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How to plan offsite recreational activities

Courtesy Sandestin Resort

Planning offsite recreational activities isn’t without challenges. Here are some tips to keep in mind so attendees have a good time.

1. Consider the age and health of your guests.
People with heart conditions should talk to their doctor before engaging in strenuous or potentially jarring activities such as white-water rafting.

Physical condition is important in other respects as well. At Rafting in the Smokies, the provided life vests may not fit very large people. Those who can’t fit into the jackets cannot participate. Nor can they bring their own jacket.

2. Know your audience.

Planning a zip-line outing for a group could fall flat if many meeting attendees are couch potatoes or fear heights. People may also feel uncomfortable trying something new, like zip lining, in front of colleagues. If you’re unsure of your guests’ comfort levels, consider giving them passes to use during their free time in lieu of an organized activity for the whole group.

3. Provide options.
Someone who fishes frequently might think nothing of spending six hours in the sun. For a novice, however, two hours is usually plenty. The same is true of a white-water rafting course, which is typically divided into sections. Give attendees options or be cautious and book the shorter excursion.

4. Put safety first.
The venue or organizers responsible for the outing should have the proper insurance and equipment. Guides, staff and/or instructors should be onsite, especially if participants are unfamiliar with the activity. Safety classes should be held before activities.

“You want professionals and specially trained instructors leading the group,” said Laurie Hobbs, public relations director for Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. “They’re there to take the proper precautions and make sure people have a good experience.”

5. Amenities count.
In addition to the activity, review the facilities. Are there restrooms? Is there a restaurant? What kind of equipment is provided? If you’re rafting in the fall, wetsuits or special jackets and pants might be needed, for example.

6. Consider the unexpected.
A four-season resort, the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort unfurls an ice skating rink come cold weather. It’s a novelty for a place known for its beaches. The same is true of taking guests to see the underground caves in Kentucky, typically celebrated for the bluegrass on the ground and not what’s underneath it. Never underestimate the element of surprise.