Recently Jen Corley, our Director of Development and Wellness spoke to Cortney Love, a specialist in designing transformational retreats. Below are some of the awesome tips that came out of their conversation!
If you want to listen to the conversation yourself, then click here!
How being targeted and niched can help you sell out your retreat
Wellness is more important than ever and as a result, the retreat space has exploded in recent years. There are so many retreats out there now and it’s popular for retreat leaders to seek exotic destinations that they feel will enhance their attendees experience. However, a destination-centred retreat may not be the best way to make your retreat unique and stand out from the crowd. While the location is important and should speak to the retreat leader, what’s most important in planning a retreat is a program that will really immerse your attendees and speak to their needs.
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
WHY do you as a retreat leader want to host a retreat? Think with a long-term approach; how does it fit into your career, your teaching, how will it benefit your students and you? When you’re retreat planning you should mediate on and journal about these questions (and more!).
It’s a common mistake to try and make a retreat that appeals to a broad audience, for fear of not filling spots. However, as the retreat space continues to become more saturated, this will make it harder to really stand out. Think about a targeted audience, but one that can still be broad. For example, stressed out office workers, people who want to combine a retreats with some form of art like dancing, artistic pursuits etc. While this may seem specific it’s actually quite a wide group of people, and it can help you to sell more spaces when people feel like a retreat has been made just for them.
That’s not to say that you can’t start a little broader, simpler and shorter when you’re just beginning as a retreat leader to gain some confidence. However, if you want to continue to host retreats and really make it part of your career and living, you should be thinking about a long-term plan and how you can become niche and stand out.
Some specific strategies for marketing
Retreat marketing is like an art-form, different approaches work well for different leaders and different retreats. But generally, you can try to appeal to some different crowds. For example, an Early Bird program that applies to the first X number of people that register will appeal to people looking to save money and push them into signing up.
For other’s they may be more encouraged to sign up once they see that other people have, so they may feel more comfortable if you have sign-up with a friend program, or being able to see how many people have signed up to the retreat.
If you’re getting closer to the retreat and worried about spaces not being filled than you can try and push the retreat, however, be careful with using discounts or extra incentives can make early sign-ups feel left out or a little discouraged as they have missed out on those benefits. Consider some more traditional methods like flyers, going to studios to share about the retreat, organising a coffee meet-up, and spreading the word amongst friends and contacts.
Key tech tools for managing your business and retreat
If you’re starting out with tools, there’s a lot out there! Start with a mailing list since this is direct contact with your customers. Operators like MailChimp and ConvertKit can help you with setting up and managing your list.
Social Media can take a lot of time but it can also provide great results. Choose a couple of channels and be consistent with what you’re doing. Think similar styles and times to post. You can also schedule a lot of Social Media which can help you a lot if you don’t want to constantly have to worry about it!
If you don’t have a website for your retreat business yet then it’s actually fairly simple to set up but can help to show your brand and it’s something people do look for. When it comes to your domain name, make sure you think about the long run and don’t lock yourself in with a name!
When you’re selling retreats then taking payments can be another tech thing you need to master. Be wary of fees when you’re choosing who to sign up with and research all of the features and conditions available. WeTravel have a cost-effective payment gateway aimed at the travel and retreat sphere that can help you to effectively sell your retreats with little cost to you.
Planning a retreat can be overwhelming, so set yourself weekly tasks. Stay organised and consistent with what you’re doing and you’ll get there! Something you may not realise that will take up your time is retreat admin. Make sure you’ve built the time this will take into your fees when you’re pricing your retreat.
Creating a unique retreat may seem like a little extra work than your usual retreat, but if you really know why you’re leading the retreat, found a niche, and have thought about the benefits to your attendees, then you’ll reap the rewards of all your work!