THOUGHTS AND INSPIRATION FROM A RETREAT OWNER :: Part 1
Six years ago I came to Costa Rica with my partner to build a retreat where people, during these intense times of transformation, could find a piece of themselves that perhaps they lost, or to gain some insight and understanding of how to navigate these changes we are all, on some level, experiencing. It has always been my intention, from inception to present, to create a sacred space that supports the journey of awakening. During this process of leaving a good life, a community of friends, healers and comrades and embarking on the path of building something out of nothing and not knowing a thing about it - with only a seed of an idea and the money left over from the sale of all our “stuff”, we leapt… and, the net actually appeared. This has been, by far, my greatest spiritual discipline, outside of any other that I have practiced in my life. Along the way it seemed every fear was realized, manifested, explored and most importantly, survived: the deaths of 3 family members; chronic illness; the loss of 3 pets; menopause that brought anxiety attacks, digestive issues, severe hot flashes (in the TROPICS no less!); and the end of a 28 year marriage.
Who knew the intention that was set for others, would turn out to be the very impetus of the most concentrated period of personal growth of my life, and continues to be so as I learn and grow with every group and every individual that crosses the threshold of this sacred space.
Finishing our successful 5th season now, with over a 50% repeat client base, I feel I am finally, truly honing my skills as a successful retreat owner. That being said, I am always trying to stay aware of how to learn and grow, and in doing so, I hope I can help others do the same. So with the culmination of my experience working with a variety of group leaders and workshop themes I would like to share some of the knowledge I have gathered and perhaps shed a light on the backside of planning a destination yoga/self exploration retreat. Whether you are an experienced group leader or a newbie, I hope you will find some valuable information that can help streamline your next retreat.
So… you want to lead a destination retreat. Where do you start?
You can start by asking yourself:
What is my intention? Are you looking to simply lead an all-expenses-paid retreat? Or do you need this to be a profitable endeavor. This will help you determine your bottom line: consider travel costs; your time and fees, if any; and any other dollar amounts you are laying out. Also, will this be a “destination vacation retreat” or a “themed workshop with a daily program schedule”? These are two completely different types of experiences. - More on this later. Qualify your retreat: Who is my target market? Are you a studio owner, teacher or therapist with a large following or client base? If so, you may want to check in with everyone to see who might be interested in embarking on week-long retreat. (Ok, I say "week-long", because anything less is really barely enough time to absorb the experience, considering travel time and the acclimation period.) If you do not have a strong following, consider who might be interested in joining you and why. Remember, you will need to put down a deposit to secure the space for your week, so you will want to be clear about cancellation policies with the retreat center, as well as with your own attendees. Make sure you have your minimum number of attendees in mind and work towards that goal with the passion in believing you will fill. However, don’t rely on passionate intention alone - do the marketing (more on this later) - especially if you are looking beyond your local community. I’ve seen several green teachers having to cancel because they lacked the popularity/visibility. Be realistic about your expectations. That being said, I’ve noticed a trend of last minute sign-ups, right up until days before, so don’t loose the faith! I hope this has started your creative juices flowing. In Part 2, we will look into to considering what kind of retreat venue will be best for your retreat. Stay tuned...!
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