Planning a retreat or workshop is no small undertaking. It takes time to dream up the idea, think about your retreat concept and what you would like to teach. Then there is the research for the perfect location, looking at hotels, resorts and retreat center and comparing rates and signing and negotiating contracts with travel companies. The dreaded budget and pricing takes time to get together all expenses. Once the prep is done you will need to switch gears to focus your marketing in order to sell your retreat . Then there are the travel details. Booking your participants, making sure everyone is aware of all travel restrictions and requirements, and all of this while you are working on what to teach and your day to day business.
The key is to do all the above in an organized way and right order. In this blog post TraWell will give you a glimpse of what each planning phase entails.
To start with, we divide each retreat plan into phases. Each phase has its own checklist and we work our way through each step to make sure we are not missing a step or a deadline.
Phase 1: Brainstorming
During this phase you will visualize your retreat and see how it is coming to life. Think about your Ws. This should be the very first step to your retreat planning and typically takes place 18-12 months prior to your retreat. Feel free to download our FREE Retreat Brainstorming Worksheets to help you make sense of it all.
Why: Why do you want to plan this retreat? Why is it important you?
What: What do you want to accomplish on this retreat? What do you want people to take away and what can you teach? What is your profit goal/how much money do you want to make from this?
Where: Where would you like to be? Can you see your retreat in a beach location or the mountains? Close by or in a far away exotic location? Do you have your eye on a hotel or resort already or are you looking for a villa?
Who: Who would benefit from your retreat. Envision your ideal client and why this client needs to join you. Also are you thinking of planning and managing this all by yourself or are you looking to get help on board?
When: Take a look at seasons. Do you want to go somewhere warm (take a look at seasons such as peak seasons, hurricane seasons etc.) or maybe enjoy fall colors. Is everyone traveling to this location. What is the cost of airfare at around this time?
Phase 2: Planning
During this phase rubber is hitting the road. You have visualized and dreamed up your ideal retreat. Now it is time to put a plan behind your dream. You will enter this paste right after your brainstorming and committing to your retreat. 12 - 9 months prior to your retreat in a good time frame. During this phase you are looking at specific areas of your retreat:
Location: Once you chose the ideal location that is complementing the theme and goal of your retreat you can start hotel, resort or villa shopping. This will take a bit of research. reaching out to get quotes and request groups contracts. Keep an eye on the airfare which of course is constantly changing but at least you have a ball park. Research what activities and tours are available at your chosen location which you will need later on for your Day by Day schedule and itinerary. Once you have chosen your location and hotel and have signed your groups contract to lock in the rates you can move on to your budget.
Day by Day Itinerary: Your Day by Day Itinerary and schedule will determine what exactly you will do when during your retreat. It should include meal times with buffer, free time to process the events for your participants as well as classes and activities. Schedule out your day hour by hour so that your participants get a good idea what the pace will be and you can build anticipation for the retreat.
Timeline: Your timeline combined with checklists will be crucial to keep you on track and ensure you do not miss a step along the way. There is nothing worse than a “ahh I was supposed to start marketing that retreat last month” moment. Your retreat date on a calendar after you signed your groups contract with your retreat location and work backwards from there. Go step by step through each of our listed phases and create a checklist of what needs to be done. you can reach out to us for help on this one too. We love timelines and checklists!
Budget: The Budget is a really important one. Take your time with this and be very thorough. We use a spreadsheet with formulas to calculate the budget and determine the cost. The formula is easy: ALL of your expenses / number of participants = cost of your retreat per person.
List ALL of your expenses in one column and then divide the total by your participant number. Tip: cushion that number a bit. If you want 15 people to join but only end up with 10, you want to make sure you are not losing money. And when we say ALL of your expenses we mean it. Include your travel expenses, what you want to charge for what you are teaching, roaming, airport parking, weekly coffee shop meeting to get stuff done… you name it. Add it!
Phase 3: Sales and Marketing
This phase kicks in as soon as you have all the details from phase two, typically starting 9 months prior to event all the way until after the trip.
You have done the planning and organizational work. It is time to tell the world about your super cool retreat. Sales and Marketing is typically a phase people do not enjoy so much but it doesn’t have to be like that. Instead of feeling that you are annoying people with your social media posts and marketing tactics think about the impact this retreat will have on the right client. Tell your audience what problem you will solve and why it will change their lives.
The first step here is to prepare a sales page that leaves anyone looking at it wanting to book right away.
It is a good idea to prepare a social media campaign and marketing plan to successfully sell out your retreat. Use a combination of social media campaigns educational marketing and in person (if possible) marketing. Lay out all tactics and timing on a calendar. Take some time to pre make and pre schedule posts so you don’t have to do this every day.
Use very specific social media posts about the theme of the retreat and how much easier life will be for anyone attending. Showcase the magnificent beauty of the location with pictures and video. Let people know what problem you are solving with your event and why it will change their lives to join you. And do not forget to add a call of action everywhere. The goal is for your clients to book this!
Phase 4: Travel Management
The travel management phase overlaps a bit with Phase 3. Ideally you start selling the retreat all the while marketing it. Bookings typically come in about 9 months prior to the retreat all the way until close to departure. During this phase you will receive calls and emails from people who have seen you marketing tactics and have heard about what you are doing. They will have questions regarding location and the retreat themselves before they actually book. Once they committed to joining you need to be super organized. Take all traveler details exactly as shown on travel documents (passport) to avoid issues in travel. You will confirm this clients with you room block and arrange transportation to the retreat. Book travel insurance and possibly airfare. You will take payment from this client and will have to make payment to the travel supplier to confirm space. Send the confirmed client a receipt and detailed travel itinerary with all travel times, confirmed room category, pricing details, special requests, dairy restrictions etc. Keep an eye on potential flight time changes or cancelation. Make sure to communicate the cancellation fees very clearly! There will be a time when paid money becomes non refundable and you must let the client know when that is!
It is very very important to capture everyone's details in an excel spreadsheet to have all details handy. Keep your booked and confirmed client in the loop with your retreat marketing and communication build anticipation and not get any buyers regrets and cancellations.
Phase 5: The Retreat
During this phase all your hard work will come to fruition. You will be traveling to your retreat location, welcoming your participants and enjoy the retreat and all its fabulous activities. We highly recommend to arrive a couple of days prior to retreat begin. This will give you a breather and time to make sure everything is set up in a way that you need it for your group. You will be there before your participants arrive s that you can greet them and settle them in. The first day is typically arrival day followed by a welcome reception in the evening before the itinerary kicks in the next day. Similar to arrival, we do recommend for you to stay behind a day or two just so you can let the event settle and start working on your post retreat phase before heading home where life will happen right away after being away for a few days.
Phase 6: Post Retreat Work
Now that you successfully held your retreat, the money earning potential should not be over. It is now time for trip follow up, surveys and to pitch your program that follows the retreat. This could be a monthly membership, or group consultation or online course that helps your retreat participants to continue their growth journey. Be sure all of them are on your mailing list, follow you on social media and you stay in touch with them.
Post retreat work also mean to get paid for your retreat work. Be sure you check in to see how you have done with expenses and what you could do better next time. And speaking of next time. Be sure to start planning your next retreat as soon as you get back home!
We hope this gave you a good overview of the job ahead. Please feel free to reach out to the TraWell Team for more information or to chat about ways we can help you make this process a bit easier.