Everyone loves a getaway. Whether it includes sun, sand and ocean, or cabins, trees and campfires, getting away from the monotony of the same schedule day in and day out is nice. A yoga retreat is the perfect way to unwind and connect with fellow yogis, your surroundings and yourself.
Kacee Must, the owner of Citizen Yoga with three locations in Michigan, is hosting a retreat in Nicaragua this year, after previously hosting one in Mexico. She found this is a time of rejuvenation for her attendees and she really tries to push that factor when advertising it to students.
“Our retreats have a lot of yoga, but it’s not a boot camp and I am very specific about that,” said Must. “It’s a healthy, relaxing vacation where we encourage students to leave their phones in their rooms and actually interact with one another and unwind. We don’t get that day-to-day, and that’s why I love these retreats. There’s an unplugging that happens and we get to know each other in a very family-like way.”
While many studios would agree on these benefits of getting a group of yogis together to unwind and connect with those around them, there is a lot of planning that goes into orchestrating an event of this type.
Dora Gyarmati, the owner of Spira Power Yoga in Seattle, Washington, explained that planning all the logistics of a retreat by yourself is not inexpensive. A location must be booked that can hold a large amount of people, a chef should be contacted to make sure there is food for the stay, and teachers should be hired if yoga is a core aspect of the retreat. Gyarmati explained it could alleviate some of your burden to hire an outside travel agency to plan the retreat if you intend on going out of your local neighborhood.
“When it comes to organizing retreats that you want to do far away, that are travel-based and complex, the best thing to do is to pair with a travel agency that takes care of all the insurance issues, all the planning issues, and you basically go and show up on a fee-base,” said Gyarmati. “If you manage everything yourself, it is so much headache that it’s sometimes not even worth it.”
Must explained the revenue earned from a retreat can be a great bonus for your studio if planned out well. She said revenue comes from having your staff also play the role of great salespeople.
“You don’t want your young students breaking the bank to go on a five-day vacation just to make you more money,” said Must. “Sell intelligently. Know your audience and who can afford it and then really push it because it is such a good experience. I discount mine to people I know genuinely can’t afford it.”
Ty Landrum, the director of The Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, hosts a retreat called “The Nectar of Yoga,” with the theme of compassion as the focus. While he noted knowing the students you are selling to is important, he also added that knowing the retreat company is equally valuable.
“In this case, the center is handling all the registration and most of the inquiries, so the event is not difficult to coordinate from my end,” said Landrum. “Doing all of that yourself can make for a heavy undertaking. Know your location and the people with whom you will be working with on the other side. Try to find an arrangement that does not put too much financial stress on you. Then you focus on making a quality experience for the students. And that is what matters.”
If partnering with an agency isn’t an option, a good way to save expenses on a retreat is to utilize your staff. Teachers are always trying to add to their resumes, so giving them an option to teach at your retreats can save you the cost of hiring additional staff.
“We try to pick out one or two employees to come with us, and then we take out the whole cost of yoga so they can be with us and experience our retreat,” said Must. “It’s a good way to bonus teachers or administrative staff. We want our teachers to trust us that we are going to build retreats for them and pay them well — it creates a good food chain of sorts.”
In the end, a retreat can possibly serve as a stream of revenue, but that shouldn’t be the main objective. Forging that tight-knit community can create regular customers at your studio, which is worth more than extra income from time to time.
“As a studio owner, even if I don’t make money off the retreats, it’s building this community I want to create, which is something that reflects well on everyday business operations,” said Gyarmati. “I try not to cancel retreats ever because the backlash from a few people being disappointed is worse than losing money.”