Development Goals: How R&D Trips Can Help You Innovate

Our team loves to travel. Exploring new and exciting locations. Getting inspired by traditional and modern architecture. Meeting locals and getting to know their culture. Keeping our eyes open in order to discover the next great restaurant design & business development idea… it’s all part of our team’s research & development process.

Led by our dynamic, dedicated, do-it-all Senior Vice President Lara Hardcastle, our team knows the value of research trips and traveling the globe to garner great ideas to pass onto our clients.

As our VSAG resident LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional, Lara keeps our company mission, our partnerships with like-minded purveyors, and our commitment to sustainability top of mind, all in an effort to guide our client’s to the best in the businesses.

Following our team’s recent success on an R&D trip to London, we sat down with Lara to get some insight on what makes these R&D trips so successful, and worthwhile for our bottom line, and yours.

VALUE. Getting the minds that contribute to the operational and design process together on a group trip, in a different and thought-provoking locale, is priceless. “Experiencing places and things as a team,” says Lara “creates common vocabulary, reference points, and strengthens the overall team dynamic. Getting everyone excited about the entire project, and creative process, is invaluable to the team doing its best work.”

GUEST LIST. Extending the R&D trip program to key members of your team, as well as longtime contractors, if they play an ongoing, essential role within your organization, is beneficial to getting everyone on the same page and to the entire process.

THE GAMEPLAN. Destination + Budget. Start researching: destination, where to stay/eat, daily activities, and costs. Is there a local winery to explore for a possible partnership? A unique design house, local architecture, or artisan you want to visit for restaurant design inspiration? Lara suggests having team members research your destination on their own and offer their must-sees, building your daily activities list from there.

SCHEDULE: WORK + FUN. Sure, this is a work trip. Focus and attention must be paid. But, Lara and our team also like to occasionally divert from the planned itinerary for some unscheduled fun. Plan as much as you can pre-trip, make reservations, schedule tours, etc., but leave some room for some spontaneity. “This,” Lara says, “is where the magic happens. Much of the magic comes from the team being together in new places, looking for shared inspiration and brainstorming creatively.”

TAKE NOTES. Lara suggests capturing key takeaways as a group while at each location. After a while, the places you visit and experiences you have will blend. Select a team member to take notes and photos at each stop.

REVISIT YOUR EXPERIENCES. Upon return, schedule a post-trip, team gathering to review the key takeaways, what ideas can be implemented into your business, and what ideas you’ll further explore. Add any tips/trip do’s & don’ts for future planning. File your research trip overview and photos in an online source that all team members can easily access for potential use, brainstorming, and implementation.

The value R&D food and beverage research and development trips can add to your business in inspiration, team building, and creative idea development, adds Lara, can be “a fantastic springboard for incredible work.”

*photo: some team inspiration found on the beautiful streets of London.