If you run or plan to run a retreat in the future, here are some important things to know. It’s not as easy as it used to be. This blog was inspired by various conversations with students and clients.
Word of mouth marketing does not work anymore
It used to be relatively easy to fill a yoga or wellness retreat prior to the pandemic with word of mouth marketing and referrals being the main source of bookings. So much so, that retreat hosts were pretty relaxed about marketing, relishing the fact that their retreats sold so easily!
But there has been a shift…more and more retreat hosts are contacting me and their story is similar.
Confusion and an underlying panic is creeping in.
“Why are my retreats not filling up? I’m doing nothing different compared to previous years! Why??”
To add salt to a wound, even successful retreat businesses with 9000+ Instagram followers are noticing their posts are getting a mere 0.2% engagement! How is that even possible?
I know it sounds all like doom and gloom but hear me out…this is a BIG opportunity to build a truly sustainable retreat business. A successful business adapts to changing market conditions and the ones that don’t close up shop.
Now more than ever you need to embrace high impact and time saving retreat marketing strategies so you can remain competitive in this market.
So how do you do this?
Your list is your greatest asset
Building an engaged email list is the first step in any marketing strategy.
If all of your followers are on social media and with organic reach so low your pool of interested parties drops substantially. You should be funnelling those followers into your email list.
Chances are that you have a list of some kind.
If not, get one now! Having a list allows you to communicate directly with your customers and followers without having to go through social media networks or other third parties.
It’s simple really:
The more people on your list, the more people you can reach out to when new content is published.
The more people on your list, the more people you can sell to.
The more people on your list, the more likely they are to trust you and buy from you.
When building upon your list, there are three things that come to mind:
High value content is the most important piece of the puzzle.
The more content you have, the more followers you will gain and stay to consume your content
Driving traffic to your list sign up page (preferably using a lead magnet) will help spread the word about you and your business.
A big part of what I do is helping retreat hosts build high impact and smart online marketing foundations and processes. Part of this process is to help them build their lists. The reason for this is because when you have a list, you can send them content that will help them learn more about what they need to do next. With an open rate of 40% that is a much higher level of engagement than social media.
The only way to get people to buy from you (or join your retreats and programmes) is by giving them more value than anyone else does.
And the only way to do that is by having a list of people who want more from you!
Focus on creating high value content and embracing an efficient and repeatable process so you can stay on top of it.
Some people think email is dead. They’re wrong. Email offers you a direct way to engage with your clients without having to rely on someone else’s platform. An email list is not just an asset to help manage customer communication and data, but it also gives you a way to create an intimate relationship with your customers that no other marketing method can offer.
Stop Wasting Time & Money On Social Media For Your Retreat Business
To be on social media or not when it comes to promoting your retreats, is the question! For many, myself included, social media feels heavy and is not aligned with our values. It can cause serious internal conflict.
This article will lay it all out for you, give you insights into running your business without social media (because that’s what I do), the pros and cons of using social media in marketing your retreats and give you clarity on whether to include it or not.
It is ultimately your decision.
I decided to quit social media
It has been 2 years since I decided to quit social media in my personal and business capacity.
It was consuming me, taking me away from spending quality time with my family and causing me endless anxiety.
You can read about when I finally took the decision in Leaving Social Media and what pushed me over the edge.
It was one of the pivotal moments in my life that paved the way for more peace, tranquillity and freedom and I haven’t looked back!
Let’s start with the pros and cons of using social media to promote your retreat:
Pros of social media for promoting your retreat
Reach people who otherwise would not know about you and your retreats
Engage with people who interact with your posts and videos – you can get really close to them
A space to share what it’s really like to experience your retreats using amazing photos and videos
Cons of social media for promoting your retreat
Extremely time-consuming having to constantly create for social where a post might live only for 5 hours
You never get off the hamster wheel of creating posts
Not everyone (me included) likes to share personal stuff on social
Can affect your mental health
An alternative system to social media for visibility, reach and leads
Note: This is my personal insight and system. Yes, there are some extremely successful retreat businesses using social media. I just want to show you an alternative way if you feel being on social media is not for you. It’s not for everyone but it works for me.
After being off social media for so long and not including it in my own marketing, I know it is not a necessity. As a way to generate visibility and leads, I have developed an alternative system and it looks like this:
Create a powerful lead magnet that your ideal client needs and wants.
This is a great little tip, when someone downloads your lead magnet, they then see a thank you page that encourages people to take another action. To subscribe to my YouTube channel. I get an email subscriber and a YouTube subscriber!
Run social ads to promote my lead magnet
(yep I use social for this because there are still so many people on it, and I know my target audience really well.) I spend 150€ per month on social ads (imagine paying someone to do your social media for this price! Not possible) and I get on average: 4 new people to my email list per day + 2 YouTube subscribers per day
Annually that is: 1440 new email subscribers + 720 YouTube subscribers 1800€ spend on ads
I focus the energy and time I would spend posting on social media on creating long form value packed content for my YouTube channel and blog.
This happens weekly. Why? Because if I want to get traffic to my site for free for years to come I need to make sure I have content that people are searching for on Google and YouTube. Check out the free workshop I hosted Secrets To Ranking High In Google | Learn SEO For Retreat Businesses if you want more direct organic traffic to your website.
TIP: The videos I create get transcribed and converted into written blogs using a transcription service such as otter.ai. I am doubling my chances of ranking on Google and YouTube.
I also engage weekly or monthly with my email list.
Depending on their preference (yes I ask them) by sending value packed content that I know my audience wants to know about.
My email open rate is over 40%, compare that to social media:
“The current average reach for an organic Facebook post is just 2.2%, but could be as low as 1.1% for some brand pages.
To put this in perspective, if I have a Facebook page with 1500 followers, my posts may only be shown to as few as 33 people.”
With this system I do not have to worry about algorithm changes or the low reach I might have experienced with social media AND I can leverage 2 search platforms, YouTube and Google. This sends me organic (free) traffic for years to come!
My audience is ALWAYS my source of content ideas, so I listen to their conversations at ALL times. As a result, I spend 80% of my time in my business creating content that is relevant and useful to keep this engine oiled, efficient, and automatic.
Social media can be a useful tool to promote your retreat online and some people love it! And that is great. But for some, the thought of having to post regularly causes anxiety and panic.
The good news is that there is another way, as I have demonstrated in my own business, to retreat clients and students. If you are that person I hope I’ve put your mind and heart at ease and lifted that weight off your shoulders. You just have one decision to make – will social media be part of your online marketing for retreats or not?
As a yoga or wellness retreat host should you have a dedicated retreat website or is a retreat sales page that sits on your main website enough?
This is one of the questions that came up when I was sharing tips to increase your retreat sales page bookings.
Let’s discuss what they are, the pros and cons of each and when you should use them.
Hi, if you’re new here, I’m Tiffany and I’m an online marketing strategist and tech specialist. On this channel, I share all my best tips and strategies for marketing wellness retreats. So if you are a retreat host make sure you subscribe below.
A full retreat website
This is a website dedicated to your retreat business.
It generally would have a Home page, about page, sales pages for your retreats, pages about the location, accommodation, food, testimonials, blog and a contact page.
The only thing you are promoting is your retreats.
You have a lot of space to really promote your retreat experiences
There is no conflict with other offers that could potentially distract your visitors
It creates authority and trust because you showcase that this is what you specialise in
More content to flesh out to create the necessary pages. There is a lot more work that goes into writing, designing and building a website
If you have another website for your yoga, coaching or wellness business then having 2 websites is much more work to manage and keep up to date.
Who is this best suited for:
A retreat dedicated website is best suited for those who just focus on running retreats as a business such as:
Retreat centres, planners and hosts who runs many retreats a year
A retreat sales page
This is a one page that promotes your retreat. It can sit on your main website as an additional offer.
You would condense the information about the retreat experience, facilities, food, location and accommodation onto one page. The retreat sits alongside your other offers such as yoga classes, workshops, coaching sessions, services and so on.
1.Can be added on to your existing website
2.All of the information about the retreat is on one page making it easier for the visitor to digest the information instead of navigating around a whole website to gather the info
3.Less work to get it written, designed and programmed because it is just one page.
1.Other offers on your website can compete for attention. Somebody will arrive on your website and get distracted by all of the shiny offers and not take action.
2.It can be challenging condensing all of the information on the page that drive enquiries and bookings
Who is this best suited for:
A stand alone retreat sales page is best suited for those who offer retreats alongside their other offers. For example, yoga teachers, coaches, wellness professionals who run retreats just a few times per year. It is not the main part of their business.
But what about listing your retreat on third party directories? If you feel you want to go that route I recommend you watch the Pros and Cons of Retreat Directories video, linked above. This is yet another option that could work for you.
I hope this gave you some clarity as to which option would suit you best. And if you should be creating a whole retreat website or just a stand alone retreat sales page.
2022 was a year where travel was back on the cards and thankfully so!
Most likely due to the travel hiatus and being restricted in movement, travellers will be focusing their attention on experiences that have a lasting and positive impact.
2023 will be the year for self-improvement and transformative wellness retreats as predicted by Conde Nast Traveler. Travellers on these holistic retreats in 2023 will focus on overcoming grief, finding purpose, and moving their bodies, according to the same source.
These trends will be heavily focused on travellers looking for health and wellness retreats, so pay attention and consider how you can fine-tune your offerings to what travellers are looking for.
As the world reopens and travel restrictions ease, we will be exploring different ways to travel. This could mean shorter trips, alternative destinations, or new methods of transportation. We will embrace the new normal of travel and find creative ways to explore the world.
You could offer weekend retreats among your week long retreats to satisfy the need for shorter trips, and even open up local markets.
2. Eccentric Food Will Be A Priority
One of the memorable experiences of a yoga and wellness retreat is the food itself. Usually sourced locally, organic and healthy. So you’ll be happy to hear that in 2023 the food itself will play a big role as people travel for foodie experiences.
47% of Booking.com survey respondents highlighted the need for eccentric eating experiences.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
Include food tours, cooking classes and creative dishes to satisfy your guests.
3. Increased Demand For Spiritual Retreats
The popularity of yoga retreats, meditation programs, prayer retreats, and holistic wellness experiences could surge this year because many people (44%) are also seeking spiritual experiences while travelling.
4. Blending Work With Holidays
Remote work has become more and more accepted and has become a reality for many.
It would be great to offer working retreats that combine yoga, meditation, healthy food, and time for work. Yes, retreats are typically seen as a way to get away from everyday life and work. However, this more innovative approach to working holidays may allow for longer retreats.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
Consider offering 3-4 week working holiday retreats.
5. Travellers Will Seek To Disconnect While on Holiday
On the flip side of remote work, many travellers in 2023 might actually want to completely disconnect and relax instead. A digital detox is a 21st-century term. It is a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.”
According to 66% of respondents, their holidays should be free of work and technology.
6. Employees Want That Their Employers Invest In Retreats Abroad
In 2023, 51% of respondents stated they want their employers to pay for company retreats out of the savings made possible by remote work.
Remote workers still long for a connection with their coworkers, and they view team-building activities like corporate trips and retreats as a chance to do this outside of the confines of the workplace. These kinds of work travels, according to 44% of respondents, benefit from team building.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
Instead of marketing your retreat to individuals, you could approach companies that employ a large number of remote workers. They will be needing to bring their personnel together and what better way to do this than in a beautiful and wellness focused setting.
7. Travellers Are Budget Conscious
With a potential recession on the horizon, travellers are carefully considering their travel expenditures for 2023, with 50% of respondents stating they still view holiday spending as a top financial priority.
68% of travellers are cost-conscious, choosing experiences over costly travel expenses like luxurious lodging.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
With this in mind, ensure you offer payment plans to make the investment in your retreat accessible.
8. Travellers Will Want To Use Trips For Self-Improvement
In 2023, travellers will be looking to improve themselves and their skills. They will be planning their trips based on the lessons they will pick up along the way.
58% of individuals desire to travel for this reason, thus skill development is one area they are giving priority to.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
Include classes and workshops in your retreat itineraries. E.g. cooking classes, Human Design Chart workshops, Aromatherapy classes, Functional Movember or Breathwork workshops.
9. More People Are Thinking About Hiring Travel Agents For Their Next Getaway
According to Forbes, a recent Virtuoso survey found that 76% of travellers, including millennials and Gen Zers, are willing to spend more money on travel advisors to make their trips easier in 2023.
According to Travel Pulse, working with a travel advisor can save travellers time and energy because these advisors can handle transportation logistics and check pandemic-era entry requirements for various countries.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
Reach out to travel agents and get your retreats on their books.
10. Travelling During The Off-Season Is On The Rise
According to Forbes Advisor, off-season travel is all about avoiding large crowds during peak travel times for tourist destinations, such as holidays and summertime.
After a busy year of travel in 2022, when tourists clogged the streets of several European cities, Forbes reported that most Virtuoso travellers are willing to travel during off-seasons.
How to apply this trend to your retreat:
Open up some off-season retreat dates to fill up your calendar.
These 2023 travel trends will help to fuel the already thriving health and wellness industry, which is fantastic news for you. Use these trends to fine-tune your retreat offerings and marketing strategies, and you’ll be able to ride the wave and make a positive impact.
9 proven online marketing strategies every yoga and wellness retreat leader should use
If you are a yoga teacher, coach or wellness professional hosting retreats you know how overwhelming it can be to promote your retreats online.
Running a successful yoga and wellness retreat business is tough. There are so many choices out there as well as pressures from competition to bring in more clients. To stand out and get booked you have to have a compelling retreat marketing strategy.
Back in the day, retreat owners found their clients through word of mouth and referrals. But with everyone doing yoga and going to retreats nowadays, you can no longer only rely on your past clients to find new people for you.
In this guide, I share with you 10 online marketing strategies for retreats that work.
1. Your retreat sales page
“Why don’t I get bookings through my website?”
It’s the question that haunts retreat leaders in the run-up to their retreats and one of the most common that I get asked.
My answer is this, putting up a webpage with a few images and a couple of paragraphs of what is included in the retreat is just not going to cut it. You’re not selling a 50 dollar pair of shoes. Your retreat is seen as a luxury item so you need to treat it as such.
It is important to showcase the retreat experience the best you can using a user-centric method while not forgetting search engines. You’ll need to balance user experience and SEO to get the most out of your website.
Your retreat sales page needs to communicate the value of the retreat transformation to the visitor through:
Copy – the text on the page
High quality images, video or audio that give them a taste of what the retreat experience will be like.
Include all the information such as accommodation, food, location, experience etc…
Showcasing past retreat goers’ experiences
Make sure the user experience is inviting and inspiring
Of course, in an ideal world your website visitors would find you through organic search. But to even attempt to achieve this you need to create content that is enticing to both readers as well as search engines.
Search engines such as Google use keywords to figure out if your content is relevant to the searcher. However, if you focus on making them happy your content will come across as written by a computer. This in turn creates a bad user experience. Ideally, you should write your content first for your reader and then revise it to include keywords for search engines.
Also, be sure to highlight what makes your retreat different from others and focus on communicating that. Instead of boring descriptions of what is included and excluded, make it your own, add depth and uniqueness to your information.
2. Retreat Directories
Although I prefer you focus on improving and perfecting your own brand marketing as a means of getting direct retreat bookings I also recognise the value of listing your retreat on directories (also known as retreat listing sites or booking platforms).
Filling your retreat is essential to making it a rewarding experience for you and your clients. If you can fill it with word of mouth marketing or from your current network who already love what you do, that’s amazing. However, you’ll also need to get bookings from other sources. This is where retreat directories come in.
Many retreat goers use booking platforms such as bookyogaretreat.com and retreat.guru to book their retreats and the majority of them let you list your retreat with them for free. The commission is only due if the booking is successful.
3. List building and nurturing
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to market retreats. This is because it puts your content directly in front of a person who signed up to your list in the first place. They are already interested in you and your offerings to a certain extent. As a result, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say and offer than if they didn’t know you.
With social media organic reach being so low and only about 15% of your followers actually seeing your posts, showing up in their inboxes with valuable content is a much better use of your time and is way more effective.
But how do you build your email list in the first place?
This is where a high value lead magnet or freebie comes into play. Some examples could be:
Downloadable such as a guide, resource bundle, checklist, cheatsheet
Audio file of one of your sound bath meditations
You give the reader something of value, that will give them a quick win in return they give you their email address.
Your newsletter can also be a useful tool for updating subscribers about any upcoming special deals such as a priority list or early bird discounts.
4. Content creation
When it comes to learning how to market a retreat online, content creation is one of the most significant activities you’ll need to do.
Creating informative and engaging content on a regular basis is a key ingredient to getting the word about you and your retreat out in the world. If you have nothing to say, then nobody will find you in the sea of digital noise.
Setting up a content creation and distribution system is one of my 5 marketing systems for more direct bookings. You’ll need to come up with a regular blogging, podcasting or video creation calendar and stick to it to gain any momentum in your business.
5. Get out there
Although it is tempting to hide behind a computer and sell your retreat online, never forget the power of in-person/virtual networking. Your physical presence and words carry energy and that only comes across if you are at the forefront.
Share your retreat and how it can benefit people whenever you can and is appropriate. Don’t be shy, you believe in its transformative value and you want to help people. Come from a point of genuine willingness to help and it won’t come across as salesy.
6. Retreat testimonials
The holy grail of copywriting is using genuine and believable testimonials. After all, a raving review from a past retreat goer is invaluable in the process of convincing someone to book with you.
Therefore you should ensure you have a robust testimonial collection process set up:
Collect testimonials from clients whilst they are still on the retreat – the energy is still strong and life won’t get in the way of giving you a retreat.
Although written reviews are helpful, videos are even better! There is no doubt about the authenticity of the review.
Ask the right questions – make sure your questions translate into a story. The person reading it will want to know why they attended the retreat, what it was like, and what they learned from it. In other words, what was their before and after transformation? Readers will want that too!
Lastly, ensure you use those testimonials in future retreat promotions. On the retreat sales page, in your social media marketing and in your emails.
7. Quality images
One of my top tips for marketing a retreat which is often a neglected area is ensuring you use high quality images and videos where you can.
A picture speaks a thousand words and can communicate the experience so much better than text. You want the images to reflect the quality of your retreat, so make sure they are of a high standard.
Avoid blurry, generic images and instead make sure they are inviting and create a wow factor for potential customers.
Video has been one of the fastest-growing marketing trends in recent years. The number of people who watched digital videos increased by 3.2% to 244.4 million in 2020.
Retreat leaders can use video as a marketing tool to effectively reach their target audience. With four in ten online users watching videos from brands they are thinking of buying from, now is the time to get in front of your potential retreat clients with video marketing.
Here are a couple of ways you can use video in your retreat marketing:
Live video on social media – You can build and strengthen your relationships with interested people using live video. Live has an air of exclusivity because people have direct access to you and your brand.
Behind the scenes videos – you could give your viewers a sneak peak into what it’s like getting things ready for the retreat. E.g. if you visit the retreat venue you could record a video of the facilities, the chill out areas, yoga shalas, you could tell your brand story, interview collaborators and suppliers etc…
Educational videos – Educational videos help your audience, and potential clients understand how they can benefit from your retreat. What will they learn and how will they grow?
Videos help people retain information better than text by providing a visual experience that’s entertaining, engaging, and educational, with viewers retaining 95% of a video.
This is the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. Everything stems from owning your uniqueness and not blending in with the rest.
In a competitive market, being unique matters. By defining the things that your retreat does above all other retreats, it allows customers to realise the potential it offers to their relationship.
Think about it this way, if you are a person who has recently divorced, which retreat would appeal to you:
A yoga and wellness retreat for everyone
A yoga retreat designed specifically to give you the tools to work through your emotions. You will emerge feeling empowered and ready to move on to the next chapter of your life.
Probably the yoga retreat for divorced people, am I right? The offering is specific, it connects you, offers you the opportunity to meet people in a similar situation and it can help you overcome a challenge.
From a marketing perspective knowing who the retreat is for and what they are struggling with opens up infinite possibilities of creating content that will help your target market. Check out my blog…. To learn more about this.
It’s exciting to think about the wide range of options that online marketing has given us. However, it’s also challenging because our minds tend to get overwhelmed.
Relax. Don’t freak out.
Take it one step at a time, and be consistent with whatever action you take. If you commit to doing it for the long haul and stay focused, eventually your efforts will pay off big time.
Are you interested in having a live chat or WhatsApp button on your retreat website? Check out this video to find out the 3 reasons why this is a game changer and can increase your leads and bookings.
Reason no. 1 – Easy way for people to contact you
Compared to filling out a form or sending an email, it is much easier and quicker to send a message over Whatsapp or live chat. People are used to seeing the live chat icon on websites and understand that it is a quicker way to get an answer.
In fact, 15% of your visitors will use live chat.
Customers like this communication channel because it is fast and easy to use. It’s worth noting that mobile devices are more convenient for live chat messaging than for writing long emails.
Reason no. 2 – You can communicate with your visitor in real time
Over 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person during an online purchase or booking process is one of the most important features a website can offer.
Businesses found that they increased their sales, while others found that they were able to reduce the amount of time it took to resolve customer issues.
Reason no. 3 – Adds a personal and familiar touch
Live chat can help you build trust and confidence in your website and the events and services that you offer. According to studies, the lack of a live chat widget and real-time support makes websites almost 2x less trustworthy.
There is a strong correlation between conversions and using live chat. Customers who ask questions using this channel are 5x more likely to convert into a booking.
Live chat provides a much better customer experience than email or phone support. It’s faster, more convenient, and more likely to result in satisfied customers who complete their bookings. It increases both satisfaction levels and customer retention.
If you’re not using live chat on your website…now is the time to start.