Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
For 16 years, I hosted my own retreats several times each year, and they pretty much always sold out. Not only was it a gratifying experience each and every time, but it also was a great income generator. (The combination of passion and profits is a game-changer!)
My list has now grown so much that I no longer offer these more intimate retreats. (My events now attract 200+ people.) Now, I meet many coaches, consultants, trainers and healers who want to host their own retreats.
If this sounds like you, here are some tips — straight from my personal “in-the-trenches” files — for how to plan and host your own retreats.
1 – Build a List of Ideal Clients
It’s one thing to have a great idea for a retreat. But it’s a whole other thing to find people to come!
The great news about retreats is that your list doesn’t have to be huge in order to fill the spaces. Many retreat centers offer options for 10-person retreats.
Still, you need to have a list – whether it’s your client database, or your eZine list – in order to market your retreat.
2 – Name Your Retreat
Give your retreat a name. This grounds your idea with a vision and purpose.
At first, I just called my retreat: “Women’s Retreat.” (Truly exciting, huh? Sign me up!)
When I finally created the name, “The Unstoppable Power of Intention Retreat,” I was much more excited at the prospect of my retreats – and many more women expressed interest!
There is an art to naming anything. Take time with this and have fun!
3 – Decide How Many People You Want at Your Retreat
My retreats had anywhere from 22 – 35 people in them. Many of my clients have offered retreats for as few as 6 people. The choice is yours. What is ideal for you?
4 – Choose a Time-Span for Your Retreat
Retreats can range anywhere from 1 – 9 days. Or longer! If you’re just getting started, I recommend a 3-day format. This makes it easy for your participants to plan, to arrange travel, and doesn’t require too many days off from work. Of course, this is also dependent upon the content you want to deliver.
5 – Choose a Location for Your Retreat
Where do you want to host your retreat?
First, let’s start with region.
I recommend that, at first, you keep your retreat close to home. It’s great to have familiar surroundings and not have to travel far. If you want to consider a more exotic location, it will obviously take a lot more planning on your part.
Next, let’s talk about choosing a retreat center.
If you do a Google search in your area, you may discover that there are a few small retreat centers that provide amazing options. Many of these places are not luxurious – but they do allow for an affordable retreat experience for you as a host – and for your clients!
I recommend that you choose a space that offers lodging and meals. Something special happens to a group of people when they dine and sleep on site – without the distractions of the outer world.
Take time to shop around and explore your options, review your pricing and weigh the pros and cons of each location.
6 – Price Your Retreat
But you must challenge yourself NOT to play small. Low prices can position your retreat as low-value.
Also, do not price your retreat just above the per-person price you’re paying the retreat center. If you have cancellations or any unforeseen costs arise, you’ll be screwed.
I encourage you to stretch yourself. Crunch the numbers and make sure you are making a profit!
Note: If the money and pricing is a little tricky for you – then you need to watch my free training video pronto! It’ll give you the strategies you need to get over this hurdle. Click here immediately to grab your copy.
7 – Outline the Content of Your Retreat
Create a structure or framework that will guide the flow of each day. There’s probably a natural beginning, middle and end you will follow. In each element, map out the activities and teaching that will be included.
The key thing about content is this:
Don’t “over teach.”
Retreats (and events, too!) are meant to get participants to actually experience the work they never get to do at home. This means you have to give them the space to learn and take part in activities.
8 – Commit to a Date for Your Retreat
This is the most important step. Why? Because once you have a date, you’ve committed. It’s happening. You’re going for it! Too many people play the “Ready Aim” game. They never actually fire. In other words, they never commit.
Yes, it can be scary to offer your first retreat – but commitment and decision are half the battle. Choose a date. And start marketing.
Bonus Tip #1: Keep it simple
If you’re just getting started, don’t try to plan a retreat on that Greek island you’ve always wanted to visit. Retreats are about learning and experience. Though adventure can be a component, many times retreat hosts make it harder on themselves by being too aggressive with their early retreat goals.
(HINT: This happens because they fear that they themselves are not “enough” – so they try to superficially make the retreat seem more exciting. Don’t get caught in this trap.)
One of my colleagues was convinced that she had to offer her first retreat at the Ritz Carlton. But the pricing made it so daunting that she never set a date. This is, unfortunately, a typical pattern. This is why you want to keep it simple! Your first retreat may not be impressive, but at least you’ll have done it!
Bonus Tip #2: Allow space
Many years ago, I went to a personal growth retreat that literally exhausted me. The hosts were obviously so frightened of not giving enough content that they dragged the participants around from one activity to the next. We were meditating. Then we were walking through a labyrinth. (But move fast, because our next agenda item is about to start!) Next we were writing down our dreams, partnering in a exercise and onto the next thing…
The best thing about this retreat? It taught me what NOT to do when I was hosting my own retreats!
My retreats had lots of space built into them. Yes, it can be scary to allow space because it feels like you’re not working! But the gift of holding space for your participants IS working. And it provides a great value. Be strong enough to allow for this.
In the comments below, let me know: have you ever considered hosting or leading a retreat? What stops you?
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