5 Things You Should Consider Before Hosting a Retreat Abroad
Have you been dreaming about hosting a retreat abroad? Gathering together like minds into a space where they can escape the pressures and responsibilities of their daily lives and focus on their wellbeing, creation, mindset, and peace?
Hosting a retreat abroad can be a magical experience of healing, re-energizing the spirit, connecting with wonderful people, and finding a level of inspiration that can change lives... but there are some major aspects to consider before flying a group of people across the world! Through Discover Your Bali I host my own group travel experiences and I also help organize, book, and plan logistics for retreats to ensure everything runs smoothly. Here are five important things to consider before you take your next steps:
1. The internet is not a reflection of reality. This is how it goes.... I find a venue that looks gorgeous online. The rooms are bright, airy, and spacious. It's located outside the hustle and bustle of a major town but close enough to visit, has a big open room designed for retreats, and a lovely open-air restaurant on site. There are some great reviews posted. Hallelujah! Then I show up to see it in person, and it's totally different. The photos online have clearly been doctored to make the rooms and grounds appear larger, brighter, and cleaner than they are, or else they are out of date. The restaurant turns out to be dingy and cheap. Also, there is a strange smell lingering about. The vibe is not what I'm looking for and I start to question those reviews...
Before booking anything, I advise having a professional you trust on the ground to follow up with possible venues. This can be tough in a country far from your own. If you can't hire someone to suss it out, ask around and get reviews from people you know and trust who have hosted retreats in the same area!
2. Stuff can go wrong– a hard situation for a one-person show. Hiring someone who deals strictly with logistics is a must as this ensures that emergencies that pop up will not distract you, the retreat leader, from your focus on the group, or stop the show altogether. Emergencies include someone getting sick, excursions getting changed or cancelled last minute, one of the attendees getting lost, flights not arriving on time, unknown allergies or needs coming to light last-minute, etc. Don't leave this to chance or luck! Make sure you have support so you can do what you do best. Being able to provide the logistics coordinator's contact information instead of your own frees up your inbox, your answering machine, and your soul.
3. Dealing with logistics in a new place can be complex and frustrating! Do you want to spend your time booking flights and airport transfers for a group of people who are coming from different places and arriving at different times? Sometimes retreat centres have transportation offerings, but sometimes they don't, and sometimes the offering is limited to the first and last days of the retreat, or only to the nearby town and not the airport.
Booking a group outing might seem simple but become complicated quickly when you realize that you might need a few vehicles available, or have options ready for people who don't want to participate, or (in Bali's case) traffic that is incredibly slow, turning a morning excursion into an all-day traffic experience. Some local know-how can be a HUGE relief... draw on a coordinator with local knowledge to make sure everyone gets where they're supposed to be and that all your visions are realistic before you commit.
4. Details, details, details. It's important that your retreat attendees are prepared in every way for their experience... which means reminding people to check that they have a valid passport, ensuring they all have current medical and travel insurance, to providing information about appropriate clothing, cash, and how and where to transfer airports. Is one of the participants going to be stuck in an airport for a 36-hour layover? Are people arriving the day the retreat starts, or the day before to get settled in? Is your venue able to accommodate many different food preferences and allergies? What if a few attendees want to come early or stay after the retreat has ended? Having a right-hand coordinator to make sure everyone has their questions answered is important, and a lot of work to take on when your focus is on the retreat itself.
5. The big money question. What is the true cost of hosting a retreat? Take it from a lady who had to learn the hard way! When budgeting for your retreat, there are obvious costs that will be built into the participants' final quote, like flights, insurance, accommodations, transport, meals, excursions, activities, and of course your wonderful services. Maybe you've already considered what will be covered and what is "extra". However, there are also sneaky hidden costs, which I've divided into three categories below. It's so important to factor these into the overall cost, or else you might come home breaking even, or worse, paying out of pocket for unexpected costs.
Your own travel costs: Don't forget to budget yourself in! What are your flight, insurance, accommodation, meals, and activities going to cost? You are a leader, but also a participant in this sense. If you're hiring a logistics coordinator, an assistant, a photographer to come along, etc., ensure that their costs are also carefully considered. Make sure to include these costs into the participants' final quote.
Personal costs while you're away: This includes anything you're still paying for at home while you're gone. For instance, you might miss out on some important income while you're away, or require a house sitter, pet care, or child care. Maybe you're paying an assistant extra to manage the business while you're away. You'll still be paying your mortgage/rent and utilities while you're away as well, so make sure you cover these "normal" costs.
The cost of marketing and developing the retreat: How many (as yet unpaid) hours have you put into planning, organizing, and developing materials for your retreat? You might have otherwise spent these hours earning an income, so make sure you pay yourself retroactively for those! It's also important to consider the time and cost that went into marketing the retreat– did you pay someone to support you? Did you pay for ads, host webinars, rent space, print flyers?
I know this is a lot to take in! It's my goal as a logistics coordinator in Bali to make sure that all these considerations are addressed and organized for you... so you can create the beautiful experience you've been envisioning all along for your participants. If you're interested in hosting a retreat in Bali and want a team member, send me an email and let's get started!