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Virtual Team Building Your Employees Will Actually Enjoy

Sean Hoff of Moniker Partners Turns A Necessary COVID-19 Pivot Into A New Long-Term Business Model

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In This Episode

Over the last year, we’ve had to learn how to connect and engage with each other in a nearly entirely virtual setting. We’ve all seen reports highlighting the impact this has had on the mental health of so many people. For business leaders, they’ve had to balance their employees’ physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing and the everyday work of keeping a business running. It’s been stressful for everyone, especially people offering services connected to the travel industry. So how do you give people that in-person connection experience virtually without it being just another video call they have smile through? Our guest faced those challenges as a business leader taking care of his employees while operating a company that couldn’t offer services without travel.

Sean Hoff and his team at Moniker Partners, who offer creative corporate retreats worldwide, were able to turn their internal challenges of staying connected into a successful pivot that’s not just allowed their business to survive but grow. While the world and travel start to open back up, this conversation helps to highlight the digital pivots we’ve all made out of necessity and how we can integrate them long-term.

Episode Breakdown

First 10 Minutes
We kick off after pushing past some technical challenges to meet our guest for today, Sean Hoff of Moniker Partners. We learn about Sean’s journey moving from the financial industry to planning company retreat off-sites. Their company helps companies, many in the tech industry, engage with their teams in person. Sean talks us through what happened in the first weeks of the pandemic for his travel-focused business. Sean explains how the pressures of keeping the business running and employees paid led to the shift to their new focus, the virtual team-building experience. Dave asks about how his team handled the start of the pandemic and how Sean dealt with that as the company’s leader. He also explains how they started hearing from their travel partners about how when they moved all their employees remote, they noticed a drop in morale and where the idea to shift to virtual engagement started. He and his team started playing other companies games and research the industry, and it did begin to improve their morale and show the possibility in the industry. 

10 Minutes – 20 Minutes
Sean explains how they also kept morale up by sending COVID care packages specific to each team member and doing weekly activities. They have something they call a “Pulse Check” to make sure everyone is doing well, and they did start to see rebounds as they began to use the virtual engagement methods more. Greg asks whether they will go back into the old model or a hybrid model when things return to normal. Sean explains how they are starting to see small trickles of interest in the old model, but they will continue to have two divisions because they are very different product offerings. Dave connects with Sean’s point about in-person offerings being a different experience that can’t be reproduced virtually. Dave asks whether Sean is excited to go back to working in person. Sean explains how their staffing has changed and how they’ve given up their office space with still keeping their options open as to whether they open an office again. 

20 Minutes – 30 Minutes
Greg asks Sean to explain a bit of the virtual offerings they have. Sean explains how they didn’t want to add more noise to the internet and wanted robust offerings. They decided to focus on two areas, how do you replicate having a beer after work and how do you replicate the high five atmosphere of solving a puzzle together. One offering is a live interactive murder mystery together, including the option to ship cocktail kits to your employees. Another offering is online escape rooms. Sean explains one experience he had using NASA material based on an experience before and being contacted to help NASA interns engage. Greg mentions the fun he’s had with Occulus, and Sean mentions they are starting to experiment with VR. Sean says these virtual offerings will continue to support smaller teams or very geographically diverse teams. Dave asks whether Sean regrets leaving the financial industry, which Sean says no, but he needed that experience to be where he is today. 

Sean Hoff

Sean Hoff

Founder and Managing Partner, Moniker Partners

Sean Hoff is the Founder and Managing Partner of award-winning corporate travel and retreat planning agency, Moniker, with over seven years at the helm. Before starting Moniker, Sean previously worked as an investment banker where he was an attendee of a few “President’s Club” trips before casting off on his own, believing he could do it better. Fast forward to 2020, when amazing adventures were grounded due to COVID-19, his company has taken their eye for creative culture–building online, with a talent for creating memorable team experiences in the remote world. Sean currently lives in Toronto, Canada.

About Moniker Partners

We are an award-winning corporate retreat planning agency, focused on helping companies put together imaginative incentive trips, retreats, and off-sites around the world.

Visit Moniker Partners Website