Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone?

They’re given a few guidelines on what to pack and told when to meet at the airport. But they have no idea where they’re going.

Such is the deal for Brogan & Partners staffers before their annual “mystery trip”—a vacation paid for by the agency to boost morale. Remarkably, they’re still happening in these penny-pinching times.

Having hit London, San Francisco and the Caribbean, staffers were whisked off to San Antonio recently for four days, returning in cowboy hats and clutching “Day of the Dead” skeleton art. About 60 people from the Detroit and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., offices made the trip, which included visits to the Alamo and the famous River Walk.

The trips are “one of the most effective ways we’ve found to build a close-knit team,” says Marcie Brogan, agency principal and founder. The only problem the agency has encountered was having to hightail it out of New Orleans a few years back as a hurricane approached. “That trip ended up costing more than London,” Brogan says.

Brogan kept employees guessing about the destination this year, even planting fake travel itineraries in the fax machine. Most staffers were guessing Las Vegas or Miami.

Brogan hadn’t been to San Antonio and was a little nervous about whether it would be fun. But she was pleasantly surprised by the nation’s seventh-largest city. “It was nice to see the camaraderie between the two offices develop,” she says. “And no one ended up in the river, so I guess it went well.”