A Weekendlong Event Blends Training And Partying To Boost Employees' Spirits And Drive Revenue

The Ragan Report - February 9, 2004

Many cash-strapped organizations canceled their annual company parties altogether last year; others just scaled back. TransPerfect Translations, on the other hand, did neither.

Just as it has for eight years, the New York City-based translations company held a weekendlong "Trans-Palooza" a few weeks ago. On the agenda: a raucous mix of fun and business. The event's title, says CEO Liz Elting, conveys "the 'big blow out' nature of the event: intensive business and intensive partying-both formal and informal throughout the course of the weekend."

The key to all of it, Elting says, is demonstrating how much the firm's leaders appreciate their employees-who travel from three different continents to attend the event.

"From the time we took the entire company to the Bahamas for the company weekend, to last summer's weekend in New Orleans, we have always made this a 'first-class' event and never spared expenses," she says. "We firmly believe that we have the best possible team at TransPerfect, and it is worth the cost for us to give a concrete demonstration of our appreciation."

In addition to showing their appreciation by means of "cost," the weekend also gives executives a chance to mingle informally with employees to get to know them-"to ask about their children, their ski vacations, to dance and dine with them, and to let them know how much we, as people, value them," Elting says. "We ask a lot of our employees and we feel that giving of ourselves, and giving in a celebratory fashion, is a very sound investment."

Plus, the majority of cost, Elting says, goes into developing the training sessions that are conducted throughout the weekend. This includes role playing, speakers from within the company discussing everything from collection techniques and cold calling to new staffing and consulting services.

The goal of the intensive training is to keep workers up-to-date on the company's growth, the changes in the industry, and the changes in the industries that the firm serves. "We find that in-person training is essential to staying at the forefront," says the CEO, adding that it also provides an opportunity for team-building, knowledge-sharing and problem solving.

Such learning-based sessions at "TransPalooza" are balanced by fun events: a lavish dinner and dance party at the W Hotel (at which honors-such as the "Heart and Soul" and "Playing to Win and Never Accepting the Status Quo" awards are given out); a laid-back evening of drinks; and a "Jeopardy" game focusing on company-specific questions.

The mix of fun and business is vital to the success of "TransPalooza," Elting says.

"We appreciate having the chance to share some laughs, groan over the memories of a tough hurdle, celebrate an ingenious solution-or settle down over a meal to talk about how to do things better next time around," she says. "The importance of face-to-face time cannot be overestimated: ideas are generated which will lead to more efficient work; at the same time, we are so happy about seeing each other that we want to celebrate and relax. The two go hand-in-hand."

Understandably, employees look forward to these weekends all year.

"For weeks before the weekend, e-mails are flying back and forth among people and offices on three continents about what to wear, when to get some private time to discuss a work issue, and where the 'in spots' are for late-night partying," Elting says.

In appreciation of getting the star treatment for a weekend, employees work harder and better for the company. In less than a decade, the company has grown from 10 employees to more than 160; together, they've worked to boost revenue by 40 percent in the last year alone.

"TransPerfect's employees are the lifeblood of our product-investing in our people results in a happier workplace and a more profitable company," Elting says.

"TransPalooza" definitely does its part in making workers happier. As one employee said: "I can't wait for the next company weekend. The time that sales and production spend together is so valuable. It always improves cooperation because we get a better understanding of each other's work."

Or, as a French employee surmised:

"I've never had an experience like this … I had no idea that a company would do something like this on such a grand scale."

We have a feeling turnover isn't a problem at TransPerfect.

About TransPerfect
With revenue of over $250 million, TransPerfect is the largest privately held language services provider in the world. From offices in 66 cities on 5 continents, TransPerfect offers a full range of services in over 100 languages to multinationals worldwide. With a global network of over 4,000 linguists and subject-area specialists, TransPerfect is the largest translation company to be fully ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006 certified. TransPerfect is headquartered in New York and has regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit our website at

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