen: That is fantastic. So I am sure that is good news for your business.

Alex: It is absolutely good for our business but you know it is just really good for the city in general.

Kristen: O yea definitely. So can you walk my through a corporate team building event?

Alex: Yeah absolutely. So really our product is our bike tour around Boston. As a corporate event we very simply will just host a private tour for a group. So these tours are generally 2.5 to 3 hours long. About 10 to 12 miles. Our flagship tour, which I have personally led a corporate group on one of these tours before. It is our flagship tour, the city view tour. It is goes through 6 different neighborhoods of Boston, about 8 to 10 stops. We will stop to tell people about the history of Boston, culture of Boston, stop at different historic and cool points of interest and explain what we are looking at. That is our standard tour that we lead daily for whoever wants to come on a tour with us.

It really lends itself to being a corporate event in that, if you are riding a bike as a group it is really a great team building exercise. You really have to be aware of those riding with you. Whether you are riding through the streets of Boston, you have to be aware of perhaps a car coming behind you, getting through an intersection as a group. You really have to be aware of who is around you and communicate. I am turning right, I am turning left, slowing, stopping…a lot of communication that goes along with riders. Also just riding a bike, especially when we are down on the bike path. It is stimulating enough that I feel it really fosters conversation. You can ride up along someone and have a chat with them. Just being out in the fresh air, I think it is really a great chance to talk to whoever you are riding with and kind of get this group dynamic going that you might not get sitting around in a conference room. Otherwise riding bikes together on one of our tours is a great shared experience and I know that at the end of a tour I have led before people are really excited about what they just did and they are chatting about it. “O did you see this when we rode by that building when we stopped.” All our guides are taking pictures, remember these pictures, and we will send them to people after the tour. It is a great shared experience for a group.

Kristen: Yea, definitely. Well it is really an exercise in multiple ways. You know, practicing communication, working with everyone to get from one side of the road to the other, and just enjoying outside.

Alex: Absolutely.

Kristen: So can you tell me more about the unique tours you offer to people that maybe already live in Boston.

Alex: Sure, so most of our tours are geared towards tourists, like people visiting Boston. So we do a bit of seeing the highlights of Boston which may or may not appeal to locals. But our guides are pretty well versed in the history of Boston and I really believe that if locals come on our tour….I know the first time I went on a tour…you really do learn something about the city that you thought you already knew. So honestly I would recommend our flagship tour, the city tour to locals as well as tourists coming into the city.

But otherwise, our tour of Cambridge if people aren’t as familiar with Boston’s district city just north of the Charles. That is a great option to explore over there. Otherwise we can tailor any sort of tour to a people’s personal interests. We have done green architecture tours, so going around and seeing new developments and rooftop gardens and different solar panels. See the different new up and coming green architecture. We also do a bike and brew tour where we will take you to a couple different breweries. Usually that ends at the Harpoon brewery. So take a tour of Harpoon after that. But we can really tailor a group ride to anyone’s particular interests. One really great tour package we have is the Paul Revere ride. It is a pretty cool idea, it follows the midnight ride of Paul Revere. He started right down here in the north end, and that is where our shop is located. We will ride bikes, of course he rode his horse, to Lexington and Concord. So it is kind of a history tour of the American Revolution. That is a great group ride if people are into riding a little longer, a little bit farther.

Kristen: Interesting, so it is like a modern take on Paul Revere on a bike.

Alex: Yea, exactly.

Kristen: Kind of how you were talking about how you can customize tours…I, like the founder, use to work in accounting. When you want to learn about your clients you go and you study…if they are an architecture firm you study what they build. So maybe for people who have clients they are trying to get, this is a really great option for them to look at architecture of the city.

Alex: Mhmm

Kristen: So can you tell me about different ways you can customize the tour? Are there like drink stops that you can do? You talked a little bit about doing desired locations but what sort of add ons are available?

Alex: It really comes down to whatever a group decides they want to do. We are extremely flexible. We start and end most of our tours at our location in the north end. But we have the means to deliver bikes pretty much anywhere within Boston. So if groups want to start and end in different locations that is certainly a possibility.

I mentioned the bike and brew tour, it is probably our most common kind of add on’s is to finish towards the Harpoon brewery. We don’t coordinate the tour itself of the brewery but I know they are open most days to accommodate bigger groups. That is really common, other groups will finish either at a convention or function that is going on. So we will start the tour here and definitely end at wherever their next event is going to be. This is a little bit different but we hosted something called a Cambridge Watershed Tour, just to give you an example of some of the other things we do. The City of Cambridge had us take some of the residents of Cambridge, take them around to all the different places of the Cambridge Watershed. It was a tour that kind of explored through the Cambridge water department. Where their water is actually coming from and it was really insightful to see the infrastructure in terms of the pumping stations and the reservoirs. Honestly to get a feel of where all their water is coming from if there are groups that are interested in getting views of any larger infrastructure or longer tours like that, we are certainly flexible. We can tailor things to people’s interest.

Kristen: That is so interesting. Are there tours that are more or less advanced? And groups that are more, “Hey I just learned how to ride a bike” sort of level. Do you have those listed on your website? Or how can people get that information?

Alex: Yea, absolutely. On our website our family friendly tour which is really for all ages and all skill levels is called our Tour to Boston, Which is really just a loop of the Charles River Esplanade. It is entirely along the bike path. You don’t have to worry about traffic or anything like that. That is good for first time rider or those who aren’t looking to get around the city and deal with traffic and things like that.

Most of our tours are really meant for all skill levels as long as you can ride a bike comfortably. Our guides are trained to keep people safe. We have been keeping people safe for 12 years riding to the city. So we definitely can cater to all skill levels.

If people are looking for a harder or longer ride our Emerald Necklace Tour is a great option. It explores the 7 parks that were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It goes all the way down to the Arnold Arboretum. That is about a 15 mile…16 mile course.. a little longer and it is better for advanced riders.

Another option for corporate events is not to do a bike tour per-say, but do a bike rental. We rent out road bikes of all different makes and all different sizes. So an event that we had last summer we went out to Concord. We delivered maybe 30/40 road bikes for a group. That gave them the option of, if some of the riders really want to go pretty far and go pretty fast they can just go off on their own and do that. We would send a tour guide with them if they want, but then the rest of the group if they want to go slower then everyone can kind of go at their own pace doing a sort of rental event.

Kristen: That is great, there are so many options. So how many people can you host for a tour? Or how many people can rent the road bikes at a time? Like min and max.

Alex: For a tour, our minimum would be 8 people. We are happy to take out fewer than that but our pricing structure does begin as if it were priced for 8 people. As for maximums, for tours there is really no maximum. If groups get larger then 20 / 25, I have the means to take them out, we could still take them out we would probably just split them into separate groups. Taking 30 people down the streets of Boston…we’ve done it before but you kind of take over the whole street and it is a better experience when you are in 2 smaller groups. But there really is no maximum. I would say, depending on what types of bikes people are renting we can accommodate up to 150 rentals and we can staff guys for that number as well if necessary.

Kristen: Fantastic, so if you are doing a tour maybe break it up. If you are doing a rental the highest is 150. That is great.

Alex: Yea, give or take depending on what type of bikes we have.

Kristen: So I have a few safety questions. When people come to the event do they have to sign a waiver?

Alex: Yup, we require every rider to sign a waiver. That is available on our website and of course we can e-mail that to group planners ahead of time if they want. But it is required for everyone to sign.

Kristen: Ok, and are there any sort of health restrictions? I know you kind of said if people can ride a bike they can pretty much do it. Is there like a weight limit or people that you would suggest maybe don’t do certain rides during hot times of the year?

Alex: There really isn’t any restrictions on that. It comes down to the individual’s choice. If they feel comfortable riding a bicycle we are happy to take them out. Even people who aren’t as comfortable riding a bike, we are happy to ride along and help you out and do our best to help get you out there safely. We also rent out tandem bikes, so sometimes if someone is less comfortable on a bike they can just hop on the back of a tandem with someone else and that is a good option if someone is not as comfortable.

Kristen: Awesome, so how long are most of your tours? I know you mentioned the Emerald necklace is a little bit longer and then there is rentals. But typical corporate tour, how long are those?

Alex: Typical tour I would say 2.5 – 3 hours. We do offer a shorter version of about 1.5 hours. Typically I would say if you really want to get a good ride in and you really want to see Boston most of our tours are 2.5 – 3 hours give or take 10 and 15 miles or so.

Kristen: Ok, fantastic. What is the price range for a corporate event? I know you said after 8 people is kind of your minimum. But after 8 people does it go up per person or how does that work?

Alex: Yea I will explain the pricing structure as best I can. The standard tour that is the 2.5 – 3 hours that is $55 per person. The 1.5 hour tour is $40 per person. But we do start our pricing at the equivalent of pricing for 8 so a minimum of 8. That means the minimum price is $600 all inclusive if you are going to take 8 or fewer. But it would go up accordingly per person from there.

As for rentals, the road bike rentals are $75 per person. If people want performance bikes or carbon framed bikes we go up from there, certainly an option. Our hybrid bikes, which are our city bikes, those are $40 per rental. Now for corporate groups depending on their size we can offer discounts between 10% – 25%. That depends on the size of the group and it is a case by case basis, but we are happy to work with groups to give them a discount.

Kristen: Ok great. What is included in that price? Are helmets part of that deal?

Alex: Yup absolutely. For the tours we of course include the bike and a tour guide to take you around. As many tour guides as we need. We generally do roughly one tour guide per 8 riders. It includes a tour guide, a bike of course, water, and a helmet.

Kristen: Ok

Alex: For the bike rentals that includes a helmet and a bike, as well as a lock and cable if necessary, as well as a flat kit. You know… in case you get a flat tire out there. Also, we have maps and different online routes that people can follow if people are going out on their own.

Kristen: Fantastic, well I think I actually got all my questions answered. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

Alex: I don’t think so. You know, riding a bike is a great way to meet new people or get to know people even better. I just think there’s something about being out in the sunshine in a group and getting that exercise can really bring people together.

Kristen: Definitely. Well this is Team Building Hero. I am Kristen and that was Alex the tour and rental manager from Urban AdvenTours. Thank you so much Alex.

Alex: Right, thanks for speaking with me.

Urban AdvenTours Reviews

Urban AdvenTours has fantastic reviews on every platform! Their tours are great for companies, locals and those visiting Boston for business trips. Check out their Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Facebook reviews.

“My company booked a private group tour with Urban Bike Tours. As the coordinator for the group, I was thrilled to be part of the actual tour. We saw parts of Boston that I’ve never seen even as a native. Our guide was knowledgeable, fun, and made us all safe! What a great way to showcase this beautiful city. Perfect activity for a group. I will spread the word!” – camh23, Trip Advisor

“I went on a group tour around the Seaport District with Urban AdvenTours. The guides were very knowledgeable and made the trips fun. I learned a lot of new facts about Boston even though I have lived here for over 7 years. The guides were also really great about safety and would block off traffic at times to help the group move across busy streets more easily. All-in-all a really unique way to see Boston.” – Elsie F., Yelp

“I was in Boston for a work trip and wanted to see a bit of it by bike. I talked to the guys at Urban AdvenTours in Boston about what would suit me, they went out of their way to find the perfect rental bike for my needs, and the conditions at the time. The bike I got was a seriously nice machine, no cheap rental clunkers here. Everything went very smoothly, including my ride. Great service, great shop, great staff. I’ll be back.” – Hal Bonella, Facebook

Blind Cafe: Team Building in the Dark

Inspired by a musicians trip to Iceland, The Blind Cafe is a team building experience that will be unforgettable. Imagine you and your coworkers are walking down a hallway that gets darker and darker. You enter a room and it is complete darkness. You take baby steps towards what you assume is a table with chairs and sit down for a meal. It may sound a bit impossible at first but the experience is everyday life for those who are blind.

While founder, Rosh, was traveling Iceland he stumbled upon a Cafe in the Dark. Curious, he visited the cafe and experienced dining in the dark for the first time. During this experience he realized that dining in the dark could be used to promote social awareness and diversity. This social change organization has evolved from charity events to large productions for some well known companies such as AirBnb and Google. Through this experience participants will spend a few hours in the dark, enjoying a meal, and breaking social barriers.

Blind Cafe Highlights

The Blind Cafe is a fantastic opportunity to engage in an activity that will broaden your understanding of diversity and acceptance.

  • The Blind Cafe is more than blind awareness. It promotes team building and diversity. When in the Blind Cafe you realize how much you rely on social cues during socialization, which can be a challenge for some. For example, eye contact is removed which can make having a conversation more difficult.
  • The experience is unique in its ability to remove barriers that may separate us from one another. It is a challenge because we do not realise how much we rely on these barriers. As a result, the activity which may feel odd at times, naturally bonds people.
  • This activity works with the blind community to make the experience authentic and bring credibility to their message.
  • In working with the blind community, members take part in a Q&A session with participants to answer any questions they have about being blind and the everyday challenges or opportunities.
  • The Blind Cafe does not have a physical location which means it can be set up anywhere! Pick a venue or contact the Blind Cafe team to search for an appropriate venue for the event.
  • Choose your own catering. The Blind Cafe has their own chef but they are willing to work with you for alternative catering options should you wish.
  • The Blind Cafe travels to your location and can accommodate a wide range of people. Since this is so customizable the price can vary as well.

FAQ for Blind Cafe

The Blind Cafe is not your ordinary team building activity, so it is normal to have a few questions about the logistics of operating in the dark! Here are just a few of some common questions asked.

  1. How do I see in the dark? It is a good question and often what people ask first when they hear about The Blind Cafe. However, that is the challenge! The Blind Cafe staff will walk you through on how to navigate the room and your table. Fortunately, there is not a lot of moving around while in the dark.
  2. How do they create the darkness? Is it complete darkness? No blindfolds! Depending on the venue you will enter a dark hallway, then into a room that has been specially prepared for the event. Windows will be covered and they will confirm with all participants that phones have been turned off. It is complete darkness.
  3. What if I need help? The Blind Cafe has three ways to make sure you feel safe during the entire event. Facilitators encourage self care, the buddy system, and when necessary you can call out for a waiter.

Interview with Rosh, Founder of Blind Cafe

Listen to my interview with founder Rosh. He goes into detail about his inspiration for the Blind Cafe and how the Blind Cafe got started. We talk about breaking social barriers as well as what happens when you take away a person’s sight.

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Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi this is Kristen from Team Building Hero and we are here with Rosh who is the executive director and the founder of the Blind Cafe. Thank you so much for joining us Rosh.Rosh: Your welcome, good to be here.

Kristen: So just to get started can you tell us how the blind cafe got started?

Rosh: Sure, so my name is Rosh and I am from Boston originally. I moved out to Boulder Colorado in 2001. I studied contemplative psychology and music at a Buddhist inspired college called Naropa University. While I was there I was exposed to a lot of mindful awareness practices, meditation retreats, yoga retreats, things like that. I realized that there is something powerful about pushing people’s comfort zones. Offering people an opportunity or experience on how they could becomes more aware of themselves. Both their neurosis and both their positives sides. The ability for an individual to develop that type of awareness will determine how well they relate to other people and be of service to them.

So I am also an artist and a musician I play guitar, I sing and I am a songwriter. Kind of like Jack Johnson style, but like add a whole quartet. In 2006 and 7 I went on tour across Europe and played in people’s homes. Where people would open up their living room and turn it into a concert hall and we would have dark chocolate, wine and people would come by, and I would connect with the people, the locals. I would stay a couple days in that city, in that town. I did this all across Norway, Ireland, Holland, Iceland in 2006 and 2007 I did these tours.

While I was on tour in Iceland I went to a cafe in the dark randomly that they had set up. It was a disabilities awareness week where they kind of transformed the whole town into a social awareness situation. Like the art galleries would take all the art out and represent a different part of the community. They had this cafe in the dark as well. So I was walking down the street in Reykjavik in Iceland and there was this Icelandic girl outside this building and she had these laminated cards. Like these little laminated cards with braille on them in icelandic words. I went up to her and I was like, ‘what is this?’ and she was like, ‘O it is a cafe in the dark.’ … I was like, ‘O what does that mean?’ She was like, ‘all the waiters are blind and you cannot see anything inside.’ … I thought, ‘wow this is an interesting idea.’ So I decided to attend it and said, ‘ok, can I go inside? Or how does this work?’ and she said, ‘well if you want to have anything you pay for it out here in the light and I will give you one of these cards and it has the braille on it and then you will give it to the waiter when you are in there. Then they will read the braille and go to the kitchen and get you whatever you want.’

So I pay for a coffee and a pastry. Then she brought me over to this tunnel and she opened up this door with all this fabric on it and started pushing me down this long dark hallway and closing the door on me. I was like, ‘nooo what is this? How am I supposed to find my seat if I cannot see anything?’ and she was like, ‘the waiter will find you.’ So she goes, ‘here take this cane.’ Then closed me in this long dark hallway by myself. I was like, ‘ok I can do this.’ So I used the cane and I am scraping it against the floor and I make it all the way down the hallway. To another door and it is really getting darker and darker as I get down the hallway. I open up that door and it was just a wall of sound. It was completely 100% pitch dark there are dishes clanking everywhere everyone is chatting away in Icelandic and it was almost like a moment of shock. Almost like jumping into freezing cold water. You know that sense of like, “ahhh” but then usually when you jump into cold water your body will relax enough and adjust sometimes.

After I got over my shock I could hear everybody and I was like, ‘ok, what do I do?’ So I use my cane and I make my way into the room and I bump into this table. I can tell that there is a group of people at this table. I am like, ‘are there any extra chairs?’ and they are like, ‘we don’t know.’ I said, ‘o yea, good point’ and it turns out that one of the people says to me, ‘are you from Colorado?’ and I was like ‘yea’ and he was like, ‘my name is Collie and you have been contacting me on MySpace.’ Totally just dated myself. But he was like, “You have been contacting me on Myspace trying to find the distance between towns. Cause you have been hitchhiking around the country doing concerts.’ I was like, ‘yes.’ So I hang out with these people in the dark and I thought, ‘wow, this is really interesting. I have no idea if the person next to me is black, white, in a wheelchair, blind, older than me or younger than me. Other then based on any kind of auditory noise.

I thought, “there is something here’ What would it be like if we used the darkness as a social change agent. What if I used darkness as a way to create…break down social barriers between people and help them connect and open up in a way they wouldn’t if they had sight or they had the distraction of their cell phones, social etiquette, or visual conditioning. At that time I was trying to find a way for me to share my music as an artist but do something bigger than just, ‘here is my music, hope you like it.’ I knew that I had a lot of talent and skills of bringing people together in community. It is something I just do naturally. One of my greatest joys is to just bring people together and watch them feel more connected singing, and listen to, and heard. To a point where they go home feeling really fulfilled at night. More if they would if they hadn’t attended. That is what I get out of it the most, and that is the way I set up all my house concerts and performances. At the time I had the Blind Cafe idea.

So that was 2007 and then several years went by and I told the stories of the blind cafe, or the cafe in the dark experience in Iceland, and at my shows and to my friends. Then everybody was like, ‘you got to do that, you got to do that.’ Then in 2010 I decided I would do it. I was going to do it as a one off, and I had a friend who was a chef. I said, ‘Hey do you want to do the food? I will organize it. I will do the music and I have a whole quartette. That perform in the dark with me. We rehearse for 5 or 6 weeks blindfold, then we lock ourselves in the closet and try to learn how to perform music in the dark.

But the one missing piece was that I knew I wanted to engage and include the blind community. I just intuitively felt that because I never knew someone that was blind in my life. But I was a little apprehensive, I didn’t know if they would like the idea or not and I knew that I wanted to create the Blind Cafe as something that was bigger than just blindness. It was not just blind awareness. The Blind Cafe is really just a social change organization. We try to create and initiate opportunities for social change using the darkness. That includes our public events, huge pieces of blind awareness. Which is interesting because the blind awareness discussion we do have in the dark really actually applies to dismantling racism, to discrimination, to other types of disabilities. There are so many levels to it, it is pretty powerful.

So we did our first Blind Cafe in 2010 and sold out. We did two nights, 54 people a night and sold out two nights in a row. Everyone wanted to do it again a month later. I was like, ‘o no, I can’t get away from work for free and do that again for free.” Because it was all volunteer the first time. Then we gave all the funds to a local guide puppy raising dog group. That raises puppies to become guide dogs in their first year. So we get to have puppies, for a public event right. So anyways, long story short. We did two events in the spring of 2010. There was just all this demand from people all over the country asking us to bring this event to them. So I ended up moving to Portland Oregan, spending 4.5 months over there and setting up the first Portland Blind Cafe experience. We sold out 140 people, 3 nights in a row, front page of the Oregonian newspaper. We went back and forth for a year or so between Portland and Boulder and eventually I went down to Austin Texas to do the whole Blind Cafe experience. Established a scene there. When I say established I mean building genuine relationships with the locals and blind community. Really connecting with people on a heart to heart level. When we do our shows at this point nearly 7 years later it is like family when we go to each city.

Kristen: Yea, so it is really a grassroots organization.

Rosh: O yea, very much. So we ended up setting up in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Denver. We are going to be launching Marin County in a few months. Basically over the years it has been a lot of trial and error creating the programs. So to explain the program of the Blind Cafe experience is for the public event, it is pretty much the same for the corporate events, just adjusted a little bit. But the main experience is all the guesses will arrive into a lighted lobby area that is all candle lit. There will be wine and dark chocolate. Then for the public event we will have puppies, so you get to hang out with puppies and have dark chocolate and wine. I mean you can’t go wrong, right? You are in a lighted lobby area, we will check you in, and everybodys phones are off. We ask everyone to literally turn off their phones and prove to us that it is 100% off. Not on vibrate or airplane mode. Then we have then take off their watches and put those away. Then we have everyone go to the bathroom. Then they get their wine and hang out and wait for announcement. I then I stand up on a chair and I bring a Tibetan singing pole to bring everybody’s attention together and I prepare everybody to go in the dark. I basically reiterate that we are not going to bring any light in the dark and everybody has agreed not to breach the darkness. Number 2, the second agreement is when you hear this tibetan singing pole that is when we are going to come together as a group and really practice active listening. I explain what active listening is and I kind of train everybody to go from being really chatty and coming back and being present and listening and engaging. I kind of almost test that out in the lighted lobby. So when we are in the dark it is a lot more chaotic. People are kind of almost trained to come together. There are a couple times where we will come together and connect over that.

Kristen: Wow, that sounds like such an incredible experience really. For the public and educating people on things like diversity, and not only listening. That is not something we often come across with team building companies is talking about diversity and eliminating that boundary which is not always easy to do with a lot of these activities. But you have found a way to do that and give people that experience. That is really awesome.

Rosh: Yea, absolutely. So once we basically have those two agreements down. We have the no light when you hear the bell that means it is time to let go of your individual conversations, pay attention, come together for a group experience. There are going to be a couple times during the event while we are in the dark where we are going to want to come together and connect as a community experience. So that is where we have a Q&A in the dark with the blind staff. Where the legally blind staff open up and share about their lives and who they are and what it is like to be blind. Then the guests get to ask questions. It turns into this heart to heart like discussion, like social change discussion. It is very organic. But it works really well. It kind of cracks everybody open, like emotionally. There is something about being in the darkness that makes it a little bit more safe for everybody to be able to speak up and share. A lot of people who wouldn’t normally speak or feel uncomfortable in the light, speaking in a group, feel very free to open up in the dark.

Kristen: So how do you ask a question in the dark? Usually people raise their hand or something. But how do you try to organize everyone so it is not chaotic talking?

Rosh: Well we have the bell. So we bring the bell in and everybody has been trained out in the light before they go in the dark that this is a time to really pay attention and listen. Then the blind staff will teach everybody how to basically ask a question. Which is to call out your name and say, “hey this is Beth with a question.” Then she will ask the question and a lot of times they won’t say it loud enough for everyone to hear so the blind staff are really skillful at repeating the question or interpreting the question and repeating it out loud for the rest of the room. Then the blind staff will answer it based on the question. Sometimes it will be several blind staff that will give different perspectives. Sometimes the question is only necessary for one of them.

So basically what happens next is we are still out in the lighted lobby area and we still got the 4 agreements that we got everybody ready for. So basically there is, bring in no light, then there is also when you hear the bell come together as a group and practice active listening. Then I go into safety and I really prepare people on 3 different levels. The first level is self care then there is your safety buddy and there is the community. For instance when everybody goes into the dark, people are brought in in groups of 6 to 8 people. Kind of like a conga line, led by one of the blind staff through our darkness structure or our darkness tunnel which brings them from a lighted room to a 100% dark room where they are going to have their experience. As people go into the dark and/or after people are in the dark for a while a lot of challenging emotions and feelings can come up for people. Cause they have to relinquish control. Number one they don’t have their phones on for 2 hours. That alone is life changing. Right?

So then the next thing is they are in complete darkness they don’t have eye contact to initiate conversations. So they start talking to somebody, or they feel like they are talking to somebody anyways. And they responding and then they realize the other person was talking to somebody else. They are like, “woah” it is a real bit of a mind trip. When you are in the dark with everybody, you don’t have your habitual ways of checking out, you have to be mindful of what you are doing. Whether you are trying to eat with a fork or trying to engage in a conversation with the blind staff or you are listening to music or if you are trying to really be present and have a conversation with somebody or if you are trying to navigate the table and pass the bread around. So feelings of anxiety and challenges can come up for some people. A lot of times those are actually really great things. Cause that actually puts people on the edge of their comfort zone. That is really one of the most powerful things about our program is that you are really putting people on their edge.

Then some people are going to be uncomfortable. Depending on their ability to compete with themselves or work with themselves or the group to support that person as they engage a challenging part of experiencing blind cafe will determine how much they will grow. Of course we are really into working with people, so as they go into the dark they start to feel a little overwhelmed. So we take them and say ok first is self care. We have them….take a deep breathe. Be present with what is coming up for you. Make room for it, just emotionally make room for it and like, “ok yea, I am feeling this.” Then check in with your buddy. Your buddy is whoever you came with. We create a buddy system. And your buddys job is to kind of help you in case you start to lose your mind a little bit. So you guys are kind of a team and you are checking in on each other. Then the third component is if you do need help, say help. The wait staff will be visiting every 10 minutes to your table. So you just wait for them to come indoors. If you need help right away, you get your table to go, “1, 2, 3, WAITER!” and call over a waiter. We’ll come get you out of the dark. A lot of people go in…well I wouldn’t say a lot, I would say 1 out of 300 – 400 people per weekend can’t do it right away. They come out and we kind of coach them and wait until the Q&A for them to calm down. Cause that first 10 to 15 minutes are the most excited cause they are all in the dark.

Kristen: So is it typically people who you would say are claustrophobic or is it people with anxiety, you would suggest this is maybe not a good activity for them?

Rosh: You know, you would think that at first but I kind of question that because a lot of people come through with phobias and they move through it and it is like life changing for them. Some people come and they don’t think there is going to be any problem at all and those are the ones that can’t do it. So I challenge that idea and I don’t know if I am painting it off to be like a crazy challenging experience but it is not. It is not that out of control. So basically after everyones got their safety que, we prepare them for how to navigate their food. There is food on the table already. Unless the client would like to have it served individually like a regular restaurant. We do that as well.

Everybody gets seated and they have bread and butter already on the table. Then they have to navigate their food. Pass bread around. Then we have those 4 agreements then we start the seating process. My blind friends bring them into the dark, sit them at their tables. They have 20 minutes or so to chat, let loose some of their excitement. Then about 20 minutes into the darkness we bring out the tibet singing pole and have a discussion with the blind staff for about 25 minutes or so. And our staff are really good at accommodating a company’s goals in a way. Sometimes they have had themes before and that is very organic the way we do that. After the Q&A we give everybody a break and we bring them some kind of dessert or dark chocolate. Then wait another 15 minutes. Some people need to go to the bathroom then, things like that. Then we go up on stage. For the corp events we do anywhere from 1-3 songs as a wrap up for the evening. We have this one song called the light, that is very endearing. It gets everybody in touch with just how precious and valuable life is. Then we have everybody stand up and singing their hearts out in the dark. Then at that heightened moment I go out to the middle of the room and I do the thing that does the thing that makes it all happen.

Which I can’t say throughout the evening. Everybody keeps saying, ‘what’s the thing? I don’t understand.’ Then finally while everyone is standing up we just finished the final song and emotions are super high I go out to the middle of the room and light a candle. Like, “ooooo” and it brings us all back to the light. Everybody looks around and everybody is pretty blown away cause they haven’t seen the room and their spacial awareness. What they imagined the room is completely different. Or who they are sitting next to is just blowing their mind. Then everyone is looking around at each other as if we have all just somehow woken up from some collective dream together. It is a really powerful experience. So that’s the program.

In 2015 an AirBnb executive, their executive team hired us to do our first corporate gig and we did a corporate event for them. They actually rented out this gorgeous home in San Francisco. We blackened it out, I think we did like 3 events for them. Then that guy Brian, the owner of AirBnb, he came out like crying, it was really powerful. They loved it. Then I think we did something for a German company. Then what else did we do…we did something for Portland, for a company in Portland. Then Columbine high school called us, so the principal of Columbine high school of the 1999 shooting. The principal calls me and says, “Rosh we heard your program is amazing we want you to do it for our students.” So I was like, “Ok” We went and blackened out their gym and we did the very last day of the senior classes high school students experience. It went so well, they booked us out every year now for it to be the very last experience for the high school students. They said it was the best experience of their lives, in high school. Then just recently in 2016 Etsy hired us and then Google hired us. I am not sure if I am supposed to tell you that or not.

Kristen: It is ok, usually people do.

Rosh: Yea, they hired us and they did 4 events with us last November and December and have already booked us out for 6 events this year. We are part of one of their aiding and complexity programs or something. Where they fly out their global executives from around the world and they come to San Francisco for 3 or 4 days. I think they stay in Sausalito, cause that is where we do our events right now. They do like all sorts of activities and they like herd goats, like literally herd goats. Like the last day of their program they herd goats and then they come see us in the dark. They love me so much that they have already made me become like one of their google diversity suppliers or whatever so we come in.Yea, so it has been blowing up right now, we have requests all over the world right now. We are actually having trouble keeping up with it to be honest with you.

Kristen: Well, that is great. Hey that is a good problem to have.

Rosh: Yea.

Kristen: So you actually answered a lot of my questions already. But I just want to talk a little bit more about your corporate event. Your corporate versus your more public events, are there any things that you focus on in the corporate events, any topics you talk about more, maybe? Like workplace issues, that sort of thing.

Rosh: Well, here is the interesting thing is that, it has been very organic. Working with corporations. So each corporation has different types of goals and things. Most of them have just wanted to experiment and just break down those social barriers and see what it is like for them. There is something about the Q&A that sparks people’s perspectives. It is almost like a Q&A about blindness and how blind people relate to the world and how they are perceived. Other questions people come up with for the blind staff have a lot of metaphors towards how the working relationship in the office and social dynamics in businesses. I am not the expert in that area actually. One of our VP keynote blind facilitators and ambassadors, his name is Richie Flores he works for The Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco. He is the one that chats with all of the corporate executives and checks in with them on how they can apply Q&A towards that. Cause when we first started doing the corporate events we were like, ‘O should we just do team building things off of other team building you know, products out there. Which we might start to develop that but we got a lot of feedback that the program we are doing is actually very organic and next level in what they wanted. As opposed to something that other people do.

So there are a lot of aspects that break down social barriers. This is what is happening when people are in the dark, they are all kind of separate and they are in their worlds. They have their phones and they work together or they don’t work together. Some of them are like Google, and they come from all over the world and they don’t really know each other. So they have just spent that week together. They all have their iPhones and their different family situations and friends, and work dynamics and social environments. Then they come to our event and then they are all going through this initiatory process. Where they are all individuals and then forming as a group and going through this like challenging and positive experience in the darkness and coming out the other side. Something about when you go through and sort of ordeal or challenge you come out the other end really bonded. I think that is why what we do works so well. I don’t know if you are familiar with Outward Bound or if somebody goes through a tragedy together or a car accident and they survive they feel really bonded. Like they started separate, they have gone through something together. They have related on a very human and vulnerable and compassionate way and they come out the other end. That is what happens with the darkness, because they have to learn how to socialize with each other without their usual habitual ways of acting socially. So like the clown, or the person that usually dominates the table and waves their hands everywhere in a social crew or work environment. Wherever. That person is sometimes the most quiet and starts to learn how to listen. The opposite happens for people who are usually quiet they are just like, ‘wow I am not being seen. I don’t feel those self conscious glances.’ So they start to open up and ask questions or speak more. So it kind of messes with everybody in their usual ways of how they relate. That alone is a very individual experience. It is a very group experience, but it is also a very individual experience.

Kristen: Naturally, it really does cater to your corporate clients as it caters to the public. It gets that same sort of message out that your are looking to communicate.

Rosh: Yep, exactly

Kristen: Awesome, I do have a couple logistic type questions. You seem like you are really able to host these events anywhere. Do you have a minimum or maximum that you suggest? Or you cannot host above a certain amount of people because of staffing or size? What amount of people can you host?

Rosh: What amount can we put in the dark safely?

Kristen: Yea – haha – safe and you can cover…

Rosh: …without it being complete chaos?

Kristen: Exactly.

Rosh: We can do up to 200. If it is well funded and we have enough time to plan it. Then we can put our whole team towards it. But our ideal numbers…we have done as little as 12 people. Generally the same for us to come out to San Francisco and do an event for 40 people as it does for 20 people or 60 people. When you start to get over 60 people we have to start upping our staff and everything. We got to rent out a different size venu and things like that.

So basically how it works is how the logistical price breakdown comes to where are you guys located? So we are going to come out and travel, costs for us. If we are going to come down to Florida or Chicago and do things for Pepsi. That is going to cost a little bit more since most of us are based in colorado. Then it would be to just go to San Francisco which is a lot cheaper. We already have a lot of resources in that city already. So there is that travel, then there is the venu. So if you want 200 people that is going to be a different venu. So the size of the venue and the size of the people you would like to experience this. As well the catering. You could order Olive Garden food and we can put that on the table or we could order the most high end catering food at $200 a head. That is your choice. Then there is the cost of our program to come out basically travel, create the darkness.

Kristen: What is the typical cost for 20 – 40 people?

Rosh: It is generally $10,000 at least. To come out and do an event. That is where our resources are already available. That may or may not include catering depending on what you want. So in general we do think it is more worth it for the client to be at least 40 people unless they have the money to spend.

Kristen: For venues, do you prefer that people find a venue and then contact you? Or do you have like a list of venus in certain areas that you suggest?

Rosh: We have preferred venus in different cities. But for a city that we don’t work in yet we will have to find a venue. In general, I have found that the corporate clients want us to handle everything. They just want the bill. We have had some clients say like, sometimes they have their own venue or they have access to a venue that they can get for free or just kind of great or one of the people’s owns it or the business owns it or it is on site as opposed to off site. Otherwise in general we usually find a venue, establish a caterer. Figure out what level they want. So if you were a corporate client and calling me up, “O so how do we set this up? We want to do it for 100 people.” I would ask, what level of catering do you want? You could be like, ‘O I think I would like this kind of food.’ We would look into it and say, ‘ok, that is going to be about $80 a head.’ So that is costing for catering. Then here is our program fee to come out and do that. Which varies depending on availability of our staff, how quickly you want us to do it and location as well, then there is the cost of the venu. Then coordinating the time, so it can vary. But then we have had events that have been from $1,000 up to $25,000 in cost.

Kristen: Great, well I think you have answered all of my questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

Rosh: Um I think that is it. If you need more of like a breakdown of our whole kind of menu, like if you were going to look at it our menu and say, ‘hey, I want to do a corporate event can you send me the menu.’ I can send that to you as well. So you have that to chop up. The interesting thing about our event is it is very experimental. So we haven’t had any studies done yet but we are looking to have like Stanford university to come in and start doing some social dynamics in the dark studies. We think that would be really interesting.

Kristen: Yea, that would be awesome.

Rosh: When people meet each other in the dark without knowing if someone is black or white. You know, we definitely have people in the dark who start opening up. And start opening up in tears about how powerful it is to be related to without being seen as a black woman or an overweight person, just personality. So a lot of really deep interesting and powerful things to coming to surface that we are just digging into and paying attention to, documenting.

Kristen: Definitely, well thank you so much for your time that was a lot of really great information and you are listening to Team Building Hero, thank you.

Blind Cafe Reviews

The Blind Cafe is grassroots social change organization that is learning to spread itself to a variety of different markets. Check out some reviews by people who benefited from the experience at The Blind Cafe.

“This was a very awesome and unique experience. Food was solid. Very tasty well made meal. Waitstaff was incredibly pleasant and very cool too talk too … I loved talking to my fellow tablemates in the dark and I would have loved to have that continue. Overall I will for sure be returning next time the blind cafe is in town, and look forward to future experiences with the blind cafe.” -John L., Yelp

“After dinner there is my FAVORITE part of the night, a wonderful conversation with the blind staff about what it means to be blind and whatever else anyone wants to ask. I always leave with a new appreciation for my site and a bond with my peers at the event. No question is off limits and I love the heart that goes in to the conversation. People really open up, maybe because you cant be seen!” -Samantha G. –Yelp

“This is a truly unique and incredible experience. Dining in complete blackness, trusting your blind server to get you safely to your table, meeting new friends while you dine on a delicious meal (and talk to each other to discover what you’re eating!), getting to ask any questions you can think of to the blind hosts and hostesses – getting a tiny taste of their daily lives, listening to beautiful music and poetry and just completely letting it soak in… No visual distractions. Amazing!” -Leanna Jensen, Facebook

Drum Cafe: Get Your Team on the Same Rhythm

Many team building companies have inspiring grassroots stories. Although few can compare to the rich history that brought Drum Cafe to the US. Drum Cafe started 26 years ago in Johannesburg, South Africa during the fall of apartheid. During this time, there were 11 tribes in South Africa that spoke different languages. To break barriers and bring people together drumming was used as a medium to connect the disconnected.

In 2000, the owner of Drum Cafe West Coast, Natalie, immigrated to the US from South Africa. Being good friends with the founder of the original Drum Cafe she looked to bring drumming to us on the other side of the globe. It was a hit right from the start with her first client, Motorola.

Fast forward to 2017 and drumming is now used as a way to bring together some of the most well known companies with employees from very different backgrounds. At a Drum Cafe team building workshop you will be joined by a group of your coworkers to engage in high energy drumming. Not random and chaotic drumming, but led by some incredible musicians that will teach your participants how to drum together making beautiful music. It does not matter your background. By example, facilitators will show how teamwork can produce something beautiful. This teamwork is really achieved by the physical participation. As Natalie says, “it brings you out of your head space and into your heart space.”

Drum Cafe Highlights

During my research of Drum Cafe, I found myself smiling watching their videos. That is how contagious the excitement is. Nothing can begin to describe the incredible energy you will feel when being a part of a Drum Cafe event. You will be amazed how a couple of talented musicians can conduct an entire room of people to play music together for the first time. However, these highlights may help give you a better idea of what to expect.

  • There are many ways to bring people together by breaking social barriers. Few are as beautiful as creating music together.
  • Participants will be facilitated by highly regarded musicians. Some of which have won Grammy awards!
  • Clients can customize the event by adding additional exercises or include a performance by the musicians of Drum Cafe.
  • Shhhh! Drum Cafe asks that you keep this team building activity on the down low. This way participants will walk in without any preconceived notions about the event and be completely surprised.
  • Never played an instrument before? No problem! They can quickly teach you how to use this simple drum without the need for lessons or sheet music.
  • An activity for the extroverts and introverts. The extroverts get to let loose and express themselves. While it may seem that the introverts can be timid at first, the energy and rhythm of their surrounds will prove how contagious of an environment it turns out to be.
  • Drum Cafe is completely mobile. Facilitators have traveled all around the world to break barriers and bring people together.
  • Events can be held for as little as 15 people or up to 5,000 people.
  • The events are very customizable depending on what your goal is but they typically run 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

“If you can drum together, you can do pretty much anything together.” – Natalie, owner of Drum Cafe USA

Interview With Natalie, Owner of Drum Cafe West Coast

Listen to my interview with Natalie, the owner of Drum Cafe West Coast, as we talk about the inspiring story of what started Drum Cafe. We discuss where it originated from, how it was brought over to the US and how she got her first client. Eventually leading to the successful business she runs today. She has been all over the world and is ready to bring harmony to your business.

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Interested in more information about how they teach a large room to drum in sync? Check out this video of a facilitator orchestrating a performance. Click Here.

Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi my name is Kristen and I am from Team Building Hero. I am here with Natalie the owner of West Coast Drum Cafe. Thank you Natalie for joining us.Natalie: Thank you so much Kristen.

Kristen: So just to get started can you tell us how Drum Cafe west coast got started?

Natalie: Absolutely. So we are actually a business that started in Johannesburg South Africa, some 26 years ago at the fall of apartheid. Really it was a way, at that time, of bringing different communities … different tribes together using music and rhythm as a medium. So we have about 11 different language speaking tribes in South Africa and this is just a way to bring people together … to commune … break down barriers … to harmonize together as one.

In 2000 I immigrated to the US. I am an industrialized psychologist by profession with an MBA and I have done a lot of work with different corporations in South Africa. The founder of Drum Cafe is a very good old school friend of mine when we were kids together, his name is Warren Lieberman. When I immigrated he basically said that, ‘this is a wonderful opportunity for you, you should look at taking this to america as a concept’.

So when I arrived here I met a person at a party one night and she happened to be the Senior Vice President of Motorola. We got chatting about the whole concept of engagement and teamwork and leadership development and she said, “what are you going to do in the states?” and I told her. She got super excited and said, “Wow, I don’t want to hire a keynote person I want to hire you.” So that is really how we started in the US. So my first client is Motorolla, we did 100 of her regional managers at the Stratosphere in Vegas. They really responded so well to the program they booked us for a second program. Drum Cafe USA pretty much was born. That is how the business started.

Kristen: Wow, that is such an inspiring story and what a great first client to have, Motorolla.

Natalie: Absolutely. It has been a total wonderful gift and I have a lot of gratitude for that. I have been doing this for 16 years now in the US. I have some amazing clients, pretty much now some of the fortune 1000 companies and then I have some deep relationships with some fantastic clients where I been brought in and done some serious work with them. So I have utilized our arrhythmic program. For example, Cisco, doing all of their orientations. For Gap, Gap clothing…all their brand launchers and all of their store manager trainings. That has also taken me to Japan and Kenya with Google and Prague with Microsoft. So it has been a really wonderful experience and journey.

Kristen: Incredible, that is so cool. So, can you tell us what a typical drum cafe event is? I mean, you have been all over but what is your average event like?

Natalie: So let’s just start off with the ‘why?’ and the reason why people would bring us in. Firstly is because they have these big…whether is it a sales kick off or a marketing kick off, a team of IT people are coming together. Whether it is globally or it is within the United States or within one particular division within a company within the U.S. They are bringing people together for a variety of different reasons. You know … self training … understanding of what is happening with the company moving forward. They bring us in typically at the start of a conference. So we are a great general session opener. Essentially what we are there to do is to get people to bust their silos to break down their barriers that typically exists between different divisions within companies. Whether that is age or gender, or sexual orientation or geography or position within the organization. It is about breaking those barriers and getting people to harmonize together as one through the universal language which is rhythm and drumming. It is a language that breaks the barriers and breaks through differential diversity we come in with. But it also unites people as a language with a strong community of leaders.

So what typically happens is a room is set up, empty movie theatre style. We are not a venue we typically go to our clients venus. Whether it is ballrooms, conference rooms, restaurants, we have done it all. We have done it at many different places. We bring a drum for everyone to play. Essentially what happens is we set up the drums at each one of the chairs, empty theatre style, I bring a team of musicians. Highly regarded musicians, some of which have Grammy awards to their name and basically the doors are shut to the ballroom, we break out into this amazingly energetic upbeat West African rhythm. Fling open the ballroom doors and people walk in, see drums on chairs, and this amazing music going on up on stage and they wonder, ‘oh my gosh what is about to happen?’ This is nothing like we have ever experienced. So they come in and they grab an instrument and the program starts.

Essentially what it does is it really gets people out of their heads and into their body and heart space. Really where you want them to be for the best learning to happen. So I have really taken the principles of the neuroscience of learning and applied them to these programs to kind of come to the end of the program and have the learning stick. You use to go to lots of different conference and it use to be just one talking head after another talking head with powerpoints and most of the information is lost and most of the information just goes over people’s heads. But this really engages everybody, it’s get them interactive with one another. It is a visceral process so they are physically drumming and it is a primal behavior, and people love to drum. Love to bang a drum, it raises the energy level. It raises the vibration in the room. It puts people into a creative right brain space. Not only their left brain. It really get them to step out of those preconceptions they have and those fears that they have when they come to a specific event. So it busts them out of that and really does some sort of catalytic transformation at the end of the program.

Kristen: Wow, that sounds amazing. I do want to go back to something you mentioned, when people first enter the room, do they know that they are going to be drumming? It sounds like you could come in with preconceived notions and everyone is from different departments … but you really bring everyone together. Do they know that this is what they are going to be doing when they come and see you?

Natalie: No and that is an excellent question. I specify with all my clients, please keep this an element of surprise. Because at the end of the day you want them not to come with certain assumptions about it. Because people have fears about being involved. But once they get there within the first 10 or 15 minutes of drumming whether they start with touching their drum which is sometimes typical with certain people and other people come running in the room and grab a drum and start dancing in the room.

You have a range of different behaviors that happen. It is really the microcosm of the greater macrocosm of how do people show up. Right? Because what you do here is what you do everywhere. Because what you do here is a representation of how you behave everywhere. Some people get very involved at the onset. Other people pull back and they wait and see. Then ultimately everybody get involved. Because it is people sitting around you drumming and getting really into it. Making those connections, you are not going to sit very long not drumming. You know just sitting there with your hands folded and the drum in front of you. Ultimately, what happens is just by nature people get involved. Either kind of bring them into this process. Which is kind of how teamwork works, you kind of have that microcosm in every single team. There are some players that are over achievers. Others are under achievers. Some people don’t do anything at all. But at the end of the day, in order to put the team to work effectively together it is like an orchestra, right? Because there are people together playing different instruments. Everybody is different in their personalities and their behaviors. But if you work on the strings and pull the strings together, magic happens at the end. You have a magnificent symphony. So that is really the premise of how this works.

So no, we do not want them to know about it. It is a surprise. It really takes them out of their head space and into their heart space as a result.

Kristen: It sounds like such a contagious environment. It ties right in with that teamwork principle and getting those people that run in all excited to encourage those who are more hesitant to play an instrument for the first time maybe.

Natalie: Absolutely, it is very contagious. That is part of the power of it. It is relying on other people to motivate you step into your best self. Some people can do that naturally on their own. A lot of people almost need to be pushed almost into their zone of discomfort. Cause we don’t like to be in that zone of discomfort. But it is in that zone really that that stretch and that growth really happens. Other people get you to do that, and you might not even know those people next to you. Which is what makes it even more exciting and compelling. Because they get to know each other on a very different level very quickly. Often times you go to meetings and you work with people across the globe. Maybe you have a skype call or video meetings or whatever it is. But you have never been face to face with them. You don’t know their story necessarily. By kind of digging deeper that way and breaking barriers that way. If you can drum together you do pretty much anything together.

Kristen: Wow, so do people drum freely? Or is it sheet music?How do you get people to sound good and not chaotic?

Natalie: No sheet music, they have an African drum which is called a Djembe drum. It hails from west Africa from Ghanaian. I facilitate, we have several other facilitators. The facilitators stand at the front kind of like an orchestrator. The facilitator orchestrates the audience to do different things and so we teach them but in a very funky and fun way. I will send you video links that you can put in the article. You can actually visually see how it happens. But a facilitator facilitates that process.

Kristen: Oh great, so I guess it is kind of an encouraging event. I am trying to imagine how it would happen, I have only played piano. It sounds like an interesting way to learn new music.

Natalie: Yea, and to do it together as a group. It is pretty simplistic in the sense that the rhythms we teach. It is keeping it at that level, it is simplistic. But at the same time they get to know enough on the drum in terms of a base and a tone and how they can play very simple rhythms together and how half the room or a third of a room is playing a piece of the rhythm but two thirds are playing two different pieces. How those all intersect to make to make a beautiful symphony. They get to play together as a group so it is not just on your own kind of tinkering. You can kind of make that happen. You are supported by a larger group.

Kristen: So you mentioned the type of facilities that people do these sort of events. Do you suggest people don’t do it in maybe their conference room if they are in a large building. So not to distract other offices. Where would you suggest people host one of these events?

Natalie: Typically, most clients are doing a 1, 2, or 3 day conference. So they are typically at a hotel conference ball room and that is where most of our events happen. I would say 90% of the events happen there. There are certain times that I have done events at their actual premises. So with Virgin America for example we did a series of 23 events when they had this refresh program. Where they were training all of their teammates on various aspects of the airline and team culture and things like that, core values. So we did it early in the morning so there was no one in the building at that time so it did not disturb people. There have been certain times where clients have hired out an entire restaurant and we have done it in a restaurant setting. We have done it on the bleachers in different school and college basketball areas. We have done it pretty much everywhere. Typically though they do it in hotel ballrooms.

Kristen: So you have done it in ballrooms, you have done it in gymnasiums and large company buildings…is there a minimum or a maximum that you can host?

Natalie: Yea, typically we do 15 people to 5,000 and up. I have 3,000 drums here in the US. We also use percussion sticks as some of the instruments. We sometimes change drums and sticks. I recently did an event for Cisco, which was 4,000 stick, percussion sticks. We can do it for 20,000 people if we have to. But I would say a minimum of around 12-15 people.

Kristen: That’s great, so how long are these events usually? I mean with more people it may take longer but how long is your typical event?

Natalie: So no, it is not really around the people. Typically our flagship team build program is about 45 to 60-70 minutes. Depending on what elements of the program they want. There are lots of additions to the program, so we can do up to a 2-3 hour program. Including different breakouts and our symphony of rhythm program. So sometimes for a full 3 hour. Sometimes we do a 45 minute opening then there is a meeting in between and after that we have like a 15 minute close piece using percussion sticks. So there are lots of different ways we can structure it. I also have a deeper dive team building company. Which is an extension of the rhythm program called Blue Fire Leadership. That is ‘fire’ as in ‘fire, wind and fire’ Right? So Blue Fire Leadership. We do full day and 2 day team build programs. Incorporating lots of other elements over and above just the rhythm program. We also do that. But our typical flagship team build program is rhythm and drums is around a 30-50 minute program.

Kristen: So say I am looking to book an event, I don’t really know where to start. I know I want to do an event but I am not really sure if I want to do the add ons that you talked about. How would you suggest I start?

Natalie: You mean in terms of contacting us? I would absolutely have the person contact me so we can talk through objectives and desired outcomes. That is where we start and it all really depends on how long people have on their agenda. Do they want to have us as an opening, a close, or somewhere in the middle? We do an in depth with the client. Because we are fully customized and fully scalable each one of these events. So I pretty much have them call me.

Kristen: Ok, so it is very customizable. So also, what is the price range for these events? I am assuming because it is so customizable the price may vary quite a bit but is there a flat rate per person or is there a minimum? How does pricing work?

Natalie: Right, I use the phrase ‘bums on seats’ because we bring drums and musicians based on the number of seats in the room. So we range pretty much from $2,000 all the way to $45,000. Depending on how many people are in the audience. That is really the range. So what I have is a price point for each variance. If you have up to 100 people or 250 or 300 or 500 people. Then depending on where these events take place because I have several locations with drums all over the country. So I can do an event anywhere in the country. I have drums, and facilitators, and musicians trained up to do events all over the country. So it would really depend on where the event is. So if it is local, say it’s in San Francisco where I have a facilitator, a team of drummers and drums. We have a program fee the price of travel and production. So the travel and production part will be much less if it is local versus let’s say Wisconsin. Where I have to drive people in and bring equipment with me.

Kristen: Will you guys seem very popular and in high demand. How far ahead should people look to book?

Natalie: So it is always good to give at least a 3 week window if there are flights and things concerned. I have a lot of team members and a lot of facilitators trained up. So they can’t call me in the middle of the week. That is really not my preference. I would really prefer if we got a 3 week notice at least.

Kristen: Well, fantastic. I think I actually have all my questions answered this sounds like a really incredible opportunity for companies to get involved do something a little bit different and outside the norm. Do you have anything you would like to share with people listening?

Natalie: Um no, you said it. It is fun, it is really out of the box and creative. 99% of my business is word of mouth. People who have experienced me in 2008 and are now at info blocks in 2017. They remember the experience from 2008 and they bounce back in their different company. So it is something that people will talk about for a long long time. But just to also know that this is not just fun and entertainment. It is much more about edutainment in the sense that there is a deeper dive message that we read through the program. Which is fully customized to each client. We bring out the main points but in a fun and exciting way. That is really what I wanted to add.

Kristen: Yea, most definitely. It is not just playing and enjoying music. It is learning and growing and building those bonds together with your coworkers.

Natalie: Absolutely, because if you look at the statistics of the amount of unengaged people in organizations today it is staggering. It is vital that people do engage with one another in a deep connected way if we really want to make the shifts that we want to make. Not just pay lip service to it. A lot of companies are really serious about engagement and employee happiness. Others think that it is nice to have. I really want to connect with the companies that really take it seriously. Because it really does shift people’s behavior at the end and I think that is really what you want to have happen. You don’t want it to just be a nice to have experience. People need to walk away saying ‘wow, that really hit me and I am going to do this differently tomorrow because of it’. That is going to ripple effect out to a lot of other people that I connect with. Even beyond what I am conscious of.

Kristen: Yea, definitely it is an investment and I am sure people are getting a high return on your events.

Natalie: Yea, hope so. They are coming back so that is great.

Kristen: I am sure, well thank you so much Natalie. We learned a lot of great information. So that was Natalie, the owner of Drum Cafe West Coast. I am Kristen and this is Team Building Hero, thanks.

Drum Cafe Reviews

These reviews are from some pretty incredible companies speak for themselves. You can hear the energy and excitement in the review way after the event has ended!

“Thank you for the fabulous event you and your team did for us at Google yesterday. Googlers can be a pretty challenging audience (especially when it’s a group of learning professionals/facilitators!) and you absolutely blew everyone away. You exceeded my expectations by far – and the environment/energy you created was critical for us as an organization. Because of your involvement, we are going to be able to move forward in a more focused, unified, and joyous way. You were a highlight of the year at Google – and that’s a hard thing to do! You were also the highlight for me personally – so thanks!” -Trudi McCanna, Google Inc.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to touch base with you on Wednesday! Thanks fo much for contributing to our event, it was fabulous, people were excited, and even the tough crowd in the back got into it! Very well done! It gave our event a great additional dimension, and quite a few people came up to me to not only express that they had great fun, but as well commenting how well versed you were with IPG, and that you probably knew us from before! Excellent job, thank you!” – Sabine, Hewlitt Packard

“I just want to say a huge “Thank You” for all you did to work with us on Refresh 2010. It is undisputed that Drum Cafe’s presence played a pivotal role in creating the overall vibe of the program that had our Teammates leaving truly feeling REFRESHED! Even on the 22nd session. I loved every minute of running this year’s program and working with you and your team was definitely a contributing factor to that satisfaction. Cheers.” -Benjamin Eye, Creative Communication & Events Manager of Virgin America

X1 Boston: A High Speed Activity For Competitive Teams

Grab your keys because we are going racing with X1 Boston. Race go karts on an indoor track with your coworkers and these are not your average go karts. Inspired by the kart race lovin’ Europeans, these karts are brought over from Germany and built to give the driver the best experience.

Even more than that, X1 Boston has conference rooms to host meetings with your employees, a restaurant and bar for relaxing after races, billiards for some down time, and so much more. Compete against one another to see who can get the best time on and off the track…off the track? Yep! Try out their Pit Stop Tire Change Challenge working on an actual NASCAR racecar! In record time, remove and replace 4 NASCAR tires. Strategize on how to get the quickest time. If done well, you may get your company placed on their Top 10 Times Leaderboard. How is that for team building?

X1 Boston Highlights

X1 Boston has much to offer at their large facility. It is a corporate playground with everything you need to create adrenalin filled team building activities to last the whole day. Looking for a fun activity to break up a work day? Not a problem, F1 has the facilities to help you be productive in the office then take a break on the track.

  • While X1 Boston was founded just outside Boston in nearby Braintree, it was inspired by the go-kart tracks in Europe. All the race karts are manufactured and brought over from Germany. Das Auto.
  • One less thing to worry about when planning an event. X1 Boston has an onsite restaurant and full bar, the Ascari Bar & Grille.
  • If you are looking to have your event catered, they can provide you a wide range of food options. From fancier feasts to more casual options.
  • These hot rods can go up to 35 to 40 miles an hour. While that may seem slow compared to your sweet mini van, you actually get a real sense of speed when racing indoors only 2 inches above the ground.
  • Boston can get cold – like you needed to be told that – so their indoor facility with two tracks allows for racing conditions year round.
  • A race is not complete without some flashy gear. Stop by their store to have your logo printed on various merchandise. Gift items to your employees or clients you are looking to impress. Want to make the evening especially competitive? Reward the fastest time with a trophy from their store!
  • Events can range from 10 to 800 people. The more participants the longer the event!

Team Building Options Available at X1 Boston

X1 Boston is more than just go-karting at your local track. At X1 Boston you are equipped with the resources to give your employees an excellent team building experience.

  • Pit Stop Tire Change – Even if you have never watched NASCAR you are probably familiar with the quick strategy that goes into changing a tires during a NASCAR race. Gather your team and create your own strategy for how to remove and replace four tires from a car in record time! Compete against other groups to see who has perfected the art of teamwork.
  • Time record – After the races, receive a print out of your scores. Discover who had the fastest lap or overall race. Return for a rematch!
  • Conference rooms & private lounge – Don’t worry boss, it won’t be all fun and games. Spend the day at X1 Boston racing karts and enjoying their restaurant and bar. If necessary, take a break from the fun with a meeting in one of their well appointed conference rooms.

Safety Tips When Visiting X1 Boston

Safety is paramount at X1 Boston. They have taken all necessary precautions to make sure your drive is just as safe as it is enjoyable.

  • All drivers must go through a safety briefing before they are allowed to race.
  • All drivers must sign a safety waiver.
  • Drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have a valid driver’s license.
  • Racing suits are provided and go up to a 4XL.
  • Included in the racing suits, is a balaclava, neck brace, and helmet.
  • Wear shoes that you would be comfortable driving in – just not open toe shoes.

Interview With Karen, General Manager of X1 Boston

Listen to my interview with general manager Karen and Jeff from their marketing team. In the interview we discuss what inspired X1 Boston, safety, and the various customization options available.

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Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi I am Kristen from Team Building Hero and I am here with X1 Boston. We have Jeff from marketing and Karen who is the general manager. Thank you guys so much for joining me.Karen: Thanks for having us.

Jeff: Thank you.

Kristen: So just to begin can you tell us how X1 Boston got started?

Karen: Well we started the concept X1 Boston, we have been open going on 18 years now. The concept of indoor go karting is a very big concept over in Europe. There are several countries over there…this has been an industry that has survived over there for quite some time and it is actually very popular. We saw some of the indoor karting facilities over in Europe and over in Germany in particular. We thought this would be a great concept to bring back over to the United States. Specifically for the idea of creating an outlet for corporations to utilize this type of activity as a team building event. We would focus our market primarily on corporate meeting business, primarily on the racing.

Kristen: Ok, so what is a typical corporate team building event with F1?

Karen: You know I don’t know if any of them are actually typical. It completely depends, we have got a number of conference rooms and private lounges here. A lot of times we will have companies come in and they may have their own agenda that they need to cover in maybe a sales meeting or they may be doing a kick off meeting or a new product launch. They will start their day maybe with a breakfast and they will start it in one of our meeting rooms. Then cover whatever they need to cover for business purposes. Then we will take a break and serve lunch to them. At some point during their agenda of their meeting they are going to participate in the racing activity. Whether at the end of their meetings…they do it for kind of a stress release and just a fun activity at the end of their meeting. Sometimes it is incorporated into their day if it is a true team building event. Where we start working with the companies and the individuals earlier during the day. We start incorporating the racing with the individual teams they put in place and they carry that into the conference room and build on that on the track with the teams.

Kristen: Can you tell me more about the cars people are going to be racing with? This sounds like a really exciting kind of adrenaline filled event. What sort of cars would they be expecting to race in?

Karen: Well they are European style go-karts. They are much different from what you would take your kids to. In order to race at X1 Boston you have to be 18 or older with a valid driver’s license. These karts do move pretty quick. So you definitely have to have some familiarity with driving. You do need to be able to handle a vehicle and accelerate and break appropriately. It is definitely not your little kids go kart ride. But at the same time it is a very safe vehicle, there is no way for the vehicle to overturn. So there is a surround wrap on the vehicle. There are barriers around the track. So we keep it as a non-contact sport. So it is definitely strategy, definitely needing to stay very calm and focused. The cleaner that you race the faster the lap times are, the better you do in a race scenario.

Kristen: You talked about a little bit about how fast the cars go. Do you know approximately how fast they will be racing?

Karen: Yea, depending on the weight of the driver the karts go top speeds between 35-40 miles an hour. Seeing that the track is a layout inside a building, you certainly feel like you are going a lot faster than that.

Kristen: O, yea definitely.

Karen: You are two inches off the ground so there is definitely a good sensation of speed in these karts and these karts are manufactured over in Germany. They are all German manufactured vehicles.

Kristen: O wow, that is so cool. A little bit about safety, so you mentioned a little bit about safety, you touched on it just a bit. Is there a waiver that people need to sign? Is there a dress code certain people should know going in?

Karen: Yea, everyone will sign a waiver of release when they start event. You dress comfortably. You would want comfortable shoes, you definitely don’t want to be racing in high heeled shoes. We provide all of the equipment, we provide a race suit, a neck brace. The helmets which are full face helmets. We provide a balaclava to wear under the helmet. So all of the safety gear we provide, as well of course the karts.

Kristen: You mentioned the track is inside, can you tell me a little bit more about what the facility is like?

Karen: Well, the entire facility is about 106,000 square feet. So there is two tracks in doors. Then we also have, as I mentioned, a number of conference rooms. We have some private lounge areas, we have a full restaurant and a bar area overlooking the track. We provide full catering for all of our conference areas and the lounge areas. We provide catering for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The scale of food is whatever level you are looking for. We do everything from lobster clambakes to more casual menus for bachelor parties. We do quite a few more casual dinners as well.

Kristen: Well you guys sound like a pretty large facility. What is the minimum and the maximum that you are willing to do for a corporate event?

Karen: Our corporate events typically range between 10 people to as many as 500 to 800. Depending on the type of event and what it is that you are doing or what the goal is. The larger events have a good traffic flow to provide a constant flow of activity so people are doing things. Because we have multiple activities, we have groups racing, we have a great billiards room, people will be eating. We got another activity, a tire change, a simulated nascar tire change activity that we also use as a team building activity. Which is very team driven, so we have multiple activities so we can certainly manage groups in hundreds of people and do that effectively without people waiting around and keeping people moving throughout the facility.

Kristen: How many people can race at one time?

Karen: Well in one individual race the most people on track in one race at one time is 12. But people are rotating so say you have a group of say 50 people. Those 50 people will stay suited and will be down on track for the entire extent of the racing. So once they are seated in a kart they will start a race, once their race ends, the next group will already be seated in a kart and the next race will be going out. So it is a constant cycle, if you have a group of 50 people going out, just because there can be only 12 in a group racing at one time. Doesn’t mean the rest of the group is just sitting. So they will be going out and we will be rotating drivers in and out of the kart every 10 minutes.

Kristen: Yea, definitely. You talked a little bit about the Nascar tire change team building activity, can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Karen: Yea that is a great activity and anyone who has ever watched a nascar race watches cars come into the pits when the driver pulls off the track. The pit crew has got to put 4 new tires on the kart, they have got to fuel the kart, and they have got to get the kart repaired and back on the track as quickly as possible. We basically do a simulated pit stop. Similar to what nascar drivers experience. The teams have to work together. There is multiple tasks that need to be done. Someone needs to be on the jack, someone is using an impact wrench to take the lugnuts off. Someone is pulling a tire, someone is putting a tire on. So there has got to be a lot of communication amongst the team members. We typically run those in teams of 6 people. 5-6-7 people on a team. The better their communication during the event, the faster they will be able to pull 4 tires off the kart and put 4 new tires back on the kart and do that effectively.

Kristen: That is such an interesting team building activity. You constantly work with your co-workers everyday but you don’t get to test those skills necessarily.

Karen: Yea, and you are under pressure to create a fast time. It is interesting watching the teams and you get some coaching going on, you get some yelling going on. You watch the teams do what they need to do to be able to pull off a tire change as quick as they can. We have a top 10 leader board that we keep posted. We have the top fastest companies that have competed in this event. We have got some great companies that make that top 10 leader board.

Jeff: It is a really high energy experience, just to be out there doing what they are doing. A lot of times there will be multiple teams doing tire changes so they are competing against each other. So they are competing with co workers or with and against people in their larger group.

Kristen: Yea you get a little, a little bit of that competitiveness in there that you may not have had on the track…well no I guess you could actually time wise. Yea, that sounds like lots of fun. I did actually want to go back to the safety real quick. Are there any sort of physical requirements that you would suggest for people? Like a weight limit or a height limit? Are there sort of physical barriers.

Karen: Well you know, everyone will not fit in the karts. But that tends to be very rare that someone doesn’t fit. We do have suit sizes that go up to a 4XL. So typically if you can fit into the race suits you can fit comfortably into the go-kart. But there is no specific height requirement. We do have pedal extensions for people that are vertically challenged. We have seat inserts if they need it. It is not like an amusement park ride where you have to be 48 inches or taller. You have to be 18 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license. That category usually eliminates the height challenge. I would say, we don’t have a specific weight limit or height restriction, like I said not everyone will fit into the karts but the vast vast majority of people can participate without a problem.

Jeff: Before the racing takes place the drivers go through a safety briefing which they learn about how to interpret the different color flags during the race. You know, green means go and yellow is a warning. They go through a safety briefing so they know what to expect when they are out on the track and prepared to run the race.

Karen: Yea, any company that is doing an event with us they would have a live briefing with one of our track managers. They would go through all of the safety regulations. Any of the risks and they go through very specifically the best way to handle the kart and all the rules and regulations. There is a question and answer opportunity for people if they do have questions before they get out there. We don’t just throw them out there without a very specific safety briefing that every driver has to go through before getting into a rig.

Kristen: So there really is safety all around, you have a briefing before, there are suits. It sounds like you guys are very well prepared. You talked a lot about how it is customizable, you have plenty of conference rooms, food options, morning, night, two race tracks. But how long should people reserve or expect to save time for an event with you guys? Is it up to them? Or do you have a suggested amount of time?

Karen: It is up to them and it depends on the size of their group. The larger the group the more time they are going to need on the track to get everyone participating. But say you have an average group size of maybe 30 people. They come in from beginning to end, it depends. If they want to start their mornings at our facility. Maybe they are starting with meetings depending on their agenda. At some point they are going to break for lunch. We are going to take 45 minutes to an hour for their safety briefing. Then we are going to be out on the track for an hour. So people often do half day events or full day events. But we do get a lot of companies that come in as an after hours or after work where they arrive maybe at 5:00 at night. We brief them, then they go out on the track and have dinner and drinks afterwards. So it is a couple of hours that they are at our facility. It is a nice outing for after work, gathering for companies to come. So we have a lot of companies that do that, they come at the end of their day. Or if they are doing their meetings or doing other things during the day. They may be here from early in the morning till after racing and after dinner till later in the evening. It depends on really what the company’s agenda is.

Kristen: Fantastic, so it can be part day or top off the end of a work day or a full on event. Can you tell me a little bit about the ranges in price? What can people expect going in?

Karen: Well again, it is going to be kind of dependent on what you are doing. You know if it is just the racing that you are participating in or what it is you are doing for food. Are you doing a breakfast and lunch during your meetings. If you are doing a dinner, our dinner catering options are really very wide. We have a very broad catering menu. We have got an excellent chef. He has been with us for years. We get rave reviews on the quality of food that we provide. It is always much better than what they think they are going to get at a go kart facility. We are certainly above that to a greater extent.

Jeff: There is also an on site restaurant. Which is a bar and grill.

Karen: Yea we are not catering. We have a full service restaurant and a bar as well. We have a full liquor license and a full service restaurant. Our restaurant menu is online. I mean anyone can look at it at any time. Our catering menu is online as well. But we are very comparable if you are going to take your company to an offsite meeting at a hotel or renting a conference room elsewhere and catering food. We are in the same ballpark.

Kristen: That is great, when you are planning an event that is one less thing that you need to worry about or one less person that you need to contact. When it comes to taking care of food which everyone is usually going to want.

Karen: Yea, and the staff that we have here. We have full event planners that will take care of all the details if you want to put an event together our staff will put together an event with you. They will put together the menu recommendations. They will put your entire event together to meet the goals of what you are trying to accomplish while you are here. So we do all the event planning services for them as well as the event execution while they are here.

Kristen: So convenient, awesome. So if people are interested in booking an event with F1, how far ahead should they look to book?

Karen: It fluctuates, we really try to accommodate anyone. So if someone does have a last minute request we certainly try to do what we can to accommodate them. But certainly during the holidays you definitely need to book several weeks in advance to try to get space. Cause we do sell out during the month of December and January. We get pretty busy during the spring meeting business and fall meeting times. So during those busy times, the sooner you can at least contact us and we can get you on our calendar and start working on the details, the better. But I would definitely say a couple weeks in advance would be the target.

Kristen: I think that is actually all the questions I had, is there anything else you would like to add about F1?

Jeff: The only thing I can think of that we did not touch upon is the extras you can have for events. Again, depending upon what you want to do. You may want to have trophies for the best performers. There is a store onsite as well.

Karen: Yea, we do have a retail store on site, a number of different trophy options and trophies are a great thing to add. If you are doing any kind of team building or any kind of competitive race with your group and you want to acknowledge your first second and third place winners. We’ve got trophy options to provide people with memorabilia that you can get with your company logo on it. We do custom clothing. Anything that can enhance the quality and level of your event, because we do have a lot of people that entertain their clients with us and do client appreciation events. So if you want to take care of your customers we do have a lot of options to be able to make it…add that special detail, whether it is your employees or it is your customers.

Kristen: Yea, what a great add on to send people home with a little memorabilia of the day.

Jeff: One other thing that I think people really enjoy is, as far as the racing experience, it is a timing system which includes a print out of your performance at the end of the race. To see what your average lap times were, see how fast you were going. You know, a whole data sheet about you racing experience people seem to really enjoy. Comparing it to their coworkers or their clients.

Karen: That is where the competition really comes in. Who had the fastest lap time, who have the best average lap time. How many seconds you were behind the lead driver. But all that is provided in your printout sheets. So we do provide that to everyone that races. That is a good source of conversation when they come back up off the track. Then maybe grabbing a drink or something off the bar, but we provide that for everyone that participates.

Kristen: Awesome, so people can just hang that on their door and just remind everyone later on they did win, the F1 races.

Karen: Yea, the info we provide, I know they definitely exist in a lot of corporate offices around and there is a lot of bragging rights so we do get companies…we are fortunate to get a lot of repeat business. So we have companies that are here on a regular basis. They are here from either different departments within the organization. Then the departments have bragging rights against other departments who performed better. So there is a lot to take back to the office with you other than just the experience.

Kristen: Yea, you got to have rematches to see who could do better.

Karen: Yea and we are lucky we do have a lot of repeat business. We have a lot of companies that do come back year after year after year.

Kristen: Fantastic, well I think that is all I have. Is there anything else that you guys would like to add?

Jeff: Just that it is really a memorable experience. The founder of the track is a professional race car driver and he has several race cars displayed on the facility that he has raced in. There is a lot of memorabilia from racing. Photo sports throughout the building.

Karen: Yea, if you haven’t been to the facility it is definitely worth coming down to look at it. It is a lot more interesting then coming into a hotel room that you have to go attend a seminar or attend a meeting. There is not a lot to look at from place to place, but when you come into X1 Boston, there is a lot to look at. It is exciting. It is high energy it is definitely a high adrenaline and high energy facility.

Kristen: Yea, definitely I was looking at the photos on your website and it looks pretty cool. Even if people don’t have time for a race and they are coming in to have a conference or a meeting, It looks like a fun place to have your picture taken.

Karen: Yea it is a fun place.

Kristne: Awesome, well thank you so much. That was Jeff and Karen from X1 Boston. I am Kristen and you are listening to Team Building Hero. Thanks

X1 Boston Reviews

F1 has had some excellent reviews from people who got to experience the competitive team building first hand.

“Great place to get a team Builder in. Very fun day that turned competitive very quickly. The venue catered the lunch which was a solid selection of sandwiches and staff was friendly.” -Giaabruzzi, Trip Advisor

“My group was around 30 folks that had just spent a grueling day in coaching simulations as part of a leadership program. Frankly- this activity is what we needed to end the day. Our program started with a chance to get a taste of what it feels like to be part of a pit crew. I was a tire changer which meant I got to undo the lug-nuts and change two tires as fast as possible. Pretty damn cool. But that was only a taste- next up was getting into the track to race go-carts that get up to 45mph. When you are only an inch off the ground- 45 is fast. I got to race three times- which was probably around 40 laps around the course. I could spend days doing this- much like video games I could see myself trying different techniques to make each lap faster. Simply awesome.” -Alex K., Trip Advisor

“I went here for a work team building thing. I have three takeaways. First, it was blast. Second, it was a blast. And third, I thought it worked great as a team building event. The friendly competition really fired up the entire team and sparked a ton of goodwill that comes from the experience of true sportsmanship.” -Chris M., Yelp

IA Innovation: Team Dynamics Improved by Improv

Have you ever been to a comedy show? It may have been stand-up, improv, or even a funny play. You probably remember your cheeks hurting from smiling so much and being surprised how quickly the comedians could think on their feet during the performance. You may also be surprised to hear that the skills required for improv are very similar to the skills necessary for your everyday 9-5. For this team building activity you are going to get the opportunity to get in touch with your funny bone.

IA Innovation is an improv group that identified a demand in the corporate world for the skills necessary to perform great improv. Founded in 1998 by Norm Laviolette and Chet Harding in Boston, it has grown into a successful enterprise working with countless organizations. The facilitators of IA Innovation travel all over the country, and sometimes globe, to teach improv in a fun environment.

Do you always find your employees messing around? Thinking that a workshop filled with laughter may fit your company best? Get their energy out with some quick thinking improv. IA Innovation has numerous programs that can fit the needs of any type of firm or department. All relating back to improv! They have a strict no power points, no group hugs and no trust falls policy. So you can rest assured that there will be no unnecessary boredom while building these soft skills.

IA Innovation Highlights

IA Innovation will make it happen. After all, they are improvisers at heart. By nature they are willing to help design an event or a program that will give your employees an evening they won’t ever forget. Whether that is enjoying some improv or getting on stage yourself, the facilitator’s ability to be flexible gives you no excuse to not check them out!

  • Tons of programs! Looking for a program that specifically fits your needs? They have quite a few ranging from leadership building to presentation skills.
  • IA Innovation will personalize a private improv comedy show for you, performed by the improv professionals. If participants are looking to watch the masters at work, you are given the opportunity to watch the actors perform a hilarious scenes as it specifically relates to your company.
  • While IA Innovation does have two locations in Boston they can come visit your location. From Ireland to your very own conference room, they can set up a stage.
  • Practice skills that directly relate to a healthy and productive work environment like presentation skills, trust, communication, and listening via improv exercises.
  • Catering components are offered if visiting one of their two Boston locations.
  • If you are looking to do a show at one of their locations they can host 6 to 350 people. However, improv programs can be performed for groups up to 8,000 people at off site locations!
  • Programs can be customized to fit half or full day events. However, a typical team building event is 2.5 hours. This is of course dependent on the size of your group
  • IA Innovation has clients that book six months in advance and others that ask for availability the next day. The sooner the better, but they are excellent at improvising if it is last minute.

Team Building Activities at IA Innovation

Unsure if improv is the right fit for your company? Not completely sure what improv team building would look like? IA Innovation recognizes this is often a challenge in their industry and can provide you plenty of information on what the program will look like.

  • Signature Program – Their most popular program will take participants through improv exercises focusing on communication and listening skills.
  • The Comedy Show Experience – While this show may not make your co-workers funnier it can help build teamwork, trust, and collaboration with one another.
  • Master Presenter Challenge – Is your sales department looking for a workshop? Does your team lack the ability to think quick on their feet in front of clients? This program can benefit those participants! Work on presenting topics given by the instructor while you have to think quick on your feet!
  • Leadership Cascade – “Leaders are not born, they are made” said NFL coach Vince Lombardi. With this program improv facilitators will teach you why leadership is all about communicating and listening to your team.
  • And much more!

Interview with Bob Melley, Managing Director at IA Innovation

Hear my interview with Bob Melley, the managing director at IA Innovation. We talk about the different customization options with IA Innovation and why improv has been such a successful team building option for companies.

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Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi, my name is Kristen and I am here with Team Building Hero. We have Bob from Innovation and he is the managing director. He is going to answer a few questions for us about the different team building activities at Innovation. Thank you for joining me Bob.Bob: My pleasure, thank you very much. I just want to say that the name of the company is IA Innovation and I am happy to be here.

Kristen: IA Innovation, awesome. Can you first tell us how IA Innovation got started?

Bob: Yea, it really came from a concept that Norm Laviolette and Chet Harding started in 1998. Both were performers in improv comedy and they thought it would be a wonderful idea to start a theater in a basement on Hanover Street on the north end of Boston. That was done in 1998. Really like any business has grown to what today is a multi million dollar business from just a simple idea and a dream.

Kristen: That is awesome. So some of the programs that you offer at IA Innovation, they are specifically for team building. Can you tell us about some of those team building events?

Bob: Sure, we have a unique approach and method to team building and communication and listening programs. Where we teach the tools and techniques of improv to help folks communicate and listen more effectively, work together as a team, and build off the ideas of others. Certainly think fast on their feet to name just a few. Every one of our programs is customized. So in addition to the foundation of what we teach, as I just mentioned, we blend in any theme and/or message that a client wants us to so it is more specific to what they are going through.

Kristen: Awesome, so maybe if it is an international company you may work on international relations? Can you give us some examples of that?

Bob: Yea, really it is all sorts of teams. Whether they are global leaders or sales folk or management. They might want their teams to be able to tell a story more succinctly or work on presentation skills because there are always clients facing…being able to adapt in the moment. So we work on all those different types of things and the way our programs work is interactive so everyone is up and doing and by the nature of that, it really creates a quick team bond in that everyone is pulling for each other…having fun as they learn. It has been quite successful not only for our clients but also for the growth of that particular division.

Kristen: So to be honest, I don’t really know a lot about improv. What I know is like ‘Who’s line is it anyways?’ Is it that sort of set up? Where you give them a topic and employees go out and try to act out a situation? Or do you give them special exercises?

Bob: Yea, we have a variety of programs. One of the programs that we have is called the comedy show experience, that is similar to that. Once they go through what we call our core signature program.

Which consists of a variety of exercises which are designed to help them communicate and listen and trust each other. That is done through simple exercises. Like a story in one word or an electric company where one person starts a word they have in mind, then the next person finishes it. So you really get that listening but it also talks about how that one person that started with that word did not necessarily have what the person finished the word necessarily had. Now they have a bigger and better idea by simply listening. So those are they types of exercises, we break down each exercise as we go. We talk about really what it means and how it is best used in the workplace and how it can transform the workplace.

So getting back to the comedy show experience, the initial part of that program would be those types of exercises designed to teach those tools and techniques but at the end we would break larger teams into smaller teams and ask them to ‘perform’ if you will, a subject given to them in the moment. So it is a lot of fun. There are a variety of different ways we can craft the program but the foundation is always what I just mentioned.

Kristen: Yea, that sounds very challenging to be able to try to finish your co-workers sentences just by listening.

Bob: Exactly, it sounds simple but it is really not. Laughter enters into it pretty quickly but each and every one of those individuals is pulling for the other to come up with an idea and finish that thought and finish the exercise though. You really have to have a heightened awareness of listening. We talk about in the onset of our programs how when somebody is speaking to you, whether it is a superior or a peer, you are generally thinking about how you are going to respond and really missing the message…the bigger and better idea the person is talking about because you are concerned about, ‘How am I going to respond?’ or ‘Will I sound funny?’…‘Will my idea be accepted?’ That is really prevalent in the workplace.

Kristen: Exactly, that is where communication breaks down. We see that being a very important concept with team building, improving communication among employees.

You talked about you could specialize these exercises among the employees if they are in sales or marketing. What if you have a company coming together with people from all different departments. They are not really sure what kind of skills they want to improve, they know they just want to bond everyone. Do you have a special program for them?

Bob: Well our programs do that automatically. So we have worked all across the globe with all sorts of different companies. From the farming industry to engineers, engineering firms to the finance industry. If you take global leaders from those types of organizations who are meeting each other for the first time…they may do the same type of job within the organization just different locations. We do that a lot. Utilizing these exercises and having them participate in those exercises, it really creates that bond right off the bat.

We are also hired for that core program. I don’t want to say for just that core program because it is involved. By teaching the tools and techniques of listening, communicating, trusting, thinking fast on their feet. It immediately creates that bond of putting everybody on the same level. So it is very effective.

Kristen: Yea, definitely. So with these events do you offer any add ons? Like when people come to do an improv session, do you do catering or is it just in the evening? Can they turn it into a holiday party type of event?

Bob: Yea, we have done our share of holiday parties. We do have a food and beverage component to everything that we do if we are available with improv asylum, which is in the north end of Boston. Or our sister venue, Laugh Boston, which is in the seaport district. So we do have that ability. People do take us up on that depending on what they are looking for as far as their agenda is concerned.We have done programs that start at 7:30 in the morning to noon. We have done full day programs, we have done evening programs as well. Not just team building but we add on custom forming. That is a lot of fun, 4 to 5 of our main stage players that perform on stage and improv asylum. We’ll perform a customize show for that particular group using specific information regarding lingo and characters of that organization. Blend that in and really make it that much more specific and hilarious. It is a lot of fun. All that is pre approved of course.

Kristen: Yea, thats really cool. So you can get involved or have a show and dinner for more formal events.

Bob: O absolutely and when you add the show, the private customized performance, on and you go through the training prior, you will have the training program, and then have dinner or a networking event, then have a show…you will see the tools and techniques, the skill set, that you just learned. You will see our performers up on stage and how effective they are. Even though they are making comedy and that’s not what was taught. It is very interesting to see it up on stage in action.

Kristen: That is great, so for these events you host everything from casual/self learning to dinner and a show. What is the min and the max that you can host these shows for?

Bob: We have done it for a program for as little as 6 people in our theaters. The max at improv asylum it would be 200 people. At Laugh Boston it would be 300 to 350. But we have provided programs, as I mentioned earlier, all over the globe and throughout the country. I think our maximum was 8,000. We provided a program for 8,000 employees for a major company. That was over a 2 day period where that group of 8,000 rolled through various break out segments that we did.

Kristen: That is crazy, that is a lot of people to serve.

Bob: Yup, we love it though.

Kristen: So you can go to anyone really in the country it sounds like. Do you do any events at corporate offices or conference rooms?

Bob: Yea we have always joked that we are going to publish a book of the pictures of conference rooms that we have been in…the stage, the look of a conference room. But yea, we travel. We can visit your office and/or conference room or an off site venue in the city or town that you are in. We have done a hotel. We have done programs in Ireland, in particular Dublin. A few famous theaters, as well as london. A very famous theaters in the Victoria Area. We love to get creative. The folks that hire us like to be creative for their team so we will work with you to make sure that venu is as cool as possible.

Kristen: So your home facility, the two that you have in Boston, can you tell us what those two are like? Is it like a comedy club or a large gym maybe? What kind of facility could they expect?

Bob: Yea Improv Asylum in the north end is a 200 seater theater in the rounds so it is very intimate. You are basically right on stage. We do show 7 nights a week. Generally sell out our shows, definitely on the weekends. We do great business during the week. It has a front room and a bar. So we can break out groups and host catered events in that front end. We have our corporate office right across the street. Which is another 7,000 square feet of space to break out folks for the larger groups. Our Laugh Boston seaport is a stand up comedy club but it is probably one of the most beautiful venues in America as it relates to comedy clubs. We do a lot of private event business there. It is situated in the Western Waterfront Hotel in Boston which is in the seaport district. It is connected to the Connection Expedition Center. So it is a hub of activity, it is certainly in the corporate world on the east coast.

Kristen: You mentioned events that are sometimes 2 days long or morning or night, but your average client, how long would you say your events typically run?

Bob: Our core program is about 2.5 hours long. The average for a client is half a day…2.5 hours. But as I mentioned we have done add ons and facilitation sessions. Shared experience role play scenarios. We have brought in and worked with additional folks in the industry where it could be an individual coach or a speaker who has gone through some things that could make him or her really relate to that group as far as motivation is concerned. So there is all different types of programs that we can build but as far as the core program is concerned, it is about 2.5 hours long. Also I want to point out that our programs are very comfortable. We don’t put the spotlight on anyone. We don’t ask them to perform if you will, we are all in this together. We are very adept on reading an audience and bringing out the introvert a little bit but also clamping down on the extrovert. It is all a level playing field where everyone feels comfortable and I think that is an important key to our success.

Kristen: Yea definately, for an introvert who is typically quiet in an office setting this may be a little bit intimidating approach to team bonding but it sounds like you can handle it.

Bob: Yes, no trust falls, no group hugs, we are coming together.

Kristen: That’s great, say I am an HR manager and looking to do an event with IA innovation…I have no idea where to start, your average client, where would you start?

Bob: I would talk with them directly about what they are looking for as far as what their needs are of that team or what they are trying to accomplish. They are usually going through some focus mechanism to make that team to perform better or maybe it is generally just a team building event for fun. So I would really talk to them in depth about what they are looking for. We do have a fairly in depth questionnaire that I will send out to that client that will ask those type of questions. Are there any major changes in the organization that we should know about? Are there things that we should stay away from outside of communication, listening, team building, and adapting to change skills? Is there anything you want us to key on or focus on? We will also do a conference call with the facilitators before the program as well so everyone is comfortable with what is going to conspir and we are all on the same page.

Kristen: Fantastic. So for price range is it flat rate? Or is it after a certain amount it goes up per person? What could they expect price wise?

Bob: We have all different types of levels. The base cost for our core program for a group of 20 – 25 begins at $5,000 for the 2.5 hours. Obviously if there are 50 people the price does not double but it will go up exponentially. We also have a great key note program and that is more geared toward the larger groups…300, 400 people. That is based on price per person and that is anywhere from $90 to $100 per person, so to answer your question that is the base cost for our core program and that is a premium service. We are very very popular and very effective. But we have done programs that range from $5,000 to $50,000 and above depending on what that client wants and what they need. But having said that we will fit any budget as well. We want to make things work.

Kristen: What is included in that base level price?

Bob: That is our core program with instructors, two instructors. They take everyone through those interactive and hands on exercises. It also includes the venue if available here in boston and that is it.

Kristen: Ok, fantastic. So you guys sound like you are doing fairly well. How far should people look to book in advance?

Bob: We will book 3 to 6 months in advance if they can. We will also get phone calls to see if we are available in the next day or two. You know it runs a gamut. We are at the heart improvisers, so if we are available we can turn it around pretty quickly. We have been doing this for a number of years, but the sooner the better is what we say.

Kristen: Great, well do you have anything else to add for the people listening or looking to schedule an event with IA Innovation?

Bob: I would say just go to our site, IAInnovation.com, it lists all the different variety of programs we have and what types of groups they are geared towards. It also has testimonials and references, as well as a couple of videos that we have done. One of the types of challenges in this type of business is that people don’t understand exactly what is going to happen. So this website really helps ease that comfort level. In that we are not asking anybody to perform, it is really a fun, what I call ‘edjutament” program that as you laugh you are also learning at the same time. It is very memorable. That is the concept of ‘yes, and’, it is leaning to bigger and better ideas as we talk about all the time. It really can transform your workplace. We talk about how ‘yes, but…’ is very prevalent today. It really shuts off ideas.

Kristen: Awesome, well thank you so much. It sounds like a very interesting team building event for people to get involved and practice a new skill. Thank you so much for joining us.

IA Innovation Reviews

IA Innovation has an impressive list of clients. With a resume ranging from Google to Red Bull, they are leaders in providing skill based team building opportunities.

“The IA Innovation trainers treated us to a very engaging training session, which struck the right balance of learning and fun. Feedback from the group was overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to working with IA Innovation in the future.” – Jason Hollis, William Fry

“Wow! Your team was GREAT! “Yea, and…” resonated with staff and we are hearing it used daily. We appreciate your team’s enthusiasm in helping us build a culture of excellence.” -Jane Finley, Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente

“The days with IA Innovation have made lasting impressions and the general feedback from the vast majority of participants is that they learned something sustainable for their work and their own professional development. We are deeply convinced that the way IA Innovation has defined to take leadership communication to the next level is unique in its approach and in its sustainable outcome for participants and company. We look forward to continuing our co-operation with IA Innovation. -Joachim Kuss, Zeiss

“We were looking for something unique… a different twist on corporate training. It was the highlight of our sales kick off! Very different from your more traditional corporate training workshops… It was a rousing success.” – John Sutliffe, Vice President of Sales at Virgin Pulse

Airborne San Diego: Help Your Employees Reach New Heights

Note: Airborne San Diego has permanently closed.

Looking to add a bit of thrill to your work life? This adrenaline-pumping, heart-racing activity is sure to bring your employees closer together! I’d love to introduce you today to Airborne San Diego. Airborne San Diego’s brand new facilities in the heart of San Diego is the perfect, totally unique adventure designed to create strong, lasting bonds among your team.

Airborne San Diego Highlights

Anna Calisse, the general manager at Airborne San Diego, filled me in on all of the things the company can offer your team! While it might seem intimidating at first, the staff at Airborne works hard to provide a safe, educational, comfortable experience for everyone, that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Here are some highlights from our interview:

  • Airborne San Diego is very unique in that it has not one, but TWO wind tunnels, so they can send twice as many people through as the average facility! You also get the benefit of longer flight rotations than the industry standard.
  • They take pride in their state of the art, brand new facilities that accommodate all of your group’s needs: space for catering, a cafe with food and drinks, large event space with the latest technology, and comfortable outdoor patio space for hanging out post-flight!
  • No experience sky diving? No worries! The staff can walk you through everything you need to know from start to finish. Not only do you get to fly, but you also have the opportunity to learn about the science behind skydiving!
  • Great meeting facilities means that you have space to lead your team in bonding activities, or you can have the Airborne San Diego staff create competitive, fun activities that are sure to bring everyone closer together!

How to Find Airborne San Diego

It’s hard to beat Airborne San Diego’s convenient location right in the East Village of downtown San Diego! There is plenty of parking at the facilities. Come find them at 1401 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, California, 92101.

Team Building Activities at Airborne San Diego

There are a lot of components to your day with Airborne San Diego – check out what they have in store for you!

  1. Activities: The staff at Airborne San Diego would be happy to lead your group in an activity related to the skydiving experience! Learn about things like the force of drag and body position while falling, and apply that to a hands-on, fun activity such as building a parachute as a group! Compete against your colleagues to see who can build the best one!
  2. Tour: Go on a tour with your team around the building to get a behind-the-scenes look at their brand-new, state of the art indoor skydiving facilities! Learn how everything functions, led by an experienced staff member, and get an insider look at how indoor skydiving really works.
  3. Flight: Strap into your gear and get ready: it’s time to fly! Airborne San Diego offers each team member two separate flight rotations, each 1 minute and 15 seconds long. That’s 15 seconds longer than the industry standard!
  4. Bonding: The most important part of the day! Lounge in the gorgeous new facilities as a group and laugh over the photos and videos from everyone’s flights, cater using the kitchen or enjoy food at wine at the on-site cafe.

Interview with Anna from Airborne San Diego

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Interview Transcript

McKenzie: I just have some general questions about Airborne San Diego, and I would just love to hear more about your organization, and what y’all do.

Anna: Okay!

McKenzie: And this will have a specific focus on the team building events that y’all offer, and the corporate events.

Anna: So we look to be open hopefully in May, so we should be open for the summer. We are – I don’t know if you’re familiar with indoor skydiving facilities – but we have an indoor skydiving facility. And typically, what they are, they have a wind tunnel, and then a building around it with maybe, you know, a classroom, and maybe another corporate room for events and for birthday parties and for things like that. Our facility’s actually modelled after the facilities in Europe, which are full-service facilities, which means we not only cater to regional customers, but professional work as well. So, we actually have a cafe on-site, with food, drinks, we have wine, we have two dedicated event rooms, we have a barbeque terrace where people can either just chill and relax, or they can rent out for an event as well, and we are also the only facilities that have two wind tunnels. So we have two wind tunnels – which allows us to double the number of people we can put through them every hour, and allows us to have a bigger event. So our facility is about 26,000 square feet, where your usual one is maybe around 2-3,000 square feet. They’re usually pretty, pretty small.

McKenzie: Oh, wow, very cool.

Anna. Yeah. So as far as events go, that’s our big thing. That’s why we also wanted to be in a downtown location. Most of these wind tunnels, you find them on the outskirts of town, just because the land is cheaper, but we decided to invest a little bit more money to be in a downtown location. We’re right next to Pet Co Park, we are close to the convention center, public transportation, just to really make it an event site. And we want people to feel like, even if they don’t want to fly, or they could be skeptical about flying, they could still come, and it’s a place for them to hang out, see what it’s all about, they could hold their meeting, corporate events, without even flying if that’s not what they want to do.

McKenzie: That definitely makes sense. I’m sure you get a lot of people that are a little bit nervous at first about that whole process.

Anna: Yeah, very nervous, or they’re not sure exactly what it is, or what to expect, so by them being able to – you know, with several lounges and sitting areas, by them being able to see it a couple of times before, I think it makes them more comfortable with the actual understanding what they’re going to be doing, versus what you just might hear or think in your head.

McKenzie: Definitely. So this is something I actually have never had any experience with before – could you talk me through exactly what indoor skydiving is and how it works?

Anna: Yes. So basically, from a customer’s perspective, you could book online with us. For corporate parties or any type of event, we actually have a retail and events manager who will set up your event, basically, depending on exactly what it is that you want. So we can cater the event, we can just do pizza, we can just give you the event space, we have Apple TVs, phones in every event room, even if you wanted to hold a meeting. So basically from the customer’s standpoint, you come in, check in at our front desk, you sign a quick waiver, and basically you’re off to meet your instructor! The instructor will walk you through and give you a briefing of what’s going to happen in the wind tunnel, what the correct body position is, hand signals should they need to communicate with you, and kind of go over any questions or expectations of what’s gonna happen in the wind tunnel when you’re actually in it. He or she will then take you to the gear area, and fit you for a jumpsuit, helmet, and goggles, you’ll receive earplugs as well. And once you are ready to go, we have lockers that you can put your stuff away in. And then you’re off and ready to fly! And you basically have two different times that you go into the tunnel, so you get two flight rotations, each one is 1 minute and 15 seconds. So you’ll go in with your instructor, your instructor guides you into the wind, and you’ll basically fly around there and if he or she feels that you are doing a good enough job, they’ll kind of start to let you go, and let you figure your body out. It’s super fun, and even though it sounds like it’s not a lot of time, being in 120 MPH wind can be very exhausting – especially the first few times. Industry standard is to give you 1 minute rotations, so we’re already giving you 1 minute 15 second rotations, so with your two rotations, you’re already getting 30 seconds of extra time in the wind. We feel that that’s important for the instructors to actually be able to teach you something, is to give you that little amount of time, because when you first get into the wind tunnel, it can be a little bit overwhelming.

McKenzie: Oh, I bet, There’s a lot happening.

Anna: It takes a little time to relax.

McKenzie: Definitely. How did you get started with team building activities? What do those look like at Airborne San Diego?

Anna: So for team building, you can do it a couple of different ways. You know, some people have fun with – because we have two wind tunnels, we can actually book like- let’s say you have a company party because you’re celebrating that your team won something versus the other team, we can do kind of competitive stuff like that, we can do where the staff watches all their managers or supervisors fly before they do. There’s a fun – a bunch of different ways we can do it, and that’ll depend on what kind of event you want to have. Typically, you’ll come in and check in, and we’ll take you up to your own private event room, there’s also a kitchen up there, so you can lock everything, you can keep your stuff in there, your instructor will meet you up there and go over what’s going to happen, but you can use the room depending on if you want to, again, have something catered. We also, for team building, there’s different scenarios the instructors can run through with the staff, and again, this is all customized depending on what that company might want. So it really just depends on the situation. For example, we do a lot of school programs, just for kids, different ages, even up to college. We have different – I don’t want to say ‘games’ – but different kind of things that they’ll do while they’re in the event room, so we’ll have them build something and see how – you know, we’ll have them build little parachutes. Anything that’s relative to wind tunnels and wind tunnel technology so that they can see how everything works. We also do a tour of the facility, for any type of event – anything from a field trip to a team building corporate event where they will actually get to walk through the back of the house, which are the actual tunnel components, and how the wind tunnel actually works. And we kind of give them a quick run through and educate them on how the technology works.

McKenzie: Definitely. So they get an educational experience out of it as well as this really fun, thrilling experience, too.

Anna: Exactly. And even though some of the things are – I don’t want to say ‘childlike’, but for example we have them build these little parachutes. We basically break people up into teams and have them build their own, and we’re talking towards the end, we figure out like “what worked, whose was the best, why was it the best” and the instructor will run them through the forces of drag, why is that relative to a person’s body position or the size of the parachute, or what it is, and all this stuff that’s relative to the wind tunnel to help to give them a better understanding of it, and it also allows them to kind of compete with each other and do an activity that not only educates them on something, but allows them to have a lot of fun and be competitive with each other as well.

McKenzie: Yeah, definitely. And I’m sure that the hands-on element makes the learning a lot more of an engaging experience, too, instead of just sitting there and listening and learning. They get to really play with it themselves.

Anna: Exactly. And we’ll even do it in the wind tunnel. There’s clients in the industry that want to say “I want to see who can do the most turns” or “who can do this versus that” so there’s kind of a competition between that group and that event or that team-building, where it’s like “okay well let’s see who’s the best flier” by meeting these certain goals and these certain things that we want to see. And then somebody wins something at the end of the day.

McKenzie: Definitely. So when companies come to you, looking to start a team-building activity, and they want to build a program with you, what are usually their goals? What are they usually trying to gain from your events? And how do the activities y’all provide help them achieve that?

Anna: Usually, with this type of industry, it’s actually really simple. Most of them are just interested in the flying aspect, and kind of making fun of each other. They really want pictures and video of their colleagues in the wind tunnel. Most of the time, that’s what you actually get – people wanting the pictures, the videos, they kind of have something that they can make fun of each other and play around with each other in the future. And that’s just the biggest thing that we get – is that they want to be in a relaxed environment where – you know, a lot of people don’t even want to do the activities. We always have those ready to go, but there are a lot of times where they are just more interested in the flying itself, and then hanging out afterwards.

McKenzie: Right. So they’re trying to build these like personal relationships that they can take with them afterwards.

Anna: Exactly. And it’s – even though you’re in a safe and controlled environment, because it’s still kind of an adrenaline sport, it can still be very stressful. It really helps them build that relationship with each other. It’s extremely successful when you have management, and maybe their staff, supervisors, because now they – when you’re sitting on the bench about to go, everybody’s kind of scared. And so you’re all at the same level. And then when you get done, and you know that you did it, you have this great feeling of accomplishment. So most of the time for them, it’s just playing around and building that personal relationship. That’s what we’re trying to do with them as well – build that personal relationship with the client.

McKenzie: Yeah, definitely. Do you think there’s specific demographics that these activities serve best, or is it really good for a wide variety of people?

Anna: Traditionally, there is a bit of a certain demographic because the facilities aren’t designed to big events or anything like that, but with our facilities, that’s our goal. We want to cover all bases. And we’re going to be the first facility in the United States that can actually do that.

McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. Very cool. So I’m sure this varies on a case to case basis, based on the group that you are working with and what services you provide, but for a corporate group, what does pricing generally look like?

Anna: Pricing is usually – it can run – so if you’re using both tunnels, we can put through 24 people every 30 minutes. So 40 people an hour. So it depends on the size of the group. If we were to take a group like that, you’re looking at – probably your cheapest is around 700 dollars, and then it ranges obviously up to like if you want to rent out the whole facility, which we’ve had people ask, that’s more like in the 24,000 dollar range. But usually we break it down to a price-per-head, and the price-per-head is usually around $65-70.

McKenzie: Okay, very cool.

Anna: Yeah. And that includes picture, video, just anything that they want to remember their experience with.

McKenzie: And you mentioned that catering can happen in y’all’s venue as well?

Anna: Yes. We have a kitchen and we figure that we might have some customers that might want something a little bit more – our cafe is limited on space – so it’s not like we’re doing sushi dinners or anything, but we have a line of vendors for if we have a major special event that somebody wants. You know, a little bit more up-scale, VIP kind of deal, we definitely have vendors set up for that, so we can accommodate that as well.

McKenzie: Okay. So I know you mentioned for the actual flight part, it’s a minute and 15 seconds per person, but what would be – what’s the average duration of an event for a corporate activity?

Anna: It’s going to be 3 to 4 hours at least. And 3-4 hours is just our most basic. There’s some people that want to do our event room, and they want to fly, and maybe they want to go hang out in the barbecue terrace, and have a couple of drinks, so that will depend on that, but I would say 3-4 hours at least.

McKenzie: Okay, cool. Great! That covers a lot of the things I wanted to ask you about. Is there anything else you want to share about Airborne San Diego, or anything you feel like we haven’t touched on yet?

Anna: Not really! It’s just going to be the first full service facility, is what I would kind of focus on. Unfortunately, because indoor skydiving isn’t that – it’s just now growing, not a lot of people know what it is, or are very familiar with it. But I think the fact that we offer different services like having the cafe, having beer and wine where you’re not forced to fly, having meeting area is really key, because people don’t feel like they have to fly to be here. They can just hang out and watch.

McKenzie: Right – you’re building a very comprehensive experience.

Anna: Yes.

McKenzie: Yeah. Absolutely. Very cool. Well, that wraps up what I have to ask you! Thank you so much for taking the time and talking with me.

Anna: If you have any questions, just let me know, or if you’re ever in town or something like that, and you want to swing by and check it out, let us know!

McKenzie: Yeah! Definitely! I appreciate you taking this time. Bye, Anna!

Airborne San Diego Reviews

Check out these great reviews of Airborne San Diego! Want more updates on their new space? Stay connected via Instagram, and Twitter!

This facility is truly amazing! It has it all, side by side tunnels, food and drinks from Breakaway, multilevel viewing areas, party rooms, and an open air barbecue section all within sight of Coronado and Petco Park. Get pumped! – Brian Gruber

Airborne San Diego is walking distance from San Diego’s Gas Lamp district. 14′ side by side tunnels. Very close to the Hwy 5 and the 163 hwy. The staff here are amazing and the layout of the facility is phenomenal! – Pepe El Toro

Are you looking forward to working with Airborne San Diego?

The opening of their new space is soon – have you booked your corporate group team building adventure yet? Who in your corporate office will be brave enough to try out this skydiving adventure? Have you ever been to an indoor skydiving facility? Let us know about your experience!

Recipe for Success: a Culinary Team Bonding Activity

Food trucks, international food, ice cream, pizza, and chocolate! These are just some of the exciting cooking experiences your team could take part in when working with Recipe for Success. Recipe for Success it a team building company that provides employers with a tasty way to teach their employees about communication and working together. With their numerous events and flexibility, you are certainly able to find something that will fit any need.

Recipe for Success is a team building company. So, you can rest assured that important soft skills will be discussed and improved while participants engage in any of their creative events. Team Cuisine, Recipe for Success’ flagship program, brings participants into a room set up with all the equipment and ingredients they will need. Your group is then broken into teams and handed an envelope which they believe contains a recipe. Instead, the card is actually just a short description of the meal they will be cooking. This uncertainty is where the team building skills come in. Each team has to work together to cook the item based on the description.

Recipe for Success Highlights

Recipe for Success has some great highlights that shows how unique they are. Their dedication to helping companies build strong bonds among co-workers is what sets them apart from other food based activities.

  • Recipe for Success was created with team building in mind. Everything from start to finish touches on improving those skills and bonding employees.
  • Recipe for Success events are customizable. They operate via modules so they can make an event longer or shorter and with small or large groups. Events have been held for 12 – 800 people. Events are typically 3 hours long from start to finish.
  • Facilitators are all professionally trained chefs. No need to worry about the food not turning out great!
  • Programs for every food group! You may have heard of other cooking classes but Recipe for Success includes all food groups. From international cuisine to ice cream making, they love food and cover a wide range of options.
  • It is not just cooking. Not everyone likes to cook, but they can still be part of the process. A number of their programs require you to create an ad, marketing plan, packaging and sometimes a food truck!
  • Events are mobile. Equipment and ingredients come to you, whether that is a hotel ballroom or your conference room. Recipes can also be altered to exclude ovens when necessary.
  • Dietary restrictions can be accommodated. This includes basic allergies, vegetarian and vegan.
  • There is a minimum set price that increases after a certain number of people. Ingredients are also not included.
  • Following the cooking, debrief with the Recipe for Success staff to review why the food looks and tastes so great.

Variety of Events Offered at Recipe for Success

One of the highlights for Recipe for Success is the numerous programs they offer. All of which focus on team building skills. Not sure which one you would like to do? Try one out and revisit Recipe for Success for another activity! They have a number of clients that work with Recipe for Success on a monthly basis to host events.

Below is a list of some of Recipe for Success’ team building programs. Note, this is not even half of the programs offered. There are options covering everything from breakfast to chocolate making and mixology. They are even willing to work with you to create your own custom event. However, just for starters why don’t you give one of these a shot.

  • Team Cuisine – Their flagship program and most popular. Break off into teams and create an amazing meal without any recipes. Then come together with your meals and enjoy a buffet style dinner.
  • Ice Cream Making Challenge – Ever wanted to work for Ben & Jerry’s? Use liquid nitrogen to create new ice cream flavors! You are provided with tons of ingredients to create something amazing! Design the packaging and a commercial for your new flavor. Avocado rosemary ice cream anyone?
  • Food Truck Challenge – Recipe for Success’ newest challenge, break off into teams and coordinate a meal to serve in a food truck. A food truck built out of cardboard which you design and construct of course! Compete to see who can whip up the best food truck themed food.
  • Cooking for a Cause – Cook a great meal with your coworkers and donate the food to a charity for the homeless or those in need. This event is a great opportunity to work on team building while also helping your community.
  • The Ultimate Pizza Challenge – Create two pizza’s and one dessert or salad pizza. Then everyone comes together to share and try out each others creations for one big pizza party.
  • The Great Appetizer Challenge – Looking for something a little bit more like cocktail hour? Try the great appetizer challenge where each team is tasked with creating a different appetizer. At the end everyone comes together to try out other teams creations with some drinks of course!

Interview with Richard Cooper, Founder of Recipe for Success

Richard Cooper, the founder or Recipe for Success, and I talk about why he started Recipe for Success, the programs offered, and why they have been so successful. Hear us discuss some of the programs they offer and what makes them so unique.

Interview Transcript

Kristen: Hi, this is Kristen with Team Building Hero. I am here with Richard Cooper the Director of Culinary Programs for Recipe for Success. Thank you so much for joining me Richard!Richard: Sure, it is a pleasure.

Kristen: Just to get started, I was wondering if you could tell us how Recipe for Success began.

Richard: Well it is a little bit of an interesting story. Before starting Recipe for Success I was in the corporate world for 20 years. Cooking was always my passion outside of work. Luckily I was able to travel a lot. I was able to take cooking classes pretty much all over the world to hone in on my skills. When I sold my company I thought I might retire. I was a little bit young for that, got restless. So I thought if I could do something else, let me see if I can do something food related that did not take me to a restaurant work. So I came up with the Recipe for Success concept.

Kristen: That is so awesome. So you took cooking classes all over the world? What are some of the places you took cooking classes?

Richard: All through Europe, lots in Mexico and Latin America.

Kristen: Do you have special programs that focus on the recipes you learned while traveling abroad?

Richard: We do, we have different menus that we can present to our client based upon what kind of menu they want to see presented. We have got a number of different menus and a number of different activities.

Kristen: Nice! So our focus is team building, what kind of team building corporate events do you offer?

Richard: Right, so all of our events are team building events.

Kristen: Ok

Richard: They all surround the culinary arts. We use cooking as a metaphor for working effectively together.

Kristen: Ok, so you talk about working together things, like communications and ingredients coming together to make something great?

Richard: Well, communication is really the key in terms of what we focus on. My corporate experience tells me that communication is really key whenever you’ve got more than 3 people trying to achieve the same goal or trying to solve a problem. What I have come up with is good communication and teamwork is nothing more than solving a problem using a high level of communication skills.

Kristen: So communication is a frequent topic during your events?

Richard: It is, what I try to do is get the participants to try to understand, what does communication have to do with cooking? So I try to ask them some key questions if they have ever gone to a restaurant with a big group, lets say 10 ppl, and wondered how are they getting all those appetizers to come out at the same time. How are they getting all of those salads to come out at the same time? All of the main dishes, which contain many different items on it, to all come out hot and fresh. It comes down to the fact that in the kitchen they are communicating when each component of that meal is ready to be plated. It all has to come out fresh and that is the basis of how we relate it back to cooking.

Kristen: That is so interesting. You always have that time when you are at the restaurant and it is taking forever. Then you wonder, ‘who ordered what and why is it taking so long?’

Richard: Exactly, in addition I go a little bit further and talk about sports. In baseball you have the pitcher and the catcher signaling what the next pitch is going to be. If the catcher doesn’t know what pitch to expect and he gets a curveball it is going to be chaos. He is not going to know how to handle that pitch. In football for instance the coaches on the sidelines are signaling into the quarterback who is communicating it into the team. Again, if they didn’t know what plays they are going to run, it would be chaotic. Good teamwork is basically about good communication.

Kristen: It really is a vital skill that companies need to remember to teach their employees and not just the technical skills.

Richard: Correct

Kristen: Can you tell me more about the different cooking programs you offer?

Richard: Sure, our flagship program is called Team Cuisine. Team Cuisine is typically depending upon the size of the group. We work with 12 people up to 500 people. Depending upon the size of the group we do a multicourse international menu. What is interesting about that is the participant’s cook these dishes without a recipe. That is one of the challenges that comes in terms of getting them to communicate. They have to figure out how to do it as a team. All of our facilitators are professional trained chefs. They have all gone to culinary school. They are there to make sure the food does not only come out good, but great. The food actually does come out great. People are always amazed at how good they were able to get that food to come out both looking good and tasting good. At our debrief we contend that the only reason they were able to do such a good job is because they did it as a team and they communicated effectively as a team. We also make it like a competition. We judge them in 4 different areas. The teams also have to come up with a team name and a team sound, like a chant or a song. Something that depicts their experience during the event. Then while we are kind of eating dessert each team has the opportunity to get up in front of the entire group and do their little song and dance.

Kristen: That is fun. You said you don’t give them a recipe. How do they know how to make whatever you are instructing them to make?

Richard: It is fun, when they first walk in we have cooking stations already set up with the ingredients and equipment that each team will need to do 1 or 2 dishes. Every team does a different dish. Then we give everyone sealed envelopes and they all think there are recipes in there but in fact it is just a descriptive name of the dish they have to make.

Kristen: Well interesting.

Richard: Then at the end we put everything on a big buffet and we do a little bit of teamwork behind that just to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of this communication thing.

Kristen: So does everyone make the same dish or is kind of as you said a buffet collaboration? You make a whole meal for the whole group?

Richard: Yea each team makes a different dish and then we put it on a buffet for a whole group.

Kristen: O wow, is the team cuisine the most popular event that you offer?

Richard: It is.

Kristen: Ok, are there any situations or any ways you can accommodate people with dietary restrictions?

Richard: All of our menus are built so we can accommodate people with the most popular allergies, vegetarians and vegans. We can’t really accommodate kosher people. Most of our events are done at hotels. So the hotel can typically provide a kosher meal.

Kristen: I noticed by looking on your website you do offer a lot of buffet dinner style events, do you offer dessert? I see you have a chocolate team building program.

Richard: Yes, we do all desserts which is a great event because people love dessert. Each team will make a different dessert. We have an appetizer event in case some clients want to do cocktail parties. So we have each team making a different appetizer. One of the most popular is a charity event where we prepare food and give it to a local food bank or homeless shelter in trading areas or the local community. We get our representative from that charity to come to the event to give a talk on hunger in the community. It provides an opportunity our client a chance to give back to their local community and it is very popular.

Kristen: That is fantastic. When people come in to do the event do they come into a restaurant or can they do it at a hotel if they are having a convention? Or in their office? Where can they have an event hosted?

Richard: They can do it pretty much anywhere, we go to them. I would suggest that 75% of the events that we do are done at hotel ballrooms and add-ons to offsite meetings. We do lots in corporate environments and conference rooms, things like that. Some of our menus we don’t need ovens for, so we can accommodate that corporate environment where there may or may not be an oven to use. We bring in our own portable burners, we bring everything. So it is kind of a one stop shop.

Kristen: That is awesome how easily accessible it is for people to have an event anywhere.

Richard: Yea, that is one of the keys to how much success we have had. We are very customer centric. We try to satisfy the customers needs rather than having the customer satisfy our needs.

Kristen: Thats great, thats so awesome. What is the minimum amount of people that you can have at an event? I know you said 12 to 500, but say a company only has 5 people. Can you host them?

Richard: We can do it, it gets a little pricy for 5 people but yea we will do it. We have done that kind of thing for good clients. We have got a lot of repeat business. We have some clients that we do events for on a monthly basis for leadership training. So if they have a small group that they want to do something for, we will accommodate them.

Kristen: So do they come back and do all your programs? Get a little dinner or chocolate every other month?

Richard: They do, every month actually!

Kristen: O wow, thats awesome. You said you accommodate small groups but what about the max? You mentioned 500, that is a pretty big group to accommodate.

Richard: We’ve actually done 800. That is the max that we’ve done. When we got the 500 person event I had to figure out how I was going to do that and in doing so I came up with a formula so that I can prob do as many people as they can throw at me at this point.

Kristen: That awesome, so I assume for larger events it may take longer. How long is the average event or does it depend on which program people are wanting to do?

Richard: We try to keep it around 3 hours. With a longer event with bigger groups sometimes it can take longer than the small groups, which can be a bit shorter.

Kristen: Does that 3 hours just include cooking? Or does it include cooking, eating and everything?

Richard: Start to end.

Kristen: Start to end, ok. What is the price range for one of these corporate events? Is there a flat rate or is it per head or after a certain amount of people it starts to go up?

Richard: Yea, we have a minimum and after that it is on a per person basis.

Kristen: Ok

Richard: Let’s go back to the timing for just a second. The timing is interesting because the way I build all of the programs is I build them in modules. So if a client comes to me and says, ‘I know you said it is going to take 3 hours but I only have 2 hours time line for you.’ I can subtract modules for each event. I can customize the event to fit the client’s agenda. Again, it is that customer centric thing.

Kristen: So can people make recommendations for what they want to cook or is there a laid out recipe?

Richard: Well I am always willing to listen to recommendations and if I can do it certainly I will. But one of the things that people really don’t understand is what goes into building a program or specifically a menu. If we got, say 7 courses to do. Those courses have to come out together, be done at the same time. Human nature is such that people hate to wait. So we can’t have waiting for one dish to get done so the timing of each dish in relation to the other dishes is important when building a menu. We have to take into consideration those allergies and dietary restrictions. So there is more that goes into building a menu but if a client tells me ‘I don’t want to do any meat’ or ‘I want it to be all chicken’ we will accommodate that.

Kristen: That is really great. So with these events you provide all the equipment, the ingredients, and the location is that correct?

Richard: Correct

Kristen: …and included in the price?

Richard: Ingredients are extra. It is the facilitation fee plus the ingredients, plus any venu charges. Typically a client has already got a venu whether it is an add-on to an off site meeting or if it is in their corporate offices.

Kristen: So if I am an HR manager and I am looking to do an event with Recipe for Success, how would I start? Say I have 100 people, where should I start?

Richard: Give us a call, give us an e-mail. Throw it in our lap and let us come back to you.

Kristen: Awesome, well do you have anything else that you would like to add? I think I have all my questions answered.

Richard: Yea, I have a couple of other very interesting events I would like to outline for you if you have a minute.

Kristen: Yea, definitely!

Richard: One of our favorite events is an ice cream making event. What is really cool about that is we use liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream batter. It is very dramatic, it looks like a witches brew. Liquid nitrogen is the coldest element on earth. It is 330 degrees below 0. So when the nitrogen hits the ice cream batter it creates like a smoke witches brew type of thing.

Kristen: O thats cool.

Richard: We ask the teams to pretend that they are ice cream scientists for Ben and Jerry’s and they need to come up with a new flavor. There is a General Store with an array of ingredients that you would never think of putting in ice cream and they need to create a new flavor. Then they need to create a package for that flavor. They actually have to design a package. They have to design a marketing plan and a 60 second commercial spot that they have to act out. In addition to that they make waffle cones from scratch.

Kristen: I actually really want to do that now, that sounds like so much fun!

Richard: It is awesome you know, who doesn’t like ice cream?

Kristen: Yea, what are some of the most interesting ice cream flavors that you have seen out of this event?

Richard: Well it is really interesting, the other day we did avocado rosemary ice cream.

Kristen: O my…

Richard: You wouldn’t believe it, it was one of the best ice creams I have ever tasted.

Kristen: Really? Wow! Well I would have to come to boston and try it out with you guys sometime.

Richard: Absolutely, our newest event is food truck event. Where we actually have teams build a food truck out of huge pieces of cardboard and then prepare food truck appropriate food. So they have to design the truck, put it together with pieces of cardboard, decorate it, put menus on it, put graphics on it and then cook the appropriate food. That is a great event.

Kristen: Do they come up with those food recipes for the food truck event?

Richard: We tell them what they are going to cook.

Kristen: OK

Richard: So one team will do a taco truck. Otherwise we will have all taco trucks. So we manage it so there is some variety.

Kristen: That is so cool, so do you have any other programs you want to share with us?

Richard: Lets see, pizza event is always fun! We ask the teams to pretend that they are opening a new pizzeria. Each team gets to make 3 different pizzas. One of which has to be either be a dessert pizza or a salad pizza. Then they have to design the box for the pizza, the graphics on the box and again a 60 sec commercial spot that they will act out. Then everybody eats everyone’s pizza. It is an interesting event.

Kristen: So you guys really cover all food groups it seems like. You got ice cream, chocolate, pizza, food trucks. Thats fantastic.

Richard: Yea, it is the most fun I have had in my life doing these. We have been in business for 12 years now and it seems like we just started yesterday.

Kristen: That is so much fun, I am sure people love coming and relaxing, eating and creating new food. That sounds like a fun way to cook.

Richard: The feedback that we get back from clients is almost embarrassingly good. It is the best way i can put it. I am amazed at the accolades that we get. It is not all from my aunts and uncles either.

Kristen: I don’t doubt it. It sounds like a really unique team building experience for people to go out and enjoy.

Richard: It really is. We have a good time. If we have a good time that kind of rubs off on the program.

Kristen: Yea, yea definitely. Well, thank you so much I think that is all I have. Unless you have any other exciting different…I don’t know maybe crepes or something that you guys also offer.

Richard: Well, we do a breakfast event. Then we do custom events, you got some cockaminnie idea? Yea we will make it work!

Kristen: O that is awesome. Well thank you so much Richard. This was so much fun. I am sure people are going to be very excited to sign up for recipe for success.

Richard: Great, thank you.

Recipe for Success Reviews

“It WAS A HUGE SUCCESSFUL EVENT!!! Thank you so much for everything…everyone who attended enjoyed themselves and Richard and his team of chefs were FANTASTIC!!!”
– Ability Beyond Disability

“The program was fantastic. Everyone I talked to said that they had a lot of fun and really enjoyed themselves. And much to everyone’s surprise, the food turned out excellent. Craig, who was on site facilitating the program was great as well. Very knowledgeable and helpful.”
– ESPN

“I have received wonderful feedback on the ‘Chocolate Company Challenge’ event. Participants were particularly impressed with the facilitator. We will definitely look into your company for future events. Please pass along our thanks and kudos to the facilitator.”
– Bank of America

“The attendees still talk about what fun they had. You should have seen the bar bill to prove it.”
– Rockwell International

An Epic List of Fun Team Building Activities

Twenty years ago team building activities meant icebreakers, trust falls and the occasional game of tug-of-war. Today, we still do icebreakers, but the activities have evolved to include a wide array of experiences; everything from scavenger hunts to culinary cookouts to competitive rowing to paintball. This team bonding buffet means that you can pick and choose the exact type of experience that fits your company’s interests, values and budget.

We offer dozens of unique activities in major U.S cities, including Boston, San Diego, Seattle and Austin. To find the best event type for your group, select your city from the options below:

The Benefits of Team Building

We love all types of team bonding because each event type is a unique expression of the same fundamental concepts. Indoor, outdoor, active or cognitive, these activities are built to challenge your employees to work together better, to improve their communication and problem solving skills and to infuse team bonding into the workplace. The benefits of making this investment in your organization include:

  • Increased employee engagement, productivity and loyalty. Many organizations fail to recognize how important the social aspect of work is. For adults spending ⅓ or more of their time at the office, making that time enjoyable is a critical way to keep your employees happy and fulfilled.
  • Decreased staff turnover. Similar and related to the first point, a team that plays together stays together. By making team building a regular part of your work calendar, you can foster close relationships at the office that keep your people at the company. Turnover is hard; it hits the bottom line with recruitment costs, training up a new person and decreased morale.
  • Attract great new talent. Fun, bonding activities aren’t just for your current staff, but for future applicants as well. How? These activities are a fun benefit you can add to your website and job descriptions. Include photos and videos of your past events for extra leverage.

Those are just three of the many benefits of investing in team bonding activities for your company. Once you decide to that with these exercises, the next logical question is, “what types of team building activities can we do?”

List of Team Building Activities

Here is an alphabetical list of team building activities you can consider for your next company retreat, meeting or off-site. This list includes free activities that you can organize yourself, as well as activities available from service providers in your city.

  1. Amazing Race

  2. Bartending School

  3. Beach Trip

  4. Beer Making

  5. Board Game Night

  6. Bowling

  7. Broadway Show

  8. Broomball

  9. Casino Night

  10. Charity Events

  11. Chocolate Making

  12. Cocktail Party

  13. Cooking

  14. County Fair

  15. Dining in the Dark

  16. Drumming

  17. Escape the Room

  18. Game Shows

  19. Guac Off

  20. Food Truck Challenge

  21. Go Karting

  22. Graffiti Art

  23. Icebreakers

  24. Ice Cream Making

  25. Ice Sculpting

  26. Instant Choir

  27. Improv Lessons

  28. Karaoke

  29. Kayaking

  30. Laser Tag

  31. Leadership Training

  32. Lego Architect

  33. Mojito Contest

  34. Movie Night

  35. Murder Mystery

  36. Ocean Cruise

  37. Scavenger Hunts

  38. Secret Santa

  39. Singing Lessons

  40. Treasure Hunts

  41. Paintball

  42. Potluck

  43. Pub Crawls

  44. Rope Courses

  45. Rowing

  46. Science Fair

  47. Show & Tell

  48. Soccer-Baseball

  49. Storytelling Training

  50. Survivor Mini

  51. Trapeze

  52. Ultimate Frisbee

  53. Variety Show

  54. Watching Sports

  55. Whale Watching

  56. Winemaking

  57. Zoo Trip

  58. Zuper Fashion Show

Team Building Activity #1: Amazing Race

Love the show Amazing Race? Split your team into small groups and challenge them to an amazing race of their own. Your city is the canvas and a master game maker can paint a unique adventure through the streets, parks and public buildings that will have your employees hustling to win. The best part of an Amazing Race is the mashup of puzzles, clues, sports and other activities. The Amazing Race is truly an event type that can capture the attention of a crowd with diverse interests.

Team Building Activity #2: Bartending School

Want to learn the correct way to make a martini? Organize a bartending class with your coworkers to broaden your understanding of mixology. Bartending can be a fun adult activity for your employees to bond over. If you would like, turn your bartending experience into a game! Compete to see who can make classic drinks the fastest or with cocktail trivia. For example, what is really in an Old Fashioned? Find out who is skilled enough to play bartender at the next office party, or discover who at work can perform a perfect pour. Your people can learn a skill that they will use in their social lives and everyone can get involved. At your next happy hour, watch people try a new drink they want to try… or complain about ice chips in their martini.

Team Building Activity #3: Beach Trip

Your employees work hard and deserve a break. Rather than spending the day in the office or competing with your employees for engagement, enjoy a relaxing day on the beach. There are endless team building activities to enjoy on the sand and in the water. Play a round of beach volleyball, go clam digging, or walk the boardwalk to try out fun restaurants. A beach trip is especially fun in the summer with various water games and sports you can play, like Marco Polo and Aquatic-Tug-of-War. Bring some balloons and have a water balloon toss or an intense game of bocce ball. At night, host a bonfire complete with graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. The beach can offer a little bit of everything and is entirely what you make it.

Team Building Activity #4: Beer Making

Micro-breweries are popping up all over the place and some offer opportunities for your private group to come in and learn the craft. Your team can master the art of beer making, while working together and maybe enjoying a pint. Beer making is a great activity for adult groups that are curious and hands-on. Worried about some of your employees not liking beer? Suggest they bottle some of the beer and use it as a gift for their family and friends. Beer Making can be a new experience for your employees to learn about something they may regularly enjoy.

Team Building Activity #5: Board Game Night

Ever play monopoly with an entrepreneur or someone who works in sales? Find out who is really the most competitive in your company. Collect some of your favorite board games and host competitions in your office. Employees can compete against each other or play against the game with board games like Pandemic. Split the office into teams and play Pictionary. You may be surprised by the artistic skills of your accountant. Maybe even bring in a game just for laughs, like Apples to Apples or games that help employees get to know one another with Loaded Questions. There are endless board games for whatever sort of evening you would like to create.

Team Building Activity #6: Bowling

Along with tug-of-war, bowling is a classic team building activity. Bowling is versatile in its ability to handle small or large groups. Small groups can show up at an alley or large groups can rent out an alley for a company outing. Bowling can be a quick last minute event because it is such an accessible activity that requires little planning. If you are planning ahead you can bring in a caterer or look for a bowling alley with karaoke, arcade games and billiards. Spice up your bowling outing with special packages and select nights that feature nighttime bowling for adults. Bowling can also be a great “bring your family” activity because it is fun for all ages.

Team Building Activity #7: Broadway Show

You are a company that recognizes quality and talent when you see it. So, take your employees to see a Broadway show! There are plenty of shows to choose from. Build your team up with the experience of seeing a world class act. Shows often are only in cities for a limited amount of time, so there is a good chance most of your employees have not seen the current production. Going to see a performance can be a classy team building activity that allows your employees to experience some culture, relax, laugh and maybe cry. Emotions are a powerful bonding opportunity! Grab dinner at a fantastic restaurant before or after the show to make it an unforgettable evening. Example: The Phantom of the Opera.

Team Building Activity #8: Broomball

What is broomball? It is like a mix of hockey and soccer. Players compete on an ice rink while wearing shoes; no need for your employees to learn how to ice skate. Break up into teams, grab a hockey stick, then see who can score the most points. Broomball can be a great way to cool off in the summer or a fun way to get some exercise in the winter. Play a game of executive’s versus staff or accounting versus marketing. The winner may surprise you! End the evening with some hot chocolate and share-outs for ultimate bonding potential. Curious where you can play broomball? Most ice rinks are aware of this exciting activity and can provide all the necessary equipment you need.

Team Building Activity #9: Casino Night

Gather your employees for a night of casino games at the office. Welcome your employees to let loose together and see who really has the best poker face in the office. The great thing about hosting a casino night is how customizable the evening can be. Get a deck of cards, some drinks and play poker in the conference room. You can play with Monopoly Money or Bragging Points which can be exchanged for actual prizes. Prefer something higher end? Visit an actual local casino. Enjoy drinks, Blackjack, Roulette, and slot machines. Casinos often have shows featuring comedians and live music concerts. Be sure to check your local casino’s calendar for special events that may appeal to your employees.

Team Building Activity #10: Charity Events

Some of the most rewarding work a person can do is charity. Gather your employees and make a day of helping those in need. Options include bear building, bike making, habitat for humanity and food bank collection. One of the best things about charity is you can choose a cause or mission that matches your values. If you work for a school district then maybe your employees would enjoy bear building for children. Companies that relate to physical exercise or health may enjoy bike making for those in need. Your charitable giving can be anything! Sign your marketing firm up for Habitat for Humanity. They have so many locations that can use help. Looking for something a bit different? Check out Harvest Club; they visit homes in the local area with a surplus of fruit and vegetable trees, pick the produce,and deliver it to local food banks and soup kitchens. There are so many creative ways to help and your employees are guaranteed to enjoy giving back. Example: Team Bonding.

Team Building Activity #11: Chocolate Making

I have only met a handful of people in my life that dislike chocolate. Hopefully, none of these folks work for your company because you will want take advantage of this team building activity. Learn all about cocoa, what goes into chocolate, and how to make the perfect bar. Get creative with different molds and flavors. Then, learn what the percentage on all those chocolate bars really means. If those individuals who dislike chocolate do happen to work for your company, then advise they can send their samples to the writers at Team Building Hero.

Team Building Activity #12: Cocktail Party

Not every team building activity has to be a thrill seeking experience. Some of the greatest employee bonding can be done around the table with a couple of drinks. Host a cocktail party with elements like ice breakers and mini-speeches. Set some time aside in the evening for everyone in the office to come together and enjoy drinks, snacks and conversation. Bring in some juice, your favorite spirit, and a few appetizers while everyone mingles and gets to know each other better. You can step this activity up a notch by going out to a fun or fancy restaurant. Enjoy a cocktail party with hand crafted drinks and ambiance.

Team Building Activity #13: Cooking

I love cooking; mainly because I like food. Prepare to eat with a cooking class! You can work alongside your employees to prepare something delicious and “out of the ordinary” to enjoy together. There are plenty of cooking classes out there to experience, so there is something for everyone. The list is endless: sushi, baked good, French, Italian, desserts, and even cheese! Some cooking classes include a food tour of the city and grocery shopping. This experiencer allows everyone buy the ingredients to recreate for their family whatever fantastic creation they learned. Cooking Classes can be a simple team building activity for beginners and those that are more advanced. So, no worries for those who feel like every kitchen is Hell’s Kitchen. Example: Recipe for Success.

Team Building Activity #14: County Fair

County Fairs are a great place for employees to gather and let loose. County and state fairs are typically seasonal, so it is an annual highlight for those living in the area. Purchase fair tickets for your employees and find out what events are offered. There are so many activities at fairs, so it can make for a unique experience no matter how many times an employee has been. Check out concerts, art or science exhibits, new food, and even corporate event packages. Enjoy a beer and a fried Oreo. Then go on a metal contraption that spins you 100+ feet above ground. On second thought, do not do that.

Team Building Activity #15: Dining in the Dark

It may sound like a logistical nightmare at first – I am probably going to accidently spill wine all over my boss’s suit – but it can be a thrilling and eye opening experience. Dining in the Dark is just as it sounds. You will enjoy a meal with the lights out. Do not worry, the Dining in the Dark staff are trained on helping assist you with whatever challenges you may face. Laugh with your employees as you take your first bite of… chicken? Who knows. Gain a new appreciation for something we often take for granted and dine in the dark for a evening.

Team Building Activity #16: Drumming

Music is often called the universal language, because regardless of where you call home the right harmony is a transcending experience. The challenge with doing a musical activity with an amateur group is that many instruments take weeks or even months before you start to play well solo; let alone as a group. African drums are an awesome exception; if your employees can clap their hands then they can play these drums. The right instructor will show your group how to play energetic rhythms that will have you bobbing your heads and swaying your hips. Fire pit optional, but highly recommended. Example: Drum Cafe.

Team Building Activity #17: Escape the Room

There are tons of Escape Rooms that focus on team building. If your employees have never done this activity before then it can be a thrilling experience. Ever watch a prison break or hostage show? Do you ever watch then think about how you would escape? Ok, maybe that is just me…but now is your chance! Get locked in a room with your employees then try to figure out how to get out. What is a more bonding experience than fighting for freedom? Search for clues and solve puzzles to gain access to the outside world again before the timer runs out!

Team Building Activity #18: Game Shows

Does your company love playing games? Take a shot at attending a game show! There are tons of shows to choose from. Websites can help guide you on how to get tickets based on your location. Do you work in finance? Try testing your knowledge on The Price is Right! Is everyone at your company super fit? Attend the tryouts for Wipe Out! There are tons of game shows that appeal to a wide audience. Make it a memorable evening and watch the episode together as an office when it airs!

Team Building Activity #19: Guac Off

There is a good chance that the majority of your staff love guacamole and margaritas. Why not fuse these awesome food and bev options with your next team building event? All you need is a few dozen avocados, other ingredients and fun challenges to earn points and ultimately crown the guac-making champion. This is a fast paced activity that everyone on your team will love. Example: The Great Guac Off.

Team Building Activity #20: Food Truck Challenge

This challenge is a cool idea you may have never heard of before. Break off into teams – or create together for smaller groups – and compete to see who can create the best food truck experience; including the food concept, branding, marketing and financial forecast. Try going all out and create an actual replica food truck out of cardboard. The best part about a Food Truck Challenge is you can arrange the activity in your own office, at a conference center or wherever your team congregates.

Team Building Activity #21: Go Karting

When I first got my drivers license, I loved driving so much that I wanted to be a racecar driver. Maybe your employees had a similar dream. Go Karting is fun, fast-paced activity for employees to engage and compete in. Team up or play as individuals while everyone races to the finish line. Create prizes for first place and see who is really the most competitive in your firm. Some Go Karting tracks offer corporate packages focusing on building quick decision making skills, the ability to work under pressure and strategy development. Check out special offers in your area!

Team Building Activity #22: Graffiti Art

It doesn’t matter if you are in a creative or analytical field, graffiti art can be a fun experience for your employees to engage in. Sure, maybe you have painted on a canvas before. But have you used a spray can to create large pieces of art? Graffiti art is an activity that you can organize on your own, assuming you have a wall to paint. Then, when everyone is done, you can show your creation off to the entire office. Show clients how creative and fun your team really is with a beautiful work of graffiti art!

Team Building Activity #23: Icebreakers

Icebreakers are a fantastic way to get to know a new group of people or try to connect with others on a deeper level. There are plenty of icebreaker games to play that can fit whatever team event you are looking to host. Search online for some activities and questions and choose those you think will fit best with your company. Some games focus on teamwork while others can help develop unique skills.

Team Building Activity #24: Ice Cream Making

Similar to chocolate making, ice cream making is a good fit for those companies that have a sweet tooth. Gather around in a kitchen, combining ingredients to create the perfect smooth ice cream. Flavor your ice cream with different mixes and add toppings to create a totally unique flavor; can you create a themed flavor for your specific company or industry? Taste test your coworkers ice cream creations to see which you like best. Ice cream making is unexpectedly easy and a relatively quick process. If you want to get really fancy, make it an ice cream social with cones and toppings.

Team Building Activity #25: Ice Sculpting

Ice sculpting is an actual activity you can do! Collect your employees and try out ice sculpting. Create a piece of art with a giant block of ice! Maybe you would like to create a swan or recreate the statue of David. Companies that offer this activity will often take care of setup and providing you with the necessary tools.

Team Building Activity #26: Instant Choir

You may be surprised by this learning activity and what your employees are able to accomplish in a short amount of time. Instant choir gives your employees the chance to perform in a choir alongside one another. You may be thinking, ‘there is no way anyone in my firm can sing’ and you may be right. However, a professional instructor will show you how to make beautiful music together.

Team Building Activity #27: Improv Lessons

Improv is a challenging and often funny experience for people looking to get involved. Bring your whole team in for a lesson to learn how to work and communicate with each other in a new way. While communication and skill building lessons can be dry at times, improv offers a new way for your employees to laugh together while building those skills. Improv lessons have become increasingly popular over the years and can offer some valuable insights into the communications going on within your company.

Team Building Activity #28: Karaoke

Karaoke is a timeless activity that many people love. Employees can enjoy the evening, letting loose and singing to some classic songs together. Karaoke is a great way to bring an office together that may have employees from different generations. Any millennial would enjoy singing their heart out to the Beatles. Likewise, a Baby Boomer may get a kick out of Single Ladies by Beyonce. There are plenty of karaoke clubs and bars that offer special karaoke nights. If you are hosting an event in your office or a special location, karaoke rentals are available or one of your employees may even have a karaoke machine.

Team Building Activity #29: Kayaking

While many companies may enjoy showing their creative side or grabbing a round of drinks, your employees may also enjoy getting outdoors for exercise and a change of scenery. Kayaking is an excellent team activity for active groups. Kayaking is also fantastic because all you need is a body of water, the boat and safety equipment. Kayaking can be enjoyed on the ocean, river, and even lakes. Spend the day kayaking to a new location for a picnic lunch and enjoy the water and scenery. Check out rental locations near your local body of water for special deals!

Team Building Activity #30: Laser Tag

Laser Tag is not just for your kids birthday party anymore. Adults love laser tag too and you will wish you would have thought of this sooner, especially when everyone is working together to take down the other team. Laser Tag can be an excellent group activity that teaches your employees how to work together and communicate towards reaching a goal, or crushing the competition. It is also very fun to sneak up behind your manager and laser them when they aren’t expecting it.

Team Building Activity #31: Leadership Training

Many activities focus on skills like communication, working under pressure and leadership. However, these qualities are not always present or stressed. If leadership is a skill you are hoping to instill in your team, go straight to the source and organize some leadership training. Leadership training does not always have to be someone giving a lecture in front of a powerpoint, and instead can be a fun, engaging experience. Show employees how to be leaders rather than just telling them. Leadership professionals can be found online to help you with building confidence among your employees. Example: Essex Woods.

Team Building Activity #32: Lego Architect

A nostalgic and enduring choice, Lego Architect is the perfect way to bring out the inner-child in your teammates. There are a few ways to arrange this activity; you can do a free for all that gives participants a chance to exercise their creative muscles, or you can take a more structured approach. We recommend a game where small groups have members with specific roles like Architect, Site Planner, Engineer and Construction Worker. Give each role a set of rules to follow like “can’t touch the blocks”, “must be blindfolded” or “can only talk to the Engineer.” These constraints will challenge your employees to find creative solutions and achieve the ultimate goal: finishing a Lego building.

Team Building Activity #33: Mojito Contest

Mojito’s are a fun cocktail party drink, but did you know there are tons of combinations? Mojitos can have many different fruit and herb combinations. Try out some new pairings for the perfect summer drink. Hand out recipes to all of your employees and see who can create the best Mojito! Let the CEO be the judge on who’s mojito is top shelf. Find Mojito recipes on Pinterest, recipe websites and from other employees! If you are feeling like you are really in a Mojito mood, pair the drinks with some Mojito cheesecake or cupcakes.

Team Building Activity #34: Movie Night

Movies are a relaxing activity that everyone can enjoy. Check out deals online for group coupons to attend showings. Movie Night could be a matinee or imax deal for your team to enjoy. Take the office out for a showing after the holidays, when a bunch of new films have been released and everyone is struggling to get back into the work grove. This activity could also be a summer event where you go to a blockbuster and then talk about the values and principles in the film, because work.

Team Building Activity #35: Murder Mystery

Another popular activity you can do with your team is Murder Mystery. This puzzle sensation is a super customizable activity that requires your employees to work with or against each other to solve who murdered someone. Track clues and put pieces together for the live interactive Clue game! If you have some creative hands in your company, design your own game for a cost effective option. Otherwise, you can contact a company that specializes in murder mystery games. These companies often offer special corporate packages. Murder Mystery is a great option if you are looking to have fun and also work on some skill building.

Team Building Activity #36: Ocean Cruise

You and your employees work hard. You may be overworked or just finishing a very busy season. Why not relax on an ocean cruise? Ocean Cruises are super flexible and there are tons of options to choose from; it just depends on what you are looking for. If you want a casual cruise to enjoy the seas with a couple of drink, there are plenty of charters happy to help. If you are looking for something more upscale, there are boats you can rent out and take over with your company. Have food and drinks catered while you watch the sunset with your hard working team. Example: Royal Caribbean.

Team Building Activity #37: Scavenger Hunts

Is your office starting to get cabin fever? Try out a scavenger hunt as a fun, outdoor activity. Scavenger Hunts are fantastic for group bonding because there are so many competitive and collaborative options. Go with a professional company to set up a scavenger hunt or create your own. This activity can be done within the office or outside. Send your employees to a local mall, beach or city square. Anywhere really! Have your team looking for common items like paper clips or plastic cups. Then, move onto more challenging tasks like, ‘get a photo with a celebrity’. Watch how the teams work together to brainstorm a creative solution to getting a photo with someone famous! Example: Cashunt

Team Building Activity #38: Secret Santa

Every holiday season, thousands of offices around the world celebrate with a holiday party and a Secret Santa ritual. Usually, Secret Santa is a blind draw or a Master Elf can match the participants. Each member then has a specified budget to find a great gift for their target. The fun of Secret Santa is learning about what’s important to your co-workers so well that you can find that perfect gift, and on the receiving end, opening up a special new something. You can add to the activity by having participants guess who sent which gift to who or let it be a mystery that looms, in good fun, over the office until next year. Re-gifts optional.

Team Building Activity #39: Singing Lessons

You know that one employee that always seems to sing a bit to loudly with his headphones on? Lay a subtle hint with taking the whole office out for singing lessons! This activity can be a fun experience for the whole office, as you sing your hearts out to some classic tunes. Maybe your department wants to impress the rest of the company at your next holiday party? Take a few singing lessons and surprise your managers with the amazing musical skills your department has built!

Team Building Activity #40: Treasure Hunts

Similar to scavenger hunts, treasure hunts encourage employees to work together to accomplish a common goal. Except, rather than finding a paperclip or taking a photo – like in a scavenger hunt – encourage your employees with something desirable like chocolate, money, gift cards, or other exciting prizes. A Treasure Hunt can be arranged by a service provider or can be put together by someone on your team. The hunt can also be done anywhere in any amount of time. Treasure hunts can take place over a large location like a theme park or mall. These hunts can also be smaller and done in the office during a party.

Team Building Activity #41: Paintball

Paintball is not just for teenage boys; it is an exhilarating activity that encourages teams to work together with strategy and communication. At first it may seem like the skills built playing paintball are not transferable into an office setting, until you remember how sneaky your competition is. Just kidding. Paintball courses can offer corporate packages to groups looking for a new experience. These centers often provide you with all the gear necessary for shooting and safety. Worried about employees getting hurt? Paintball requires protective equipment over all sensitive areas of the body. It may sting a bit when you are hit, but it generally does not cause any physical damage.

Team Building Activity #42: Potluck

Looking for an excuse to ask Mabel in accounting to make her triple chocolate cheesecake? Organize a potluck! Potlucks are a cost effective way to host a party while allowing everyone to show off their talents in the kitchen. Not a chef? No worries, people can bring plates, cups and drinks! Add to a potluck with games, ice breakers, or many of the other activities suggested in this article.

Team Building Activity #43: Pub Crawls

Pub crawls are a great way to spend some time with your coworkers and get out of the office. Maybe you live in an area with upbeat nightlife. Grab everyone and look up some great bars to hit. Visit one pub that has fantastic appetizers, another that is known for their home brewed beer and one more for their fun bar trivia games. Pub Crawls can also be fun if you live near the beach where there are plenty of bars along shore. Look into bars with special deals like taco Tuesday or early Happy Hours.

Team Building Activity #44: Rope Courses

For those employees who are always zip lining and parasailing on the weekends, this is a fantastic activity! A rope course is similar to an obstacle course in that people work their way from one side of the course to the other by performing physical challenges as they strive to reach the finish line. Some may require you to walk across planks high up in the air, or walk on ropes closer to the ground and some even include zip lining.

Team Building Activity #45: Rowing

Rowing is similar to kayaking and canoeing in that you are in a long sleek boat, using paddles to move your way through the water. You may have seen rowing in the Olympics and noticed how athletic and competitive the sport is. Rowing is a choice team sport to help you learn how to effectively communicate and work together; and the boat literally doesn’t move without teamwork. Check out rowing to test yourself and your coworkers on how well you can be in sync in achieving your goal. Example: Community Rowing Inc.

Team Building Activity #46: Science Fair

Not everyone excelled in science at school, but their may have been a class or experiment we found absolutely fascinating. Bring your company to a science fair to rediscover your love of nature, technology, physics and chemistry. A science fair doesn’t always mean a baking soda volcano . Science can include new technology, cool experiments, or other findings in nature. The experience may include a new model car or robot. Search for science fairs in your area and ones that will visit your town in the future.

Team Building Activity #47: Show & Tell

How well do you really know your employees? Maybe they have a hidden talent or skill. Show and tell can be a quick and friendly team activity. Go straight to the source to learn more about who they are as a person. Maybe your people are fascinated over WW2 medals or vintage postcards. Ask everyone to bring in an item or perform a talent that shows a hidden side to them. You will be shocked when you find out your receptionist knows how to hula or when your marketing director can name all US Presidents and their Vice Presidents.

Team Building Activity #48: Soccer-Baseball

It may be hard to imagine your manager hitting a homerun or scoring the winning goal. As odd as it may seem, a lot of your coworkers may have had success in sports when they were younger. Soccer-Baseball is a good option when looking to get your employees out on the sports field; and is as simple as pitching and kicking a soccer ball in place of the regular baseball. Small groups can play a quick round to 10 points, while larger groups can hold tournaments competing to see which team/department does the best over the season! Equipment is easy to come by at the store or asking around the office. Set up a game and picnic for a sunny spring day of sports.

Team Building Activity #49: Storytelling Training

Like public speaking, storytelling requires practice and experience. Storytelling training can provide your employees with the opportunity to improve this skill. Not only is storytelling an opportunity for learning together, but it can be used in and out of the office. Help your employees learn how to communicate a story better which can translate into better performance at work. Maybe you are in a field that requires frequent communication with clients that involve a lot of talking and detailed points. Storytelling training can help fine tune those skills.

Team Building Activity #50: Survivor Mini

Most of us have seen the show Survivor or some variation of it. Ever think you could compete? Now is your chance. Create mini games similar to the show for your employees to work through as a team. An obstacle course requiring employees to get active and ending it with a puzzle is a new way to analyze how a team works together. Do not feel like you are creative enough to put a couple courses together? Some companies offer services to set up a whole Survivor Mini series for you. They will set up the equipment, explain the rules and judge the winner. All you need to do is show up!

Team Building Activity #51: Trapeze

This activity is certainly one that will keep your employees talking for a very long time. Conquer your fear of heights and coworkers not catching you with the flying trapeze! Hang from the air and fly across the room while performing acrobatic stunts. Learn one of the most beautiful circus arts together with your coworkers. If you prefer to do something a bit more formal then there are some trapeze locations that offer professional trapeze shows. You can watch these shows together as a team or have a cocktail/holiday party below while they dance across the ceiling. Example: Emerald City Trapeze.

Team Building Activity #52: Ultimate Frisbee

Looking for an active event but don’t want anything too dangerous or athletic? Ultimate frisbee can be an intensely competitive or relaxing sport to play as a team. Similar to football, teams play against one another on a field to get their frisbee to the other side by throwing it. If you are unsure how to play, a quick Google search will let you know it is very simple to pick up on. Play at a local park or search online for suggested fields to play at.

Team Building Activity #53: Variety Show

What do you think of when I say, ‘variety show’? Chances are, everyone thinks of something a little bit different. Variety shows are just that, a little bit of something for everyone. Maybe you will see a magician, a hypnotist, a musician, comedian, artist or stunt performer. Variety shows keep you on your feet and guessing. Treat your team to an experience they won’t forget. Still unsure? Look up some variety show reviews in your area. Chances are the performers are seasonal so they will always be changing!

Team Building Activity #54: Watching Sports

A sporting event can be experience for all employees. Maybe your city is very fanatic about their football team? Reserve a box or a couple rows of seats and enjoy a game at the stadium. Cheer from the seats while others can grab a hotdog and soda. This event can be especially exciting if you are in a field that works to improve their immediate community! If watching sports does not sound too appealing to you, check out sports bars in your area. Some may have party rooms you can reserve for a game. Book a room for your company and watch your employees cheer on their favorite team.

Team Building Activity #55: Whale Watching

Spending a beautiful sunny day in the office can bring morale down from time to time. Counteract this gloom with a day on the sea! Rent a boat and go whale watching for a day. Plenty of cities offer a variety of whale watching services. Let them guide you out to the ocean to the best spots to watch for whales. These majestic creatures can excite even the grumpiest of bosses! Step it up a notch with catering and bartending services. Enjoy the sea for a fun Friday or Holiday party. Be sure to research the best times of the year for whale watching in your area.

Team Building Activity #56: Winemaking

Wine making is a very specific and creative art. Learn more about what goes into the winemaking process, visit the giant barrels and maybe even try out a little vino. Learn what creates that dry taste in your mouth. Discover if that wine with hints of chocolate and coffee actually has chocolate and coffee in it. Do people really stand in barrels smashing grapes with their feet? While foot-smashing is no longer a common industry practice, some wineries allow you to do so. But you have to drink it right after. That’s the rule.

Team Building Activity #57: Zoo Trip

Sometimes your office may feel like a zoo, so why not go to one? Zoos offer many services that are perfect for your next company event. You can experience a tour through the zoo, picnic and even host a holiday party among some of your favorite animals. Walking around the park looking at exotic animals is a pleasant way to relax for everyone, and you can jazz that tour up with stories and amazing facts about the animals. If you are too busy to take a day off for fun, then why not bring work to the zoo? Host a meeting at the zoo’s conference center and take a break to feed the animals. If you are looking for something really unique, many zoos offer holiday themed events at night. These events can be anything from light shows to concerts. Be sure to check out your local zoo’s calendar for any upcoming events, especially during the holiday season.

Team Building Activity #58: Zuper Fashion Show

A Fashion Show may not be for every company, but for the right organization is a fun and energetic experience! Attend a fashion show with your coworkers who have a love of style! You don’t have to be invited to New York fashion week to see one. Fashion shows can be found in many cities and are offered for a variety of reasons. A designer may be launching a new line or charity may be hosting a fashion show to raise funds. Look up local fashion shows in your area for the opportunity to see one with your team. Bonus: you can also host your own fashion show, maybe at Halloween to see who has the best costume.

TeamBonding: 20+ Years of World Class Team Building

Looking to build close-knit, quality relationships among your employees? Are you wary of team building activities after some awkward experiences? Don’t worry: TeamBonding has you covered. TeamBonding believes in “harnessing the power of play” to create activities which build strong bonds among even the most stubborn of co-workers. This company has true expertise in innovative programming, totally customizable to your needs, to create a one-of-a-kind experience for your group. Also, we ❤️ TeamBonding because they do awesome charity events.

“We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

TeamBonding Highlights

  • TeamBonding works with your organization from the very first stages of planning to create an experience that works best for you.
  • Since the needs of our workplaces are constantly evolving, TeamBonding is committed to staying on the cutting edge of best practices. This means that innovation is to your program.
  • One of TeamBonding’s biggest assets is how customizable their programs are. They have worked with groups as small as 15 people, and as large as 1200! TeamBonding’s talented staff can provide a few hours of activity or an entire day of experiences. And best of all, they can come to you! Their goal is to make the experience work with exactly what you want to accomplish as a company.
  • The wide array of programs offered by TeamBonding makes them unique in the industry. You can choose from escape games, high-tech scavenger hunts, music-oriented events, culinary programs, charity-based activities… Where else could you do anything ranging from “Escape from Werewolf Village” to “Corporate Project Runway”. What do all these activities have in common? They are high energy, totally engaging, and designed to build strong, lasting bonds among your team!
  • TeamBonding led over 900 events last year; they are true experts at crafting great experiences for your group!

How to Find TeamBonding

TeamBonding is based in Boston, and has offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Francisco. The company provides event services nationwide, and they’ve even created events as far away as Singapore! You can plan to do your activity at locations ranging from outdoors, to hotels, to your office!

TeamBonding Activities

TeamBonding not only offers a wide array of options that can be customized to fit your needs, but they also are constantly developing new activities! Here are a few of the options available:

  • Live-Action and Escape Games: Corporate groups love the exciting live-action, escape, or scavenger hunt games. These activities utilize technology and the environment around you to create fast-paced experiences that require problem solving and team-work!
  • Charity Events: There is nothing quite like working together to give back to your community or making change in the world. Whether you are building bikes for children, or creating care packages for soldiers a world away, these activities not only bring your team closer together, but also allow them to go on a powerful emotional journey together. TeamBonding can introduce you to some amazing existing charity partnerships, or can connect with your favorite charity!
  • Innovation Lab: How do new programs get developed? With YOUR help! At a special price and with twice the adventure, your group can be part of the Innovation Lab. You might be the first group ever to try a brand new activity!

Interview with David Goldstein, Founder & CEO of TeamBonding

Check out our interview with David from TeamBonding below, about how the company got started and how they create unique, hands-on experiences that bring people closer together.

Interview Transcript

McKenzie: Today, I am really excited to be interviewing David, from TeamBonding. It’s really great to be talking with you today, David.

David: You as well. Thanks for the call.

McKenzie: So, my first question for you is really simple: what is TeamBonding?

David: I can answer that question in many different ways – but the simplest way is that we are a nation-wide corporate team building company that offers, at this point, somewhere between 90 and 100 different options, designed for clients looking to bring their teams closer together.

McKenzie: Okay, very cool. How did you get started with team building?

David: So, I’ve been – TeamBonding is a little over 20 years old. I’m an entrepreneur. So I guess, in that scenario, my first business was a murder mystery dinner theater. And so, at the time, the murder mystery dinner theater was in Boston, but I also licensed it so there were 21 similar dinner theaters licensed to me all over the US, and a few other places around the world. And it was a public dinner theater, but it also had a corporate side. The corporate side kind of led us into a different world of corporate entertainment, and corporate entertainment was kind of a nice crossover into team building. So we were doing customized corporate murder mysteries, and then we started doing team building events, and then when we did enough of the team building events, it was one of those things where it was like “wow, I really like this business, I like what it does, I like what it feels like, I like what we’re able to do with it, I like working with the corporate clients.” It was just a lot easier than working with the public clients. So we created a number of different team building events designed to – some of them were things they were familiar with at the time, others were new and different. So we kind of needed a combination of things that companies were familiar with, like scavenger hunts – the one at the time was a limousine scavenger hunt – and new things that they hadn’t heard of. So we created a business – we created TeamBonding, with the idea of offering enough of a selection of programs, not necessarily for what we wanted to offer, but to meet the needs of what clients are looking to accomplish. So that’s always how we started. It isn’t “hey, we are a scavenger hunt company”, or “hey, we do this”, it’s a little bit more of “what are you looking to accomplish?” And once we determine that, we can help them figure out the best solution that we have.

McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. So what does that process look like? I imagine, you know, somebody from the company – like in human resources – comes to you and says “we want to put on this event”. It seems like y’all have a really diverse array of options available to them. How do you develop the best plan for each specific company you work with?

David: Well, it’s two ways. So there’s the ongoing effort to continually explore new trends and new activities and new programs. And then there’s the sales process, which is a little bit – I’ll tell you a little story. I used to have two sales people when I first started. And one of the sales people would say “Sure! You want a scavenger hunt? Here are the scavenger hunts we have. You want a cooking program? Here’s the cooking program we have.” The other sales person would say “Why do you want a scavenger hunt? What are you looking to accomplish?” And understand a little bit more what the client was looking to get out of the experience. And once she determined what the client was looking for, then she would- if the scavenger hunt was one of the things that made sense, then by all means, she’d send the scavenger hunt – but she’d send options that fit a little bit better with what they were looking to accomplish. So it’s a little bit more of a needs assessment in the beginning. It’s more consultative than sales.

McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. So you’re starting with their goals, basically, then developing from there.

David: You’re starting with their goals, and as the owner of the company – there’s no incentive for them to sell one thing over another – because it’s all about the client getting what they want. And if they get what they want, they’ll use us again. You know, trust us, and we build a relationship from there.
McKenzie: Yeah. So what are companies usually looking for from activities like this? Do they usually have kind of the same goals, or do you work with a lot of different needs with different companies?
David: Well, we work with a lot of different needs with different companies. Because the needs change as the time of year changes. So this time of year, you know, we’re in the middle of kind of company kick offs. You know, beginning of the year, sales meetings, conferences, things like that. In the spring, we’ll get a little bit more into interns, and then we get into summer outings, and then we get into holiday parties, so it really depends upon the time of the year, and the client, and what they’re looking for. And also the kind of a group, whether it be an onboarding type program with new employees, or whether it’s- they’ve combined with another company, so they need a little bit more of ‘getting to know each other’. Our model has always been to have the right programs to meet the needs that they have. And it’s worked. It’s something to the point – I think we did somewhere around nine hundred events last year.

McKenzie: Wow. That’s a lot.

David: It is a lot of team building events. It’s a lot of any kind of events. It’s bigger than we ever thought it would be when we started. But it’s a very enjoyable business to be in.

McKenzie: Yeah, I imagine so. I imagine it’s a lot of good energy a lot of the time, because you’re working towards really positive goals, it seems like.

David: Yeah, I mean it’s- everything we do is not so serious that there’s not fun involved. There’s a lot of fun involved in both planning it and delivering it. So the client is getting, and the team is getting, the benefits of both.

McKenzie: Yeah. So how do you develop what activities are available? Is it always the same set of things, or do you add new ones? Or take ones away periodically?

David: That’s funny- we just finished that. I think everything, at least in the way we do it, it’s kind of like the 80/20 rule. Are you familiar with that? You do 20% of your programs 80% of the time.

McKenzie: Right.

David: So what I actually just did, is I went through our programs and looked at what we’ve done over the last couple of years, and I got rid of the bottom ten, so I could add new ones. Not because we couldn’t have capacity to add new ones, but I didn’t want to clutter it up with things that just weren’t working, or that we hadn’t done in a while. So I took out ten, and added ten more. So then some of the new ones are a little bit more what I think the trends are going to be, and what I hear about, and what I think people want to do. So, if you look at some of the other interviews you’ve had, for the most part, we’ve done some part of all of it. It’s a matter of trying to match the right program. And to come up with programs that not only anticipate their needs, but try to stay not too far ahead. If that makes sense.

McKenzie. Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned trends in team building activities. Where do you think trends are going as companies evolve? What are popular activities right now?

David: Right now, popular activities – there’s kind of a combination of tried and true, and- we just added an innovation section of the website, which is where- you know, clients are funny in a way: they always want the latest, greatest thing. And you say, okay, this is what we’ve created for the latest, greatest thing, and they say “okay, great. Now what I need is references from the last couple of companies that have done it.” So we need a place to put new programs where we can test them out before charging full price, to make sure that it was good. So right now, what we’re working on, we’re working on escape room games. Escape room type events. And that, I think, is a trend just everywhere. What’s different about our approach is – you go to an escape room that you’re typically locked in, for you know, 8 to 10 people. We’ve done it in a way that instead of them coming to us, we can go to them. So we can bring the escape game to a bank or a ballroom or even a hotel, using the hotel rooms as escape rooms.

McKenzie: Oh really- that’s interesting.

David: So, it’s looking at trends and seeing different twists. And because we’ve been around so long, we’ve seen a number of different twists. Scavenger hunts have gone from Polaroid cameras to iPads. Cooking has gone from, you know, fairly simple chili cook offs to very complicated Iron Chef kind of programs. So the next thing I think that is coming up, other than technology, is- there will be virtual reality, in some way, a little bit more involved in team building.

McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. Cool, so- it seems like a lot of these activities are pretty active, like the outdoor activities y’all have listed. How accessible are these programs? Do you ever require a certain skill level? Or ability level?

David: Well, it’s interesting – what we have now is designed for everybody. So, even if people can’t participate in the corporate Olympics, or outrageous games, there’s something that they can do to be involved with their teams. Whether it be scoring, or team captain, or some way to be involved. We’ve always gone to be extremely accessible to everyone, but we’re making a change coming up – we’re adding a new division, a new company, which may be good for a separate story. So we’re going to be adding adventure activities. And those are not going to be as accessible.

McKenzie: Right, a little more challenging.

David: A little bit more challenging. You can look at Tough Mudder, and some of those things that people are doing out there. We want to have things like – we’re going to have things like axe throwing, and giant stand-up paddleboards, and mobile rock walls, and things like that that are a little bit more physically challenging. So that’s a departure for us as far as being- as far as everything being, what we have now, is more accessible. Not that the other one will be less accessible, but it would just be a little bit more specialized as far as who we are targeting.

McKenzie: Yeah, definitely. So, let’s see. What demographics do you think these activities are best for? Do you think it could be applied to pretty much any demographic that comes to y’all?

David: Nowadays, there are four- what do you call it – four different groups of people working in the workplace. So because millennials are working with baby boomers, and Generation X, and all of the people that are working together, I think team building needs to take into consideration all of these groups and figuring out how they can communicate and how they can work together, and what they need to hear and what they need to say, just so they can continue to be productive. It’s more generations that have worked in one work force than have ever happened. And they’re very different, as far as their motivations and such. So coming up with programs that meet the needs of all of them is one of the things that we’re constantly kind of seeking out.

McKenzie: Yeah, I imagine a huge part of what y’all do is building those links between people that come from very different – very different walks of life, I guess, but all have to work together in one cohesive work setting.

David: Yeah, absolutely. Because we all work differently, whether it be technology, or texting, or- you know you have to come up with something that is inclusive, just like what we are offering. Because companies have to deal with that on a day to day basis.

McKenzie: Right, for sure. So I know you have a lot of different events available, but like on average or generally, what’s the duration of one of your team building events with a company? How long would something like that take?

David: An average program is 2-3 hours. We are typically brought into an agenda, you know, late in the planning. Where it’s like “okay, here’s the meetings, here’s the lunch, here’s what we’re going to be doing as far as speaking, but we have this three-hour thing – let’s do some team building. So then it’s not only matching up what they need, to accomplish what they’re trying to do during that meeting, but it’s where they are. The venue definitely adds a lot to what we do.

McKenzie: Do you offer any events that are site specific? Like, they need to go to a certain place to be able to do them? Or can y’all bring your team building activities pretty much anywhere you go?
David: We’ve tried it a number of different ways, where we’ve created venue partnerships, like the ice sculpting was at an ice bar, the museum hunts are specific museums, but people seem to like the flexibility to taking us to where they’re going to be.

McKenzie: Yeah, I’m sure that’s very – I mean, especially if they have a whole rest of the day planned, like a big bonding adventure, it makes sense that y’all could come to them – that would be convenient.

David: Exactly. For the most part, we’re not – it’s not like they choose a team building event and build their agenda around us. It’s usually the other way around.

McKenzie: So how many people do you need to have a good team building event? Like, can you work with small groups or larger groups? What’s kind of the range of size you work with?

David: Typically we’ll work with groups as small as 15. We do have a “do it yourself” that we have on our website for people that either don’t have the budget or don’t have the group size, and either they can download programs or we can ship something to them. The other part of it is that we’ve done as many as 1200 as far as large groups. But that’s a little less team building and a little bit more corralling.

McKenzie: Sure- I can imagine that can be hard to navigate. What kind of activities can you do with groups that large?

David: We just did an indoor scavenger hunt at one of the Gaylor hotels, so scavenger hunts are good in places like an indoor facility like that, or in a city like the Las Vegas strip, we’ll do a large event there, and then within that, there are themes – you know, Amazing Race scavenger hunts, we’ve got a new one coming up with kind of a Monopoly theme, a charity scavenger hunt, so there’s a lot of different things within the different events. For large events, it’s usually – you’ve got to keep simultaneous groups working. It’s our own little pyramid, where we’ve got the lead, and then we’ve got sub-group leaders, and then team leaders, and it’s a lot more staff and stuff.

McKenzie: Yeah. No, absolutely. So a lot of your activities are led by facilitators, right? Can you talk a little about their experience, and what kind of training or preparation they have to go through to work with your company?

David: Sure, yeah. When we first started, as we talked about earlier, I had a theater company. So our original facilitators were actors. And actors were amazing in the sense that they could entertain a crowd like nobody can. They were also flexible as far as their time frame. But as we did more serious work, and with bigger companies, the actors didn’t see the whole picture. So facilitators – or, our facilitators – are trained to handle multiple audiences. The audience that you’re performing or delivering to, those that are part of the activity, the venue that you’re at, the client that hired you, potentially the meeting-planner that hired them. So there’s multiple audiences that they have to be aware of at any given time, as far as who they’re trying to keep happy. So in some sense, they are trainers with background in development and such, in other cases, depending on the activity, they’re disc jockeys. Because they understand that there’s a lot of people you have to keep happy, and how you keep them happy, by balancing, whether it be the sound, or whether it be the stuff, there’s always ways to keep everybody on the same page. So we still have some actors, depending on- for some of the lighter activities, like the scavenger hunts or things like that. Depending on the program or the size of the program, we have a – how do I say it – I guess we have a nation-wide staple of facilitators we’ve been using for years. So we’re not flying people all over – we have people, typically where the clients are hiring us for.

McKenzie: yeah. So I know that there are going to be a lot of factors that go into this – into pricing. But I was wondering, do you have an average price-per-person that your activities usually cost? Or does it vary a lot depending on what activities it is?

David: Because we’re not kind of a one trick pony, we have- everything is based on the number of people, the activity that they’re doing, the level of facilitation. So a chef that does a culinary program might be more than an actor that does a scavenger hunt. So it typically starts at about $2,500, and it goes up from there.

McKenzie: Right, definitely. Awesome. Is there anything else that you would be interested in going deeper into, or that we’ve missed, or that you would like to say about TeamBonding?

David: One thing I didn’t talk about is probably my favorite part of what we do. Right after 2008, during the Recession, we had a – just like anybody else – business almost came to a complete halt. And what took us out of the complete halt, was charitable team building events. So in a typical team building event, you’ll be doing an event for a particular group, and that’s the audience. But in a charitable team-building event, you’re doing something in a team building event with a group that gives back to the community. So we have a whole lot of things that either build bikes for children who have never had bikes, or cancer care kits for people who are going through chemotherapy, or Toms shoes – we paint them and decorate them for people in different countries, so the whole charitable team building offerings are another real component of what I think is the best of what we do. It’s a trend that is not as new as it once was, but I think it’s staying really strong, because it’s- you know, you’ve heard “win-win”, this is what I call a “win-win-win”. Because, you know, you’re building a team, and you’re giving back to the community, so – the first time we did one of these, we were giving teddy bears for kids with Down syndrome. And the facilitator came back and said “David, you will never believe it, but at the end of this event, everyone in the room was in tears.” And I said “well, you have the only job of anyone I’ve ever met that if that happens, you’ve done your job.” Because that really – it gets, the emotional impact of these type of programs, whether it be a soldier coming and talking about what it feels like to receive a care package when they’re in Iraq or whether it’s the cancer care- which is actually inspired by my brother’s battle through cancer, for what it means to get the book or the card or the project or the stuff that will help you. That’s probably the coolest thing that we do, and I want to make sure we don’t miss that.

McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m sure for the participants in these activities, you know all of them going through that same emotional journey together too, I’m sure brings them very close together, because they’ve had this shared experience of getting to do something really powerful

David: It really is. It really is the best of what’s come out of this business. You know, the scavenger hunts and the other stuff are fun, and they have their purpose, but the charitable programs are just amazing.

McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s all of the questions I have for you for today, thank you so much for taking the time and talking to me!

David: Alright, McKenzie!

McKenzie: Alright, have a great day.

David: You too – take care.

TeamBonding Reviews

Want to check out what other organizations thought of their experience with TeamBonding? Here are some great reviews. If you’re interested in reading more reviews, you will find these on their Clients page and Facebook page!

“We had about 350 to 400 people attend and I’ve heard wonderful things about it so far. Everyone seemed to have a great time and the games were a huge hit! Your staff in particular were especially professional, thorough, and very kind to work with through the entire event planning and function that evening”. –S. G., Financial Executives International

“We were absolutely delighted with the School for Spies program. It exceeded all our expectations. Without exception, everyone in attendance participated. No one felt awkward or embarrassed. No one felt silly or singled out.” –J.G – Goldman Sachs, New York City

“We heard nothing but great things about our Charity Bike Build! It touched a lot of people and they were truly surprised when the kids came through the door. We look forward to future events!” –A.L. – The Dolben Company, Inc.

“The event was great. Our lead was great. It kept a fun atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed it. We received a lot of good feedback the next morning. We appreciate your help as usual. Great job!” –Siemens

Have You Attended a TeamBonding Event?

If you’ve worked with TeamBonding for a corporate event, then we would love to hear about your experience! Did you do a fun scavenger hunt or participate in one of their charity oriented activities? What was your experience like developing a customized experience that served your organization’s individual mission and values? How did your team grow closer from their programs?