This CEO Surprised His Top Executives!

Maybe you want to do the same for your executives or sales team at Historic Kent Manor Inn on Kent Island on Maryland Eastern Shore near Annapolis?  And you would not have to travel so far!

After the pioneering CEO of the client company said “surprise me” for a three-day business meeting for his top 60 executives, Welcome Event Marketing did just that. The Copenhagen-based event firm created a four-star, fully equipped “executive camp” on the grounds of a castle.

To be sure, camping was undoubtedly the furthest thing from the guests’ minds when the bus dropped them off at Denmark’s elegant Gisselfeld Castle. Adhering to a well-rehearsed script, the CEO led guests through the beautiful gardens, past a glistening lake and into a courtyard where they were greeted not by a formal waitstaff, but by a construction crew. Pretending to be baffled, the CEO explained that, due to unforeseen problems, he would have to execute “Plan B.” Attendees were then escorted onto boats to cross the lake and led through a forest to a meadow set with rows of immaculate white tents.

“We were determined to find a truly different environment for this event, but the parameters were clear,” says Welcome principal Jannik Seifert. “It needed services and facilities befitting a senior management team, as well as a practical and efficient meeting infrastructure and space to breathe.”

Executives find plenty of opportunity to network in the camp setting.

Guests visited an open-sided “social tent,” set with fire pits and comfortable chairs, where they were given beverages and agendas for the three-day event. Boardwalks led them to their two-person sleeping tents, which were outfitted with fleece jackets and bathrobes and featured elegant extras including hardwood floors, Oriental rugs and Moroccan-themed wall treatments. A big hard-sided tent served as the central meeting point for meetings and meals, which were catered on-site by a local high-end caterer. A fully equipped kitchen was built in an adjacent structure hidden from view, along with a series of silent generators that powered the event. And because it was foremost a business meeting, the event team installed state-of-the-art AV, complete with a portable editing suite. A wireless network powered via a 500-foot cable from the castle allowed guests 24-hour Internet access. The event won a Special Events Gala Award in January for Best Multiple-Day Event Program.

“Creating a literal ‘open environment’ meant shoes off and flip-flops on, which ensured a relaxed yet stimulating networking opportunity,” Seifert says. “The single challenge we could not control in planning this event was the attitude of senior-level people living in a field for three days. But the open-mindedness, good humor and belief in the uniqueness of the event were infectious.”

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