Starting a Yoga Retreat Business & Retreat Marketing
As a retreat marketer, I get to speak with many retreat organisers and yoga teachers on a daily basis. The biggest problems they mention is not finding the right location, or the best teachers, it’s filling the retreat bookings…
Retreat marketing is a specialist area, you’ve got to get your message right, the benefits clear and a full retreat programme that fits your audience’s goals, but even with the most beautifully eloquent and descriptive retreat marketing information you can still fall short of a full yoga retreat…
The answer is obvious initially: wait until you’ve got a decent number of subscribers to your day or evening classes and then market a residential retreat to your existing list after you’ve got an established client-base. Or employ someone as a teacher who already has an established client-list and partner with them for an extra special retreat with two practitioners!
It may take a few years to build up a burgeoning client-base but it’s well worth at least having a decent number of clients who know you and what you teach. The enticement to go deeper on a residential programme and learn faster in a focused and relaxing setting may well mean your first retreat breaks even or makes a profit!
Make sure your customers make a financial commitment before you start your full marketing plan or even before you pay your deposit to the retreat centre. If you plan far enough in advance, and the retreat is not at peak season, you could get an in-principle agreement from the retreat centre to pencil-in the dates, with your deposit to pay several months later. This should give you enough time to get enough bookings to cover the retreat deposit.
Many of your existing clients may say they are interested, but maybe they are just being polite or would like to go but don’t have the holiday available or the money – get a core of your clients booked before you spend a penny on marketing or logistics – if at all possible!
Here are a few top tips to help you get that retreat marketed and hopefully, fully booked!
- Get the retreat centre to market to their existing clients.
- Keep it Simple! Design and promote a straight forward daily routine – using sumptuous and highly descriptive copy – paint a vivid picture utilising all the readers senses and desires of what they want to achieve from your exciting retreat programme.
- Advertise on an existing email newsletter focused on wellbeing with a discount and deadline to book, we are talking about a niche wellbeing/beauty and health dedicated audience of over 100,000 subscribers, it is out there!
- Ask for the booking! Use gentle language such as; “Okay let’s register you now for the retreat”. Have a form ready and carefully and simply go through filling in the form with the client, whether you are with them in person or on the telephone – get the form filled in with their details, confirm the dates and whether they are paying in full or just the deposit. Make sure they are aware of your booking terms and conditions and cancellation policy. Take the full amount or deposit of 50% – all refundable up to a month before the retreat date (make sure you use the same cancellation policy as your retreat centre, otherwise you could be left out of pocket!). Take the money either in cash or set up a PayPal account and link on your website that you can email customers the easy-to-use payment weblink when they decide to book. You can also take direct bank transfers or ask the client to use WeTransfer (wetransfer.com) if it’s an overseas client – your client will save on average $40 transfer fee by transferring money to you via this method.
Being shy of asking for the booking and taking the deposit or full retreat rate is one of the biggest reasons I see retreats fail. Most yoga teachers and other retreat leaders are not always the best at commercial negotiations. If you’re not confident ask someone who is to help or study some assertive marketing to ensure people who are interested don’t loose interest or book another holiday somewhere else before you properly confirm their booking.
Make sure you have a nicely designed receipt for their payment so that they have official paperwork of the booking with a link to your terms and conditions on the receipt and of course all your contact details, arrangements for getting to the retreat and the retreat address with dates of the retreat clearly stated.
- Create a full plan of the process of marketing and PR of the retreat and a clear pathway as to the enquiry, booking and confirmation process for the retreat bookings.
- Allow plenty of time for your first few retreats, plan to start the marketing, and be ready to start the marketing at least six months before the start date, preferably nine months or even a year.
- Don’t give up! And know it will be hard work and you may need to get out of your comfort zone to learn new skills. You MUST believe wholeheartedly in the benefits of the retreat, express them clearly and have the clarity of vision to see it through, from initial promotion to the closing ceremony on the last day.
One of the most important things is to have clarity of vision, belief in what you are offering and the determination to make it happen!
But also, most importantly it’s keeping your retreatants coming back time and time again that will make a difference… More about that in our second article about retreat marketing.
If you have any questions about retreat marketing from this article, contact the author, Caspar K Ingham on Tel: +44(0)203 289 7272 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat!
About the author: Caspar is a retreat marketing specialist and meditation practitioner wityh over 10 years experience focused on marketing yoga, meditation, ayurveda and other wellbeing retreats in the UK, India, China and Europe.