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  • Writer's pictureAnne McCormick

How to Attract People to Your Retreat

You’ve decided you want to host a retreat abroad! Congratulations. Now, it’s time to book your venue, figure out the nit picky details… and, persuade people to sign up on this adventure with you!

The marketing part can be really stressful for any retreat, but especially one that you're hosting abroad. From your clients’ perspective, signing up for a retreat abroad is more attractive in many ways. It's adventurous, more fun, and more of an escape from their lives so they can focus on what’s important– however, it’s also generally more complex, expensive, and it's a bigger commitment in terms of time, distance, and energy away from their lives.

Take a deeeep breath. Here are 5 ways to attract the people you want to your overseas retreat. If you can check these 5 off your list of things you’ve put into practice, you’re well on your way to creating a beautiful, lucrative retreat and filling your spots.

1. Don’t panic, be specific

At first, you might just want everyone and their dog to sign up for your retreat. Anyone who likes yoga. Anyone who writes, and you don’t care what. Anyone who has ever had a remote interest in whatever your focus is. The problem with this is that when you try to speak to everyone, you wind up speaking to no one in particular. Put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes. Say you’ve been practicing yoga for a few years consistently and searching for an awesome yoga retreat to hone your skills, dive even deeper into your practice without distraction, and you’re looking to eventually become a yoga instructor. You find a great retreat abroad, and the messaging says: “Do you do yoga? Want to get better at it? Do you want to travel to [fill in country here]?”

Technically, all these things are true about you in a general sense, but it doesn’t really speak to you and what you want to invest in. If you came across a retreat that offered deeper teachings of yoga, to take you deeper into your practice, and also to give you a chance to put in some instructor hours with a well-known expert guiding you and giving you feedback, this would be more up your alley.

Now put yourself back in your shoes. The bottom line is: don’t be afraid to be specific. What are you offering, and who will benefit from this most? People who are curious and just starting out? People who want to travel as well as focus on their craft? People who are already experts in their field or who have a project in the works rather than someone who is at the beginning or middle of their journey? When we rove through all the marketing we see every day, we are subconsciously looking for ourselves. Use this to your advantage.

2. Speak your ideal client’s language

What you’re offering is important, but what the client will get is more important to them. This might sound like two sides of the same coin, and it is! However, focusing on what the client gets will help them skip an important mental step and get them on board faster. Here's an example:

Hop back in your client’s shoes. You find a retreat with messaging that is specific to you, and you're excited. You see a bullet point list of offerings and three of them are: • 1 hour focused meditation/day • 3 hours teaching and practice • Afternoon free time • Lunch and dinner provided Now you have to do a mental exercise. Is this what you want your day to be like? What will the focused meditation really do for you? Is this breakdown reflective of what you want to get from this? Maybe you have more questions than answers at this point.

Basically, as the host, you've put all the work in your ideal client's hands to translate a schedule into what they'll really. If you ask, “What will they get from these offerings?” and "Why have I set it up this way?" you can make a better list: • Join the group in a grounding morning meditation to increase presence and awareness • Learn the tenets of yoga and put them into practice each morning to deepen your practice • Explore the grounds and surrounding village in the afternoon • Lunch and dinner are provided, catered to the venue. All ingredients are organic and nutritious. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.

Paint them a picture, because you know what they want.

3. Choose carefully where to focus your energy

A note about social media: If people are following you, but don’t really know you or your reputation (especially if you’re still building your reputation) they are unlikely to drop thousands of dollars on your retreat based on a post or a quick meeting. By all means, continue creating great posts and visuals. A lot of people will love the sound of what you’re offering, and might even say “I wish!”. By spending time on social media, you're inviting them into an almost physical space where they can relax, learn, and enjoy themselves. Take note of which posts are performing well, and maybe make a video and write blogs addressing the concerns or blocks that come up. As people see you hosting retreats and getting great feedback, those cold leads will get warmer. At first, social media should take about 20% of your energy. If you think you can get all your spots filled via Instagram, ask yourself if you would drop $5000 on a retreat based on a few pretty posts.

Meanwhile, put most of your energy into connecting with people where you live, people you already work with, who know your reputation, and know friends who might be interested in signing up for a retreat like yours. Give them some great offers, keeping your biggest priority in mind. If it's filling spots in order to host it for real, then do what it takes to make sure this happens. Remember: The most powerful relationship is an in-person relationship, and no social media post or video can replace this until your reputation exceeds your presence.

4. Do a Trial Run

How long do you want your overseas retreat to be? A week? 10 days? Host one or two near home first. This will let you put your theory into practice and allow you to make mistakes without too much of a bother… because there will always be some things you overlook or don’t consider the first time around or two! A second benefit is that a local retreat is easier for your ideal clients. Hosting a retreat in your area means it won’t be as complex, expensive, or time consuming for them to commit to. Hire a photographer to capture images you can use for future audiences (in person and online) so they can get a sense of your style and offering, and see you’ve done it before. Make a special offer to those who attend your local workshops and retreats– if they enjoyed themselves, they are the most likely to sign up for another one and are likely connected with people in the community who are also interested in your retreat.

Along the way, hone your message and your clientele. Who benefited the most from your retreat? Who walked away feeling like they didn’t get what they were looking for? How can you change your focus and messaging to improve this in the future?

5. Hire support so you can do what you do best

Hosting a retreat locally can get you ready for most things– you learn the price of the obvious stuff, get a firsthand experience with hidden costs, hear people raise the same questions over and over again, deal with catering companies, learn how to fill retreat time (how much free time is TOO much free time, or not enough?) and get feedback on the experience itself.

However, one thing a local retreat doesn’t prepare you for is handling logistics in another country. This is where people like me come in. With local knowledge of Balinese retreat centres, traffic, transportation, catering services, locations, venues, pros and cons of certain activities, and what to do if things go sideways in terms of weather, illness, or injury, I am here to support you. Hosting a retreat abroad is an exciting opportunity, and I don’t want it to be a stressful nightmare for you– I want to see you in your element, doing what you do best. Don’t leave it up to chance! Hire a team member and friend to support you along the way so your retreat is magical and seamless :)

If you're interested in hosting your retreat in Bali and want support with organization and logistics, DM me or visit my website, where you can learn more about what I do and drop me a line. Let's make your dream come true (stress-free)!

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