Cheo Ming Shen (avatar)
updated 3 years ago

What makes for a successful company retreat?

As some of you might know, right after the regional summit in Bangkok, I had a one day break back home, then it was off to Bali for our annual company retreat.

This has been a tradition since the early days when we had a small team and has carried on till now, making it a sizeable operation.

This is going to be another mega long post so some photos I might upload first and add captions later.

In any case though, what I want to do with this post is instead of writing a narrative of what happened, look into what makes a successful company retreat.

A peek into the past. 2008.

Our first ever retreat was a cross border trip to Singapore. Back then we only had 4 singaporean staff and @davienne is the only one who remains. Haha. Dinosaur in todays terms.

What is @timothytiah doing here i dun really know.

It was a cosy affair and we tried to make it fun but it was not expensive. For example,here we are at my country club bowling alley. Really nice, small and impactful.

We also went paintballing. This is me acting garang in my army greens.

Our trip end dinner was at home ... and food complete with ...

@bossming's signature prawn/lobster pasta. Hahaha.

Our office tour ... of which we only had 1 room and this crappy signboard. But we have always been a bundle of fun.

2009 missing!!!

I cant find my 2009 retreat photos. It was also the year we did the innaugural Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards or Napbas in Singapore, so that might have replaced our company trip altogether.

2010!!! Nuffnang goes cruisin!!!

@mummytong gave me the cruising bug. I realised it is an awesome idea to have people u like stuck out at sea together. It makes for wonderful memories and thats why this early trip is still the best company retreat in my mind.

When in cruises, play bingo. That we did. Hahaha. Very therapeutic.

Play card games that give you a chance to suck up to the boss.

Play table games that make u look like a fool. @davienne

Dress to kill. Weeeeet weeeet. Lots of those retirees on board were wondering which company we came from. @chanclara @elisetay @xoeli @melleser this one is for the memories.

Do a jump shot on the beach.

Probably the first time we incorpoated meetings into out trips. Here is @davienne leading. She was only 22???

2011 napbas again!!!

The Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards were a huge logistical exercise and were held once every 2 years. Whilst rewarding to see bloggers from all over being recognised on the grandest platform, I think we merged our company trips those years and did not go anywhere specifically.

2012 Chiangmai!!!

Chiangmai was actually my second favourite company retreat after the cruise. I think the location itself plays a big part. But beyond that the choice of hotel, restaurants and activities blended together too.

The hotel we stayed in. Siripana was beautiful, and the activities they planned fun. Like we had an experience of planting rice padi and a thai cooking lesson.

On board of a river raft exploring the rustic charms of Chiangmai.

Local transportation.

2013 Phuket!!!

A group shot we took after our teambuilding games in Phuket. I have never really been a fan of these, but if facilitated well, can really be a great bonding exercise.

Highlight of the trip for me ironically was a visit to Phuket Fantasea. That damn jingle they play is still ringing in my head.

Phuket fantaseaaa thats where i want to beee ...happy dreams come true in phuket fantaseaaaa!!!

U learn as u go along, and improve the flow and content of meetings.

2014 Hanoi!!!

Highlight of Hanoi for me was cycling enmasse through the crazy traffic. The nuffies were scared shitless, but it was an experience I will probably not be able to replicate.

Nuffies in Hanoi.

A memorable team game was having to sell packets of chewing gum to strangers for a certain goal as we walked through the sights of the city.

2015 Bali!!! Teambuilding Games

When I was in the army, we used to have to play teambuilding games all the time. I never liked it and never saw the point.

These games however have now become a permanant fixture of our company retreats and I figure play a integral part.

The games this year in Bali were facilitated very well.

I especially liked this survivor-esque one where everybody has a section of open plastic pipe.

The aim was to keep moving down the line with pipe in hand and to steer a ball into a pail at the end. Drop it at any point and u have to start over.

Teambuilding games are a great way to break the ice, for people to bond and get to know one another, for leaders to take charge, for followers to follow ... all towards a common goal and purpose.

@iamselheng looking so gung ho and @henry looking so tentative haha.

@racheldaixia with her ζ­¦δΎ  pose.

For most people, having to dance publicly would be a viable forfeit. Not for the thai nuffies though ...

Every successful company retreat should include team building games. I think Hr though should analyse these games a little closer though to ensure it meets the objectives and is meaningful. Take note @michelletay but bali was good!


The sightseeing itinerary and land tour is another important facet of a company retreat. One thing I feel is that this has to be controlled very closely.

Tour guide companies make money by bringing u for dodgy sales pitches or to kitschy shopping sites so u should avoid that.

A little shopping never hurt anybody though and if u are just gg to see temple after temple, thats a bore too. The key is 3 fold.

1) Quality
2) Local
3) Authentic

Our tour company in bali suggested a visit to a balinese jewellery maker, called Prapen. I had heard of balinese jewellery before and so agreed.

They had a small in house workshop where u could observe the craftswomen at work. And a really beautiful store.

The jewellery design was exquisite and contemporary. I bought a magnifying glass as a prop piece for my #bangkokcrib study room and a little silver buddha for my living room for blessings and protection!

We had a brief stopover at this vantage point overlooking traditional bali rice padi terraces which meant ...

Photo timeee ... notice nature getting in on the act!

Me and the singaporean nuffies. Not all were at the trip as u had to be with the company for at least a year to qualify fully.

It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but u need to include culture and tradition as part of every land tour i think.

We visited 2 separate temples and learnt about their religion and beliefs.

@imchoosie was a particularly good student having the tour guide entirely to herself and asking question after question. An inquisitive mind is an asset for sure.

I love this photo i took of the temple caretaker. Look at the wrinkles on his face. A physical feature of all the years he has experienced.

And the beautiful @margarita who really makes enhances this scene.

The second temple we visited was well apt for our nuffies exclaim pose!

After 2 temples in a row, I was glad to mix it up with a visit to a mini coffee and tea plantation. It was more like a garden with a shop tbh.

Sleep it up boy, cos when u are done, we want your poooo!!!

Heres @chrisharrison snorting it up ...

We tried a cup of Kopi Luwak which is the most expensive variant of coffee in the world and comes from the poo of the civet cat. It was only normal to me since im not a coffee drinker. But i guess it was a nice opportunity to buy some gifts home for mummytong and papatong and also punctuate the cultural visits.

Which continued on with our last visit of the day to the famed Tanah Lot temple.

It was beautiful.

What was really nice was sitting down with the nuffies in a row and just waiting for the sunset.

Midway, as singaporeans do, we got hungry and bought some popmie to share whilst waiting for the sun to do its thing and im sure take more photos.

Unfortunately, @shortyminimad was with us and jinxed it as the cloud cover was too thick. Haha joking, but it was still nice to have some time to just sit and chill with one another.

I think the qualities of a good land tour are as follows.

1) Varied experiences
2) Non pushy and educational tour guides
3) Time to just chill

Company alignment meeting

It is a rare opportunity having so many nuffies in one place at any given point of time. On this trip there were about 80 of us. The company today has about 200 full time staff. So about 40 percent which is a good chunk.

Therefore beyond the fun and games, we have since several years back, had a day of meetings.

Each meeting, I have played with various ideas. I have seen elements that work and elements that dont. This time around, we roleplayed alot.

And of course communicated strategic direction and initiatives.

The key things to note for alignment meetings are that it should be after all the fun and games instead of before. There should be a clear agenda and schedule ... and ... most importantly ...

U need the staff to fully buy into it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

There isnt a one size fits all when it comes to company meetings but i think we achieved our aims relatively well within the short span of 1 day dedicated to it.

Finale dinner

Every trip should start well, ascend rapidly in the middle and reach a climax at the end. Having a nice dinner at the end I think is one such way to cap a memorable trip.

With that in mind, I chose a pricey and beautiful fine dining restaurant called Metis to host ours.

With the group we had, we had booked out the entire 2nd floor of this restaurant.

We even had our own special menu customized and I spared no expense since it had been a good year and I considered it a reward of sorts.

Kind of like a mini wedding banquet isnt it?

It was nothing short of magical as I witnessed the nuffies interact with one another and share laughter and joy. If i could hyperlapse it all, u would get a sense of it all.

The food was immaculately prepared and michelin star worthy in my opinion. I especially liked the starter. A rolled chicken breast.

I chose steak for my mains.

And this chocolate praline cake was simply divine. Oh my god.

My table mates.

The dayre team. πŸ˜™πŸ˜™πŸ˜™

A magical way to cap a magical trip. I really think this trip provides us with aodel for future trips.

Free & Easy Time

Another thing I realised on this trip was as much as the planned moments and itinerary is cool, having some free and easy time is equally as important for some magic.

Like one of the nights, I decided to spontaneously tag along with @davienne @thanghf and @davienne for dinner.

We hadnt planned anything. Hadnt looked at tripadvisor or on blogs. We just walked out and stopped by the first road side warung we came by.

It was a little unnerving that they were preparing the crabs we had ordered on the floor ... hahaha ...

But oh my god, that was one of the best meals I had in Bali period. I especially liked the fried chicken which had a sambal sauce that complemented it so well.

The crab itself was also glorious and I ate on, wondering internally if I was going to regret it the following day ...

The company was great too.


To top it off, we had a street busker come up and perform magic tricks for us. He was pretty good to be honest!

Another free and easy moment I enjoyed was drinks with the Dayre team at potatohead.

Im sure u will all agree they have done a great job this year. Thus i thought it would be nice to take them out for drinks.

Can u believe just 5 people, developed this wonderful app that enables so many of us to share our stories and build bonds with one amother???

I think they deserve a clap! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

I left bali feeling like I had gotten closer to so many nuffies and with a bit of a heavy heart.

But Im also looking forward to what the new year will bring and am excited by the prospect of them working ever so closely as a synergistic team. Lets gooooo nuffiesss!!! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Day 17

Saturday, 17 Jan 2015

495 29
timothytiah (avatar)

timothytiah @Nicholas looks the same today as he did years ago

3 years ago

bellebellelim (avatar)

bellebellelim I've been reading about this company through Tim's blog and yours all well . You guys have a good strategies and blend well with every employees ! I wish to have an opportunity to work with this company when I graduate from uni :) πŸ‘

3 years ago

elaynne (avatar)

elaynne 2009 we went to KL for Christmas after Napbas!

3 years ago

starrlyn (avatar)

starrlyn Agree with @bellebellelim It really looks fun. πŸŽ‰

3 years ago

volatilecandy (avatar)

volatilecandy Davienne is also a very valuable dinosaur and I think her loyalty to see the startup through the past years paid off now that nuffnang is enjoying e fruit of its success.

3 years ago

starry (avatar)

starry Amazing company story

3 years ago

chanclara (avatar)

chanclara Good old memories!!! 😻 And I texted you, Ming!!

3 years ago

meylva (avatar)

meylva Nice to see this post @bossming

3 years ago

bossming (avatar)

bossming @chanclara erm must be my other number. Email me for my new one.

3 years ago

missy_ada (avatar)

missy_ada Omg @pr3gnantkow your hair LOL!!

3 years ago

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