Have you ever thought about whether to run a retreat for your business? With yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation retreats becoming popular again since the pandemic, this might seem like an interesting avenue to explore. But is it the right decision for your business?
What do you need to know before committing to hosting a retreat? And once you’ve decided to run a retreat, how do you go about planning your retreat and making it happen?
We invited Jenny Lachs into the LIT Community to discuss everything you need to think about when deciding whether you should run a retreat for your business. If this is something you’ve ever considered, read on to find out all you need to know about hosting retreats!
Jenny is the founder of Digital Nomad Girls, where she runs a free Facebook Group as well as a premium coworking membership, The Lab, both thriving online communities that have supported many female digital nomads on their journeys. Jenny has hosted several retreats over the years and joined us inside the LIT Community to share the expertise she’s gained via these experiences.
In this blog post, we’ll consider the pros, cons, whys, and hows of running a retreat for your business!
What Exactly is a Retreat, Anyway?
Before diving into all things retreats, let’s get specific about what a retreat is. There are many different retreat experiences out there, and it can get a little confusing when you compare them all.
Here is a simple yet clear definition of a retreat:
“A retreat is a type of group getaway in which the members of that group take time to form bonds with one another, contemplate their purpose and motives, and work on one or more specific goals.”
By knowing exactly what we’re talking about, we have a foundation on which to base our decisions about whether to host a retreat for our businesses.
Hosting a Retreat as a Mental Health Professional
As a therapist, you are uniquely positioned to bring your experience and skills to the role of retreat host. For example, you can use your training to lead group activities such as mindfulness, meditation, relaxation techniques, or guided visualisations.
You may also decide to offer 1:1 sessions either inclusive within the price or as an optional add-on, depending on how you’ve designed the retreat and how much time you’ll have. If your retreat is outside of the country you’re licensed in, you may need to adjust the way you work with clients and offer a type of session that would be permitted, such as a coaching or consulting session. We encourage you to check out our previous blog post about how to navigate regulations as a location independent therapist.
You’ll also need to decide if and how you’ll offer 1:1 sessions during the retreat, including how that will fit in with your other activities and if it will affect the group dynamics. But first, there are many other factors to consider before you commit to hosting a retreat!
What To Consider Before Running a Retreat
Running a retreat is a big commitment!
It takes research, planning, organisation, promotion, investment, and then actually being on the ground and making it happen. And while it can bring money into your business, it’s not a given that you will make a lot of money through retreats.
So, think carefully before you decide to offer a retreat. Here are some questions you should consider:
- Why are you running a retreat?
- What is the purpose of the retreat?
- Will you even enjoy running a retreat?
- Will you host it alone or with someone else?
- How does it fit into your business and other services?
Is a retreat right for you (as the business owner)?
Running a retreat isn’t an easy task, and it’s not suited to everyone. For example, if you’re an introvert, need a lot of time to yourself, or prefer to work in a 1:1 setting, a retreat might not be right for you.
Another thing to consider is whether you can take time away from your regular services. Can you afford to re-arrange client sessions for the duration of the retreat? And how much money will you miss out on by not doing your regular work during this period? Will the money you make from the retreat cover this, or could you lose out in the long run?
It’s better to think about these questions beforehand. You might find that you’re perfectly suited to host retreats, and you’re even more excited to make it happen. Or, you might realise it’s not the best fit for you. If that happens early on, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress, time, and effort by taking the time to think it through carefully before diving in.
Is Your Retreat Viable?
The next thing to think about is whether your retreat will be viable. Anything you do for your business needs to make financial sense.
Firstly, how many spots will you offer for your retreat? What are the minimum and maximum attendees? It’s crucial to calculate your break-even number. That means how many people need to attend the retreat to cover your costs and not make a loss on the retreat.
And what is the risk if you don’t sell out or reach your break-even number? If you’ve invested your own money in the retreat, you could be out of pocket if you don’t sell all the spots. What will happen if you don’t sell all the spots and have to cancel the whole retreat (and refund everyone)?
Next, how will you sell your retreat? Do you have an audience or clients who are already interested in the idea of a retreat?
As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you announce you’re hosting a retreat! But by taking the time to consider all the questions, you’ll make a more informed decision. You’ll have a good idea of whether you’ll enjoy running a retreat and if you’ll make money from this venture.
Do Your Research
Now you know what to think about, but how can you determine if your retreat is viable? One of the best ways is to reach out and ask your clients, followers, your email list, or your audience.
Share your idea with them and see what response you get! Are people excited and eager to book already? Or are people unsure about whether the retreat is something they need?
You could create a survey to get some feedback on the initial idea for the retreat. If people show interest, ask them more questions, e.g. about the retreat length, price, location, etc. Get as specific as you can to see if they can afford it and would attend!
Another option is to do some research and see if similar retreats exist. If they do, that’s a good sign! Then, you can look a little closer and see what they offer, their price points, and who they cater to.
How to Design Your Retreat
One of the early questions you should have thought about is, “What is the purpose of your retreat?” By answering this question, you’ll get a much clearer idea of how to design your retreat.
For example, will it be:
- Luxury or low-cost?
- Focused on rest or transformation?
- Active or relaxed?
- A large group or a smaller, intimate setting?
- For a weekend, a week, or longer?
These prompts will help you start to define what your retreat will look like, its purpose, and your target audience. And by knowing this, you’ll find it easier to market and sell your retreat spots.
If you’re sure that a retreat is the right decision for you, here are the next steps you’ll need to think about:
The Group Size
By now, you should know your break-even number – so you know how many people you need to make your retreat viable.
But what is the ideal number for your retreat? For example, how large is too large? You don’t want the retreat to feel too busy and impersonal. As the host, you want to be able to interact with each of the guests on your retreat and get to know them.
However, if it’s too small a group, does it even meet the definition of being a retreat? If there are just four people, it could be too few to create the desired dynamic.
The Date & Location
Next, you’ll need to decide when to host your event and what kind of location you want for your retreat. We’ve grouped these two factors as they are connected.
For example, you might want to avoid hosting a retreat in a hot location during the summer months. Instead, spring or autumn might be better options for that location. The time of year might also affect the venue price and the cost of transport to get there (low season vs. high season).
But you should also consider how accessible the location is. That covers all sorts of accessibility requirements, e.g., does it have an elevator and wheelchair ramps?
And also, on a larger scale, how easy is it to get to? Is it tricky to get to, or can your guests arrive by public transport? And if it’s a remote location, will you organise transport to the site for your guests?
Then, you’ll have to get even more specific and choose the venue for your retreat. Again, ask yourself whether the venue is aligned with your branding, messaging, and the feel of the retreat.
But the next crucial thing to consider is whether it’s fit for purpose. For example, does it have enough bedrooms for your guests? Are there open spaces where you can meet, spend time, cook, and eat together? What would happen if you plan to be outside most of the time – but then it rains?
Think about your retreat, what you’ll need, and whether your chosen venue ticks all the boxes. You might also want to run through some different scenarios and create a backup plan or think through potential issues with the venue. It’s better to be prepared and make sure you’ve covered all the eventualities.
Your Retreat Schedule
One crucial tip Jenny had was to share the schedule with your guests when they arrive – and make it as clear as possible. People want to know what to expect, how their day/week will unfold, and most importantly – when they’ll next get fed!
It’s helpful to give each guest a printed schedule they can refer to whenever they want to know what’s coming up. You can include break times, meals, free time, and anything else your guests should know. That will allow them to plan their time and feel more relaxed instead of worrying about what’s coming next.
When you’re planning your retreat, try to mix it up and keep it fun! You’ll probably have a good idea of what activities your retreat will include, whether that’s yoga, meditation, mindfulness exercises, journaling, nature walks, etc. But don’t always have the same order of activities every day, as that can get boring.
If you’re running a longer retreat, you might want to include a break day in the middle. That will allow people to have some time for themselves to rest, go out on an excursion, or spend time hanging with their new friends!
And a Bonus – Surprises!
A final note Jenny shared was to incorporate a few surprises into your retreat. The aim is to delight your guests with some thoughtful gifts or unexpected additions. These can be simple but can make a big impact and stick in your guests’ memories.
One idea is to create a personalised workbook or journal for each guest. They can use it to take notes or journal during the retreat and keep it as a memento to look back on after the retreat ends. Or you could put together a goody bag of fun gifts, like stickers, badges, and stationery in a branded tote bag they can reuse.
How to Run a Retreat For Your Business – Wrapping Up
Hopefully, by now, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what’s involved in running a retreat and whether it’s a good idea for you and your business.
This is just a peek into the full expert talk that took place in the LIT Community. Jenny shared all these pointers (and a whole lot more) with us inside the LIT Community. She also covered how to market and sell your retreat and host it effectively, plus some bonus tips and lessons she’s learned over the years.
Our LIT Community members can watch the full replay in our Event Replay Library (alongside all our other guest expert talks and Business Meetup discussions). Our members also get access to all our live events, the 24/7 discussion board, and other perks and resources.
If you’d like more support in starting or growing your online business, the LIT Community could be exactly what you need.
And if you’d like to find out more about Jenny or work with her on planning your own retreat, check out her website here!
Now, it’s over to you: Have you ever thought of hosting a retreat for your business? And how do you feel about the idea now? Are you excited and prepared to create your own retreat, or have you decided that it’s not the best fit for you and your business? Let us know in the comments below.