AGM Planning in a Pandemic

The team at Ignite magazine has been home-based since its launch in 2008, so its Annual General Meeting is often the one time the entire team gathers face to face. Publisher Debbie van der Beek has always approached it as an opportunity to brainstorm and strategize, as well as pamper and recognize her team. Having had to cancel a team trip to Mexico in June 2020, the group was excited to see what was in store when they were able to meet again for a three-night retreat in late November. They weren’t disappointed.

The location had to be both driveable and luxurious. Falcon’s Nest, a newly-built, professionally designed 6-bedrooom lake house overlooking Lake Muskoka fit the bill. Life coach and yoga instructor Kristi King Perras led the 8-person team in morning yoga and helped coordinate activities. Nutritious and innovative meals were prepared by holistic Chef Denise, owner of Beeting Hearts Inc. And the team was led through a charcuterie-building lesson where they were each gifted a board branded with the Ignite logo.

While there were several meetings in the cozy but spacious living room, the group also got to experience the location on snow-filled walks and a tour and wine tasting at Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery. Evenings saw the team gathered around the firepit or engaged in a rousing game of Head’s Up.

On the final day, as the team members drove home through the snow-covered country roads, feeling relaxed, reinvigorated and reconnected with one another, it was clear the retreat had achieved its goals. Says van der Beek, “Our annual AGM is a must. It provides the team an opportunity to connect outside of our regular work space, in an environment that stimulates creative thinking. We always walk away with new ideas to implement, and seeing the team laugh, play and adventure together is priceless.”

Laura Bickle is the editor of Ignite magazine, the publication for the Canadian corporate meeting and event industry. Sign up for your complimentary subscription at