When it comes to hosting retreats for distributed teams, you can't escape the fact that employees are based in a wide range of locations.
Booking flights and getting the whole team together in one spot can be a huge headache. The flight search tools like Google Flights and Kayak are optimized for individuals not groups.
We decided to make this process easier by developing a new, free tool called Location Finder.
What is Location Finder?
- A free tool based on the Kiwi.com API
- Capable of searching flight connections for more than 500 airlines
- Works as a calculator for group travel to find optimal destinations
- Designed for remote teams or companies with distributed employees in different locations
- Not a booking tool, rather it acts as an ‘advisor’ to help you decide the best location for your next company meetup
Example: Globally distributed company organizes an All-Hands Meeting
- The company of 250 people has 4 dispersed teams in different locations
- 1st team of 130 employees is in New York, the 2nd team of 70 is in Berlin, the 3rd team of 40 employees is in Barcelona, and the 4th team of 10 employees in Shanghai
- Task at hand: find the right location to bring the teams together considering time and cost
Firstly, we put all the data for the teams into the Location Finder tool. Notice that the tool has three fields by default, so we add one more field by using the + button in the right corner. Once we have all data inserted we hit Search.
The best destination for this company's all-hands meeting in terms of average travel time is Amsterdam. Most of the flights to Amsterdam are direct, Shanghai employees must use one transfer. Estimated flight costs are $59, 730. This number is dependant on the airlines selected and thus is not 100% precise, but it gives an idea of the budget (+/- 15%).
Furthermore, there are a few important factors to consider when evaluating the results. The 6th result with $51, 620 seems to have the lowest estimated costs. Yet, you wouldn't want to inconvenience your team members with 1 more hour of average travel time and more layovers for a small saving to your budget.
The 2nd best destination as for the flight costs is interesting - Madrid. To look at it closer, click on the row of Madrid:
As you can see in the details of the Madrid destination, this option has the same number of stops as Amsterdam. The biggest difference is that the flight between Berlin and Amsterdam (01:30) is much shorter than the flight betwen Berlin and Madrid (03:09). If you consider the flight time for Berlin-Madrid still acceptable, you can pick Madrid for your all-hands meeting and save some budget.
Our tip is to keep alternatives in mind. For instance, there is a train between Barcelona and Madrid which takes 03:15. If it's cheaper than a flight, it may be more comfortable to take a train as it removes the added time of going to the airport and waiting there.
Let’s look at the final option - Barcelona.
Barcelona is an interesting destination. Your company has an office there, and might have access to a space that can host 250 people for an all-hands meeting. As you can see, 40 employees don't need to travel as they're already in Barcelona. So it's only the others that now have to reach the office too.
When you have a closer look at this result, you can see 1 stop on the flight route Berlin-Barcelona. It can be caused by the dates (season, availability of direct flights, or the number of seats). The team is too big so it should be booked further in advance. If you're able to find the direct flight, it will lower the travel time significantly as well as average layovers.
To do this, click on the text “70x BER - BCN” in the destination detail, and play with the dates to fix your problem with the layover:
Click on the Search link in the breadcrumb navigation to customize this flight.
How does Location Finder sort its results?
- Average travel time per person
- Average number of layovers per person (we all hate them!)
- Estimated costs of getting to the flight destination (one-way flight costs)
We have considered many criteria in our sorting algorithm. After much trial and error we picked average travel time as the most important, followed by average stops and estimated flight costs.
When the company organizes this retreat, it's being organized in a certain timeframe and within a certain budget. The average travel time per person means total flight time of all people divided by the number of people. It's correlated to the average stops per person, as layover flights tend to have higher flight times. The connection to the price of the flight is weaker, and is included to give an idea while reviewing the results.
Our flight search tool works as ‘advisor’ and the flight costs aren’t the most important thing to consider. We decided to keep it simple and make all the suggested flights one-way with the date 9 days from the flight search.
Location Finder is a free tool for evaluating flights to advise the optimal city to meet with your team. Its algorithm uses the flight data from more than 500 airlines, and reflects the fastest and most comfortable options for the team as a whole.
All the connections are analyzed within a few seconds resulting in the suggested destinations. They are sorted by average travel time, lowest number of layovers and estimated price. We recommend to consider more than the first destination in the results and decide according to costs and travel time combined. Good luck!
Try Location Finder for yourself, let us know what you think, and feel free to share it with others if you find it useful.