When you list your retreat with an agency you will pay 15% commission or more for each booking.  Today I wanted to share the types of systems you need to get direct bookings so you don’t have to pay a third party.

  1. List building system
  2. Email marketing system
  3. Content creation and distribution system
  4. Lead management system
  5. Testimonial and referral collection system


(Note: I recommend watching the above video with captions if you don’t want sound. However, if you prefer to read, here is the transcription of what is covered in the video)

1. List building system

The very first system that I recommend that you incorporate into your retreat marketing is your list building system. It’s gonna be a lot harder to get bookings from people that don’t know you so focusing on building your contact list should be your priority.

We want to be able to get people into your retreat ecosystem so that they get to know, like, and trust you so that they are ready to book and experience with you. Retreats are generally not cheap, that is why we need to nurture them a little while longer so that they are willing to make a bigger purchase.

The list building system is all about getting them onto your email list. How we do that? Well, we don’t just subscribe them to a newsletter. People generally don’t subscribe to a newsletter because they don’t want to have their, the inbox cluttered. They want to get something of value from you. You need to give them a lead magnet, something that will help them in their current situation. (What is a lead magnet?)

Get them a step closer to wanting to book a retreat with you. And we do that through a list building system, they sign up for the lead magnet and in exchange, you get their email address and name. Which leads us on to the second marketing system. And that is your email marketing system. Once they’re in your list, you need to be nurturing them.

2. Email marketing system

Once subscribers are on your list, you need to nurture them with an email sequence.

The purpose of an email sequence is to show who you are, the benefits of your retreat and your business, why it’s important to them address any concerns that they might be having in their mind before they even book and show some testimonials, some experiences of other people that have experienced your retreat.

How do you nurture them after the email sequence? By creating and sharing regular content with them. And that brings me onto the third system I recommend.

3. Content creation and distribution system

The content creation and distribution system helps you create regular, valuable content for your list. It’s not about just creating content for social media.

It’s about creating good, valuable content that will help them move them from not wanting to book your retreat, to discovering why your retreat is so important for them and how it will help them transform their current state to what there will be after the retreat experience. And you need to do that through regular long form content. Be it blogs, video or podcasts.

Make it consistent. Doing one or two pieces every couple of months is not going to build the momentum. You need to make a commitment to yourself to create at least once or twice a month. Ideally once a week. They need get used to seeing you in their inbox.

And that’s when you can showcase your retreat, you can launch your retreat to your email list who has been warmed up through the months that you have have them on your list. 

4. Lead management system

When they are nurtured and you’ve given them opportunities to inquire, to talk directly to you, you need lead management system.

It doesn’t have to be very complicated to following up on these leads.  When you conversations with the leads, write down what their objections and doubts are. Knowing this information helps you create content in the future because other people are going to be having the same doubts.

A lead management system keeps track of when you last had contact with the interested party and what the next action should be to follow up. It could be offering a payment plan if that helps them book. 

5. Testimonial and referral collection system

Lastly, number five is what retreat leaders generally forget about. The referral and testimonial collection system.

When you have a retreat, this is the prime moment to get video testimonials written testimonials from your current retreat goers.

They are in the moment. They’re feeling excited. They’re feeling the energy from the retreat. This is the time where you can say, “if you’re loving this so much, why don’t you book for next year’s retreat?” If you book it now you get it at a different price. Because they are repeat customer. And then at the same time, don’t be shy in asking for referrals.

Would a friend benefit from this retreat? Ask them to share your retreat details with somebody who needs it.


So those are the five basic systems you need to have to get more direct bookings and avoid having to pay those agency commissions. You need to take ownership of your retreat and see it as a business. Nurture the people that come in contact with you and make it easier for them to book your retreat.

These systems do take time to set up, but once you know how and you have done the work, then it is an automated system that saves you time and increases your profitability.