His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales is leaving Jamaica today. He visited Belize and the Bahamas last week. Event and conference planners can pick up ideas from his itinerary. (Last year, we looked at the inspiration that event planners could draw from from his brother, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge's visit to Canada and the U.S. with his new bride.)
Royal events aren't just about pomp and ceremony. A more down-to-earth and engaging style of interaction is taking shape. What we can learn from Princes Harry and William is that the key to creating meaningful overseas events is to truly get to the heart of destinations. In other words, don't pack agendas for business meetings and conferences. Don't just hang out at the resort. Leave enough room for opportunities to see the destination, meet local residents and participate in community activities. Here is what Prince Harry had to say about it:
What are some Caribbean style events that are fit for a prince? Take a peek:
Prince Harry's uncle, His Royal Highness Edward The Earl of Wessex, has been touring the Caribbean since February 21st. His itinerary has focused on youth, recovery and the environment. The following ideas are all taken directly from Prince Harry's 2012 Caribbean itinerary:
Participate in local events including street festivals and carnivals.
It would be great to see more corporate CEOs down-to-earth and interacting with local residents to the degree that Prince Harry was in the last video.
- Give back to the community by visiting schools, community centers, senior citizen's home or children's hospitals.
Visit important landmarks and historical sites.
In Jamaica, he visited Devon House in Kingston and Trelawny's Good Hope Great House. In Belize he toured the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich.
- Attend a cultural show. (This has been on the Prince's itinerary in Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica.)
- Seize opportunities to sample local music and cuisine. (Prince Harry even tried cow foot soup in the Bahamas.)
- Go rappelling. (A rappelling demonstration was on Prince Harry's itinerary in Jamaica yesterday and it is a great way to experience the local scenery upfront and close.)
Arrange for members of your team who so desire to attend a church or other religious service in the local community.
This is a practice in other parts of the world but a dying tradition in North America and Europe. Some professional associations like NSA and its Canadian counterpart CAPS have worship services.
- Get a panoramic view of the destination by helicopter.
For a touch of fun, participate in athletic challenges or arrange visits by local athletes.
For example, last year Prince Harry played in a charity polo tournament in Barbados. This week, he had a mock challenge with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
10. Gain inspiration from local athletes, artists and celebrities.
Prince Harry met Rita Marley (Bob Marley's widow) a few days ago
How can event planners apply this to their own team events?
Visit local communities to donate clothing, books, school uniforms or hospital supplies. Plant a garden. Build a parkette. Organize a cricket or soccer match with local athletes or members of the local community. Invite a keynote speaker from the region. For example, Devon Harris, a member of the original Jamaican Bobsled team is an example of a Caribbean celebrity athlete who inspires. He is now a motivational speaker encouraging corporate teams and conference participants to bounce back, persist and dream big even in the face of setbacks and adversity.
Adding a Caribbean touch doesn't always involve getting on a plane. Here is an example. Last year, when I discovered the Jamaica Dogsled team was practicing near the Halliburton, Ontario location of a winter team building retreat that I had organized and that I was in the process of facilitating. It just took a couple of phone calls to arrange a real crowd pleaser. Damion Robb and his trainer surprised the group of executives with a visit just before they went dog sledding.