Glow CEO Melanie Zelnick knows a thing or two about planning company offsite events. 

Zelnick initially joined the company in 2015 as a wedding planner, but quickly rose through the ranks to a director role and eventually purchased the company in 2020 from founder Christina Milikin. 

Since then, Glow Events has established itself as a leader in the Bay Area’s corporate and wedding planning industry. They’ve been featured in the Huffington Post, InStyle, and Coastal Living magazine. 

After two years of Zoom meetings, Glow Events has seen a resurgence in demand for corporate offsites, as well as welcome back events to ease employees into their triumphant return to the office. And she has a lot of insights to share. 

How Company Offsites Have Changed Since the Pandemic

Glow Events pivoted quickly during the pandemic to accommodate our virtual workplace needs. This included hosting virtual, interactive events with things like mailed activity kits, or home delivered food and drinks treats, and other things of the like.

But now, in-person is back—sort of. The company is planning several in-person events a week for a variety of companies and corporations, and— although it’s only May—the competition for holiday party venues is already fierce. Yet everything isn’t “back to normal.”

According to Zelnick, “The biggest thing we’re seeing is that many of these companies have decided to stay remote permanently, hugely impacting our event industry.” Most, however, are coming back in a hybrid model, with only a couple of in-office days. This trend, she added, is contributing to bigger one-off events instead of regular small-scale monthly office celebrations.

We asked Zelnick how team offsites, team appreciation, and team building events have changed post-pandemic and how companies can craft a truly memorable event for their employees. Here’s what she had to say.

What You Need to Know to Plan Your Team’s Offsite Event

So, what are some ideas to create a memorable corporate offsite? Zelnick has a few recommendations for Bay Area companies to consider.

1) Get Outside

The unofficial start of summer is here, and it’s the perfect time to get out of the corner office and take advantage of the gorgeous weather. Glow is getting lots of requests for summer picnics, which may also be an excellent idea for companies in areas seeing spikes in covid cases

2) Keep it Simple 

After two years, it may seem that you need to pull out all the stops to create a truly spectacular event, but Zelnick says this isn’t the case. “Right now, people don’t need all the crazy bells and whistles. They just want a space to connect.” 

Remember, people haven’t seen each other since 2020. After two years of being confined to our homes, Zelnick says you can call it a day with a food truck and some music. Or, simply opt for a company breakfast (who doesn’t love some delicious coffee and a fresh donut?).

You could also go for a class company happy hour with a DJ and some delicious food from one of San Francisco’s local vendors. 

3) Come Up With a Theme

According to Zelnick, choosing a theme is essential because it helps create a more cohesive experience. However, it doesn’t have to be tropical if that’s not your company’s style. You can choose to use company colors for the signage, backdrop, or even the food. 

Zelnick also advises considering the event location when choosing a theme. As an example, she adds, “One client is planning an offsite in Santa Cruz on a beachfront property, so we’re playing into natural elements of the California coast, such as having centerpieces with succulents and driftwood.”

4) Take Advantage of the Location for Your Activities

When planning the activities, Melanie recommends thinking about where you’re having the offsite. For example, in the Bay Area, you could go on a guided hiking tour or take a boat tour of San Francisco. If you or your team prefer something more low-key, consider a ceramics tour at Heath in Sausalito. The options are really endless once you start getting creative. 

5) Go to a Local Restaurant or Hire Local Food Vendors

Food, as we know, is a critical part of any event. And supporting small businesses always goes a long way for employees in creating company culture. Visiting a local restaurant or supporting small, local vendors is a great way to incorporate the community. Many restaurants had to shutter their doors during the pandemic and are excited to welcome people back for indoor and outdoor dining. Likewise, after two years of cooking at home, everyone is itching to dine out.

6) Plan the Food With Covid in Mind

With covid overstaying its welcome, buffets can still be off putting to employees. While pre-packaged lunches are a bit overkill, Zelnick recommends choosing a cafeteria-style with chefs manning the stations instead. (Food trucks are a great option for this!)

7) Get Your Employees Excited About Coming Back to the Office

After two years of Zoom fatigue, things are slowly inching back to normal. Your employees have worked hard to keep the company humming along, and an offsite event is a perfect way to extend a hearty welcome to the office. 

However, you don’t need to go all out with an over-the-top event. By following these simple tips from San Francisco’s most creative event planner, you’ll create a cohesive, memorable event to start the return to the office on a high note. 

Need help preparing for your next corporate event? Off the Grid eliminates the headaches by taking the planning off your hands. With access to the best Bay Area local food vendors, our dedicated Catering Producer will coordinate every detail to craft a unique experience. Learn more about our catering services.