Teambuilding activities are more than a chance to escape the conference room. They can help attendees communicate, find new talents and strengths, and feel a sense of true camaraderie with their co-workers. In some cities, attendees can even help their fellow humans with volunteer opportunities.
The Motor City was built on teamwork, and continues to roar forward with exceptional opportunities for groups today. Planners can choose iconic activities like an attendees-only baseball game in Comerica Park, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, or Fowling in Hamtramck, a Detroit sport original, which uses footballs in bowling.
According to Deanna Majchrzak, media relations manager for the Detroit CVB, the city also has a host of other options, including an escape room adventure at Escape the Room, Segway tours, party bikes from Michigan Pedaler and beer tours with Motor City Brew Tours.
She also acknowledged a classic group favorite: scavenger hunts. Both Detroit Experience Factory and Dave and Busters offer several scavenger hunt scenarios, including customized activities.
“We just did this with our marketing team and it was a lot of fun,” Majchrzak said.
Outdoor fans can get that togetherness from a trip down the Detroit River in kayaks, or volunteering a day at the Belle Isle Conservancy, located on the 985-acre island known as Belle Isle Park. If planners want more volunteering opportunities, Detroit has plenty to choose from, according to Majchrzak.
“There are many organizations in Detroit that welcome groups of volunteers,” she said. A few include the Greening of Detroit, Michigan Veterans Foundation, Alternatives for Girls, Detroit Rescue Mission, Gleaners Community Food Bank and many more.
Cultural venues are also plentiful in Detroit. The Detroit Institute of Arts offers space for events as well as workshops, and The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation complex has an amazing array of spaces and activities for attendees, from Ford Rouge Factory Tours to history-themed events in the main museum, or a train ride followed by dinner at Eagle Tavern. Detroit is rich with heritage and museums, from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to the Arab American National Museum.
Nearby in Ann Arbor, small groups can get the thrill of a lifetime with a flight aboard an actual B-17 at the Yankee Air Museum, and sit in the same seats as military personnel did when the plane was in action. At Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the U.S., planners can arrange flag-football games and use of the locker rooms, or an attendees’ basketball game at Crisler Center.
“Greater Lansing is a great place for teambuilding due to the diversity of opportunities available,” said Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing communications for the Greater Lansing CVB. “You can choose to do anything from a cooking class to kayaking on the Grand River. And when the teambonding is over, the region offers a plethora of dining and nightlife opportunities within walking distance of our convention center, making it easy to continue the networking past 5 p.m.”
The metro area also boasts some excellent group adventure experiences, from team events in firearm and archery shooting at the Demmer Center to the Ninja obstacle course, trapeze and trampolines at District 5 Extreme Air Sports.
For attendees who prefer outdoor experiences, Sundance Riding Stables and JoyRide Pedal Tours give groups a chance to bond while still getting some fresh air. River Town Adventures rents kayaks and features several trip options through the city of Lansing along the Red Cedar and Grand rivers; planners can rent tandem kayaks for a group paddle on the Zoo to the Market trip, or the shorter Power of the Grand trip, which is 1.8 miles. For boat rides without the workout, Lansing Metro Marinas offers private cruises and boat tours.
Greater Lansing CVB staff members put their money where their mouths are when it comes to group activities, according to Padot.
“Internally, the staff of the GLCVB has tried almost everything on the list. We’ve enjoyed horseback riding, JoyRide Pedal tours, outings at Demmer Center, Spare Time [Entertainment Center] and boat rides along the Grand River, just to name a few,” she said.
This familiarity can give planners confidence in finding the best teambuilding activities for their own groups.
When attendees are ready to wind down after their event, FireKeepers Casino Hotel Battle Creek, located southeast of Lansing, features slots, poker and table games. The complex also has eight different dining options so groups can restore some of those calories burned on outdoor activities.
Outdoor fun is the name of the team game in Grand Rapids. Planners can work off those banquet dinners in a number of fun ways.
“There are plenty of teambuilding activities groups can participate in when visiting Grand Rapids,” said Andie Newcomer, convention services manager for the Grand Rapids CVB. “Groups can go for runs with GR Running Tours, kayak on the Rogue River in Rockford, mountain bike on local trails and zipline at Grand Rapids Adventure Park.”
She added that groups can also head out to Fifth Third Ballpark and see a game by the hometown Minor League Baseball team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, or to one of the dozens of golf courses within a 30-minute drive of downtown. In addition to watching games at Fifth Third Ballpark, planners can also arrange events on the field, from batting practice and challenges to customized carnivals with games and races.
When the games are done, groups can turn their attention to volunteering, and participate in corporate social responsibility projects. Grand Rapids has a number of opportunities, such as tree planting and park improvement with the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project, or building and repairing homes with the Inner City Christian Federation or Habitat for Humanity.
Located three hours from Detroit, the Muskegon area has some once-in-a-lifetime options for team events. In the colder months, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex features plenty to bond attendees, from skate rentals and ice rinks to cross-country skiing and a real luge track, one of only four in the country.
Other options include golf tournaments at Stonegate Golf Club or Lincoln Golf Club, or app-based races and scavenger hunts at Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement and waterpark. The park also offers customized teambuilding with a Retro Game Show, where participants answer pop culture or meeting-specific trivia questions, and Tower Above the Rest, a construction challenge where participants race to build objects with the materials provided.
“Since we’re primarily an outdoor recreational destination, most teambuilding opportunities in the Traverse City area—even the educational, cultural and volunteer-oriented ones—tend to be focused on the great outdoors,” said Tori Piersante, vice president for Traverse City Tourism. “In recent years, for instance, attendees at one natural resources conference helped with local beach restoration efforts, while another group toured the upper Boardman River by kayak to learn about a project to remove outdated hydroelectric dams and restore the stream’s natural flow.”
Piersante added that another attraction offers unique appeal to planners: Traverse City has more tall ship sailing vessels than any other port on the Great Lakes.
“It’s a form of adventure that lends itself particularly well to teambuilding, since there are a great many tasks to perform, from hoisting and lowering the sails to steering the vessel,” she said.
Available options include the Traverse Tall Ship Company, which includes the 114-foot Manitou, and the Inland Seas Education Association, which offers sails aboard the Inland Seas or Utopia.