Meet Market: More business leaders seeking atypical event solutions

Competitors always seek an edge over an opponent.

That’s especially true in business where corporate meetings and team-building events are taking competition to a whole new level.

“We will do more than 1,000 corporate events this year,” says Scott Sanders, founder and president of Octane Raceway, which offers high-speed kart racing on an indoor-outdoor track in Scottsdale.

Octane is part of a growing trend that has seen a growing number of companies move away from staging their corporate events at the nearest airport hotel meeting room and evolving their events into more unique, fun and fresh environments.

“Companies are looking for different ways to engage their employees,” Sanders says. “One of the things we pride ourselves on is creating a memorable event. It’s not like people leave and say, ‘We went to a meeting and accomplished our business objective.’ When they come to Octane, they get to go off site, experience something together and get their competitive juices flowing. Companies are starting to recognize that team building not just as a line item on their budget, but something that has a true return on investment when it comes to having productive teams and having employees who feel appreciated.”

Octane Raceway isn’t the only place in the Valley where business leaders can effectively mix business with pleasure and team building. Here are just a few options:

casino-del-solCasino del Sol
In addition to its 18,000-square-foot ballroom that divides into five smaller rooms to allow meeting planners to hold multiple events side-by-side throughout their stay, Casino Del Sol Resort offers its corporate visitors world-class gaming, a Ty Butler- and Notah Begay-designed golf course, scenic hiking trails, mountain bike trails and horseback riding. casinodelsolresort.com

tontoClubhouse at Tonto Verde
The Clubhouse at Tonto Verde offers companies a unique way to recharge after a half-day or full day executive meeting on its 18-hole natural grass putting course, offering a fun alternative event for golfers and non-golfers alike. The Clubhouse at Tonto Verde has customized programs to meet your business needs that include a variety of food and beverage packages. tontoverdeweddings.com

dave-and-bustersDave and Busters
With all the amenities of a hotel plus customized team building options, D&B guests attend an experience, not just a meeting. By-products of a D&B event result in building team cohesion, melting strong personality types and re-energizing your strongest asset – your employees. Now that’s a way to justify your meeting dollars. daveandbusters.com

hardrockHard Rock Cafe Phoenix
The Hard Rock is the perfect venue for parties and special events, large and small. Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, Hard Rock can host a variety of events, from corporate meetings to elegant galas, each with a custom design to fit clients’ specific needs. The venue provides guests with a legendary culinary experience, along with a one-of-a-kind memorabilia collection, giving each event its own built-in vibe. hardrock.com

Hot-AirHot Air Expeditions
Hot air balloon flights and tethered rides are fun and unique activities for meetings and events. Tethered rides are a great addition to an event and balloon flights are perfect for bonding outside of the office and showcasing the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Post-flight gourmet cuisine and optional teambuilding events and activities are available. hotairexpeditions.com

MastroMastro’s
Mastro’s private dining space offers corporate clients an exclusive, fine dining experience in a business-minded atmosphere complete with audio-visual capabilities and high-level service. Options include Mastro’s Steak House, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s City Hall. mastrosrestaurants.com

mimMusical Instrument Museum
MIM offers a stunning and unique setting for events, with world-class service, sumptuous cuisine, magical entertainment, and incomparable musical and cultural exhibits. Displaying more than 5,000 musical instruments and artifacts from around the world, MIM provides a one-of-a-kind event experience for seated dinners, cocktail receptions, corporate meetings, weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, fundraising galas and other special events. mim.org

octaneOctane Raceway
Companies can do a couple races per person with a catered breakfast, lunch or dinner. Off-track activities that can supplement the experience include a rock wall, Phoenix International Raceway Pit Crew Challenge, Segway course and other games. Expect to pay just $30-$60 per person or go all out and do the Octane Olympics for $100 per person. octaneraceway.com

rawhideRawhide Western Town and Steakhouse
at Wild Horse Pass

Rawhide offers companies an opportunity to enjoy a unique memorable experience with a true taste of the Old West. Rawhide can accommodate groups from 20 to 7,500 and has more than 14 different private Western-themed venues so corporate groups can enjoy a unique journey back in time. rawhide.com

stratumStratum Laser Tag & Event Headquarters
Stratum specializes in “meetings with a mission;” out-of-the-box programs with an out-of-the-ordinary and affordable setting. Teams will incorporate their meeting message, team-building effectiveness, entertainment, camaraderie and fun along with upscale food and bar packages, all at a lower cost than a hotel and within a unique setting. stratumhq.com

tpcTPC Scottsdale
TPC offers word-class golf accommodations for all corporate groups. Besides golf, TPC offers post0event function spaces, private meeting spaces and banquet areas that allow for corporate groups to enjoy a round of golf while including business activities. This can include a power point presentation before teeing off or a large post-event function area to entertain clients before or after their round. pgatourtpc.com

wild-horse-passWild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
With 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, Wild Horse Pass offers a great option for memorable meetings, epic events and special celebrations. Its showroom features amazing production possibilities for a general session for up to 1,400 people or a meal for up to 300. The venue also boasts five unique spaces from swanky lounges – including the popular AiRIA Unplugged — to a sports bar. wingilariver.com

Wrigley-MansionWrigley Mansion
The Wrigley Mansion is a breathtaking landmark built in 1932 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. as a 50th anniversary gift to his wife. Now celebrating its 20th year under the Hormel family’s ownership, the Wrigley Mansion offer a historical venue that specializes in meetings, conferences and every milestone celebration from a sit-down event for 20 to 300 to a reception-style event for up to 1,500. wrigleymansionclub.com