Creating, Hosting + Leading a Retreat – Part 1

Creating the Retreat for Goddesses back in 2010 created a HUGE GROWTH SPURT in my business. Up until that point, I was a classic life and career coach who was stuck in a one-to-one model simply trading hours for dollars.

While I loved my work and my clients, I had hit a wall. I couldn’t grow anymore and knew that with the birth of my second child in 2011, things would have to change. I wasn’t willing to just scrape by and only touch a handful of people with my message and teachings.

Enter the Retreat for Goddesses. It literally came to me in a dream when I moved from New York City to the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. The name of the event just dropped into my body. I went with it even though I’m not sure why I was selected as the teacher of all things Goddesses.

GGS#1

Hosting that event allowed me to step into the next level of my growth as a business owner and human being. During the retreat, I launched my first 9-month coaching, training and mastermind program. I stopped trading hours for dollars. I attracted more committed clients who were willing to invest in themselves.

All because I created, hosted and led a juicy retreat experience.

Do you want to lead a retreat for your tribe? It’s certainly an art and a science with many lessons to learn. But in my experience (and I used to produce large conferences in my corporate job), there is no other type of live event experience that goes quite as deep as a retreat.

Let’s dive in to what you need to know:

1. VENUE

Choose a venue that will be appealing to your ideal client and tribe. Consider geographic location, venue vibe, sleeping room arrangements, food, view, activities onsite.

You’ll also want to consider what you’ll be responsible for in the contract and price your tickets accordingly. The first two years, our venues required an all-inclusive price where my company was required to take all room reservations and roommate requests and then pay the venue a lump sum based on the numbers of women we attracted to sign up.

sanctuary

This past year, I chose to work with a venue that would handle all the bookings and payment for those rooms, while my company handled Retreat ticket reservations. I realized I had no desire to become a travel agency, which is what we were the first two years handling roommate requests and pairing people up and dealing with cancellations and changes. Not my cup of tea! But you must do what feels right to you and your biz.

Contract for a number of people you are confident you can attract, but that also scares you a bit because you know you’ll have to stretch. Understand what is included in the price and market these details to your peeps (how many meals are included? what activities are included? what are the accommodations like?).

listening

Also consider if you’re booking a classic retreat center, a hotel or a resort. I have experience at all types. There’s no right or wrong, but your venue should be a reflection of your brand and should attract your juicy clients like bees to honey.

Find a few options and go on site visits before you make a decision. If you can eat a meal during your site visit, do it. Keep your peeps well-fed and you’ll have happy campers!

Group shot in front of greenery beauty

2. DATES

When do you want to host your live retreat and for how many days? I recommend a 3-day event as you’ll need that time to really go deep. Consider adding on an optional VIP upgrade, which includes another day with you at an additional cost where you provide a ton of value and an exclusive experience that only the VIP peeps will get.

I’ve hosted retreats on weekends and during the week. At this stage in my business, I personally prefer hosting my 3-day retreats during the week (my fave pattern is Wednesday through Friday, with an upgrade from Friday to Saturday) because I don’t want to miss the weekends with my children. Plus, I’m attracting business women with flexibility in their work schedules so getting away during the week shouldn’t be an issue when you are working ON your business (vs. IN it).

Parlor Room

You need to start promoting at least 4 months prior to your event (earlier if possible). Lead time is crucial in your marketing efforts. You must give your clients and prospects notice if you want to fill seats. Yes, you’ll get last-minute sign-ups, but the majority will sign up a few months prior. Don’t underestimate the importance of this! When I was a conference director in the corporate world, we did studies that found that the more lead time we had, the more registrations we had. The sweet spot was about 5 – 6 months out.

3. AGENDA

Who will be leading your retreat? You the entire time or will you invite guest teachers to join you? This is personal preference though I highly recommend inviting some guest speakers to share in the “holding of the space” and to help you promote the event. Hosting an event (I don’t care what size it is) is a HUGE undertaking and the more help you can get with this, the better. Plus, your attendees will enjoy learning from another teacher who will know more about a particular area of expertise than you do.

Just be mindful that your speakers understand what you’d like them to teach, when they’ll be speaking and what your guidelines are for “selling from the stage” (when appropriate). It needs to be a win for all parties. Be clear upfront about your expectations.

Christine on Stage

As for your teachings, I recommend building in plenty of exercises for your peeps to participate in. Don’t just straight-up lecture! That’s not the point of a retreat. You want to give your attendees a chance to INTERACT with the material, try it on in their businesses and lives, connect with their fellow attendees, and go home with a plan and direction. My team passes out lots of worksheets to our attendees that truly brings the lessons I teach to life. It’s amazing watching the magic unfold.

When it comes to creating my multi-day retreats, I build in time for personal exploration and play. I’ve been to so many events, where you are in a conference room from morning until late at night without much fresh air or processing time. That’s not a retreat and that’s okay. But if you are hosting a retreat, it needs to be a retreat in every respect of the word. Give people the SPACE they need to get the answers they seek. And guess what? Those answers won’t only come from you. You are creating the sacred space for your attendees to find their own answers. This is SO, SO powerful.

Giddy-up Rayna

Like what you read here? Stay tuned for next week’s continuation of this article. And keep your eyes open for my VIRTUAL RETREAT I’ll be hosting on Tuesday, September 10. In order to host a retreat, you need to attend one first. I’d be honored if you’d join me! Registration details coming soon.

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