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How to Create Transformational Yoga Retreats that Sell Out

[Webinar] How to Create Transformational Yoga Retreats that Sell Out

Retreats offer your students an experience that transcends regular yoga classes at the studio, and the benefits of leading a successful retreat are limitless.

 Imagine travelling to places you’ve always dreamed of, creating more financial freedom for your business, attracting students you truly feel called to serve, and helping others attain greater mindfulness and health. Yet, putting together the puzzle pieces of marketing, budgeting, payment processing, sourcing your venue, mindset, intention, and more can be daunting.

 

Join Paloma Barron Neuman, Co-Founder of Rock Your Yoga Retreat, as she maps out the 5 most important elements for retreat success and answers your

questions live on air:

  1. Creating a unique, signature retreat offering
  2. Crafting a beautiful retreat experience at your travel destination
  3. Budgeting and pricing your retreat for success
  4. Executing authentic marketing strategies to sell out your retreat
  5. Aligning your retreat with a bigger vision

 

About the Speaker

 Profile_100x100.jpg

Paloma Barron Neuman is the co-founder of Rock Your Yoga Retreat. Leveraging years of experience in business, law, and international retreat planning, Paloma helps yoga instructors and wellness professionals plan their dream retreats and cultivate thriving businesses. Between delivering online training and business mentorship programs, she enjoys running her second yoga-centric business, long Savasanas, watching TED Talks, and spending time with her husband and son in San Diego, CA.

 

 

PerfectMind Inc | 4333 Still Creek Drive 2nd Floor Burnaby, BC V5C 6S6 | www.perfectmind.com

 

 

Video Transcript

 

Vanessa: Hi, everyone! Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on where you're joining us. I'm Vanessa and I'm the Marketing & Events Coordinator at PerfectMind. Welcome to today's webinar on "How To Create Transformational Yoga Retreats That Sell-Out" with Paloma Barron Neuman. As we get started, let's do a quick sound check. If you can hear me and you can see the screen, please type "yes" into the question's box now. Perfect, let's get started.

Before we jump right in, I'd like to give a quick rundown of who we are for those of you who are joining us for the first time and aren't quite familiar with PerfectMind. Our all-in-one yoga studio software enables instructors and studio owners to manage memberships, automated billing and online sales, integrate email promotions, schedule classes and more from a single platform. We also provide various services such as web design and online marketing. If you'd like to learn more about us or want to see some of the free content that we have to offer, like today's webinar, visit perfectmind.com.

 

Enough about us, let me introduce today's guest presenter, Paloma Barron Neuman. Paloma is the co-founder of Rock Your Yoga Retreat. Leveraging years of experience in business, law and international retreat planning, Paloma helps yoga instructors and wellness professionals plan their dream retreats and cultivate thriving businesses. Between delivering online training and business mentorship programs, she enjoys running her second yoga centric business Long / , watching TED talks and spending time with her husband and son in San Diego, California. We're thrilled to have you with us, Paloma, so please take it away.

 

Paloma: Hello everyone, and thank you so much, Vanessa, for that introduction, and I'm really excited to be here today, so thank you for inviting me to come speak about how to create transformational yoga retreats that sell-out. I just want to welcome everyone to this training session and I'm really excited to be here. Before we dive into the training, I would love for you to, hopefully you hear me well, but if the sound is off at any point just let us know on the chat box because we want to know that you all can hear me as I go through the training. If you can, let's turn off our notifications, let's put our phones on airplane mode if possible, put away your to-do list for the day, and let's just really drop in to this moment, this learning opportunity, and really practice being present through what we're going to learn today. It's so important to just be mindful when we're doing something and I know that our mind is really easy to /. I really encourage you to just drop in to this learning opportunity to this moment with me, and just hang out with me here live in this virtual classroom. Again, I want to welcome you to this training. I'm really excited to be able to have this opportunity to talk to you about how to plan retreats. I know that if you're here, you're probably interested in planning your own retreats, or maybe you've been planning retreats for a while and you want to dive deeper into learning how to do this successfully. It comes down to really having systems and processes to do this so that it's not overwhelming and stressful for you. That's what I'm going to share with you today. Some of the systems that I use in my own business that I have taught many yoga teachers and retreat leaders throughout this time that I've been doing retreat planning and retreat coaching.

Okay so, I know Vanessa talked a little bit about me but I wanted to show a little bit of the background story of how I came to sit here in front of you, teaching you this content. This is me, it's always fun to see myself on the screen, this big picture of myself. I was born in Bolivia and raised in Sweden, so since I was a little girl I've travelled quite a bit and live in different countries. I've always loved travelling. It's been part of my life and I just always wanted to do it since I was a little girl. I love visiting other countries, get immersed in new cultures, and I've had this really easy way to connect with other people from other cultures. I love travelling, that is part of my life. I actually found yoga in 2009. I'm not a yoga teacher, I'm a yoga practitioner, and I found yoga deeply transformed my life, it truly change my life and who I am. I attribute so many great things in my life to date, so many big, amazing changes to the practice of yoga.

 

I wanted to share the practice but I didn't want to teach. I knew that teaching was not my thing. I wasn't called to teach yoga. So I decided to merge the two things that I love the most which was yoga and then travel into one business. That's how my first business came about - My Dharma Yoga. In My Dharma Yoga, I partner with yoga teachers just like you, and I hired other yoga teachers to lead my retreats and to lead retreats with me. It was an amazing experience. It took a lot of trial and error to really come to a system that really worked for retreat planning and understanding how the piece of the puzzle actually come together. It's kind of having a business of its own, planning retreat.

 

Long story short, Rock Your Yoga Retreat was born out of that, it seem the need in the community of yoga teachers wanted to plan retreats, wanted a particular amazing travel and yoga experiences for the students that not be able to do so, or failing in the process because they didn't know how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and they were struggling with certain aspects.

 

That is how Rock Your Yoga Retreat was born. I started the company with my co-founder Renee, who's no longer with me but she's a dear friend that works with me. We still work and collaborate together. We put together the system of how to plan retreats, cop the retreats, the sign up. It's an online training that I teach online. I also do consulting and coaching for yoga teachers when it comes to retreat planning and yoga business in general because they're so intertwined. It's important to have both of those really stable in order to be able to thrive in your yoga business. That's a little bit about me. Enough about me though, I don't want to keep talking about myself because I know that we want to get to the training.

I have one question for you. If you can, please type this into chat box. It should be on your right side, I think, that's how it is on my screen. What is your #1 struggle when leading retreats? What's the one obstacle, the one thing you really feel fearful of when you plan retreats? What can stop for you when you plan retreats? If you can type into the chat box, I would love that, I would love to see it. I can see you, you can't see me but I can see your chats, so I'll be able to read those. As we go through this training, before we dive in, any questions that you have for me, I am going to take the time to answer those at the end during the Q&A that we're going to have. Just type in your questions as we go, building into anything in the training or anything that comes up for you. But I would love to know the #1 struggle when leading retreats. If you can type that into chat, that would be really great.

 

The things that I have experienced or that I have seen with yoga teachers when I help them plan their retreats is three main struggles. The first one is that they can't fill the retreats up, that they feel like they can't get enough students to actually make the retreat a success. That is one of the bigger struggles that I see yoga teachers struggling with. They can't fill up the retreat, they feel like they are struggling to get people to join. That has to do with selling and marketing your retreat.

 

The second struggle that I really come across when I'm helping other yoga teachers plan their retreats is that they don't know how to price their retreat. Honestly they don't know how to price their retreat for success in order to really be able to make a profit and feel really good about the retreat. So it's a struggle and that has to do with budgeting and the financial clarity aspect of your retreat planning.

 

The third struggle that I come across a lot when I'm helping yoga teachers is that they don't have a clear plan to put together all the pieces of the puzzle. How does everything work together, how do pieces of the puzzle come together to create this amazing, successful retreat that your students will love. That has to do with having a clear idea of how everything goes from A to Z, a system that works for you, that you can use over and over again in your business and your retreats.

I'm telling you about the struggles but I also want to talk to you before we dive into the training about why you should lead retreats. Sometimes I get yoga teacher come up to me, they ask me, "I think retreats would be good for me but I'm not quite sure. Why should I lead a retreat, what are the benefits of leading retreats?" I'm going to show you a couple of my top favorite benefits that I have experienced and that I've seen other teachers experience as well.

The first one is transformation. I'm sure you know that this is something. If you've been to a retreat or maybe you led a retreat already, you know that transformation is a huge benefit of leading retreat. Transformation for your students, transformation for yourself as a teacher, in your business.

 

We've seen amazing things happen at a retreat because it's a container for deep connection. People get away from the hustle and bustle, really drop into that moment, and connect with selves. We've seen students get pregnant after attending our retreat after trying for many years, because they were able to let go, they were able to access something that they weren't able to at home. And then we've seen people maybe pitted their careers 100%, we've seen people mend their relationships and change their lives for the better. Transformation is amazing because we're really offering them an immersive experience where they get to continuously dive deeper and deeper throughout the day, throughout the whole experience, and it really can take them to deeper level. Our yoga class can do a lot that it's sometimes not enough. So a transformation is really one of the key benefits of leading retreats.

 

And then travel, of course. I'm sure that if you're here with me today, you love travelling and you want to incorporate that more into your life. Travelling is one of my favorite benefits of leading retreats. That's one of my motivations, that's why I want to lead retreats. I want to incorporate more travel into my life. I saw that it was difficult to get away, to take vacation, to work a regular job and just take it, of the two week vacation here and there. So incorporating travel into my business, into my life, was part of my motivation. That's what you can do when you lead retreats. You can really pay yourself to travel and it's an amazing opportunity to see the world, to take your students to meet other people, other cultures, see other things, and really take them out of their comfort zone.

 

And then abundance. Abundance is a big one as well, because when you lead retreats and what I've seen with my students and with myself is that you can create that financial abundance by incorporating retreats into your business. What you're doing is creating a second revenue stream that can help you bring in more income, that can help you find that stability as teacher. We all know it's not easy to be a yoga teacher when you didn't get into teaching for the money. We have to find ways and opportunities to find that sustainability in your business so that you can thrive and you can give more to your students. It all comes back to that, to get to serve better. Abundance is something that I found is a huge benefit of leading retreats and really a diversifying your yoga business.

 

And then of course when you lead retreats, one of the benefits is that you get to grow a strong community. You get to create this dream tribe of people that are attracted to your retreats that you feel affinity with and they resonate with your message. So this is really important. If you want a strong community and you know how to lead retreats, you can really attract those people as your tribe and continuously grow and expand that tribe. It's so important to attract those people we really want to work with versus working with just anybody out there, because we are meant to serve a certain type of people, a certain type of student. That is what retreats help you, you really niche down who you want to serve and how to do that the best way possible.

 

This is a benefit that we usually don't talk about or may not notice, but it's there. It's growing confident and empowered us as teacher, because when you're leading a retreat, you're really stepping into a role of leadership. You're not just leading a class. You're leading an entire immersive experience, out of the country possibly. So growing confident and empowered, and having lots of learning lessons to put into your toolboxes. A huge benefit of leading retreats and I've seen teachers grow amazingly after leading retreats and able to have more clarity of their teaching style, who they want to serve, how they want to serve and show up in the world.

And then of course everything comes together in growing your business. All these pieces of the puzzle, all these benefits really come down to growing your yoga business at the end of the day. I talked about sustainability being such a key aspect of / your business, being able to serve your students better. Retreats really offer the opportunity to have more leverage on your business, to have more autonomy, to feel more empowered because you're adding this additional revenue stream that empowers you to do what you want. You're really creating retreats that fit into your lifestyle that you want to do and that allows you to have that freedom, to let go of maybe some yoga classes or studio classes that you don't want to teach anymore. Or to have just more time for your business. It's really important that we look at this as the bigger picture of growing your business as well. Those are my main benefits I want to share with you. Maybe you have thought of other ideas, so feel free to type that into the chat box as well.

 

I talked to you about the benefits, but now how do you that, how do you actually create a transformational yoga retreats that sell out? I get students and yoga teachers come to me, maybe a month before their retreat is due, overwhelmed, stressed out, because they don't know how to get more people to meet their retreat to go and not lose money. There's a financial risk in leading a yoga retreat because you have to usually put down a deposit in the beginning, you have to pay maybe a deposit for your chef, and there's tons of other little expenses that you have in the beginning. So there's a financial risk, you're putting down some money and you want to make sure that that is not going to end up failing. Important to know these pieces of the puzzle and today I want to share with you the five things element that I think you need to think about when you're leading retreats, and I'm going to give you an overview of those. They're the same things that I teach my clients that I teach that the retreat is signed up online training. If you have any questions about that, again type it into the chat box, don't be shy, I'm right here and I would love to answer your questions.

 

The first one is to create a unique retreat offering that aligns with your purpose and resonates with your students. This is something that is so crucial to creating a retreat that will attract the right type of people, because if you go to Wholefoods or maybe the coffee shop down the street and you see a retreat poster, you can right away notice if someone has created a retreat maybe copying someone else or just putting a retreat together without a lot of thought; or you can see if the retreat has been created with a lot of thought and mindfulness behind it, in a lot of intentions.

 

The elements that you need to think about to create a unique retreat offering, to begin with you want to start with your "why". This is something a lot of teachers skip. They don't understand that you start with yourself. You want to get really clear and this is yoga, we all know that. Get really clear on why it is that you want to lead retreats, what are the benefits you want to see in your life, why do you want to incorporate your retreats as part of your business, as part of your lifestyle, and how is that going to serve you. You want to start with yourself and getting really clear on why you want to lead retreats. This will be crucial when you grow your business and make decisions, because you will be able to tie it up back to your why and make sure that it's all aligned. That you're making a decision aligned with your own why.

 

The second side of that coin --I usually say there's two sides of the coin to your unique retreat offering. The one side is your why, the other side is know your ideal retreat students, know what they want, know what they need in that retreat, instead of guessing I wonder what people want. I'm just going to put this together, fit all the ingredients in a pot and just see if it works out. Instead of doing that, really understand who your ideal retreat student is, how you want to serve them and what they need. That comes down to doing some research, to the serving of students, to asking questions, and to making sure that you know who you want to serve with that specific retreat. So your ideal retreat student is the person you want to attract and that will benefit the most from that specific retreat. It could be different from retreat to retreat, or maybe you have a business where you're serving one type of niche which is great, and then you know what type of retreat you want to create for those people.

 

And then that comes together in clarifying the benefits of your retreat. When you know your "why", your ideal retreat students, you also want to clarify what benefits are people going to experience from going to my retreat. This is another thing that if you go to Wholefoods, if you look at maybe some advertisement online on Facebook of retreats, you can clearly see when the particular retreat has clarified the benefits of their retreats. It's not just listing the details, that's very different. The details of the retreat would be if there's accommodation or if the accommodations are going to be at this place, the location is there, listing that just the details. The amount of food or what type of food / you'll across, those are just details. But the benefits go a bit deeper into what they will experience and what your students will walk with from the retreat. That's what I usually tell my clients, to ask themselves what are your students going to walk away with, which we'll do an example because this can be kind of like abstract. I want to bring it in with an example.

 

If you're serving a mom, let's say your retreat is serving moms with small children, what are the benefits that they will walk away with, what do they truly need from a retreat? It's not going to be the same as maybe a young career woman or a retired woman. It's going to be very different. Her needs are very different, her expectations, her desires are different. That is why you want to get really clear on who your ideal retreat student is.

 

Then, your retreat will speak to these people in a very authentic way instead of it being watered down and just trying to talk to everybody out there, it's everyone during my retreat. It's not as powerful of a message and really hard to market.

Then you put this all together to craft your unique retreat offerings. These are the main elements in crafting unique retreat offering. When you start crafting your unique retreat, what you're doing is putting together all these details we talked about - the location, accommodations, all the logistics. It's important that you know these three things before you start crafting your logistics, before you decide on where to go, before you decide on what type of accommodations you want, is it going to be camping or am I going to be hiking. All these things are secondary to these three top things: knowing your "why", your ideal retreat students and the benefits you want to offer your students.

 

The second part, the second element that really goes together with the first one of creating unique and transformational yoga retreat is to craft a transformational retreat experience. The first one is all about the vision of your retreat. You're putting together the vision and you're doing a lot of inner work here in putting that together. The second one, this part of crafting the transformational retreat experience, is to put this on to practice, to really make sure that this is infused into your retreat.

 

These are the things that you need to think about. First of all, and this is something I love to talk about, is to be a leader before, during and after your retreat. That's the first element to creating that transformational experience. Most people think that showing up to your retreat and be in holding space on your retreat and that's it. But no, you want to think about being a leader the moment your students sign up for your retreat. The moment they sign up, the retreat experience has begun. Everything you do from that point on, the way you communicate with them, the way you build community, the way you are showing up for them, is important. The same thing goes for after your retreat. Are you just dropping the ball after the retreat, are you following up with them, do you have a system to follow up with them and support them in that retreat process, to process all the experiences they have. And also to help them bring the retreat experience home. You should talk about bringing that experience home so that you've learned something from that retreat and you're not just dropping back into your life and everything continues as normal, how can you really incorporate that into your life. So supporting your students doing that. This is key, as you can probably imagine, to building a retreat community. If you're not following up and if you don't have a system to follow up, if you don't build that community, you won't be able to really expand that community. As you plan your retreat, think about being a leader before, during and after your retreat, this entire time.

 

The other aspect is to weave your retreat theme into every aspect of your retreat. We're talking about really being mindful and intentional about our themes. We talked about your unique retreat theme in the first element, so how do we bring this into everything? Instead of just doing a mish mash of activities, just putting in as much as we can, how can we be mindful? What will support my meditation retreat, what type of activities do I need to have, what type of food do I need to have if it's a detox retreat? It's being mindful about every little aspect from the smallest detail to the biggest thing. Making these decisions about your accommodations, for example. Are they going to be supportive of a silent retreat or is it better to go a cabin somewhere else? Just making these decisions in full alignment and with lots of intention.

 

The other element is also to create a balanced retreat schedule. I've had this conversation quite a bit with a lot of yoga teachers, that it's not jam-pack your retreat schedule, but actually leave lots of blank space and room for people to process everything that they're feeling, emotions that come up for them, and to be able to just be. Most people are fleeing --I dare to say fleeing-- the hustle and bustle of daily life, and they just need a moment to breathe, to drop into themselves and to connect with themselves. We want to offer them that opportunity. That is yoga. So yoga needs to be a central aspect of that yoga meditation.

 

Creating a balanced retreat schedule doesn't mean to bring in as much as you can so that people feel like they paid for something that's giving them lots of activities, but rather to have lots of room and to create a retreat that feels balanced for them, where they feel nourished and taken care of, where they don't need a vacation from the vacation meditation when they come home.

The last aspect here is to hold space on and off the mat. This is a big one because this can be, especially if you've never led a retreat before, it can be shocking to lead a retreat and not know what to expect when it comes to holding space off the mat.

 

We know how to hold space during the class, during an hour and a half yoga class. But when you have a retreat, you would lead off the mat as well. You need to be in charge of everything that goes on, you need to be mindful of the experience is over all. From the food to the conversations, to the activities, how are people interacting, how are they happy. Holding space off the mat is crucial and learning how to do this comes a little bit of a practice obviously, but it's also being intentional and planning ahead. For example, one of the things that I recommend you to do to hold space on and off the mat is to have clear expectations of your students. When you arrive at the retreat and you have your opening circle or ceremony, you really lay out the expectations and tell them what's to come, and how you're going to show up for them throughout the retreat. It's also about taking some time for yourself. Planning out your schedule so you can actually take some time off, for an hour per day or two, go meditate, go to your own practice, so that you can show up for them even better. That means may be bringing someone on to help you hold space while you're not on; having an assistant or a co-teacher or something like that.

 

The other thing is to expect the best but really plan for anything that may arise as much as possible. I dare to say that most retreats, there's something that comes up. Maybe someone gets sick, or someone's emotional, or someone misses their flight, or their baggage gets lost, or maybe the retreat food is not as expected, or they're going hungry, or they don't like the food. Making sure that you know all this different things that can show up, that can happen, and that you're planning for that, that you have a Plan B: how do I deal with someone that gets sick, do I have the numbers that I need to call right away, do I have insurance, do they have insurance. Knowing and planning that ahead will help you tackle those problems when they arise head on. It will also make you look professional, that you're not just caught off guard. That's so important in that experience for your students. I'm going to take a breath here because I'm going through this so that I can really fit in everything that I want to tell you and I want to teach today.

 

The third one is to budget and price your retreat for success. I know this is a huge one for a lot of yoga teachers. I mentioned that in the beginning how I feel like that is an obstacle, a hurdle for a lot of yoga teachers planning the retreats not knowing how to price the retreat right, so that they're actually making a profit, so that they feel supported and happy, and they've been paid for the amount of the effort they put in. It's an exchange of value. You're offering your students an amazing experience. You want to have that exchange as well. You want to feel like there's an exchange of value, and that's really what price is.

 

You may be wondering how much are my students willing to pay, how much do I need to charge to make it worthwhile for myself, all the time that I'm putting into it, what if I don't get enough students and lose money. The huge one that keeps coming up all the time: is my retreat even worth that much? Maybe you come up with a number and you're like, that is way too high, nobody's going to want to do that. It comes back to really doing the inner work there. Will I be excluding people if I charge that price? This comes up a lot for teachers as well, because we're not in it for the money, we're in it to serve people. But sometimes if we look at the price, we feel like okay, this is totally excluding all these people that I really want to come to my retreat. It's all about really being intentional about who you're planning who you're planning this retreat for and knowing what the price will be.

There's two really important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to budgeting and pricing your retreat for success, to really be successful on this aspect of retreat planning. Before I go into this, I feel like the budget and price, the financial aspect of your retreat is one of the biggest and most important aspects of retreat planning. If you're not feeling comfortable with it, to do that work is important. It's the stability of your retreat, the sustainability of it. This is an important aspect to really pay attention to.

 

The two things that go together when you budget and price your retreat for success, is to have the right mindset and to have the financial clarity. The mindset is equally as important as the financial clarity, believe it or not. We know this is yoga, mindset is so much as everything. What do I mean with mindset? If you're having issues come up and you're selling your retreat when you're pricing and budgeting your retreat, if you have lots of issues like, some people call this limiting beliefs or obstacles, or you just feel like I can't do this, I feel really awkward, I feel bad, I feel overwhelmed, then you want to work through those before you put your retreat out there. Because when you go out and sell your retreat, you want to feel really comfortable about the price that you're putting.

 

The price that you're putting on the retreat. Otherwise, people won't think that it's worth what you're saying. So you want to feel really confident and comfortable selling your retreat. So work through your mindset stuff and recognize that as it arises, figure out what's the root cause of these feelings, these emotions that are coming up. You can do journaling, there's tons of different exercises you can do to work through the mindset part of budgeting and pricing.

The other aspect is the financial clarity. Being so clear on all your expenses is important. You want to do this from the very beginning - creating your spreadsheet, being clear on the big picture of your financial clarity. The bigger expenses are accommodations, lodging, travel, and all these things. And then you have tons of small expenses, for the fraction of the big one, like virtuity, vis a vis, what other travel costs and fees that may come up. You may have small gifts that you're offering your students, or maybe you're paying an additional teacher or co-teacher to come on to your retreat and you're paying them as well. All those are expenses that you want to keep track from the very get go. Get those on as soon as possible onto your spreadsheet and understand what the cost per student will be. You want to divide all your expenses into cost per student, so that you know how much each student is costing you, the cost per your student to go on the retreat.

 

Once you have those expenses really clear, we actually have this amazing spreadsheet inside our online training where we have created the spreadsheet for you playing with numbers, because I know this is such a huge part of a retreat planning and you really want to focus on it. In that spreadsheet, you just plug in the numbers and it spits out different types of pricing that you / for your retreat, it's really cool. But if you can't create something like that, you can just use a regular spreadsheet and track your expenses.

 

Once you have those expenses or price per student, or your cost per student rather, you want to then go in to adding your profit, your compensation. That's all about again, mindset, remembering your value. How much work have you put into this retreat so far, how much work are you going to put into it, what are you offering, what are your skills, what do you bring to the table. Also remembering that you're taking time off from your regular teaching schedule, how much is that going to cost you. You're having to maybe pay for someone to babysit or even housesit. You want to factor in all these things as the price of your retreat, so you have that clear picture and you're not getting caught off guard losing money, not having that financial clarity.

 

The pro tip that I want to teach you today is to figure out the minimum number of students. This is something we teach that I think is actually really helpful. It's called the minimum viable students. It's to price your retreat with a minimum number of students and cover your retreat cost with a minimum number of students, instead of trying to fill up your retreat and being so stressed out because you don't have 20 people. What does this mean? Let me give you an example.

Let's say that you were going to Bali and you have 20 spots to fill at a retreat center, but to make your retreat go, you don't need the 20 spots. What you need is to figure out what's the minimum number of students I need to make this retreat to go and to maybe even compensate myself a little bit, and feel really good about it. How can I fill this retreat with less people - that's the whole thought process behind it. Maybe it's eight people, eight students. You price of retreat according to those 8 to 10 students, so maybe the price will go up a little, but you only need to fill those eight spots to be able to make your retreat to go. That's called the minimum viable number of students. With that, what you do is then, everything, every student that's on top of this eight students, is 100% profit to you. May there's a little bit of cost involved in that but most of that is profit. It's like the best part of retreat planning. So let's stay there. You have those eight spots, you make it a go, then you have filled it with 5--6 more students. You didn't fill the 20 spots but you're still making a huge profit and feeling really good about your retreat. And you're not having to stress out last minute about filling up your spots.

What we teach through example is a strategy that you can use to fill up these eight spots in the very beginning when you launch your retreat. That's like maybe the first month when you just put your retreat out there, you're filling those eight spots. For the next five months of your retreat marketing, all you do is feel really good about trying to fill the next 5 spots. It's not even as stressful because you already made your retreat to go with those eight students. If that's not clear, feel free to again, type your questions in the chat box.

 

The fourth one is how to fill up your retreat with authentic marketing. This is a big one and I'm pretty sure that you may have some marketing questions, most people do. There's also mindset stuff regarding marketing for most of us. I actually didn't feel really comfortable with the word "marketing" or "promoting" in the beginning. For me it has been a mindset shift that's thinking of marketing as sharing and inviting, rather than selling, rather than pushing it on people. Inviting and sharing something that is really valuable with this special student that I know will benefit from the retreat. The really important aspects of selling out your retreat, marketing your retreat and having a really good strategy behind this is all these five I'm going to go through.

 

The first one is map it out from the very beginning. Have a marketing plan. Most teachers don't go in having a plan. They think that they're going to wing it as they go, try to fill the spots, see what happens here next month. That's how time runs out and you end up being at that spot where you need to fill your retreat, there's only two more weeks to go, you're stressed out, and you need to fill these 20 spots. We want to prevent that, you want to have a marketing plan from the very beginning of your retreat.

 

It's all about mapping out all your different strategies throughout these months that you have to market your retreat. I want to say here that I usually recommend my yoga teachers students or clients to take at least six months to market their retreat. Having six months to really fill up their retreat is crucial, in order to have time and breathing room to do this. If you're new to retreat planning, even nine months, really giving yourself lots of room to plan out your marketing, to market your retreat and to fill up your spots. The more time you have, the less stressful it is really.

 

The second one is one of our top amazing strategies honestly is to create early buzz. I'm the type of person that love to create things and keep it a secret until I have all that perfect details ready to go and I want to share with the world. I realize that with retreats that doesn't work. That the best way to do it is to start gaining momentum early on and start telling people about it before I even have any retreat details ready. The moment that you know you want to lead a retreat and you have some type of idea where you want to go, or maybe you have a location that you think about, or you have an idea or a theme, you can start sharing this vision with your students to get feedback from them, to see if this is something that you really want to go on. The early buzz is a way to create momentum for your retreat and excitement, but it's also a way to get feedback of what dates work for them, where do they want to go, how long do they want to go. There's ways to really build this into your retreat planning so that you can get lots of feedback and create that excitement early on.

 

Once you have that early buzz, you're ready to put all your retreat details. What you do is you start creating your marketing material. That is one of the really key aspects of this is to create a sales page. A sales page is just literally a page where you put all of your retreat details and the benefits of your retreat. I call this a strategic retreat sales page because it's important that you paint the picture of your retreat and that you know what type of content you're going to put on that, so when people land on that sales page, that page of your retreat, they feel excited to sign up, instead of not understanding if the retreat's for them or being confused about the details. You want it to be really strategic so that as soon as they land there, people feel "Okay this is for me, this is a retreat that I really want to go on and I feel really excited about it," and they're ready to sign up and register right there and then.

 

So you want to again going back to the benefits of your retreat, you want to incorporate that into your retreat sales page. I see so many retreats sales pages or web pages on yoga teachers' websites with retreats where they are only listing five bullet points with here's where we're going, here's what you're eating, and here's the dates. That is not enough to have someone feel enticed and happy about going to your retreat. I mean I wouldn't sign up for a retreat like that. Instead, focus on the benefits first - what are they going to gain, what's the experience going to bring into their lives, how are they going to walk away feeling after your retreat. So again going back to your ideal retreat students - who do you want to call into your retreat, who do you want to serve. So all those things you want to put together into that retreat sales page and be really strategic.

 

Not only listing your details but listing the benefits. And then bring in yourself, talk about yourself and who you are, why you're doing this and bring into to your "why" as well, so people get to know you a little bit and they know why you're planning this retreat.

 

The other aspect to marketing is also, obviously, email marketing. We know that most people these days obviously have an email. When you have a database of emails of your students, what you can do is you can reach out to them easily, at the push of a button send them an email to invite them to your retreat. Or maybe if you're in the create an early buzz stage, what you're doing is you're sending them a survey about where they want to go or gauging the interest. The point here is you have control over your communication. When you don't have a database, let's say you work at a studio and it's the studio's database, your students are on the studio's database, then you have no control over sending them emails or getting in touch with them. All you can do is talk to them about it after your class. That may not be enough to sell your retreat, honestly. Building that database of students and really constantly building that email list is really important. You can do that after your class, you can just start building your list organically that people can find out about what you do. Not only with the retreats but everything else that you do in your business, if you have a workshop or a class series, and all the stuff. Email marketing is a crucial piece to selling out your retreat.

 

The last one is pricing strategies. Knowing how to price your retreat for success is obviously important. You can use different pricing strategies to encourage your students to sign up. Most of you guys know early bird I'm assuming? Sign up before this date and you get this price, but there are different ways you can use early bird. Most people actually use early bird for months, that's not a good pricing strategy. You want to use the early bird strategy very contained in time, maybe a week or two weeks max. Using the pricing strategies like a sense of urgency and encouraging your students to sign up to get special deals. It can also be not only pricing strategies, but also adding value to your retreat in order to encourage your students to sign up.

 

An example of this is you can offer the five first to sign up will get a free massage from me. Or the five students to sign up get a free meditation class, or a one-on-one coaching if you're doing nutrition. Or you can even offer them things. You have journals or a special course that you're offering. Whatever that is, just get creative, your juice is flowing in thinking about how can I add more value and then add a sense of urgency for that. If you sign up in the next week, you get this. That's how you get people sign up fast and have it the top of mind. If you wait until last minute that people sign up, it's just going to be stressful. You want to do this right your entire marketing plan. Just map it out like I said in the beginning, and then lay all these pricing strategies up. That's how to sell out your retreat.

 

The fifth element of creating transformational yoga retreat that sell out is to attract your dream tribe and grow your yoga business with retreats. This is kind of going back to the beginning honestly, to going back to the big picture of retreat planning, because honestly you don't want to just plan a one-off retreat. If you really want to incorporate retreats into your yoga business, really feel the benefits of diversifying your business, getting that extra income, expanding and growing your dream tribe, you really have to think about the big picture of retreats.

 

Thinking about how you can make teaching yoga sustainable and thriving career is important in this big picture or plan. How can retreats actually help you reach that goal of creating that sustainable and thriving yoga career. How can you grow your business and serve your students better. Maybe you need retreats to be able to offer your students a deeper experience. Maybe one hour yoga class once a week is just not enough to really bring in your skills, show your students what you're all about and how you can help them. This really is the bigger picture of how you want to serve and show up as a yoga teacher.

 

Then how can you diversify your yoga offerings with retreats is really comes to understanding that you can bring in retreats with a plan, with a strategy behind it, not just like a one-off, like the light bulb went off and I just want to plan a retreat. For example, for the next year in 2018, what types of retreats I want to plan, what can I do. I really encourage you to start with smaller retreats and shorter retreats if you're new to it and later start throughout the years. When it's your first time planning retreats, you want to plan two or three retreats this year.

 

Make them small, make them local, so that you can start learning how to do this. It just really helps you in your retreat planning. This is the bigger picture of retreat planning, this is what I want to share with you as far as I can think about this when it comes to retreat planning. Okay, I guess we're in the Q&A.

 

Vanessa: Thank you so much for that inspiring presentation, Paloma.

 

Vanessa Lo
Vanessa Lo

Vanessa Lo is the Marketing and Events Coordinator at PerfectMind. She coordinates webinars, campaigns, and events across North America to empower member-based organizations as they attract and connect with members. Vanessa holds a Communications and Digital Publishing degree from Simon Fraser University and has also studied at the National University of Singapore.

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