How do you Get more People to Book your Retreat?
You launched it. Your first yoga retreat. You did the work, booked the venue, put in the planning time and created marketing materials to put your retreat out into the world.
And then you waited.
You kept waiting. You knew your retreat was going to be a brilliant experience for everyone who came — but the bookings just didn’t roll in.
It’s really normal for a first retreat (or a second, or third) to be a really hard sell. And it is selling; a retreat is a big investment for most people, and you have to make sure they’re confident it’ll be worth their money, time, and commitment.
Here are 5 reasons why people aren’t booking your retreat. With tips on how to change things up and encourage more students to take the plunge!
You’re not advertising to students who know you
When you’re just starting to host your own retreats, it’s crucial to market it to students who already know you and your teaching. And that usually means talking about it, face-to-face, with the people who come to your classes and workshops.
Have flyers to hand out but make sure you speak about your retreat too. Make it personal; talk to individual students about how your retreat could help them develop certain aspects of their practice, or help them get some relief from stresses in their lives. Then give them the flyer and tell them you’re happy to talk about it more if they’d like to.
Make it so clear that someone who’d never even heard of a yoga retreat before would know what to expect, and understand how they’d benefit.
Your existing yogis are the people who are most likely to book your retreat. So put them right at the centre of your marketing strategy from the start. That means thinking about them when you’re planning your retreat, too — what do your yogis want? What locations would appeal to them? What theme or learning focus would be beneficial to them?
You’re not actively marketing your retreat every day
One of the most common mistakes yoga teachers make when marketing retreats is assuming that all they have to do is put their flyers, Facebook ads and Instagram posts out there, and then the bookings will come. Nope; you’ve got to work at marketing retreats consistently. Every day, or at least a couple of times a week.
Make a commitment to yourself to do one thing every day to let more people know about your retreat. It could be an email to your mailing list, or a personal email to someone you think would be interested, or who could tell other people who might be interested. It could be putting up a poster; writing a guest blog post for a relevant blog; buying a print ad, or social media ad; talking about your retreat at the beginning of the classes you teach; or giving all your students a ‘bring a friend’ discount voucher.
Market it. And then again. And again.
The venue or location doesn’t stand out
If someone is investing in a retreat, they want the location to feel right. This doesn’t mean that only beautiful tropical beach retreats work; but the location needs to appeal in some way, fit your students’ travel budgets, and feel welcoming and comfortable.
Generally, people will want to know that there will be space for them to have quiet time on their own. Beyond that, all kinds of locations can work — from urban hideaways to mountain retreats; castles to woodland cabins.
Do your market research. Before you choose a venue (or even a country), talk to your existing students or put a survey out. Where would they like to go? What would their rough travel budget be? Would they want to fly or not? Would they prefer a local weekend retreat or a longer getaway further afield?
They’re not sure what your retreat is about, or if it’s right for them
Get really clear about what your retreat is, what attendees will get from it, and what the experience the day-to-day experience will be like.
And then figure out how to write all that down really briefly, in clear language. Make it so clear that someone who’d never even heard of a yoga retreat before would know what to expect, and understand how they’d benefit.
if you realise there’s a problem with the plan and it’s putting people off from booking, don’t be afraid to make those crucial changes.
If beginners are welcome, say that. If the theme or intention of the retreat is philosophical, abstract or meditative, explain how the specific practices you’ll teach will contribute to that theme or intention. Basically, avoid vagueness (easier said than done!).
The price isn’t right
Many of us will price a retreat by working out the expenses, and then adding the amount we’d like to earn on top of that. This makes sense; but actually, effective pricing is a bit more complex. There are emotions involved.
It’s important to factor in your target audience, and approach pricing with an understanding of how much they would expect — or want — to pay. Pricing has to match your audience and be reflected in your marketing efforts.
For example, if you're marketing a ‘luxury’ retreat in a 5 star location with massage and fine dining, but you’re charging a low rate, it’s not going to sell. The people who read or click through your marketing materials won’t trust what you say about your retreat if the cost doesn’t reflect the content. Equally, if you’re marketing a ‘rustic’ low-end retreat but you’re charging above market rates — well, not much explanation needed there.
Be clear and keep going
Not all retreats will sell out, and some don’t take off at all. But if you’re clear about what you’re offering; you talk to people about it (a lot); and you keep putting it out into the world on different platforms and in different ways, bookings will come. Be patient and persistent!
It can be difficult to change your plans once you’ve put them together, and especially after you’ve started advertising your retreat. But if you realise there’s a problem with the plan and it’s putting people off from booking, don’t be afraid to make those crucial changes. Current and potential students will appreciate your willingness to adapt to their needs; and if you’re honest about missing something or making a mistake, your transparency could help to build trust too.
There is the chance your first retreat won't go perfect or exactly how you planned, maybe this is also the case for the retreats after. But if you accept these moments, make the most of them, and learn from them, organizing a retreat can be something magical for you, your yogis, and your business.