The Lodge at Blue Sky | @blueskyauberge
As Chief Financial Officer of Light, Tom Barone is responsible for finance, accounting, administrative operations, legal, human resources, and investor relations. So it goes without saying that adding “corporate retreat trip planning” onto his plate wasn’t exactly reasonable. And yet it was Tom himself who initially embarked on the path of planning the team’s retreat.
“There had been some turnover and I didn’t want to put my staff through the process,” he explains. “Plus, whenever I saw an ad for Flok, I figured it would be far too expensive.”
After spending four hours trying to narrow down a destination (Utah) and venue (The Lodge at Blue Sky), only to learn that available bookings were limited and rates were expensive, Tom gave in.
“I ended up clicking on the ad for Flok and getting on a call to learn more. To my surprise, they were incredibly reasonable. So I said, let me try this.”
Continue reading to learn more about how Flok was able to negotiate rates for Blue Sky within Light’s budget, coordinate flights, book activities, reserve dining, and more.
Blue Sky wasn’t exactly off the table…
When Tom hopped on a call with Sarah, the Head of Retreats at Flok, he explained that he’s been looking into The Lodge at Blue Sky for a few reasons: its atmosphere (a 3,500-acre private ranch in the Wasatch Mountain Range), availability of onsite restaurants (in order to limit COVID exposure), and accessibility (just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City airport). But he hadn’t bothered to contact any venues because of the steep prices listed on the website.
“Don’t discount it,” was Sarah’s response. “Because we may be able to negotiate and work a deal there.”
After a few days, Sarah came back to Tom with a list of four destinations suitable to the team’s size and goals, Blue Sky included.
“Turns out they came back with a really good rate,” says Tom. “So we ended up going with that.”
READ MORE: 15 Best Corporate Retreat Destinations
The highlight of the experience
The Lodge at Blue Sky is nestled against the backdrop of the spring-fed Alexander Creek where you can hear the footfall of the special rescue horses over hard-packed trails and spot a herd of wild elk grazing on the horizon.
Given the idyllic setting, it makes sense why it’s so difficult for Tom to single out just one highlight.
“The last night, we had dinner at The Tavern, an original cabin dating back to the 1880s. It was all set up outside on a beautiful open field with a long table, and it was really a great evening.”
Also on his list of highlights was axe throwing on a mountaintop yurt (“there were a lot of laughs!”) and clay shooting (“they made it a wee bit competitive”).
“Folks also got to take advantage of the spa treatments, which was great.”
Reflecting on ROI
For Tom, the return on investment in a corporate retreat is hugely dependent on two key factors: the degree to which the leadership team believes in the retreat and how well prepared the team is going into the experience.
“In the past, I’ve been at other companies where it’s just kind of a joke. People weren’t well-prepared, and it never gelled for me,” explains Tom. “But our CEO Dave is a strong believer in retreats, and we do a lot of homework before we go out and do it. As a result, it’s incredibly beneficial and a huge return on investment.”
Reflecting on the value add of Flok
When I ask Tom what he sees as the primary value add of Flok’s service (saving time, stressing less, organizing experiences he wouldn’t otherwise know about, etc), he responds with a confident… “all of the above.”
“Pricing has been more than reasonable. And I’ll never have any of my staff do any of this. It’s a time sink, and Flok completely took it off my hands. From getting in contact with places to negotiating deals, to arranging the menus, to accommodating different dietary requirements and allergies, I didn’t have to choose anything. They did it all. And flights too!”
The bottom line
“It’s a no-brainer for me,” says Tom, who anticipates retreats happening at least two times per year moving forward. “Flok is a go-to for corporate retreat planning as far as I’m concerned.”