If you’ve ever gone on a retreat, you know how great it feels to go back home basking in the glow of the experience, bubbling over with enthusiasm, ready to take on the world—but what you probably aren’t aware of is what’s involved in taking the transformative experience of a retreat from an idea to a reality.
While it takes a lot of planning and work, it’s something that anyone with a big vision and a little tenacity can do.
There are many reasons why you might want to facilitate a retreat.
Retreats are a great way to combine your passion for helping people with your love of travel. They create a venue where you meet people you might not otherwise have ever met. Plus, they offer a rare opportunity to have such a profound effect on someone that it actually changes his or her life—and, to me, that is truly inspirational.
You can even make money with a retreat if you do it right.
Like all worthwhile endeavors, a great retreat starts out as a good idea. Start by thinking about what inspires you deeply enough that you would feel motivated to share it with others.
Perhaps you have an inordinately effective technique that would benefit other therapists. Or maybe you have insights that can empower someone to new and greater personal or professional heights.
Maybe you’re ready to retire and can envision sharing your wealth of experience with other therapists in a stunning and memorable location.
Whatever your idea is, be aware that planning a retreat requires a huge commitment, and going into it without an exceptionally clear vision can be a real test of your true grit—not to mention your financial resources.
Shape Your Vision
As your idea starts to take form, consider the kind of information you want to present at the retreat. After all, by definition a retreat involves some aspect of withdrawal for prayer, rest, refuge, meditation or study.
There’s a veritable cornucopia of potential retreat content, but the best material comes from your heart—whatever it is that speaks to you and through you.
The content of the retreat is the foundation of the entire experience; it is the very catalyst that is going to bring people together. If you don’t have pertinent content, and all you’re offering is a chance to travel to a cool location, then it’s not really a retreat—it’s a vacation.
Choose Your Destination
The lure of travel to awesome locations is as much an incentive for retreat leaders as it is for participants.
In retreats, as in real estate, think location, location, location. And think fabulous, too! Because where you hold your retreat is as crucial to its success as why you’re doing it and what your content is.
For example, if your content centers on connecting with nature, Las Vegas may not be your best choice. But if you are drawn to the way traditional healing practices can be incorporated into modern massage modalities, then someplace like Sedona, Tibet or Hawaii—where you can access those traditional practices in an exotic and enticing location—could be a great match.
Develop a Theme
Once you’ve developed a retreat idea, considered the content, and decided where you’d like to hold your retreat, a theme for it almost creates itself.
Your theme is the promise of what your participants will gain from the retreat. It sets the tone of the entire experience and becomes the cornerstone of all your marketing. (Yes, you’re going to have to market this. The “build it and they will come” approach just won’t work—trust me, I’ve tried it.)
You should be able to boil the whole theme down to one exciting, enticing, scrumptious statement, something that says it all in a nutshell. It could focus on what the participants are going to learn, where the retreat is going to be held, or, even more powerfully, the compelling benefits of participating.
Name Your Price
Then there’s the issue of pricing. After all, if you’re going to go through the effort it takes to organize a retreat—even if it’s just a fairly informal affair with a group of friends—you might as well not come out on the short end of it financially.
And, if you want to turn your passion into something more profitable, then you’ve definitely got to pay close attention to the way you price the retreat.
Granted, it’s hard to anticipate every expense—but you really don’t have any other choice. Covering all your bases is extremely important, because the number-one reason retreats aren’t financially successful is pricing. Don’t forget to include your profit in the equation. Be sure you pay yourself what you’re worth!
Get Ready for Transformation
A retreat is truly successful when it becomes a transformational experience. In order for that to happen, every aspect has to enhance the others. It starts with a clear vision. That vision is fleshed out with content that not only means something to its developer—you—but also has value to others.
Make that content more memorable and exciting by picking an incredible location that emphasizes the message. Top that with a killer theme that is completely irresistible and a price that makes the entire experience a winner for everyone.
A wise teacher once told me that practice doesn’t make perfect—it makes you a master. Mastering the many complexities involved in creating a retreat is rewarding on so many levels, from having a life-changing effect on the people who participate, to having an incredibly good time yourself, to creating a living, transformative experience that takes care of everyone—especially you.
George Davis is the founder of Hawaii Bodyworkers Retreat, a six-day, 30-hour, National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved, Hawaiian-style retreat experience. Get your FREE The Bodyworkers Guide to Building a Better Business, as well as an application for the April retreat, at hawaiibodyworkersretreat.com. Want your own retreat with a lot less planning? Check out hawaiiretreatexperiences.com.