3 Ways to Create Engaging, Unforgettable Event Themes for Corporate Meetings

A group of about 20 to 30 people gather on the beach at night for a culture-themed evening event, with lounge chairs and a small bonfire.

Skift Take

Meeting planners have the option to settle for pre-packaged events to make their lives easier. Or they can collaborate with destinations on unique event themes that create unforgettable, lasting memories.

This content was created collaboratively by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

In the whirlwind of pinning down necessary logistics for a corporate event, retreat, or incentive trip, meeting planners can settle for an “off-the-shelf” package to help ease the burden. However, when the purpose of such an event is to create an intimate, inspiring, and unforgettable experience, spending the whole time in a boardroom or on a tour bus can make attendees feel like they could be anywhere.

An event theme that taps into the destination’s appeal offers a unique opportunity to create a truly memorable event that has lasting value for the company and its employees beyond the trip itself.

“Event themes give meeting planners an exciting moment to align their own brand with the uniqueness of a destination,” said Jamari Douglas, vice president of marketing, PR, and communications for the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “In a room with four white walls, people aren’t creative. They aren’t inspired. When you think outside the box and find those collaborations, you can up the ante and push them to think differently.”

Building events around themes is central to Bermuda Tourism Authority’s mission. Drawing from these innovative programs, this article highlights three ideas for themes that will elevate your event from business as usual to a transformational experience. For maximum impact, we’ll show how you can incorporate the destination and its unique character into board meetings, corporate retreats, or incentive travel. Meeting planners seeking to inject creativity and connection into their own events need look no further than Bermuda for thematic inspiration.

A Sustainability Event Theme

Corporate travel continues to gain more scrutiny as a contributor to global emissions and environmental degradation. With this in mind, a relevant and meaningful event theme for a corporate board meeting could revolve around the host destination’s unique sustainability initiatives. In Bermuda, planners can draw inspiration from the island’s centuries-long dedication to sustainability and protecting its environment.

“We are a small island, and sustainability is part of our DNA,” said Douglas.

For instance, Bermuda passed a law in 1620 to protect sea turtles, which is considered one of the first, if not the first, written environmental legislation in the New World. In addition, Bermuda’s iconic white limestone rooftops work as a natural filtration system that absorbs rain that then trickles into a tank underneath the homes to create the water supply, avoiding the need to dig and dredge for water.

As part of an event theme of sustainability, two men ride on bicycles over a wooden bridge with one of Bermuda's iconic white limestone rooftops visible on a house in the background.

Tours to swim with the turtles or learn about the water conservation efforts in action can inspire board members to apply sustainable principles in their own work.

A Strength and Resiliency Theme

Another option is to choose a theme that connects the destination’s landscape or history to a motivational concept or a tenet of company culture.

As a solitary island nation, Bermuda has a long-standing reputation for strength and resiliency. From its coral reefs that protect the waters to its four forts that stand on the shores, there are signs everywhere pointing to a space that is built to withstand whatever comes its way.

“Each of our forts are in different areas that protect our space and land,” said Douglas. “The possibilities are endless around making connections to that.”

For instance, many of the island’s historic forts can provide a backdrop that combines the weight of historical significance with the light relaxation of seaside breezes. Keep Fort, a stone edifice jutting out into the ocean, is a key attraction within the Snorkel Park complex of beach venues, able to host up to 5,000 attendees at a time. Similarly, the manicured lawns of British-built Fort Hamilton can accommodate up to 500 attendees. A team or leadership retreat could use this framing to evoke a theme of staying true to core values and upholding a spirit of resilience — with team members absorbing this principle by osmosis through the way Bermuda has grown and evolved but maintained its special character.

As part of an event theme around strength and resilience, a group of board member sit around a table with light refreshments in a brightly-lit room with colorful art and decor in the background.

A Cultural Immersion Event Theme

No matter the event, every corporate outing intends to make attendees feel special. That’s even more prominently in focus for incentive trips for top performers, when the entire goal is to remind employees that they’ve gone above and beyond for the company, so they deserve something unforgettable in return. A theme that taps into the destination’s unique ecology and heritage can be the perfect way to take incentive experiences to the next level.

For example, Bermuda’s history of shipbuilding was rooted in the abundance of Bermuda cedar, a uniquely light wood that floats well and is “highly resistant to rot and marine borers.” By conserving and controlling the export of the wood, Bermuda’s ships were world-renowned, as there was only one place vessels of this quality could originate.

Touring the island to discover endemic species such as the Bermudiana or hibiscus, or listening for the sound of the native (and ubiquitous) whistling tree frog, can also send clear reminders to attendees that they are in an exceptional place because they, too, deserve exceptional recognition.

There are few better places to explore these types of thematic visions than Bermuda. Less than 700 miles off the east coast of the United States, the archipelago is within three hours’ flight from most major Eastern cities, and U.S. citizens clear customs before leaving. These aspects make logistics much easier than most island or exotic getaways, leaving meeting planners with the mental energy for more creativity.

“[Corporate events] are about creating memories,” said Douglas. “I think you’ve missed the opportunity to tie it to your brand without a theme.”

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This content was created collaboratively by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.