Hosting a yoga retreat is such a fulfilling experience. You get to live your vision, connect with your students, and enrich your life. Of course, it is also a lot of work.
Visualizing is one thing. Organizing and making it happen is quite another! Keyword: organizing. The more you plan, the better it will all turn out. Here at the Yoga Loft, we have extensive experience with retreats. We have hosted so many over the years, and we have seen it all. The successful and unsuccessful. The inspired and the not-so-inspired.
There are quite a few things that retreat leaders share with us after their retreat is over. And there are 5 things they all say they wish they knew before their first retreat. Would you like to know what they are? Read on to find out.
5 things I wish I had known before I Hosted My First Retreat
Here they are:
1. Start planning and marketing at least six months in advance. This can’t be emphasized enough! Planning a retreat is about designing an experience to its final detail. Every decision goes through you and the sooner you start, the better equipped you will be to make the right decisions. Tasks like booking the venue and your flights need to happen well in advance. And the same goes for marketing. The sooner you start sending out your invitations, the better. Your students need time to decide and commit, and sometimes nurturing the relationship with them may take even longer than six months. Your email list, for example, will be a valuable asset and a never-ending project in itself.
2. People will have questions, so be prepared for FAQs. People always have questions, and if they are considering spending money, they have even more. Coming to your retreat is an investment for them, both a monetary and an emotional one. They need to ensure that the experience will be suitable and valuable. Even if they are old students of yours, they will want to check out the details of the accommodation, the schedule, the flights, anything really. And be prepared to answer questions about the food! Perhaps you should consider adding a FAQ section on your website to make it easier for them to find the answers, or at least some of them.
3. Don’t underestimate the sales process. This is really important, and has nothing to do with sales tactics or anything like that. The sales process for your retreat is all about your relationship with your students and about showing them that you really care about them. They need to feel that you value them, that you appreciate their needs, and that you want each and every one of them to be a member of your retreat tribe. Moreover, make a point of getting in touch with people who had shown an interest but haven’t booked yet. Show that you truly care about them and offer a solution whenever possible. For example, if it’s a lack of money, you can agree on a payment plan or they can assist during the retreat in exchange for a discount. Create a personal connection and show your genuine interest in each and every one of them.
4. After the retreat is before the retreat. That is to say that as soon as your retreat ends, you can start planning the next one. Nurture your attendees and promote your connection with them. They are in a unique position to offer valuable feedback that can help you identify areas for improvement and new ideas. If you ask, they might tell you what they liked and didn’t like about the way you planned the retreat, the accommodation, the location, the traveling arrangements, even the nights out and the meals. Write everything down to remember it for next time. Little details can make all the difference. And don’t forget that after the retreat, you must collect testimonials that can help you promote your next one, whenever that may be. Testimonials are a priceless asset that can help you immensely in your career. Make sure to add them to your website, so that you can verify your experience and your connection with your students.
5. Make time for yourself during the retreat. Last but not least comes the tip about self-care. You want your retreat to be successful, and you want all your students to go home happy, fulfilled, and excited about their time with you. We understand. However, only when you’re rested, calm, and centered will you be able to really reach them and respond to their needs. One way to ensure that things run smoothly and you have some time for yourself is to work with an experienced provider that can take away some of the organizational burdens. For example, here at The Yoga Loft, we provide a full service to retreat leaders and we take care of meals, transportation, and excursions. That really helps, but still, if it’s your first retreat, make sure to plan some free time for your students, which will mean some free time for you, too. You can use this time to meditate, journal, and cultivate the connection with yourself and your original vision. Your students are there for you, the best version of you. They came for the calm and insightful teacher that can really connect with them and provide added value to each and every yoga class.
That’s it then! Now you know the 5 things experienced yogis wish they knew before they organized their first retreat. Keep them in mind when you start planning and you will definitely find it easier to address every challenge and enjoy the process. Don’t forget that organizing the experience is just as valuable a life lesson as the retreat itself. The journey is in some ways even more important than the destination.