This report consists of two parts. Part one is a report of my travels to Krabi, information about our client Spectra Innovation and the various suppliers we have been dealing with for this event. Part II is about the team building activities.
Part I – Spectra Innovations, Krabi hotels and team building preparation
I travelled to Krabi on 1st May 2015 in order to help out my colleague (Tim Holzapfel) with a team building event for Spectra Innovations.
Spectra is a US-based corporation with offices in the USA, Singapore and India. It’s one of the world’s leader in the distribution of semi-conductors, FF & Microwave products and computer peripherals.
It was my second trip to Krabi and I was very excited for the job. The flight departed Bangkok on time at 5.20 and arrived in Krabi at 6.30 p.m. After arrival, I headed straight to the tourist information desk.
Transportation from Krabi Airport to Ao Nang Beach
Comparing prices between public busses (90 Baht) and private taxis (600 Baht) I thought it would make sense to take the public bus to Ao Nang beach, where my hotel was located. The bus looked comfortable with air-con and the friendly counter agent promised it would only take twenty minutes. I would later regret this decision.
Firstly, the bus made a detour to Krabi town (which was quite in the opposite direction to my hotel at (Ao Nang Beach) and later, the driver took each passenger to his or her respective hotel, which I considered a very good service.
Unfortunately, I was the last passenger to get of the bus and in the end it took one hour and twenty minutes to finally arrive at my hotel.
Phanom Beja Hotel
Arriving at Phanom Benja Hotel (which I’ve booked over agoda), the receptionist welcomed me nervously saying she didn’t have a reservation and the room wasn’t ready.
Having lived in Thailand for nearly fifteen years I was used to such misunderstandings. So I shrugged and gave her the hotel voucher. Hungry as I was I proceeded right for dinner. Throwing all my healthy food habits over board, I ordered a cheese burger and French fries. It was taking unusually long (about 20 minutes) to be served, but was very delicious.
The receptionist finally confirmed that there was a room available. The room was comfortable and clean. Turning on the TV and zapping through, I located a few English speaking movie and sports channels. However, tired from my journey I soon fell asleep.
The next morning, I walked (three floors) downstairs to the restaurant and ordered breakfast. The waitress rudely said that breakfast wasn’t included in the room rate. Even if she were sure that breakfast wasn’t included she should have been a bit more courteous.
Perhaps saying: “Breakfast is 150 Baht, sir, would you like to pay in cash or by credit card? would have been more appropriate. But again, what can you say for a 25 USD a night hotel. I responded that breakfast should be free and that it was written on the voucher.
She made a face, asked for the voucher and walked off without comments. The waitress, apparently embarrassed of her mistake, never returned with an apology. And indeed, breakfast wasn’t charged.
All in all I still think 800 Baht (25 USD) was fair for a well maintained air-con room with wifi (which I didn’t test), hot water and TV with English channels.
Even the small miss-hap at check-in could be forgiven. So should I be staying at Phanom Beja Hotel again, I will make sure to book the room without breakfast in order to avoid having meals inside, just not to have my day spoiled by moody waitresses.
Team building preparation at Krabi Resort Ao Nang
The walk from Phanom Benja Hotel to Krabi Resort Ao Nang (where the team building event took place) was only 400 meters along the beach road.
Krabi resort is nestled at the far end of Aao Nang beach, in a beautiful setting in midst of coconut and other palm trees. There is a steep cliff at the far end of the beach and a plateau leading up to a jungle cave.
My colleague, Tim Holzapfel, delivered the equipment bags the day before, and left them stored at the hotel. At first, there was some confusion to locate them. Apparently, no staff was informed that I would be organizing a team building event at their resort. So it took about 45 minutes to locate the bags. After that, I headed straight for the beach.
Luckily, the hotel reserved the most beautiful stretch of beach for our event. It was the far end of Ao Nang Beach where the beach ended at a tall and steep cliff. I set up four activities, Frenzy, Ring stack, Buried treasure and Water throwing relay, three of them on the beach and one (ring stack) on the plateau overlooking the cave.
At noon, I headed to the restaurant for lunch and ordered a Khao Phat Gai (fried rice with chicken) as well as a sandwich to carry away. The restaurant is located slightly elevated facing the beach and overlooking the sparkling blue ocean.
I asked for a VAT receipt and the waitress assured it would take a while, yet it would be delivered to the beach. After having lunch, I was trying to get hold of our client, Spectra Innovation from Singapore. I was told that they were having lunch so I went back to the beach.
Four polite and good-looking waitresses were suddenly approaching the beach with a giant smile on their faces: “Here’s your receipt sir.” (I don’t know why it takes four staff to deliver a receipt but I didn’t mind). Unfortunately the receipt was incorrect, the address was wrong. So I politely asked for the receipt to be re-printed. Until the receipt was correct, the poor waitresses returned another three times (the walk from restaurant to the beach was about 200 m) and I felt pity for every time sending them back again. So much work for a simple receipt over 300 Baht!
The team building event supposed to start at 2.30 p.m. and with a slight delay, at 2.45 the first members of Spectra showed up at the beach. By 3 p.m., all team members were ready to begin with the activities.
Part II – Team building activities with Spectra Innovations Singaprore
The first activity on the program was Frenzy. Frenzy is a win-win outside the box and lateral thinking exercise. It consists of a large tray filled with colorful balls and four hula hoops placed around the tray in equal distance.
Spllitting the group into four teams, each team was asked to stand behind the hula hoop before the activity begun. The objective of the activity was for each team to get all the balls into their hoops.
The first round was quite frantic, with delegates storming towards the tray, grabbing the balls and taking them back to their hoop, just to notice that in the meantime some opposing players would steal the balls from their hoop.
It was a helpless no-win situation. So I blew the whistle and asked for a time-out.
Before the second round started, I gave the players a bit more time to strategize. One young IT-expert from the Philippines actually came up with the solutions, for all four teams to work together and to stack their hoops on top of each other on the tray, yet, as it so often happens, he was neither able to get the other team’s full attention, nor their ultimate agreement.
So the second round went similar like the first, a hectic and at times violent battle for the balls. I interrupted the game again. Before the third round, I promted the solution more obviously and I gave the IT-technician another chance to convince his team-mate to work together.
Finally it seemed that everybody understood the concept and for the first time, delegates approached the tray more cautiously. Just before all teams laid their hoops on the tray, one delegate changed his mind and threw the other team’s hoop away, indicating to his team mates, that he didn’t agree to this win-win situation. And the battle started from scratch again.
Some delegates walked off and sat down on the beach, indicating either frustration with the behavior of their team mates, or simple exhaustion of another fight.
The debriefing was a bit more serious than usual and those behavioral issues were addressed.
We played ring stack high up on the plateau, with a tremendous view over the ocean to the nearby cave.
In ring stack, three cones are located approx. one, two and three meters away from the playfield. Each delegate was given a ring to throw over the cone, without stepping outside the designated playfield. Team members were able to support each other while always remaining inside the designated area.
There are different points given for each hit, depending of the distance of the cone. The first round was played sighed, the second round blindfolded.
Delegates were split into two teams, and each team was asked to throw one ring alternatively. Team one won the first round 14 to 8. The second round, blindfolded was closer. It ended in favor of team one, with 9 to 6.
After ring stack, it was time for a short refreshment.
The third activity, buried treasure, was played on the beach. Delegates were asked to assign six people to be puzzlers and the rest of the team to be communicators. The puzzlers were asked to walk onto the playfield and find the puzzle pieces, carry them back to the designated area and assemble the puzzle all while wearing a blindfold. The communicator’s role was to give instructions to the puzzlers of where to go, and how to put the puzzle together. The communicators were unable to step into the playfield and the designated area where the puzzle was put together.
This activity encouraged communication, team support and problem solving skills. In a record-breaking time of just 20 minutes, team one assembled the puzzle perfectly. A remarkable high-performing team. Team one burst out into emotional cheering when the task was accomplished.
In human knots (link), teams stand in a circle with ones hands crossed, holding hands firmly with the person next to one other. The objective was to disentangle the knot without letting go of ones hands. The team completed this challenge in very short time.
Water throwing relay
Water throwing relay is a rather physical activity. Teams must assign members into three areas of the playfield. It works like a chain reaction. Two people were asked to carry water from the sea with a bucket, throwing the water to the person standing next in line. This person must catch the water with his bucket just to throw it to the person next in line. And so forth. At the end of the line, there is a vertically positioned tube containing a ping pong ball. The last person in the chain poured the water into the tube, and while the water level increased, the ping pong ball was floating upwards.
The tube consisted of lots of small holes, so there was constantly water leaking out of it. It was an added on challenge to prevent the tube from leaking until the water was overflowing and the poing pong ball fell out.
Suddenly, both team were cheering simultaneously, indicating their victories. The race was so tight, it was impossible to judge which was the winning team. So I asked for a replay. Team 2 didn’t agree to a replay so we concluded the winning team: “And the winning team is…team one!” Uncontrollable cheers erupted.
At the end of the activities, a cheeky monkey approached the beach and tried to steal one of the delegate’s sunglasses. A sign of good luck? We successfully chased the monkey away.
Before returning to Bangkok, I was invited for a beer by some of the young Philippine delegates, who enjoyed the rest of their day at the beach bar watching the sunset. We had a good conversation and reviewed the activities informally.