From travel trends to the perfect location: tips for running a successful retreat 

Whether you’re a wellness coach, yoga teacher, creative writer, or have another skill you want to share, running a retreat can be a really fulfilling process, and it can help take your business to the next level too. 

Whatever your profession or passion, retreats provide the perfect way to cultivate new connections, find inspiration, and widen your current offering. There’s a bit of an art to it though, which requires striking the perfect balance between relaxing travel vibes and wholesome productivity.

Here, we cover all you need to know for running a successful retreat. 

What is the goal of a retreat?

The goal of a retreat is for attendees to experience a complete change of scenery and environment, with the aim of freeing up the mind to focus on a particular practice. That might be yoga, mindfulness, creative writing, physical activity, art, or a number of other things. Basically anything that lends itself to collaborative exploration, and escaping the mundane everyday. 

It's important to establish your goal or vision before diving into the nitty gritty detail. Doing so willl help you stay focussed and will make sure event-goers are clear about your offering and what they can hope to get out of it.

Some examples of scenarios where running a retreat can be really effective are:

  • If you’re a coach who offers evergreen courses, and would like a reason to have more face-to-face interaction with your audience.

  • If you’re a creative who is looking for new ways to feel inspired and collaborate with others, while imparting some of your own knowledge.

  • If you run courses and would like to offer additional one-off experiences outside of these to increase the profitability of your business. 

How to make money doing retreats

To make money doing retreats you’ll need to stick to a strict budget, and figure out a ticket price that enables you to turn a profit. We have an article on how to price tickets for an event, which explains how to approach this in detail. 

When it comes to making sure your retreats sell out, it’s a good idea to put tickets on sale way before the event takes place. This is because, unlike with, say, a gig or a one-day conference, a retreat is likely to last a few days, making it a much bigger commitment for attendees. Some will be happy to commit to your retreat as soon as tickets go on sale, but there’s a good chance others will need some thinking time (we’re talking months, to be safe). 

Another important factor to consider is the risk level involved with putting on a retreat. If you’re just starting out as a coach or teacher, you might be better off waiting until you’re a little more established. Retreats can be costly to organise, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a decent contact list and following for the best chance at selling out.

7 top tips for running a successful retreat

Read on to find out about these top tips for running a successful retreat:

  1. Don’t underestimate how much time you’ll need to plan everything

  2. Choose a fitting location (the clue’s in the name!)

  3. Pay attention to key trends

  4. Create a sense of intimacy in the run-up to your retreat

  5. Set an agenda – but keep it light

  6. Don’t go overboard on numbers

  7. Don’t make your retreat too long

Don’t underestimate how much time you’ll need to plan everything

Whether you’re running a low-key retreat or something more luxurious, you’ll need plenty of time to plan your event. From securing a location to finding key speakers, organising food and drink, and marketing your retreat – there’s a lot to think about. With this in mind, you should be looking to get planning a minimum of six months before you want the event to take place. 

Choose a fitting location (the clue’s in the name!)

When you hear the word retreat, what images come to mind? We’ll bet tired-old-hotel-with-car park-view isn’t one of them. Same goes for anything overly corporate-feeling. Beautiful log cabins set against a stunning natural landscape, on the other hand? Now we’re talking. 

As well as collaboration and learning, retreats are massively about the environment in which they’re held. You want to give attendees the chance to totally immerse themselves in a setting that’s conducive to whatever it is they want to achieve. That might be a quaint beach house, a peaceful camping ground, or a luxury spa with mountain views. 

If you’ve got a low budget, it’s probably better to compromise on the length of your retreat than its location. That’s not to say you have to go for an eye-wateringly expensive venue. But choosing to run a two-day retreat in, say, a modern and spacious Airbnb is probably better than going for a four-day experience in an uninspiring location.

Create a sense of intimacy in the run-up to your retreat

Retreats are all about fostering new connections and bouncing off one another. So it can help to break the ice between attendees before the event itself takes place. 

Instead of just using the usual email and social media channels to communicate with your attendees, for example, try setting up a WhatsApp group too. This will give your attendees a chance to chat with each and start creating bonds in the run-up to your retreat, and will help build hype and excitement around your event as well. (All the better lowering the risk of last minute cancellations!)

You could also set up a Facebook page where attendees can share materials and ideas prior to the event. This could be especially useful if you plan on running recurring retreats, as a Facebook page will help you build a solid community of past attendees to market these too.

Pay attention to key trends

The retreat space is pretty saturated right now, with wellness escapes soaring in popularity in recent years. In fact, the wellness travel industry is expected to be worth over $438 billion by 2026.

Considering the amount of competition out there, it really is important to make sure you’re well versed in recent retreat trends if you want to appeal to the masses. 

From increased interest in immune health (thanks to the pandemic), to eco-friendly menstruation, plastic-free events, and flexitarianism – what’s trending in the world of retreats can shift and change quite rapidly. So keeping your finger on the pulse is crucial. 

It can also help to keep your eye on other travel trends. For example, this YouGov report shows that the top three travel destinations for 2022 are:

  • Italy, Spain, and Canada for the UK

  • Italy, Island of Hawaii, and Canada for the US

  • Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania for Australia

Set an agenda – but keep it light

A retreat should have some structure, otherwise it’s essentially just a holiday. You definitely don’t need to create a jam-packed and totally inflexible itinerary though (lest it ending up feeling too much like hard work for your attendees!). 

Try to strike a balance by creating a light agenda with segmented times for activities and collaboration, while allowing plenty of time for reflection and relaxation in-between.

Don’t go overboard on numbers

Retreats should feel, by nature, quite intimate. So it’s important not to overload your event with too many attendees, otherwise it might end up feeling more like a conference. The idea is that your guests get to know each other on more than just a surface level. For deep connections to be made, and a generally relaxing and intimate vibe to be achieved, try to aim for between 10-20 attendees. 

Don’t make your retreat too long

While your attendees will no doubt look forward to your retreat, it’s unlikely they’ll want to make it their main getaway of the year. For this reason, it’s probably best to curtail your retreat at the four-day mark (but two or three days could also work). Any more than this and you might risk ticket sales flopping, as people may struggle to find the time or money to attend.

Running a retreat can be an incredibly rewarding experience, not to mention a profitable move for your business. And with enough careful planning there’s no reason it can’t be a rip-roaring success. The best bit? Once all the planning’s done, you get to go away with likeminded people and have an amazing time in an inspiring location. Sounds pretty good to us!

Get inspired by existing retreats selling tickets through Ticket Tailor. From all-things-fiber (knitting, crocheting, weaving, you name it) in Idaho, to hoop-dancing in the Caribbean, one-day recurring yoga retreats in Northampton, and week-long yoga in Tenerife and Ibiza – check out these amazing events for all the inspo you’ll need!

Looking for a stress-free way to sell tickets to your retreat? Find out how Ticket Tailor can help