Listing on the right marketplace can give retreat leaders and organizers the perfect opportunity to sell out their retreats. Because the platforms attract an audience who intend to buy, they get a great deal more eyes on your trip.
Like any sales channel, marketplaces call for a strategic approach to maximize the opportunity. You need to know how to differentiate your retreat and make it stand out to the customers you want to attract.
To help our community move forward with intention and sell out retreats via marketplaces, we connected with Christina Papavlasopoulos, travel innovator and co-founder of Myths + Muses and SheFari.
Myths + Muses is a boutique specialist geared towards group and leisure trips in Greece. SheFari connects women with luxury all-female travel and is the first-ever marketplace for women’s trips and retreats.
Christina loves creating and marketing unique retreats that bring people together while using the magic of the destination to further the transformation.
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
How To Sell Out Your Retreats Via Marketplaces
1. Be Selective When Choosing Your Marketplace
Keri: Everyone wants to sell out their retreats. So, how can organizers benefit from listing their retreats in a marketplace, especially if they haven’t done it before?
Christina: I would say the biggest thing is to be selective.
The old adage says not to put all your eggs in one basket. You also don’t have enough eggs for all the baskets, right? You’re creating content. You’re trying to build this trip as well. Spending your time putting your retreats on every single marketplace would be a big waste.
Instead, do your due diligence. Focus on platforms that really match your brand and your audience.
It’s quality over quantity, in my opinion.
Depending on how big or how small your retreat is, you only need, say, from six to twenty people in the whole world to take your trip. So, if you work on your own audience and then bring some in from the marketplace, I think it’s very feasible to fill out and maximize your trip and profitability.
Keri: Do you have any tips to help people to choose the right marketplace for them?
Christina: In general, I would be cautious of paid listings or advertising. With sales, I like a commission-based approach. SheFari works like that-if we get the job done, we get paid a percent commission.
And I think that’s how most marketplaces work. You just need to understand the commission they’re taking.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to dig in and ask questions about who their audience is to find out if it’s a good fit for you.
2. Narrow Down Your Options By Asking The Right Questions
Keri: That’s a great segue to my next point. What kind of questions do you think teachers, companies, or studios should be asking the marketplace before they decide to put their retreat on it?
Christina: One of the most important elements is to understand how payments are handled. For example, who collects the deposits, when will the money be paid out, and so on?
You also need to know about the commission percentages, pricing, and additional transaction fees involved. This is so that you can have some foresight as you’re planning your trip and about to price it.
A good marketplace will have someone in customer service that you can talk to. Some of the bigger platforms might be chat and text only. But I personally like to connect and have a call to say, hey, this is how we work.
Getting on the phone means I can figure out what I can offer to the retreat leaders. They, in turn, can ask me their questions.
I think it’s also essential to understand how the platform markets your retreats.
How are they actively getting people to visit their site? Who is their audience, what are their demographics?
3. Support Your Decision-Making With Data
Keri: Are there specific KPIs, for example, average monthly viewers, that organizers should pick out?
Christina: With both social media and newsletter reach, I’m less concerned with numbers and visitors but more about an engaged audience.
As I mentioned before, it’s a small number of spots that you have to fill. So, I think it’s more important to have the right kind of viewer than a large number of them in my personal opinion.
And I would suggest, be resourceful. We, as websites and as marketplaces, have data and insight that could help you gain some valuable ideas and sell your trip that much more easily.
Ask them, what kinds of trips sell the best?
See if they have any tips or insight on their audience that can help you. They might be able to suggest keywords or show you which listings are doing the best.
4. Ensure Your Marketplace Listing Stands Out – Be Different and Be Specific
Keri: What can make someone’s retreat stand out over others on a marketplace? Do you have any tips?
Christina: I like to advise people to be different and be specific.
I think, in general, with delivering a travel experience or any kind of experience, managing expectations is really critical.
Yes, at the end of the day, we want to make the sale. But it’s going to be better for your marketing and positive word of mouth if someone walks away saying your retreat was the perfect fit, rather than ‘that wasn’t really what I thought it was going to be.’
Then, I would say people often don’t show why they’re different. Make sure that whatever you are focusing on, whether it’s a yoga retreat or trauma, stands out on your listing.
Look at your inclusions, your approach, or the cool activities on offer. Let people know whether it’s luxurious or more authentic. Get into the nitty-gritty. Have a unique voice and use your description to really build out that experience.
One of my favorite marketing gurus is Marie Forleo. She says, if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. So, at SheFari, we went loud and proud with female-only luxury, and it works.
We do have some different price points, so we try to say this retreat is okay for this kind of person; it wouldn’t be a great fit for this kind of person. And I feel like that kind of specificity will get people to book it.
I think sometimes I can’t really connect to a trip if I don’t know why it’s different from all the others. It’s not the kind of yoga I want to know about; more, what are the teachers like? What will the people be like, that sort of thing?
And always speak from the standpoint of what you’re solving for the client. Use customer-centric language. So don’t say ‘the retreat will include this.’ Instead, say ‘the retreat is all about this. If you’re struggling with this, this trip is perfect for you.’
5. Use Great Photos and Visuals In Your Listing
Keri: That’s so true. I’m curious; when people scroll through marketplaces, do you think photos have a big impact and catch their attention?
Christina: Oh, absolutely.
You want to use images that are as authentic as possible.
So, if you haven’t had your retreat in Greece yet, you won’t have images of a past trip you’ve run. Ask a travel partner, like us, or your retreat center for some good photos to use.
Also, find some general images of the destination, something that builds the vibe.
Use photographs from other retreats you’ve run that are more detailed on what the people will be doing.
You can even ask the tourism boards of the destination you are going to. A lot of them will give you access to some imagery as well as you’re pushing their destination.
Photography tells a huge story. Along with letting people know what will be unique about your retreat, it will help sell it.
6. Meet People Where They Are Right Now
Keri: Awesome, thanks for all the tips! Do you have any other last-minute advice that you want to give on this topic or travel in general?
Christina: You know, with the year that we’ve had and coming off COVID, it’s really important to be mindful of meeting people where they are right now and incorporate post-COVID considerations into your trip.
Your job is to build confidence right now and think about what your retreat goers are seeking in their lives. They may want relaxation, transformation-all the good things that you’re about to offer.
It’s really great to ask the audience what they’re looking for as you’re building your retreat. What places do they want to visit, or where do they feel comfortable going?
I also think it’s crucial to be patient and flexible in these times. So, if, as a retreat leader, the travel sphere is not where you’re comfortable, and you don’t directly offer travel support, find a good partner who does. Whether it’s a DMC, like us in Greece, or someone who will help you with your flights.
You might think, oh, the flights aren’t related to me.
But, if a client gets hung up in a destination because they didn’t have the right paperwork or missed their connection, and they’re unable to attend your retreat, that affects you.
It affects their whole experience, and they’ll talk about their experience. You want the trip to be as smooth as possible and for everybody to come and enjoy it.
So, go a little bit beyond just the retreat. Know what’s required for your destination and any connections along the way. And make sure your retreat-goers and travelers know what they’re going to need as they come along.
The world of travel and the world of retreats are changing; there are still a ton of great opportunities to serve and do something really great in your trips. By understanding what people are comfortable with, you’re going to have that much more of an advantage selling them.
We can’t thank Christina enough for sharing her valuable advice with us.
Get in touch with the team at Myths + Muses if you’re looking for destination experts in Greece. They’ll take care of a huge chunk of the trip logistics and use their local knowledge to help you plan and host an amazing retreat in a stunning destination.
Shefari is rebooting with new trips and new things for this year. They’re always looking for unique women’s trips and remarkable women’s retreats to feature in their curated marketplace. You can reach out to Christina to find out more.