6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Retreat

June 28, 2017
Jen Corley
4 min read

There are some awesome perks to being a retreat leader, like getting paid to travel and do what you love. But it’s not without hard work and learning from your mistakes along the way!

Planning a retreat involves a lot of organization and decision-making. You need to think about the location, who your target customers are, what price to set, and the retreat program itself. You’re bound to make some mistakes or wish you had done something a little differently, especially when you’re just starting out.

So what are some of the top mistakes that retreat leaders can make, and how can you avoid them?

What Are The Key Elements of Planning Successful Retreats?

Timeline planning Selecting your venue  Itinerary & program design  Sustainability considerations  Marketing  Financials & profitability  Legal forms & liabilities  Insurance


Running a retreat too soon

There are a lot of things to know before you plan your first retreat. Are you ready to be a retreat leader? It’s a great idea to attend other retreats and speak with retreat leaders about the ins and outs of running a retreat.

It’s also worth considering your yoga community and any interest you might have from your regular students. Speak to your students and see if they would be interested in going on retreat, what their thoughts are on location, price, length etc.

If you want to start on a smaller scale, consider a day retreat in your area, or a weekend retreat close by, before you leap into planning a retreat abroad.

planning a retreat

Not having a plan on HOW to plan the retreat

Save yourself the headache of realizing halfway through your planning that you’ve completely forgotten some crucial detail, or forgetting it altogether, and set out a plan for your planning.

Before you even start thinking about the details, work out everything you’ll need to organize for the retreat, and break down the steps for each thing. For example, when you’re choosing a location, what things do you need to consider? When you’re pricing your retreat, what elements are you considering?

planning a retreat

Not marketing enough

Planning a retreat might not be the easiest task, but it’s getting it out there and attracting customers that make it difficult. You could have the most amazing retreat planned, but how will people know about it?

Firstly, make sure when you’re planning the retreat you’re thinking about your potential customers and what they would like, this will help in crafting a retreat that your target audience want to go on. Next, think about how you can make your retreat stand out from the crowd. Do you have a theme, an intention, is it an active travel retreat or yoga retreat with a difference?

Think carefully about how to market your retreat. Craft your descriptions carefully, get on social media, and utilize online platforms like WeTravel to help with marketing and retreat administration.

planning a retreat

Planning too much or too little in the retreat program

You might have the perfect retreat location, the best price, and have filled all of your spaces, but if you don’t have a retreat program to back that all up, then you’re not likely to lead a successful retreat.

If you don’t have enough activities then people may wonder why they paid so much for a vacation they could plan and execute themselves. If you have too much planned then there’s no down time for people to relax and enjoy themselves.

Plan a balance between the focus of the retreat (yoga, running, surfing, etc), optional activities, and free time for attendees to do as they please.

While offering private lessons during a retreat is a great idea, be careful about overcommitting yourself to workshops and teaching. It can be overwhelming and mean you don’t enjoy yourself at the retreat either, which might rub off on the students.

planning a retreat

Thinking it’s a vacation

Being a successful retreat leader requires being on 24/7, it’s not a vacation! You always need to be ready to deal with any issues that come up. Consider having someone who helps you with administrative tasks, and be clear with the retreat center about what issues you can handle and what they can do to support the retreat.

planning a retreat

Forgetting why you wanted to do this in the first place

Don’t let yourself get so caught up in planning a retreat that you get so stressed out that you don’t enjoy the process anymore. It’s important to always keep your “why” in mind, and even to write them down before you start and place them somewhere you’ll see them regularly! Starting your retreat already feeling deflated or burnt out by the planning process is no way to go. Remember to take a deep breathe and relax, and reach out when you need help.

planning a retreat

Planning a retreat and running a successful retreat is a hugely rewarding experience and one that’s entirely within your reach. There’s no way to guarantee that everything is going to go to plan, but if you avoid these six common retreat planning mistakes, then you’re already well on your way! Check out our Retreat Leader Resources for more help in planning your dream retreat.