Leave the Break-Even Mindset Behind. Retreats Equal Revenue.

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author/source: Amy Flores-Young

Photo Courtesy of Smartworks-CoWorkingMany entrepreneurs dream of gathering their clients for powerful and transformational in-person experiences.  They create visions of unique destinations with unique experiential activities. Sounds wonderful but missing the biggest part of the puzzle: PROFIT.  The good news is you can have both, with thoughtful planning and guidance.

Your retreat experience, brand, and profits will benefit the most from a sold-out event! It is astonishing that many leaders are simply happy to break even and get their travel costs covered. Do not undervalue what you offer and give yourself permission to earn.  Only 13% of retreat leaders interviewed used a pre-planning tool to determine pricing!  Create your pricing from a profit first price point.  Be sure to include all fees, activities, meals, gratuities, etc… so there are no surprises in your budget.  Offer multiple tiers (with VIP experiences and add-ons) and payment plans so that you can serve a range of clients without compromising the overall experience.

Photo COURTESY OF ESPEN BIERUDHaving been in the retreat and travel space for a few decades here are other areas which are often overlooked when you plan independently. 

  • The time is now.

The reality of the timeline it takes to create a life-changing, amazingly memorable (and sold-out) program is eight-twelve months.   The day will come when you can have retreats anywhere and whenever you want — but when that day comes, you won’t be the only one eager to book. Airlines, cruise lines, hotels, private villas, and boutique resorts will take some time to build up to their full capacity, and whoever is ready to go first will get to choose from the best options.

  • Create the vision with tangible outcomes.

It goes without saying that you want your clients or team to have a positive and memorable experience. But if you want your clients to go home feeling ready to jump back into their lives with new inspiration and goals, you need a detailed vision that will get them there. They can have an amazing trip without you — but only you can make it a transformational experience.  You need to have clear tangible outcomes to address the issue YOU are solving for your guests.  Will they grow personally, develop a skill or gain a deepened sense of community?  Balance the schedule with learning, group, and alone time.  There needs to be direct alignment between the location and desired results.

  • Find and secure an amazing destination.

It takes time to find the right setting for your retreat. Through interviews with 100 retreat leaders, 40% shared that their chosen location did not have adequate amenities for the group.  Is the destination hard to get to? Is it in a safe area? Does it meet a range of tastes and needs? Anything less than stellar will take away from the overall experience and potentially do harm to your brand.  As stunning as a retreat venue may be, the property needs to be vetted to make sure there are not any unwelcome surprises.  Imagine showing up to find out there is construction going on next door and the pool area is closed.  This event represents your brand, so it’s worthwhile to do extensive research to make sure you feel confident in your venue’s value, quality, and support services. 

  • Nothing ruins a good retreat like bad travel.Photo Courtesy of Cory Gazaille

A retreat is so much more than just a trip. It’s an experience, and there’s so much you can do to maximize it!  Uplevel the customer service experience by NOT allowing your guests to manage their own travel.  That leaves too many variables out of your control. Over 60% of retreat participants noted that a travel delay or unreliable transport negatively impacted a retreat. Even though a travel glitch isn’t your fault, it can discolor the overall experience.  For example, most travelers won’t like to arrive solo.  An easy perk is offering shared van transport from and to the airport so guests can get to know each other without any pressure.  Or, if everyone lives within driving distance, coordinate a private coach so everyone can get there safely, together.

  • Launch a purposeful campaign to sell out and gain clients

A well-curated experience is only as good as your marketing plan. The more people who hear about your retreat, the better! But it’s important to be deliberate in your approach — where you are showing up, who you are targeting, how often you are reaching out, which partners can best help you spread the word, and what message will resonate. Your event will sell out when your campaign reaches the right audience and strikes the right note.

There is nothing like the energy and community at the end of an amazing retreat. Many leaders take the approach that a retreat is the big finale, like dessert.  Think of it more like the appetizer.  It gives guests a taste of what you offer and your style and personality.   If you want to support your guests in carrying the learning back into their everyday lives, there are ways you can keep the momentum going. As you wrap up you invite them to metaphorical dinner. Meaning you move past the appetizer and offer them the next step in working with you. And don’t forget dessert.  A high-level VIP option or private mastermind. If you keep those clients engaged after they leave, they can be clients for life.Photo Courtesy of Ralph Ravi Kayden

If you have stayed with this so far, then you must be interested in retreats on some level. So don’t let this last bit chase you away.  The most important but least discussed portion of planning is liability and insurance needs.  If you run an on-location retreat that includes accommodations you are considered a “Seller of Travel”.  There are strict guidelines to be followed.  Partnering with a travel professional usually handles this.  But besides travel liabilities, there are your own personal and business coverages.  The three main policies are Professional Indemnity, General Liability and Retreat Insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance and legal professionals before engaging in a retreat.

There are a lot of moving parts to launch and execute a phenomenal retreat. I’ve heard many times how hard it is to bring everything together, make sure all your bases are covered, and then show up and enjoy it yourself.  Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by the details of an event.  There are travel professionals that specialize in curated group event planning.  Retreats can be POWERFUL and PROFITABLE parts of a business plan.

Amy Flores YoungBIO:  Amy Flores-Young

Amy has been helping leaders design their live events with team building, agendas, and group travel for over 25 years. Whether it’s organizing statewide conferences, large national training, or smaller retreats for tight-knit teams and coaching groups, she has done it all.

As a former facilitator, Amy knows how difficult it is to manage the endless logistics while being the “face” of the room. Over the years, she perfected the art of weaving together the ultimate location and itinerary that both engages and energizes guests.

With Amy behind the scenes managing the logistics, you’ll be free to deliver the powerful and transformative experience that only you can. Partner with Amy to produce an exceptional and profitable experience.