Offering fun and outside-the-box activities for your guests to enjoy is no longer a nice surprise—it’s an expectation. Need some ideas?
From kayaking and up-close zoo animal experiences to scavenger hunts and zip lining, the following four activities can be tailor-fit to serve your guests’ various needs. An added bonus—these memorable experiences also provide team-building and branding opportunities to help you meet your event goals and get more bang for your buck.
Mission Adventure Tours, which offers kayaking, bike and running tours in San Antonio, has a variety of kayaking classes and team-building activities for groups on the San Antonio River. All gear is provided, and classes begin with an hour of learning safe kayaking skills before the group moves on to other activities.
Nixo Lanning, general manager for Mission Adventure Tours, says the company works with planners to determine their goals for their group. Mission Adventure Tours then develops a program to best accomplish those goals on the water.
A group interested in team-building, for instance, might play a game like hot potato, where a participant throws a ball to someone else while stating that person’s name, favorite color or another fact.
In addition to team-building, kayaking provides a unique opportunity for guests to work on their interpersonal skills, Lanning says. “A lot of people nowadays are in corporations where they sit in cubicles, and their lives are encompassed with technology,” Lanning says. “They lose social and visual skills and interaction with people. That one-on-one is missing.”
With the right activities, groups can work on their vision and communication skills in just about an hour on the water, Lanning says.
Mission Adventure Tours, which typically plans events for 20-40 people, emphasizes its inclusive service. Activities are accessible for those who are disabled, and the company employs a diverse staff with cultural awareness and cultural experience. Lanning, who is deaf, serves as one of the guides.
The Dallas Zoo, which was founded in 1888, is home to more than 2,000 animals on more than 100 acres just outside downtown Dallas. The zoo’s location on the DART public transportation route makes it an easy destination for guests traveling from downtown.
The Dallas Zoo offers a variety of fun experiences for guests during events or a zoo visit.
During private events, the zoo’s animal outreach program can walk four to six different animals throughout the event and chat with guests. Animals can include flamingos, penguins and armadillos.
Guests can also be treated to a giraffe encounter. “You get to be really up close and personal with them,” says Melissa Weathington, director of catering and events at the Dallas Zoo. “The guests are on a large platform, and the giraffes come right up to you. They lick people’s hands, and you can get an amazing selfie with them.”
Groups can also take part in a scavenger hunt during zoo hours. The hunts are already built, though planners can put their own twist on them, Weathington says. She also recommends that visitors check out the zoo’s monorail, which operates during zoo hours. The elevated train gives guests an expanded look at the zoo, as some of the zoo’s exhibits can only be seen from above.
Buying out the whole zoo allows you to accommodate up to 30,000 people for a private evening event.
Strayboots offers browser-based scavenger hunts around the world for corporate groups. The company, which has worked with Oracle, Google, Amazon and Facebook, provides more than 700 events annually and has had more than 300,000 participants use its product. In Texas, Strayboots can set up scavenger hunts in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Each hunt will reveal hidden gems of each city that may be unknown even to locals.
During a Strayboots scavenger hunt, groups of 20-3,700 people split into teams of five to eight. The team captain uses his or her phone’s browser to access the hunt, where a series of challenges will pop up requiring teams to input an answer to a riddle or perform a certain task, like taking a photo.
Each team follows a different scavenger hunt route, though all teams are given the same challenges. All routes take teams over an average of 1.7 to 2.2 miles, and teams have about two hours to complete all the challenges. Unlike other scavenger hunts, whoever has the most correct answers wins, not the team who finishes the fastest.
Challenges are prebuilt, but everything can be customized for specific groups, says Jeffrey Brooks, co-founder of Strayboots. This includes incorporating company branding, morals and values on the site and even including company trivia in the hunt. The hunt can also be monitored or watched live.
Zip lining at Lake Travis Zipline Adventures outside of Austin offers multiple benefits for groups, says Wade McNeill, director of business development. First, it presents a slight challenge that allows teams to bond. Second, it requires teams to spend three hours with one another, making the activity a valuable tool for team-building and networking.
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures offers multiple zip lines, including Texas’ longest and fastest, with beautiful views of Lake Travis.
Guests begin their zip-lining experience with a boat ride to Zip Island. The tour itself takes three hours to complete. There are five zip lines on the course, with the shortest being 250 feet long and the longest being half a mile. The zip lines are interspersed with about a mile of hiking trails.
Zip lining groups can be up to 12 people in size, and the company can accommodate up to 250 people per day by staggering the start times for groups. Once groups complete the course, they can enjoy beer and wine at the Cantina on Zip Island, which overlooks the last zip line.