Top Tips From an Industry Expert on How to Host a Super Successful Retreat

Travel has changed. Vacationing used to be an excuse to escape—and it’s evolved into incredible destinations unknown focused on relaxation, self-love, and well-being. Wellness travel is one of the industry’s fastest-growing sectors, and while hotels and resorts are taking note, your studio can offer an answer to this trend that’s here to stay. Hello, retreats! 

Local mountains or a tropical destination, hosting a retreat can be a profitable extension of your studio brand while benefiting your client connection and community. But where do you start—and how do you measure success? Or maybe you’ve done a retreat before, but you’re looking to expand (or scale back) your offerings? 

“By stepping away from the day-to-day of your studio operations and hosting a retreat allows your client to see the person behind the mat,” says industry expert and retreat planning veteran Roxanne Borger. “And that creates magic.” 

From bringing like-minded individuals together for the greater good to incorporating activities that tap into every dimension of wellness, here are Roxanne’s “rules” for creating and executing a retreat (big or small) and how it can be a differentiator for client engagement and retention. 

Make your marketing count (and start early!)

Planning a retreat takes preparation but requires communication with ample time for your clients to schedule, book, budget, and buy! By leveraging your marketing channels, you can gauge interest and encourage bookings while wellness is on their mind!

  • Get it on the calendar: Start marketing four to six months in advance to raise awareness, working up to your annual calendar 
  • Schedule and price are most important: Even if every small detail isn’t figured out, include basic information on your studio website 
  • Call to action: What’s next? Create urgency by including a call to action, like an interest list, pay a deposit now, and pay in full so clients can start telling their friends and start booking 
  • Promote, promote, promote: Social media, email marketing campaigns—start spreading the word about your upcoming retreat 
  • It’s all about referrals: Utilize your connections and word-of-mouth marketing to share your wellness retreat because you know your clients would love to invite their friends! 
Start small with your budget and grow! 

Your retreat doesn’t have to be at the most expensive resort to make it amazing! It’s all about quality time and experience with your clients and community—and being together in nature is one of the best parts! Even a smaller budget can net big results! “I’ve seen up to $100,000 in revenue from a single retreat and event,” says Roxanne. Hey, when it works, it works! And don’t forget to ask the individuals who work at the location of your retreat (like a hotel) for help. 

  • $5,000 to $20,000 is a good starting point for a retreat
  • 100% markup is a common practice 
  • A lot of retreats include most, if not all, meals and allocate different pricing tiers for shared and individual accommodations and couple excursions 
  • Offer budget-friendly payment plans so you can reach a variety of clients to be paid in full two to three months before departure
Location considerations are something you want to discuss and consider

Not every successful retreat takes place in the South of France! Glamping spot in the mountains two hours away or the sandy shores of Cabo San Lucas, your location choice and agenda go hand-in-hand, including the itinerary, food options, and free time activities. When making a decision, consider the budget of your clientele and their lifestyle. “First, find a location that lights you up,” says Roxanne. And be sure to scout the location before committing! A few places she recommends include:

  • Mexico (Casa Om)
  • Costa Rica
  • Sedona, AZ / Canyon Ranch 

Consider warmer locales, especially during the chilly months, and find a space that takes the work off you and has everything onsite—and do some exploring! 

The power is in the travel details 

When planning a retreat figuring out the logistics is crucial to the success of your wellness getaway. 

  • Flights: If your retreat requires a flight, inform participants when to arrive and depart by and organize grand transportation with the resort/hotel (if applicable)
  • Hotels: The hotel and/or retreat center is your partner in executing your retreat, so don’t be afraid to lean on them and utilize their staff on the ground versus bringing extra team members from your studio (an added expense!)
  • Participants: Aim for 12-15 for the first retreat—and when it gets bigger, 40 attendees is a decent and manageable size
  • Fewer workshops, more relaxation: Your treat shouldn’t be an intensive learning experience to educate; focus on more connection and community vibes, helping to relax and heal your participants
  • Sweet swag: Provide branded merch to commemorate the retreat as a gift! 
  • Host activities: Consider activities to compliment your retreat itinerary, like a road trip, hike, pool party, or beach day

Also, determine if your retreat will be movement or adventure based and what the value is to your members. Here are Roxanne’s suggestions: 

  • Movement retreats: 2 classes per day, few planned cultural/community experiences
  • Adventure retreats: 2-3 classes per week, daily Excursions (traditionally more expensive)
Establish event metrics so you can optimize and learn 

What’s the ROI on your retreat, and how do you determine if it was worth the time and investment? These are Roxanne’s top data points to analyze post-retreat:

  • Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Profit 
  • Marketing Costs 
  • Number of actual participants
  • Satisfaction score 
  • Participant retention (and connection!)
Determine your retreat follow-up game plan 

When planning a retreat, you want to capitalize on the interest and learn from the execution and experience. 

  • Let it flow: Be a good listener during the event, but also don’t take it too seriously and try to be in flow. 
  • Survey says: Send a follow-up survey to participants post-retreat and consider the questions before you even land on your retreat destination (also, ask for testimonials because social proof is gold!)
  • Add it up: Run the numbers—how much did it cost your business, time and money-wise, to host? Calculate by looking at total revenue, expenses, and profit
  • Make it marketable: Get the next retreat up on the website and offer early bird/repeat promo pricing for past participants while they are still talking about the unique experience they just returned from
  • What’s the plan: Review notes and takeaways and strategize on how you can make the next retreat even better 

Whether your retreat is local or abroad, at the end of the day, it needs to provide value to your studio and your clients. “Ask yourself: What are the pain points, and what are the benefits,” says Roxanne. From there, you can plan a fruitful and successful retreat! 

Watch this webinar featuring Roxanne and Walla co-founder Laura Munkholm to learn more about creating a profitable retreat!