In this article, we will give you a step by step instruction on how to sell and promote retreats. The post is based on our personal experience and we hope it will help you to increase the chances of your success.
Going for retreats is a relatively new concept. For example, in the US and Canada it has been growing for about 5-6 years now, but to Europe, it only really came about 2 years ago. Russia has witnessed a boom in yoga and fitness retreats (tours) and the population of Asia is also slowly growing the interest in this matter.
(Do not have time to read? Scroll down to the end of the post to see a quick summary).
Considering the high price for attending the most retreats, it’s no surprise that the number of retreat organisers is growing day after day.
Therefore, it’s a little bit of a problem for both, the retreat goers who have to go through a lot of “noise” to find why they are looking for, and also for the retreat organisers, as they have to face a growing competition; and this competition is fierce as there are many more retreats than people who are interested, able, and ready to pay for them.
In this post, we will provide you with a few ideas on how to maximise your chances to sell your retreat.
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1. Accept that not everything will be sold
Those who say that they sell out all the places at their retreats are simply bluffing. Because, with such a huge competition on the market, it’s close to impossible.
Not saying that you won’t ever reach your retreat capacity, but it’s very hard to sustain it from one retreat to another. In other words, running retreat, below full capacity, should be included in your cost calculation.
2. Wrap it up as nice as your Christmas presents
More and more sales each year are taking place online, in fact, 2019 global e-commerce sales are predicted to increase by 73% vs 2016 and by 2023 it is predicted to more than triple.
For example, you are looking at your phone/ computer right now with your eyes and that’s how you process everything. In order for your retreat to stand out and grab the attention, you have to have good quality pictures. To clarify, your pictures should tell the story about the nature of your retreat, environment, location, views, activities, food, venue, rooms, etc.
Thank god, these days everyone has cameras on their phones. So, as long as you know the basics of how to take pictures you are fine.
Don’t underestimate the power of the picture. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Good visuals will certainly help you to sell your retreat better.
Have a look at some of the retreat examples with great pictures on our website:
3. Stuff it up with the details
Your pictures triggered the interest and now it’s all about the content.
One of the reasons why not more people are buying into the retreat concept is because more often than not, they don’t understand what are they getting out of the retreat.
Tell your audience what your retreat is all about. Talk about location, activities, food, etc. Tell them why your retreat is different and why they should join you and no one else. Here is the where you can show how passionate you are about it, but avoid going into too many details.
People who shop online have a short attention span. So, don’t forget to outline exactly what is included in the package: accommodation, activities, transfer, meals, drinks, equipment, use of facilities, etc
4. Do not hide
Let’s face it, it’s unlikely that anyone buys into your retreat without checking if the information provided is legitimate. Show the pictures of the organisers with full names and bios. Make sure your social media accounts are open and that you are active there.
Nothing sells better than the clients’ feedback. If possible, create a feedback section on your website. On the platforms like Instagram, you can also save the feedback posts from your clients into your account highlights.
5. Sell to who know you
The easiest way to sell your retreats is to sell them to people who already know you. First, target your existing and former clients, then move to your followers on social media and only after that explore other avenues. It’s pretty common for yoga retreats and fitness retreats to be mostly filled by the clients of people who run them.
6. Take advantage of free distribution channels
Facebook groups are very powerful. If chosen correctly, you can get direct exposure to your target audience. But don’t go for the most obvious groups like Yoga Retreats, Surfing Retreats, etc as there you will mostly be exposed to your peers and not as much to your potential clients.
Your offering should be relevant to the group you are pitching it to. Let’s say you run yoga and surfing retreats based around the vegan diet in the venue close to Barcelona. Ideal groups for you would be yoga, surfing, and vegan related; but also have a look at the more targeted groups like Vegan Barcelona, Expats Barcelona, etc.
Make sure you comply with the rules of the group, otherwise you might be blocked from posting or commenting. Many of the groups might block you for promotion of your retreats.
Also, check out the groups on Meetup as they are also formed based on interests.
7. Place your retreats with online travel marketplaces
There are a number of online marketplaces out there and all of them have access to different audience and geographies. Therefore, it all comes down to the audience you are targeting for your retreats. Most of them charge a fee for booking/ transaction, some of them charge a fee for listing, and some of them are free. Here are a few suggestings to look at:
- www.retreasmap.com – an online market place for all types of retreats. Free listing, no transaction charges. The users go directly to your website where they can learn more about your retreat or make a booking. The website traffic is pretty global (21% UK, 15% US, 7% India, 4% Canada, 20% Europe (excl. the UK), and the rest is Latin America, Asia, and Australia).
- www.wetravel.com – payment and booking services platform for the travel community (retreats incusing). There you can create a branded page for your retreat (almost like a one-pager website) and point your potential clients towards it. They charge a small fee for the booking. They do not promote your retreat, but they do have a market place. Most of their website traffic (64%) is coming from the US.
- www.bookyogaretreats.com – an online market place for yoga retreats. To list your retreat profile is free, but they do charge a commission of 14% + of the total booking fee if they sell your retreats. Having said that, they do have good web traffic and many retreat organizers claim that they sold many retreat spots via this website. 35% of their monthly traffic comes from the US, 15% from the UK, 9% from Canada, 4% from India.
8. Don’t lie
Many of the organisers are trying to use marketing tricks to create a vision of high demand for their retreat – announcing sales, announcing limited availability, etc. It might work (although it’s questionable, as a retreat is not an impulse sale and it’s easily replaceable); however, you have to be consistent with your story everywhere.
9. Give yourself enough time
Organising retreats is not easy. It takes time to put everything together. Unfortunately, many of the things have to be happening at the same time. Ideally, you need to start promoting your retreat as soon as you know most of the details. Give yourself a minimum of 4-5 months. Ideally more. On our website, we already have retreats for Jan 2021. The sooner you start the more chance you have to sell out your retreats.
Enough time for promotion will give you fewer reasons to stress out about it and more reasons to enjoy the process of putting everything together.
Obviously, there is more to what we described above to promote and sell your retreats. Have a look at The Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Tour Operator Business from WeTravel. It is a bit outdated as it was published in 2018, but it still has a lot of very useful information.
And just to summarize:
How to sell out your retreats?
- Accept that you won’t sell everything
The growth of people looking to go for retreats does not keep up with the growth of companies offering retreats. Simply accept that you will not be able to sell out each of your retreats and account for that in your pricing.
- Package your retreat nicely
Make sure that you put a good effort into describing your retreat, choosing the pictures, deciding what to include in the pricing, etc. You do not have to have a degree in marketing to make your profile/ page look nice. Just ask yourself: “Would you want to learn more about your retreat if you saw it among hundreds of others?”
- The devil is in the details
Be specific on how your retreat is different to anything else out there. Be detailed about what is included in the price.
- Be transparent with your business
Make sure that your social media and your website are up to date with the information about you and your activities. Your customers will be researching you and your prior events/feedback. Help them to find the information they might need.
- Start selling within your network
The biggest chance of any sale is to sell the products/ services to someone already familiar with it. If you are a yoga teacher or a fitness trainer, start from approaching your existing and former clients.
- Use free distribution channels
Make full use of your social media accounts, Facebook and Meetup groups. But do not abuse their policies or it might backfire.
- Use online travel marketplaces
There are many options online from free to pay-for services which can help to increase your visibility on the retreats market. Have a look at the above for more details.
- Don not lie
Many retreat organizers are trying to create a hype around their retreats but fail to be consistent. If you get it wrong, it is pretty noticeable and can damage your reputation.
- Give yourself enough time
Give yourself at least 4-5 months to market your retreat. It takes time to earn trust. Just be patient.
We hope our “How to Sell your Retreats” gave you some new ideas. Good luck with your retreats and don’t forget to post your retreats on our website. Simply click on Add Listing and follow the instructions. Listing is FREE. No commission is charged.
Want to know what your customers are looking for in retreats? Have a look at this article on how to choose retreat.
Interested to learn more about our online market place for retreats? Have a look here!