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Understanding the power of transformational event experiences

Businesses hold events for several reasons, whether it be for product/service promotion, strategy and planning, incentive and reward, education and training, or team building. Business events can also influence a profound shift in attendees’ thinking, behaviours and perspectives through the effective design and delivery of transformational experiences.

While traditional corporate events often focus on knowledge sharing, networking, and professional development, transformational experiences can strengthen team dynamics and foster collaboration within organisations. By embarking on group trips or retreats, employees can bond outside the confines of the office, build trust, and develop deeper connections. These shared experiences create a sense of camaraderie, encourage open communication, and lay the foundation for improved teamwork and collaboration back in the workplace.

Corporate Travel Management’s (CTM’s) specialist event management division, ETM, recently planned and operated a transformational event experience for CTM employees around the world – CTM All Stars. They hosted the trip in Dubai and saw 85 employees from across the CTM Group of brands globally, each peer-nominated for employee excellence, come together to celebrate their successes and embark on a transformational experience that would create memories to last a lifetime.

In this blog, ETM and CTM leaders share their thoughts on the power of transformational events, such as CTM All Stars.

How do transformational event experiences differ from traditional corporate events?

Tracey Edwards, Global Strategic Lead and General Manager, ETM explains “Events that deliver transformational experiences are distinct from traditional corporate events because they have broader objectives that include personal growth, self-discovery, mindset shifts and fostering transformative change within individuals and organisations. At the CTM All Stars event, we wanted attendees to reflect on their accomplishments, collaborate with their fellow All Stars, and engage in new cultural experiences that challenge and inspire.”

Kristy Moorhouse “For events like CTM All Stars, we take a holistic approach by taking into consideration the multifaceted needs of all the attendees, remembering they are individuals – each seeking to take away something different. We strive to create an environment and experience that addresses wellbeing, creativity, and self-reflection of their personal achievements alongside professional development. The aim is to create a more balanced and fulfilled attendee who can bring back a newly inspired, empowered and rejuvenated whole self when they come back to their work.”

Transformational experiences seek to create lasting change by challenging attendees’ perspectives, fostering self-awareness, and inspiring them to apply their learnings beyond the event. Participants are encouraged to share their knowledge, experiences, and insights, fostering a sense of community and collective growth.

Eleanor Noonan, CTM’s Global Chief Operating Officer, reflects on the impact that CTM All Stars has on employees. “CTM All Stars is not just a corporate gathering; it’s a celebration of our dedicated and passionate team members. It’s a testament to the value we place on recognising and appreciating their outstanding contributions. The event not only serves as a stage to honour their achievements, but also as a platform for building lasting connections, fostering a sense of belonging within our CTM family and forging bonds that go beyond the professional realm.

“It was heartwarming to witness the sense of pride they had about their achievements and the appreciation they expressed for their peers taking the time to nominate their contribution to the business. Many commented on Dubai being a place they had not yet visited before or one they would think to visit, which provided a unique experience where our team members could experience local culture, sounds, smells and immersive experiences. Watching the joy, smiles and laughter among old and new friendships formed across borders really drove home to me and the winners that CTM All Stars is not just an event; it’s an embodiment of our values, a celebration of our people, and a testament to the strength of our organisational culture.”

Benefits of transformational experiences for attendees and organisations

Transformational events offer employees the opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. By stepping out of their comfort zones and immersing themselves in new cultures and environments, employees gain fresh perspectives, challenge their assumptions, and develop a greater sense of self-awareness. These experiences can lead to enhanced creativity, problem-solving abilities, and adaptability, all of which are invaluable traits in today’s fast-paced corporate landscape.

Enhanced cultural competence and diversity

As businesses become increasingly global, cultural competence and diversity are critical for success. Transformational events provide employees with firsthand experiences of different cultures, customs, and perspectives. By engaging with diverse communities and embracing new ways of thinking, employees develop a deeper appreciation for diversity, improve their cross-cultural communication skills, and become more effective in multicultural work environments.

“We had the opportunity to speak to some of the All Stars and find out how they were enjoying Dubai. Quite a few attendees said they would have never considered Dubai as a destination to visit, but they were pleased ETM did,” says Edwards.

Enhanced engagement and motivation

By incorporating interactive and immersive elements, these experiences have the power to captivate attendees and inspire them to participate, leading to a more meaningful and impactful event. Attendees are encouraged to engage in hands-on activities, workshops, and discussions, allowing them to become active contributors to their learning process. This active engagement stimulates their curiosity, encourages exploration, and fosters a deeper level of involvement in the event.

This year, CTM ran their Synergy Conference alongside the CTM All Stars event. “This provided the perfect opportunity for our All Stars to be included in business updates from all regions and business disciplines from our CTM global leadership team. Conversely, for the final evening, it presented an opportunity to bring all attendees together to celebrate our All Stars and enjoy time together enforcing relationship building, not just in their region but globally,” says Edwards.

Strengthened team dynamics and collaboration

By providing opportunities for shared experiences, interactive activities, and facilitated discussions, these events create an environment conducive to teamwork and collective growth. Shared experiences create a sense of camaraderie and common purpose among participants. By working together towards a common goal, attendees develop a shared identity and build stronger connections, which positively impact team dynamics.

“During this trip, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with numerous Australian CTM members. It has been an enjoyable experience listening to their stories and gaining insights into their professional journeys over the past few years. I’ve taken the opportunity to make notes and learn from their valuable working experiences.” Sammy Seung, CTM All Star.

How can you design events that are truly transformational?

Tami Reier, SVP & General Manager, ETM North America says, “There are many ways you can design events to be transformational. You may want to create emotional connections by incorporating elements that evoke emotions, such as inspiration, empathy, curiosity, and vulnerability. By tapping into attendees’ emotions, transformational experiences create deeper connections and foster a more profound impact on their personal and professional lives. You may have a focus on empowerment – wanting attendees to feel braver about meeting new people, even to form new business relationships.”

Mike Leeson, General Manager, ETM UK explains, “When designing the 2023 CTM All Stars event, we wanted to ensure that we were rewarding the year’s CTM winners with a trip of a lifetime that would complement their achievements, ensuring they felt like stars. It was also important in the event design that we provided a programme that would see the attendees dive right into the local culture and communities whilst enjoying this shared experience with fellow All Star winners whom they may have been meeting for the first time. Through food, culture, activities, discussions and a common bond that is becoming an All Star, ETM strived to deliver that all-important once-in-a-lifetime transformational experience that the CTM All Stars will remember forever.”

It’s time to transform

As organisations strive to create positive work environments, prioritise employee wellbeing, and drive innovation, transformational event experiences emerge as a powerful tool. By embracing the principles of mindfulness, personal growth, cultural immersion, and self-reflection, employees can unlock their full potential and contribute to the success of their organisation. Further, organisations can foster resilience, enhance creativity, strengthen teamwork, and cultivate leadership skills. By investing in employees’ personal development and wellbeing, organisations can create a win-win situation where both individuals and the corporation thrive.

So, let the transformative power of events unlock new possibilities for your employees and propel your business toward greater success.

Allow transformational event experiences to unlock new possibilities for your organisation.

Contact CTM for more information.