Is it really possible that you could bring together the best clients, share your biggest passion in a beautiful destination, and get paid for it?
Yes, it absolutely is.
And as a life coach, you are in the perfect position to create and host your own retreat and make great money at the same time.
I hosted my first retreat back in 2013, and since then I‘ve held several in upscale Bali resorts, on Sydney Harbour overlooking the Opera House, and at a high-end health retreat in Hunter Valley.
And some of which I’d love to share with you in this episode.
Picture this: It’s nearly 9 am and an eager group of women enter the light-filled room, journal in hand, and take their seats – ready to soak up the opportunity to come together with others on the same journey.
Those who value improving themselves, contributing more, and upskilling to make a bigger impact.
They’ve invested a significant amount of money, time, and energy to make it here and have a lot of energy, excitement, anticipation, and expectation around what they will experience on the retreat.
Now more than ever after all feeling the pinch of isolation, the immersive quality of a retreat creates change and builds bonds that are hard to create with any other coaching offer.
But how do you know if running a retreat is right for you?
And how do you get started?
If you’re already clear on your offer and the outcomes you create, a retreat is a great way to fast-track results but also create the power of community around your coaching.
You don’t need to try and squeeze everything you know into a retreat, the gift of it is in the space and connection it creates.
And you don’t need to wait until you have a certain number of years of coaching experience to get in and host one, you just need to be clear in wanting to create and nurture a connected experience and lead participants on their journey to transformation.
And although it seems like such a juicy offer to make, it’s certainly not for everyone.
There are also many things you need to factor in to protect against an unmitigated disaster.
I’ve had potential clients come to me having hosted retreats that have ended up costing them thousands and others who are committed introverts who have wanted to bring people together (and make great money), but they underestimate the energy in-person events can take.
Fair warning: it’s not for the faint-hearted.
And those expectations are real, particularly if you charge what you need to in order to make them worthwhile.
And that brings me to the common mistakes most coaches make when they are looking to host a retreat.
Here are the top 4 mistakes coaches make when it comes to retreats:
You want to make sure you can cover all your expenses and get paid for your time, energy, and travel too.
But then you also need to price it to sell.
One of the biggest factors will be how you plan to get people to say yes, and if it’s on a sales page, it will likely need to be a lower amount than you can sell on a one-to-one conversation.
I recommend that you need to charge at least $5000 per person.
2. Managing Expectations
And there are a lot of them!
From dietary requirements, a desire to tread their own path, or just try and take over altogether, managing your participants can be hard work.
I have had people who don’t want to come on the surfing trip you pre-paid for them…
Panic attacks at the day spa due to thunderstorms…
THAT person that everyone cannot stand who soaks up all the atmosphere and then moves to drain it from everyone else for the rest of the time.
You need to either have an assistant on deck or step into your role as Julie the Cruise Director from the Love Boat.
3. Retreat Logistics
WARNING: This mistake alone can take up a ton of your time.
Finding the right venue that gives you a connection without being in the same house is advisable.
Even the most dedicated extrovert needs some alone time during a retreat, so you want to make sure this is possible.
I have usually chosen to hold retreats where everyone has their own hotel or villa room, or even books their own accommodation nearby.
Don’t skip the detailed agenda, even if it is just to build in free time. Retreat members can be like small children… they love the security of knowing what is going to happen at all times.
BUT do not give them too much detail so you can read the room and be flexible, so give them blocks of time with categories rather than exact details.
Another way to take the load off you is to get other speakers or experiences to have downtime.
4. Expense Blowouts
Many venues require deposits and spend minimums, and the catch is that you need to have the venue booked before you know how many people are definitely booked in.
And that can mean a deposit is required before you even know you’re viable.
So, finding a venue that gives the luxe experience without the financial risk is a bit of a balancing act.
Bali is great for this as there is plenty of luxe accommodation that isn’t ridiculously expensive.
I found this super cool villa which is perfect for an 8-person retreat if your peeps twin-share.
For larger groups, we have also used the W hotel which is super luxe and very cool, but a little more on the pricey side.
Don’t forget you can always opt to get people to add their own accommodation and exclude it from the retreat price completely and that may suit some of the more budget-conscious.
Including alcohol can also be a significant expense, so keep time limits and other factors in mind so you’re not hit with a huge bill that you didn’t budget for.
I have been on a retreat for Marie Forleo’s mastermind where she didn’t allow alcohol (but I tend to think they may have been for budget reasons too), and Denise and I also hosted a retreat at a health retreat where there was no alcohol.
(Great for the budget, but not so good for the 3-day detox fallout)
It’s easy to get carried away with dreams of palm trees swaying in the wind… but this is a business decision NOT a vacation.
Decide if you’d like to co-host the retreat with others. This can be a great opportunity to tap into a larger community, but also means you’ll be splitting the profit.
I’ve hosted retreats with my friends Denise Duffield-Thomas and Jody Jelas, and this has worked really well, but definitely reduced profit (but balanced out by more fun!).
So lead with profit first, and get clear on upfront costs and how many people you need to make it profitable.
Think about how you can translate your brand, your personality, and the outcomes you want for your clients into an all-encompassing experience.
How do you want people to feel, what is the vibe, what touches can you add to reinforce the transformation you offer.
Map out the days and evenings… interactions, resources, and provisions.
Take the best parts of what you’ve liked about other retreats, events, and workshops you’ve been to and integrate them into your own custom experience.
Think about the ideal length of time you need to get the outcomes you promise and one that will enable you to protect your energy.
Running live retreats is all-consuming and it can be a big drain on your energy, holding space for others’ transformation.
I wouldn’t advise any longer than 3-5 days, and only more than 3 days if you are building in more leisure activities.
I think that smaller retreats at higher prices work best because they are easier to make profitable, even if you have a small list, and also allow for a more intimate experience for bigger breakthroughs. Shoot for 5-8 people at $5K each for best results.
Want to know more about hosting your first retreat? Take a look at my post here.
Want to come and join me for more free training, head on over to my Facebook Group.
Here’s a cool video that shows the villa I loved in Bali and one of my cool retreat guests, Britt >>