60 on an island AKA the 2021 FindHotel company trip

The first year of pandemic hasn’t been easy. For us, in the travel industry this meant that in 2020 we’ve navigated some unsteady waters, not knowing what to expect. We switched from mainly hiring locally and relocating people to the Netherlands to hiring more remotely as many other companies did, given the circumstances. Despite the hardship, in 2020 we added 29 new members in Amsterdam, Brazil, Tanzania, Hungary, Spain and many other countries. Some of them had the chance to visit the team in the Netherlands but most of them had to settle with the faces they met virtually. Onboarding new members hasn’t been easy, but hey, a good challenge never hurts!

While in 2020 we had added 29 new colleagues, in the first 7 months of 2021 we had already signed and onboarded another 26 coming from Nigeria, Estonia, Canada, Ukraine, Argentina, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Dominican Republic, expanding this way our presence on the world map.

Time for an adventure

We’ve seen uncertainty about the travel industry,  uncertainty related to our own travel ambitions, with many of us far from our families and even more without a proper relaxing vacation. Now it was more important than ever to manage and organise again the company trip and give our team the chance to get to know each other, to reunite and to create the best memories together.

It took us only 2,5 months to organise the trip for a group of 60. If in normal times, we would have had the luxury to have more time for preparations & research, this year we had to be more flexible and adaptable than ever. With covid restrictions changing from one day to another, we could at no point guarantee that the plan would go through. Still, we went above and beyond and once more, we pulled it off!

Land on the horizon!

With not so many covid-safe options for a sweet 6-day escape, we decided to pin Crete on the world map and so, on September 17th, we stepped on the Greek island having many fun plans on our hands. Crete welcomed us with a blinding sun and warm temperatures, with tasty food and normal life vibes, the vibes that we were used to.

Arrival in Crete

Fun in the sun

We were lucky to stay in a great and central spot in Heraklion, with the beach just in front of the hotel and the vibrant city center at a short walking distance. So on our first day in Crete we played volleyball, we enjoyed the sun, swam in the crystal clear water and explored the surroundings. It was not just a day to get acquainted with the island but also with the many colleagues that we have welcomed since March 2020 and never met in person until now.

Beach volleyball on the first day

Reaching new heights together

We never shy away from a good challenge and on the second day in Greece, ours was one of the most exciting hikes we’ve done so far, this time in Kritsa Gorge, Crete. The hot temperatures did not stop us from having fun in the sun, from reaching new heights together as a team, but they did give us quite a tan though! 😃

Kritsa Gorge, Crete

Besides the hike that took us through the most amazing Cretan landscapes, we’ve also reached Agios Nikolaos for a delicious lunch with traditional food. Crete truly welcomed us in the best possible way with the most amazing experiences, the Cretan night being one where we truly gave in to the Cretan vibes and wine and we had the most fun in a long time.

Off to a safari!

The Cretans don’t have giraffes, but they do have goats! Off we went on a safari not knowing what to expect since our definition of a safari was quite different than what we actually got. From a cheese making workshop to feeding the goats, to riding off road through the mountains, from carpool karaoke to picking watermelons from the side of the road, this safari was definitely one-of-a-kind experience and Cristina (our Partnerships manager who joined us days before the trip) agrees:

My favorite activity was "Safari Experience", when we could explore different spots of the island with local people, and of course, eating traditional food! After having worked (literally) two days at FindHotel and although I was very nervous, it couldn't have been better. Not only could I enjoy the breathtaking landscapes from the island, but also, get to know my colleagues in a relaxed and fun environment.

Safari day 

Pirates sailing again

Perhaps the most memorable moment of this Cretan adventure was our pirate boat trip, sailing in the Aegean waters and catching a stunning sunset with the crew. From swimming with the fish to dancing under the last rays of sun, the boat trip was the favorite moment of the trip for many. And it was probably the most memorable way to end our 6-day company trip in Greece.

The FindHotel pirate boat

The pirate boat trip was also Lucas' favorite part of our Cretan adventure. He is one of the engineers who started working remotely with us during this summer and relocated to Amsterdam just in time for the company trip.

My favorite day in particular, was the boat trip. We could enjoy not only the beautiful sunset of Crete, but also dance to some music and laugh at the joy of having this opportunity. The boat was themed like it should (in a pirate way) and the crew was friendly making some pauses for us to take a dip in the clear water and enjoy the view of the island. I had a wonderful time in the FindHotel 2021 company trip. It was a great opportunity to meet in person a lot of ones I was already working with on a daily basis but did not yet have the opportunity to share a nice conversation about common values and learn from different cultures.

Daniel, one our of engineers, who works remotely from Spain describes best what the pirate ship trip meant for us: I totally loved the pirate ship trip. Not only because of the obvious fun of sailing through the Mediterranean, swimming in those amazing waters and partying while watching the beautiful Cretan sunset, but also because it was the real life representation of our favourite metaphor. We are the pirates in this pirate ship that Findhotel is, and each and every one of us plays a major role in this adventure :)

The bond is real

It was important for us to bring the team together not only because we all love to travel and in 2020 this was impossible, but mostly because we understood the impact such an event would have in building long lasting relationships among our crew members and would support our day to day collaboration. We not only brought along existing team members or colleagues that have literally just started with us but also members whose start date was approaching, giving them the opportunity to feel part of the team even before day 1.

This was the case of Amy, who joined us as Senior Product Designer on October 1st:

I was surprised when I was invited to join the company trip, especially since I hadn’t officially started at FindHotel. I won’t lie; I was hesitant to say yes because it can be intimidating to meet over 60 strangers all at once in this kind of situation. My fear was that everyone would say, “why is she allowed to come along?“. In the end, I agreed to go because I knew it would be a great way to meet everyone in person and in a casual setting since so many are remote. Not once did my fear come to fruition; the opposite, in fact, everyone made me feel so welcomed. For me, it confirmed that I had made the right choice in joining FindHotel. And on my first day in the office, it was nice to see familiar faces that I had already met and even nicer to be able to say “hi again!“.

What did this mean for our remote colleagues and how important was for them to meet their colleagues face to face? We asked 2 of our remote engineers, Eugene (working remotely from Slovenia) and Vladyslav (working remotely from Ukraine).

Eugene: On my first week at FindHotel we went on the company trip to Greece where I met my future colleagues and was enjoying all sorts of activities: beach volleyball, jeep safari, jetski! Very cool people from everywhere. For someone who works remotely, it was super important to meet the teammates in-person.

Vladyslav: I liked to meet my colleagues because in the remote work there's a lack of close communication with them, and the company trip provided this opportunity. As for the events we had I liked the 10k party and hiking. 10k party had a good atmosphere to had different interesting communication in small groups with people I don't usually speak with during working days. And hiking is just a good activity to check nice views

Where to next?

After 6 sunny days full of activities and good time with each other, the Cretan adventure has ended and each crew member went back to their country. The FindHotel ship has sailed on the Aegean waters in 2021 and what an experience it has been!

We are now in search of a new destination for next year’s adventure but we’re also recruiting new members as our crew grows further! If you want to be part of this enthusiastic team and join our ship that sails exciting waters, we want to hear from you!😉