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How To Run A Retreat For Big Results & Profit

August 29, 2016

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I'm Victoria!

I show life coaches how to master their marketing and take control of their own success by creating a meaningful message that attracts more clients and makes more money.


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You probably get much better outcomes working in-person with clients…

The opportunity for connection, big knowledge transfers and positive outcomes is so much bigger when you can be in the same room sharing your best stuff.

Your clients will feel more supported and there is much more capacity to fast-track results when you can look over their shoulder and create an experience that is ripe for transformation.

If you’ve already thought about hosting a workshop or retreat, but don’t know where to start, I want to break down some tips for you.

Get this right and you can have an amazing and profitable experience.

Get it wrong and find yourself giving your time away for free and even at the risk of plugging some serious losses if you don’t plan and price right.

Of course the thought of combining business and pleasure is pretty seductive, but make a few wrong turns and this great business idea can turn into a disaster FAST.

Plan For Profit

Even if your biggest goal is to create an amazing environment for transformation, you also want to make a healthy profit.

It’s vital that you know your numbers from the outset.

My advice is to start small and make it an intimate and premium experience.

When you create a high-end experience and give more of your time to create amazing outcomes, it puts less pressure on you to bring in big numbers.

I’ve heard some absolute horror stories of making big commitments to venue costs before selling a ticket and then having to cancel and forfeit big deposits.

One of my past clients had already committed $20,000 (before she started working with me), and hadn’t sold ONE ticket 6 weeks out (mainly because her heart wasn’t really in it). When she finally cancelled she lost a big chunk of cash.

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.

Imagine The Experience

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 which 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 other’s 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 for best results.

Decide On Your Big Promise

What’s going to set this event apart from other choices your clients could make? 

What’s the big reason they need to invest?

You can hold a retreat around any topic, it’s not just a personal development thing.

I’ve run at least six retreats that focus on business growth, and although personal breakthroughs inevitable come up, the key outcome is creating clarity and focus as well as a solid plan for business growth.

For best results, take the essence of your best work and distill it down into a compelling promise that your best prospects can’t help but say yes to.

I’ve seen some retreats that focus more on DOING the work at the retreat, and others that are more about space for reflection and planning, or a combination of both. 

The good news is, that this is YOUR baby. So you get to decide the promise and the content.

Do your research and ask some potential clients, but ultimately make the call based on your passion and what has sold well in the past.

It can be dangerous making decisions based solely on your tribe…

I created a Bali retreat earlier in the year for advanced 6-figure plus marketers, as this is what some members of my tribe had specifically asked for. 

Yet when I offered it, it was much harder to fill than I expected, and it would have been easier and way more profitable had I stuck to my original intention of opening it to everyone.

We’re always drawn to a common cause, a movement, learning a new skill or creating a new way of being, so remember that when crafting your retreat promise.

 Think also about how your promise links to your philosophy and talents… as well as the likeminded people you aim to bring together.

Find The Perfect Venue

This really is everything. 

The space that houses your retreat needs to not only fulfill on your promise and create the perfect atmosphere, but also be profitable.

Many beautiful hotel and resort venues are SUPER pricey, so if you want to charge for your genius on top of the venue costs, it can easily make the final retreat price sky high. 

Many people fall in to the trap of either picking a cheap venue so they can keep the costs down, or they go luxe and basically work for free.

Remember, this is a RETREAT. People want to feel spoiled and escape from their every day surroundings.

 That means finding places that offer affordable luxury generally work best.

 This way you can still offer a luxe vibe, without the massive expense.

My top locations are Bali, Thailand, Costa Rica or Mexico.

Try not to book a place unseen as it can quickly turn your experience into a disappointment. As we know, places rarely look like the brochures, but if you have to do this go for an established chain like the W or Hilton, but beware that these can be pricy options, so do your math.

Whatever you do, stretch out the time you need to make a deposit on the venue after you hold it, so you have marketing time to sell it and know you can meet your commitment. 

If you can’t avoid paying an upfront deposit, make it as small as possible. Negotiate it down if you have to.

This is where having the services of an event manager or planner can be handy as they are usually more experienced at negotiating these things. But once again, this will limit your profit.

Minimise Your Risk

The biggest risk you have is investing in the venue and travel costs and not covering these with sales.

 It’s vital that you know your minimum viable numbers, so that you can be sure how many places you need to sell to ensure the retreat can go ahead.

Create provision until you get to those numbers where you can refund buyers by a certain time, and you can delay full payment on any costs (especially venue).

Be clear that their aren’t any refunds, so they must take out travel insurance to cover for illness or unforeseen circumstances that will prevent them from coming. 

Otherwise this will come out of YOUR pocket.

Your profit may come down to the investment of just one attendee, so if they cancel you may be working for free, so remove the risk of refunds.

Create clear terms and conditions and get these looked over by a lawyer to ensure they are good to go.

Ditto with insurance.

Plan For People

What do I mean by this? I mean, plan for that fact that people can be scatter-brained with details, can need a lot of hand-holding, can be emotional in intense situations and can respond unpredictably in times of transformation.

I advise on making an application process for your retreat so that you can interview potential attendees and understand the dynamic of how they will all fit together, particularly if you are creating an intimate space for growth.

 All it takes is one rogue participant to taint the whole vibe of the retreat experience for everyone, and it is your role to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Get Seen

Your contacts, list and tribe will be the first port of call when enrolling your retreat.

 Social media any contacts you can ask to shout out for you, will be vital as this is a game of awareness.

 Marketing will be one of your biggest costs to factor in to your profit plan, unless you have a pent up demand of engaged prospects in your tribe.

Even then, you’re dealing with logistics, so sometimes people can’t always make the dates you plan, and maybe they can’t meet the investment. 

So, it really goes without saying that your offer needs to be seen by as many people as possible to ensure success.

My go to strategies are using Facebook Ads, email marketing and webinars to create the best conversions.
Ready to dive in? If you’d like to discover if running a retreat could work for you, apply for a free session with me, where we can dive in and assess if it could work. Click here and let’s chat!

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  1. […] Want to know more about hosting your first retreat? Take a look at my post here. […]

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