Planning a Simple Scavenger Hunt

By Lain Ehmann

The Great Race aside, planning a scavenger hunt for your next meeting doesn’t need to require the joint efforts of a production team and a hair-and-makeup crew. Instead you can pull together a unique team-building event that will give participants a time to remember. San Francisco event planner Jessica Sisco suggests thinking about the following elements.

1. Team composition. You can let people self select their teams, but if your goal is to mix things up and introduce different groups then you might want to take matters into your own hands. Five or six people per team is a good number.

2. Complexity. How crazy do you want to make your participants? If you want to keep it fairly simple and just show them around the city, you can plan the activity yourself. If you want to create a telecast-worthy competition, you might want to engage the services of an expert who has experience pulling off large-scale events.

3. Locale. If all your participants are from out of town you might want to show them the major tourist sites in the city. If they’re locals, send them off the beaten path. You also can tailor the hunt to specific interests, such as cultural sites, sports, architecture, music and so on, depending on the types of clues and destinations you select, says Sisco.

4. Transportation. Will your teams stay on foot or do you want them to use public transportation or even their own vehicles? Walking is easiest, but sometimes the layout of the city or the physical capabilities of the team members make transportation a must.

5. Clue levels. Do you want your teams deciphering The DaVinci Code-type clues or do you want to provide a list of items they have to obtain? Sending them after a list of silly things, such as a picture of a dead chicken, a photo of the team with a local police officer or a team member with a street performer, keeps things uncomplicated and simplifies prep work. It also makes it easier to keep teams to a certain time limit.

6. Gathering place. Create a landing spot for teams to meet after they’re done or when the time limit is up. Make sure to offer lots of fun, de-stress options, including food and drinks, music and comfortable chairs. When you put a group of competitive salespeople together, emotions can fly high. "They can be kind of stressed," Sisco says. Give them a place to unwind.

7. Prizes. While the experience may be its own reward, you better offer your teams something else! Sisco suggests a nice prize for the winning team, maybe leather passport holders, pen-and-pencil sets or a big dinner out, and something smaller for all participants, such as $25 gift cards to Starbucks. "I definitely think big prizes for the winning team are always good," she says, if you’re spending significant time and effort on the event.