Overcome workplace challenges with employee engagement strategies and create organisations where teams are mentally and emotionally connected.
The business events industry has long been well-versed in planning and executing effective team building activities that best utilise a destination or property. Successful employee engagement strategies not only create more collaborative, satisfied, loyal and engaged employees, they also lead to a better work culture and improved customer relationships that influence company profits.
As Thailand welcomes the return of international visitors, we find out from David Fotheringham, Director at Asia Ability, how the company has helped motivate teams and catalysed collaborations for the past 25 years.
“We have designed and developed many activities from the simplest physical challenges to bespoke creative endeavours and high-tech games using the latest technologies. At Asia Ability, we like to categorise by the different “ABILITIES”, for example:
“Under RHYTHMABILITY, we introduced the power of samba percussion rhythms in the form of BeatsWork, where participants unite as a single samba band – learning to play a variety of instruments and rhythms in harmony to a powerful collaborative climax. A more sophisticated twist on this Crescendo sees participants learn the basics of violin and viola to unite as a giant string ensemble.
“Under EXPLOREABILITY, we use the development of the APP store and GPS to power Go Team – our high-tech exploration adventure – as teams are guided by the app’s GPS to find checkpoints around the city or the island or simply around their resort. The same app then delivers the team challenges and captures the teams’ performances in terms of answer inputs, photos or even videos.
“Tech has played a huge role in activities like our top BUSINESSABILITY event – The Infinite Loop – where participants enter the virtual world using VR headsets for an extremely fun but challenging exercise in leadership and communication.
“Most recently, our newest INNOVATEABILITY activities, Robot Revolution and Drone Control, see teams working with some of the most fun techs on the market – building and coding their own robots or steering their drones through a human obstacle course,” Fotheringham explained.
The director also shared that music events like BeatsWork and Crescendo give participants a powerful shared experience of effective collaboration where egos and agendas are set aside to align behind a common vision.
“Exploration events like Go Team challenge our ability to effectively strategise and harness the individual strengths of each team member while providing an immersive experience of the city or destination that visiting delegates might otherwise miss.
“Often used in a leadership learning context, The Infinite Loop has proved to be a powerful tool for practising effective communication and what I would call ‘empathetic leadership’ – putting yourself in another’s shoes to see the world from their perspective.
“Innovation events like Drone Control and Robot Revolution have been great at fully engaging participants with the excitement of learning and understanding these new technologies while subtly reinforcing teamwork – delegating roles and responsibilities, coordinating sub-teams and effective resource management,” Fotheringham said.
The most popular city in Thailand for team building
Choosing the right destination or venue is critical to the success of an event. Not only is it important for a location to have the right facilities and amenities, cost, culture and legacy, supplier and vendor support and travel convenience all play a part in creating an impactful programme.
To Fotheringham, Bangkok remains one of the most popular destinations in Asia for international conferences and off-sites. “In Thailand, we run more creative team activities than any other. What some clients and agents may miss is how amazing Bangkok can be as a team-building destination as well.
“Our bespoke GO TEAM EXPLORE BANGKOK event captures the essence of Thai sights, sounds, flavours and experiences as the app takes them on a tour of carefully curated checkpoints within a close radius of their conference hotel – neatly avoiding the need for long transfers. The vibrant city of Bangkok makes for one of the best cities in the world for this event – with so much life, culture and colour in every corner of the city,” he said.
Fotheringham added that a close second to Bangkok in terms of a buzzing city experience and a personal favourite would be Chiang Mai. “Exploring around the old city guided by the Go Team app takes on an even sweeter feeling when met with the famous Lanna hospitality in every interaction.
“For those who wish to stay indoors, our THAI TRADERS activity creates a fully immersive experience of Thai culture and history in a fun, competitive networking activity.
“While Thailand’s world-beating beaches in places like Phuket, Koh Samui and Hua Hin will always play the perfect venue for classic team activities like boat building, tribal Olympics and the like. I’m excited to see more groups exploring beautiful alternatives like Khao Yai, where the cooler climates and the countryside make a great setting for outdoor activities.”
While event professionals rejoice at the announcement of border reopenings all over the world, team engagement activities that were born out of necessity during the Covid-19 pandemic are here to stay in what has been dubbed the ‘new normal’.
Fotheringham shared, “Being part of the Catalyst Global team building network when lockdowns first shut the door on live events in 2020, we were some of the first to offer effective virtual team activities. Prior to this, I would have struggled to imagine it possible – but as necessity is the mother of invention, we quickly pivoted to make it work.”
When asked how to make virtual team engagement work, he said the keys to effective virtual teambuilding are simply interaction and engagement. “Interaction between participants is integral to the event and easy to do. The game itself must engage participation.” The director then elaborated with the following points:
- Interactive game design: Carefully and methodically designed gameplay – ideally with not just different roles for team members but with different access or information available. Players need to communicate with each other to succeed.
- Engaging gaming platform: An engaging and interesting activity should have a level of richness that players can immerse in. We create this mostly through web-based gaming activities or using one of our bespoke mobile apps (players join the game on their mobile device while communicating with their team on their computer). It’s hard to be really engaging with just a couple of puzzles on a Google sheet.
- Video conferencing platform: An easy-to-use platform that allows a group to be quickly and easily assigned to breakout rooms where they are now in a group size small enough to allow them to talk to each other easily. We prefer to use ZOOM for this.
With Thailand’s high potential in domains such as hospitality, technology, value-for-money, and variety of food and experiences, it is no wonder that organisations around the world are returning to the land of smiles to host their events and team engagement programmes. Interested parties can request support or get started by contacting the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) to facilitate your next event.