Going on a Company Retreat: My Experience in Mexico City
“While I loved the variety of the retreat, what I loved even more, was the people.”
If you stumbled across a Going job description, you might notice that we host bi-annual retreats. As a remote and distributed company, we prioritize bringing our team together to live out our mission of traveling and experiencing the world. Last week, we traveled to Mexico City (CDMX) for our Spring Retreat, and as a first-timer, I was a bit nervous about what the week had in store for me.
As an introvert, I thrive in remote work environments where I have more control over how I work and recharge. So the thought of spending an entire week in an unfamiliar location with my colleagues I've never met IRL was a bit daunting, to say the least. And let's just say that my Type A travel planning tendencies definitely had me feeling a bit anxious about not having a full itinerary in hand outlining minute by minute what to expect.
But, as it turns out, the Going retreat experience is truly one-of-a-kind and totally worth sharing. So, I wanted to document my personal experience at the retreat and share some insights for anyone considering joining our team or planning their own company retreat. Are you ready? Let's dive into my Going Company retreat experience!
The devil is in the details, and the logistics for Going's CDMX retreat were on point. With everything related to our itinerary in Notion, our team had easy access to all the information we needed to make the trip successful. From COVID precautions to activity sign-ups, Notion made it easy to stay organized and informed. And in case anyone had any lingering questions, our People Ops team delivered a thorough presentation the Thursday before the retreat, ensuring everyone was on the same page.
Some things that made this experience unique to me:
First and foremost, I have to give a shout-out to our accommodations. Each team member had their own private room, which was a game-changer for me as an introvert. It was lovely to have a quiet space to retreat to after a busy day of activities and socializing. I really appreciated that the team made this a priority.
Speaking of socializing, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and inclusive everyone was. Despite being a bit shy, I never felt left out or excluded. People went out of their way to introduce themselves, invite others to join off-schedule activities, and make connections. I've been to other company retreats where the vibe was much more cliquey, so this was a refreshing change of pace.
And, of course, there was the itinerary itself. We did some unique and exciting things I would not have experienced as a solo traveler. (Stay tuned for the details!) It was great to step outside my comfort zone and try new things with my colleagues. Overall, I was impressed by how well-planned and thoughtful the itinerary was. I had a blast experiencing everything alongside my team.
Now, let's get to the heart of what you've been waiting for the retreat itself. So, what did we do, and where did we go? Let me give you a rundown of our itinerary.
Our trip started with the journey to Mexico City. As we all arrived at different times, our team had arranged shuttles from the airport to the hotel throughout the day. Despite various flight delays, Ryan, our retreat planning extraordinaire (formally known as our Sr. People Ops Specialist), handled everything with grace and ensured that we all made it to the hotel safely (did I mention he sat in the lobby for over 8 hours watching people come in and trying to identify our team based on their 2D remote presence...next year we're playing arrival bingo).
After landing and going through customs, I headed to baggage claim to retrieve my bag, which ended up being one of the last ones to arrive. As the designated shuttle captain, I was the last to arrive. Still, I was warmly greeted by five other Goingers (can we make this an official title already?) who were ready to formally cross the threshold into CDMX.
At the hotel, which was the Hilton Mexico City Reforma, Ryan welcomed us with wristbands indicating our comfort level with hugs - green for "good to hug," yellow for "ask first," and red for "thanks but no thanks." Then, we headed to the check-in desk to receive the key to our private rooms (did I mention how much I appreciated it?).
Next, we were brought to the snack stash. We were given water, snacks, and swag - a super cool shirt designed by Olivia, our incredible Illustrator, a nifty sticker, and a thermos.
After grabbing my goodies, I went to my room to relax after the day's travel. On Slack, I saw that some people were planning to explore the city, and even though I didn't know them, I decided to join in. We toured the square, church, and pyramid ruins, which I wouldn't have done alone. It was great getting to know some of my colleagues in a casual setting.
Later that evening, we had our welcome dinner, with seats unassigned - my worst nightmare! But it was a great way to connect with people outside my team. We were introduced to Mexican cuisine and spent the evening circling around different tables, saying hi to everyone.
Tuesday was a special day as each functional team had its own activity planned. As a member of the Operations and Member Success team, we kicked off the day with a delicious food walking tour, which gave us a chance to immerse ourselves in Mexican cuisine. We strolled over six miles (but for those who didn't want to walk, Uber was also an option) and indulged in different types of tacos, fruits, desserts, and other delicacies. As we walked and ate, we had a chance to connect with colleagues from our team and beyond, having informal conversations unrelated to work.
After the food walking tour, I felt exhausted. I decided to take a quick power nap to recharge for the evening ahead. That night, we had dinner at a restaurant we had signed up for before the retreat, mine was Domingo Santo. I got to meet and mingle with colleagues from different functional areas.
The highlight of our Tuesday was undoubtedly the Lucha Libre experience, which was the most thrilling and enjoyable part of the retreat for me. More than 40 of us attended the event and were completely captivated by the spectacle that unfolded before our eyes.
For those unfamiliar, Lucha Libre is a form of professional wrestling that originated in Mexico and has gained immense popularity in Latin America. It is characterized by high-flying acrobatic moves, colorful masks, and dazzling costumes, often representing certain characters or themes. The wrestlers, also known as "luchadors," are known for their unique personalities and often adopt larger-than-life personas with names like "El Hijo del Santo" and "Blue Demon Jr."
Lucha Libre matches are typically held in arenas known as "arenas de lucha libre," where the audience is passionate and vocal, cheering on their favorite luchadores and jeering at the villains. The atmosphere is electric, with fans waving flags and chanting catchy slogans. The energy is contagious, and it's impossible not to get swept up in the excitement.
For me, attending a Lucha Libre match was a truly unforgettable experience. From the heart-pumping action in the ring to the enthusiastic crowd cheering on the wrestlers, it was an incredible display of athleticism, showmanship, and pure entertainment. If you can attend a Lucha Libre match, I highly recommend it.
On Wednesday, we had our "Company Day," where we spent most of our time in a beautiful conference room at the hotel. The morning started with a mouth-watering breakfast buffet, followed by the Company Town Hall, which was live-streamed for our remote employees. During the Town Hall, various teams shared their upcoming plans and projects for 2023.
After the Town Hall, we briefly paused to participate in a morning meditation session and a pump up session hosted by two of our wellness experts. Then we were jazzed up and ready to dive into an informative presentation about LTV/CAC by our Data and Marketing teams. This presentation helped us better understand how LTV/CAC impacts our company's revenue, which is tied to our bonuses, making it essential knowledge.
After the presentation, we took a break for another delicious buffet lunch, which included some of the best carnitas I've ever tasted. Following lunch, the Mobile Dev team treated us to a fun and unique team-building exercise, which I won't spoil, but it was one of the most exciting and enjoyable exercises I've ever experienced. And to top it off, my team placed first!
After the Mobile Dev activity, we ended the day with exciting announcements about our company values and the upcoming October retreat's company awards. We also watched a touching video of the previous year's awards ceremony, leaving many of us teary-eyed.
Later that evening, the functional teams split off for dinner. Our team went to Azulísimo - Comida Mexicana D.F. We enjoyed some delicious food and a "food tree." After dinner, everyone gathered back at the hotel for the infamous Scott's Trivia Night, hosted by our co-founder, Scott Keyes. Let's say that the trivia questions were incredibly challenging, and unfortunately, my team didn't place first in this one.
On Thursday, we had our final full day of the retreat, dedicated to activity day. Before the retreat, we could choose from three different activities: a Xochimilco Boat Tour, a Teotihuacan Pyramids Tour, and/or a cooking class in the evening. I decided to go for the Xochimilco Boat Tour, which was a fantastic experience. We floated along the picturesque floating canals and gardens of Xochimilco on a traditional trajinera canal boat. On board, our team enjoyed some beer, tequila, and mezcal while indulging in delicious local cuisine. However, there was also a visit to the Island of the Dolls, which was a bit creepy and sure to give you nightmares.
After the boat tour, some team members left for the cooking class, while others were free to do whatever they wanted. I spent some time with a group of people by the pool for a few hours and then joined some folks for some tasty tacos, pastries, and exploring a local coffee roastery.
In the evening, we had our farewell dinner at Café De Tacuba. We enjoyed some delicious Mexican cuisine and reminisced on the week that was coming to a close.
After the dinner, the team gathered in the lobby and spent some time together, not ready for the retreat to end. It was a bittersweet moment, knowing that the retreat had come to an end, but I also felt grateful for the time we spent together and the memories we created.
Friday (Or Goodbye Day):
Saying goodbye has always been a challenge for me, and unfortunately, this day was no different. It was a bittersweet day as most of us were heading home, and the shuttles were scheduled throughout the day to cater to our varied travel plans.
As for me, I was fortunate to be taken under the wing of a coworker who showed me the ropes of accessing the airport lounge, which was a new experience for me. He shared his knowledge about Points & Miles, how to score deals on Going, and his travel anecdotes. It was a perfect end to an unforgettable trip.
You might be thinking, "Wow, that was a lot!" And it was, but rest assured, you had a lot of agency in deciding what you wanted to participate in, and there was plenty of downtime for solo or social activities. While I loved the variety of the retreat, what I loved even more, was the people.
To conclude, I want to share my top 10 tips for attending a Going retreat (and even if you're not attending a Going retreat, some of these may be helpful):
- When in doubt, go to the lobby. How many people hung out in the lobby during downtime surprised me. If I didn't know what was happening, I could go there and find something to do. We also had a dedicated Slack channel where people could share their activities.
- Don't expect to work. Bring your laptop in case you need to work, but the retreat is designed to encourage you to connect with your coworkers and experience the world.
- Consider arriving early or staying after. You can travel in early or stay later if you pay for your accommodations. Seeing people have their friends and families with them for a mini-retreat was so cool.
- Opt for carry-on luggage. I was initially concerned about what size suitcase to bring, but most people had a carry-on size bag and a backpack. So, pack light and stick to what's essential.
- Sign up for activities, but don't overcommit. Going pays for activities in advance, so there's an expectation that you'll attend what you've signed up for. Think about the time commitment beforehand, and don't overcommit.
- Dress for comfort. There's no strict dress code, so wear what makes you comfortable. You'll see a range of styles, and some of our team is quite fashionable.
- Bring comfortable shoes. There will be a lot of walking and exploring, so comfortable shoes are essential.
- Be yourself. This retreat allows people to get to know the real you. Embrace your authentic self and let others do the same.
- Consider using Airalo for international travel. If your phone plan doesn't cover international travel, consider using Airalo e-SIMs for easy connectivity.
- Embrace it all. Immerse yourself in the retreat and enjoy the experience. Push yourself outside your comfort zone and appreciate that it's only a week, and you'll have time to decompress post-retreat.
Want to join us on our next Going retreat? Check out our careers at going.com/careers
Published July 5, 2023
Last updated December 28, 2023
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