Objective ’Away Days’ (trial promotion and training events for trial site personnel) are a well-established method used by trialists to encourage engagement of research sites in the recruitment of patients to multi-centre randomised controlled trials (RCTs). We explored the use of Away Days in multi-centre RCTs and analysed the effect on patient recruitment in a case study. Methods Members of the United Kingdom Trial Managers’ Network were surveyed in June 2013 to investigate their experiences in the design and conduct of Away Days in RCTs. We used data from a multi-centre pragmatic surgical trial to explore the effects of an Away Day on the screening and recruitment of patients. Results A total of 94 people responded to the survey. The majority (78%), who confirmed had organised an Away Day previously, found them to be useful. This is despite their costs.. There was no evidence, however, from the analysis of data from a surgical trial that attendance at an Away Day increased the number of patients screened or recruited at participating sites. Conclusions Although those responsible for managing RCTs in the UK tend to believe that trial Away Days are beneficial, evidence from a multi-centre surgical trial shows no improvement on a key indicator of trial success. This points to the need to carefully consider the aims, design and conduct of Away Days. Further more rigorous research nested within RCTs would be valuable to evaluate the design and conduct of Away Days.