For over four years, our team had worked remotely from across 26 countries, generated millions in revenue for our 50+ ecommerce clients and only ever connected on Zoom.
Absolute experts at hustling online and finding creative ways to forge friendships between tasks, it had always been the team’s ultimate dream to meet up together in person.
Just a few weeks ago, that dream became a reality. For the first time, we all flew to Budapest for a first-of-a-kind, company-wide retreat.
Our founder, Bostjan is a digital nomad himself, spending a few months at a time in different countries across the world. Currently he’s attending calls from Medellin, Colombia, after spending time across Europe and his hometown in Slovenia. Before which he enjoyed long stints in Mexico and Asia respectively. From its origin in Barcelona, to where it is today, Hustler Marketing has never been office-bound and got a handle on remote work even before Covid was a thing. Majority of our 70+ clients are ecommerce stores that mostly serve the US market, Europe and others.
The Budapest meetup has just concluded and the team members are pretty much back to their bases after taking the opportunity to travel all over Europe and beyond before or after the retreat. For most of the non-European employees, it was their first time in Europe and for some, even the first time out of their country. Naturally, not only was the retreat a great opportunity for team bonding, team building and fostering of closer rapports between the employees, but also an all-expense paid travel opportunity for its employees, some of them traveling from as far as Argentina and Ecuador.
The seed for a company-wide retreat was planted when Bostjan floated a “Travel Bonus” last year. The bonus entitled each employee to a $500 allowance to travel and meet up with a member of their team. The Colombia meetup, the largest, saw a group of 10 employees, mostly based in LatAm, come together for 3 days of partying, sightseeing and even coworking in the Colombian capital. Another memorable trip was the Directors-only meet-up which happened in Istanbul last year. It was here where the idea of a company-wide retreat the next year became a plan.
The HR team and Bostjan personally spent nearly 10 months planning the trip, ironing out the budget, and the logistical complexities. Turns out flying 60+ people from 26 countries is no mean feat what with a myriad of visa requirements, accomodation challenges, and logistical-complications. Budapest was zeroed in on as it was deemed to be central to almost all the participants and is a party-friendly and fun city that’s not as expensive as its Western European counterparts. Having a service director who’s a local helped.
For four days, the Hustler Marketing team spent time bonding over hotel breakfasts, sightseeing in Budapest, eating out meals and partying. A highlight was a night boat cruise on the Danube followed by a shindig at a local bar. The final day saw official photos, profile photo shots by the event photographer and another formal dinner at a local Budapest diner. It wasn’t all fun and games though. During the 2 week days in the trip, it was work as usual, just instead of Zoom and Slack, many of the teams settled in the hotel lobby and worked side-by-side. Breakfast tables were commissioned as conference rooms and strategies, growth and KRAs were discussed over coffees and croissants. For some employees, it was the closest they came to having a taste of an office and by all accounts they loved it.
While the retreat was funded almost entirely by the company, to help offset the budget a little, it was decided to ask for a once-off 10% deduction from the participating employee’s paycheck. Further input came from BlendJet, a long-standing client of Hustler Marketing’s who came onboard as an official sponsor of the trip. Another partner, Yotpo, also chipped in with a small amount. Overall, the trip cost almost $100K, a good chunk of its annual net profit.
But as Bostjan says, “It was money well spent through and through! At first, I wasn’t sure if right now was a good time for a trip like this, given the bottomline and the impending recession, but now that’s done, I’m glad we did. Profits and losses come and go, but to see the whole team come together under a single roof, bond, exchange stories, form close bonds, share all the jokes and memes and travel updates on the whatsapp channels, left all our hearts all warm and fuzzy! It was incredibly fulfilling to have made this happen. In fact, I’m convinced now that we need to do this every year!”
Check out the trip video in 90 seconds here:
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