In this episode, we explore how to start a retreat business to run unique events, the steps of which are included in The Perfectly Planned And Profitable Retreats System® This system helps those who want to introduce unique events to their list of glamping services or to start a completely separately lifestyle business from scratch. Sarah answers a number of frequently asked questions about why retreats have become so popular and how this is currently an untapped segment of the unique hospitality industry.
There has been such a big shift since the pandemic started and after years of limiting our travel, being unable to socialise with other like-minded individuals and generally feeling a lot more stressed and exhausted than we used to, suddenly the thought of attending a relaxing retreat is attracting a lot of attention.
Unique retreats and events provide a helpful source of income for accommodation hosts and are rapidly becoming a great way to kickstart a unique accommodation business for new entrepreneurs, which is why we believe retreat businesses are about to skyrocket. Find out why in this episode of The Glamping Business Podcast.
How To Start A Retreats Business
Today’s episode is brought to you by The Perfectly Planned And Profitable Retreats System® which gives you everything you need to confidently set up and publicise successful retreats and help you generate loyal fans, launch a new business, jump ahead of the competition and grow. It gives you the exact steps to fill your events and grow your business even without a large email list or social media following.
The inspirational training with Sarah Riley and her guest experts give examples of retreats done well and the exact checklist for you to follow so you can do the same. For more information about the retreat business training course and downloadable PDF, visit Inspired Courses.
Fill your events and grow your retreat business, even without a large email list or social media following…
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How To Start A Retreat Business And Run Unique Events Episode 46
Sarah Riley: So, what do you do if you’re not quite ready to run a glamping business yet, maybe you don’t have the land or you don’t have the finance. Well, maybe you’re just lacking confidence and you’re not quite ready. You need to take a bit of a step in the direction of a service business, but you just don’t know quite what to do. Well, I’m going to talk to you in this episode about how some people are working in partnership with glamping businesses that are already set up, they’re doing it to raise finance and get experience, and also just to do something different and follow their lifestyle choices. So today, in this episode, I’m going to talk to you about how some are choosing to run retreats. And I’m going to dive into a few frequently asked questions, glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays, deliver inexperience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work-life balance. How do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment? I’m Sarah Riley. And I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years, to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business glamping and unique holiday rentals.
Sarah Riley: Hello, and thank you so much for joining me. It’s really great to have you here. And today we’re going to be talking all about retreats of the event kind. Now, obviously, there are retreats. It’s just glamping retreats, where you may go away and retreat and have a holiday and all those kinds of things. But I’m talking about retreat events, and this is where someone will actually go to a glamping business. They would have a holiday, but they also have something. In addition to that, either an experience, educational experience, a physical experience, or an exercise experience, they learn something new or they take part in a new activity, that kind of thing. So in my opinion, retreats do go hand in hand with glamping businesses. But the great thing is you don’t need your own glamping business to start your own retreat. And this is something that’s starting to be used at the moment for individuals who want to get into glamping, maybe aren’t quite ready yet.
Sarah Riley: So they’re looking to start retreats by working in partnership with people, the whole idea, being that they can get all kinds of benefits from doing that. But let’s start from the beginning. Now, there are all kinds of reasons why you might want to run a retreat. So maybe you are a glamping business owner, and you’ve not had particularly good occupancy at certain times of the year. Maybe during those shoulder months, either side of the very busy periods. And you’re looking for ways to fill your beds. And maybe you’re looking for ways to increase your email list and the number of potential customers you could give offers to all that kind of thing with the whole primary reason, being to get your occupancy up, to get your, profits up during the year. So that’s one reason. Now another thing might be that maybe you don’t even own a business like a glamping business.
Sarah Riley: Maybe you have skills that you want to share with others. So maybe you’re a dog trainer or you’re in some kind of wellness, industry, or maybe you do food fermentation and you’re particularly good at it. Or you’ve lost a lot of weight recently. And you want to share the tips that actually helped you do that with others. Maybe you are particularly good at exercise. And you’ve been thinking about this great idea of running a diet boot camp, or maybe you understand how you can help people rest and recuperate from a really stressful time with meditation and yoga. Maybe you’re particularly good at these things. Maybe you have some qualifications and all of that. So, so on and so on and so forth. There are so many things that people might want to incorporate into a retreat if they have these skills, or maybe you’re looking for some kind of lifestyle business idea.
Sarah Riley: So your retreats have caught your eye. Because up until this moment, you’ve been at, an office job, a desk job, and actually you’re really starting to get very tired of it. You feel very stressed out because of what happened with COVID and you’ve decided that actually, you’re, you want a lifestyle change. You want to change things up, mix things up a bit. And actually what you’ve been doing during the pandemic is having a real think about where are you going in life Where are your priorities What’s important to you now, and to really reevaluate what you’ve got lined up. And maybe you’re just not excited about any of that, and you want to have a change. So this is when people may be thinking about a lifestyle business and retreats has caught their eye because they don’t actually need to have a glamping business to do this, but by running retreats, they can work in partnership with glamping businesses.
Sarah Riley: They can get all kinds of amazing skills and background knowledge from doing so it’s also a great way to get yourself a list of emails, potential customers, people who may be interested in your business in the future. And of course, you can generate finance through it. It will help you take that step in the direction of leaving your day job. And if you decide then that a glamping business for you where you can run more permanent retreats, then you can test it by working in partnership with businesses already doing it. So it’s a really great way to run something alongside, you know, your dream for the lifestyle business for the future. And the other thing that some people do is they run retreats alongside an existing job. So they like their job. They like what they do. They just want to have a passion project.
Sarah Riley: They want to share their skills with people without having to leave their day job. Maybe they’re part-time and they just want a boost in income while retreats allow them to do this because they can do the retreat, maybe two times a year, three times a year, once a quarter, once every six months or just once a year. And it’s just something that allows them to explore their passions in a particular subject and to share it with others. So these are reasons why people start running retreats. And I’ve heard so many stories from people over the years about why they started their retreats. So when I went to the glamping summit in California and the USA had this wonderful chat with a lady, we were both doing what you normally do when you go away and you’re staying in a hotel, you look at all the facilities the hotel has and you start trying them all out.
Sarah Riley: So even if you never go to a gym, if you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll probably go and check the gym out. even if you don’t go swimming and you don’t particularly like swimming, you’ll definitely go and check the pool out. Even if it’s just a sit on the side and dangle your legs in. Well, it was a little bit like me. I was about to go into a session in the glamping summit and I thought, you know, I’m going to check out the swimming pool up on the roof terrace and have a look and see what’s going on. And the sun was out. Why wouldn’t I do it So as I was up there I met a lady and we were talking about her dreams around her glamping business. She was there for the summit and we were chatting about everything that she was planning.
Sarah Riley: Now she was from Europe, but she was actually visiting the summit in the US because she felt that she had so much to learn so many contacts to make at the time. But one of the things she was exploring was retreats. And she had this idea for a retreat business and how she was going to work with certain styles of grumping businesses to actually deliver her retreats. And it really got me thinking about how good it is that this is a real partnership opportunity. Now, of course, if a glamping business owner wants to run retreats of their own, then that’s great. it’s a very, very profitable way of an additional income and, you know, filling those beds at times that they might be empty. But for the actual individual who just wants to run retreats in partnership with a glamping business, again, you know, there’s so much there to be gained.
Sarah Riley: And the glamping business, they have an opportunity to generate more customers. So more people who have actually looked at tried out, exploring their business. And if they’re clever and they understand how to attract repeat customers, which is something that I train, then that’s where the magic lies. You can get them coming back time and time again. So having listened to so many people and their dreams and aspirations for running their retreats, I’ve also helped support people to actually do it. So many people don’t know how to do it. I had a lot of questions from clients and people in my membership saying, I’ve run retreats in the past. I didn’t fill the beds it, or I didn’t find the person, the right person to run the retreat with. It was very difficult. It wasn’t very straightforward and it became challenging and complicated, and yes, there are ways to do it, which there’s a formula.
Sarah Riley: In fact, a system, in fact, and this is the system that I show in my perfectly planned and profitable retreat system. But the key as with everything is to get the choices right at the start choose the right style of retreat, to run, choose the right partner, to run it with and to understand how you’re going to promote it. And more importantly, to understand what’s going to appeal to the person who wants to pay you to attend the retreat. Now I’ve organized retreats and events and mini-festivals, backyard festivals, things like that, of many different kinds over the years, I’ve done formal corporate events, all kinds of stuff. So I kind of know the different angle that different types of retreat attendees actually want. I’ve actually also commissioned a number of people to do retreats for me, particularly in corporate, when, you know, one of those team-building style events, I had to work with a local hotel and, you know, I was quite disappointed with how they delivered my brief and things like that.
Sarah Riley: So I know that there’s this magic thing to getting it right from all my experiences of both commissioning retreats and also running retreats and helping owners set up glamping businesses. And also, you know, the marketing side of things. I know how well retreats and glamping fit together. They literally are like hand in glove. And I think we’re going to see more and more of this. But what I have noticed over the last few years, particularly over the last year are how different elements going on in each of the industries. So the growth of glamping, I mean, we’ve seen everything involved in that. You know, we’ve all seen the numbers that people are banding around about the global glamping markets and, and how it was valued at two points, 7 billion us dollars in 2018. And it’s projected to reach 4.6 billion by 2026. I mean, this is huge growth.
Sarah Riley: And you know, we’ve also seen that in the wellness industry. Also, we’ve seen huge growth there and it’s expected to generate 563 billion in the industry in the next few years. I mean, this is just epic growth. People are really interested in this stuff. So the customer’s really interested in this. They really want to get engaged in wellness. They want to look after themselves. They want to be inspired by it. And also as shown by the glamping industry, people and experiences, they don’t just want to have accommodation. They don’t just want to have hospitality. They want an experience. And this is why the two industries are coming together. They’re starting to align, but added to that is the catalyst of the pandemic. We have seen over a few years of the pandemic, just tearing through the world that people have felt suppressed. They felt trapped.
Sarah Riley: There have been so many restrictions. People have been stressed. Of course, there have been terrible illnesses. Lots of people have got long COVID. You know, these are things that people are feeling desperate about, and as if they need to take action, but they don’t know what action they need to take or what direction they need to go in next. And they need to feel inspired and motivated, and they need to feel happy and to feel positive about the future. And actually, a lot of people that I’ve been speaking to have been talking about their plans for the next year, what they plan to do in their rest time and their holiday time. And there’s been a number of people talking about how they are excited to get some time away from home, but a time away from the family and their usual responsibilities. And they’re going to go away on a retreat, you know, whether that’s to do a meditation retreat or yoga, or to learn a new skill so that they’re learning something new and they’re feeling inspired by that.
Sarah Riley: It’s all really interesting how this is starting to change and it’s starting to move and all seems to be going in the same direction. And this is why I felt compelled to talk about it here on the podcast because I do believe that retreats of the experience kind are definitely lining up to join this industry, the glamping industry and their unique holiday accommodation industry. And it’s something that owners and people who want to get involved in this space should really understand and know about. So I’ve put together a few common FAQ, frequently asked questions, which I often get asked by people when they’re learning about retreats and how to run a retreat. So let’s make a start. So some are ask what kind of retreats are there. So I want to run a retreat, but what kind of thing could I run around What topic so seriously, the list of retreats are endless.
Sarah Riley: You can do anything from the ones I’ve already talked about, but also things like gut health, wood crafting, and crafting, and pat chaining, any pets, anything in between. Honestly, it’s really about the skills you have. If you have some good skills you can share. And if there is a segment of the market out there who were interested in learning, then that’s what you need to do. Put those two things together. And the only limit is your imagination. And actually the more unique and imaginative you can be around this. The more likely your retreat will get you some unique publicity that will help you to promote it and step sell places, obviously. So you can make your retreat name and your topic, a real magnet for bookings if you’re a glamping business owner, but also a great way of attracting a customer base. If you’re thinking about generating financier retreats, that you will then put towards your land or your buildings or your structures that you’re planning to do and your facilities that you want to do for glamping business.
Sarah Riley: So my prime advice, I suppose, when I was running my retreats training, one member asked me, there are so many ideas. What can I run What do I do What do I choose And one of the things I said was, which seemed to really hit home with this individual was, you know, choose the topic that really inspires and motivates you, and also choose the topic where the people who are interested in learning about that topic are the people you love to hang out with because that really is a match made in heaven. Not only are you inspiring people on something, it inspires you, but you’re hanging out with people who could truly become your friends. So has some really nice places to be. So I’ve also been asked, do you need any accreditation to become a retreat run retreat, or can anyone set it up my advice would always be of course, that if you are delivering something for an educational purpose, so, if you’re delivering yoga, for example, or meditation, then you have to have some kind of qualifications around those individual things.
Sarah Riley: If you are teaching people about food fermentation and anything to do with food, of course you need to have hygiene, and all kinds of other credentials under your belt to make sure you’re doing things in the right way for health and safety reasons. But if you are a glamping business owner, for example, and you want to work with someone to deliver those retreats, you as a glamping business, don’t have to have those qualifications or those certificates. It’s the lead person. Who’s running the treats, who’s doing those, experiences and running the educational side of it that needs to have those types of accreditation. So you don’t have to, unless you’re running it. But you know, this is something that could inspire you to learn a new skill. So for example, when I had my stroke back when I was 38, I used the time that I had afterwards to learn more about health.
Sarah Riley: So that’s why I decided at that point to become a certified health coach. And I went through the relevant diplomas and, you know, the qualifications and all that kind of thing to make sure that I felt, you know, I had a good background for what I was trying to learn in my own life. So it doesn’t have to be something specifically to run rich retreats. It could be something that you’re really personally interested in that really fires you up. And the youth feel this real passion to learn more about. And then once you have those qualifications, which, you know, doesn’t need to take a long time, you can actually go through accelerated courses to get those certifications. Then it allows you to do that work, but it’s based on your own passions and your own need to learn more. So it’s a great way of doing it.
Sarah Riley: So you don’t necessarily need to have those accreditations. But if you were looking to run something, what size of retreat is best So you could obviously have a bigger retreat, and this is something maybe if it’s, it works quite well, if it’s corporate, because that, that team within that business is coming together to do a particular thing, whatever that thing might be team building, discussing a project, or, you know, doing something around their work, but in a retreat environment, then obviously they need to be there with their whole team. So it might mean that there’s quite a large size team or a small size team. It very much depends, but on a retreat level, when you’re offering retreats, it’s actually a bit better to have smaller events because it makes it more personal. It’s something that people feel really engaged with. The host has less to stress about, and it’s something that can really help the group at that retreat to bond.
Sarah Riley: And if the group bonds really well, then the retreat goes really well. And if it goes in that direction, then everyone will talk amazing things about your retreat. And then you’re more likely to get word of mouth recommendations, but there can be retreats that are too small. So something might be too small. It’s of course not going to break even. So if you don’t have enough people there, you’re not going to generate enough income and therefore is not going to be worth your while going through all of those activities and everything you need to do to set up, prepare and run your retreat. But if you have it to launch and obviously you can have the opposite problem, whereas yes, you ha you’re generating enough income, but people aren’t bonding. It’s too difficult. It’s lots of stress and folks, there are so many people and all of those kinds of negatives.
Sarah Riley: So there is a natural breakeven point for every retreat, depending on the price point, depending on the topic. So one of the things I like to do is do it by numbers first. So, understand for the treat, your planning, when is it going to break even So where is it going to start making the profits and how many people do you have to have there at that price point that you’re planning to allow it to become profitable when you know those numbers and you start thinking about, well, is this a good number of people to come together on this particular topic to learn these things or take part in these activities Is it going to be too big Is it going to be too small and to start to get a, just a feeling for it I always start with all of my retreats. I always start from an automated spreadsheet because this really allows the style of the event to start to be put together through the numbers.
Sarah Riley: So what kind of facilities do you need to pay for what kind of added extras need to be there You know, are you going to have to pay for another expert to come in and deliver a certain thing, which you don’t have the expertise to deliver for your particular retreats and the things you’re going to. So once you have those numbers and then you start to think about, okay, this is what I need to charge per ticket for the retreat. And then you can understand, okay, where am I breaking even how many people do I need to have there that really starts to help you understand the profit. And is it really going to be worth your while doing it So I’m often approached by concerned glamping business owners who say my facilities aren’t quite high enough in quality. They’re not five-star facilities to be able to run retreats, but I don’t believe that’s the case.
Sarah Riley: It’s very much down to the style of the retreat, the style of the retreat, what’s being taught and the type of customer who will attend, needs to match together with the facilities. It doesn’t have to be high high-end, it doesn’t have to be seven stars. It can actually be a variety of different things depending on what you’re going to teach. So something that is going to say meditation and yoga and wellness, and maybe a bit about food and diet and things like that. The types of facilities that are needed are much more around the communal areas. So where people will be taking part in the meditation and the yoga and where there’ll be learning about the food they’re eating and preparing and all of those things. And, you know, as a group coming together to learn from each other, inspire each other and all those things, and the accommodation is almost secondary to that.
Sarah Riley: And it would be absolutely fine to have a bell tent hotel that people are staying in whilst the majority of their retreats taking part in the communal areas with the activities that have been arranged. However, if you’re doing something corporate and it’s very high-end clients, and they have a specific style, that means that they’re only usually involved in hotel stays and very high end stays. They may want to have a certain level of accommodation. And so it’s about making sure you’re matching the facilities with the audience you’re targeting and the type of event that you’re running. But anything goes, in my opinion, when the only limit on the type of retreat you run is in your imagination. And the only limit on the facilities you use really comes down to how it matches with your idea. And so that’s really the core of how well it can work.
Sarah Riley: And I think how I’m going to end this episode just by touching on something, the most common question that people regularly ask me, and it’s all about, I’ve got my idea. I know where I’m going to run it. I’ve got my partner, a business who’s going to help me run it. We’ve got our accommodation sorted, we’ve got our Camino areas and our topics and our experts, and we know exactly what we’re going to do. How do we sell places with our retreat How do we manage to occupy the beds or, you know, sell out Well, there is a magic to that, but nevertheless, there is a simple formula you can use. So there is a strategy and once you’ve got that, right, you can just duplicate it time and time again. And so the only limit then is how many retreats are you willing to do
Sarah Riley: Because you can definitely fill them. If you know how to do that, if you know the formula to do that, but you just need to understand how many do you want to personally deliver a year And again, this comes back down to the numbers, do your numbers, know your break, even point, understand what the rewards will be for you and how much work is involved. And if this is the lifestyle business dream you’re looking for, then it might be something that you’re prepared to do save four retreats a year. And that’s enough to keep you going in terms of the income you want to make. You know, maybe it’s something you’re thinking of doing as a retirement plan. Maybe you’re going part-time in your job. And you’re thinking, okay, to give me a little bit of extra income to supplement my part-time wages. Maybe I’m going to run a few retreats a year to give me something of interest.
Sarah Riley: I love that I have a passion for doing so this is something that people are choosing to do. I think, you know, the whole idea of you can’t feel your retreat. If you’re not filling your retreat, it just means that you’re not looking at doing it in the right way. You haven’t got your messaging, right You haven’t got your topic, right You aren’t looking in the right places for the customers. These are all things you can fix. So it’s something worth thinking about if that’s the thing that’s holding you back. One thing that we’ve really missed over the past few years is time with each other time with our friends time, with like-minded people to learn new skills, to be inspired, to be re-injected with a passion for life, but also to give ourselves a bit of self-care time and to re-energize to recharge our batteries.
Sarah Riley: And it also people have been working from home as well. And although at the very beginning of this crisis, working from home was a good thing, but actually working from home can be quite tricky because one of the things about working in an office environment that we’re starting to miss is hanging out with other people, chatting around the water, cooler, asking people, did they have a lovely weekend when you’re making your coffee and your tea break You know, all of these things are we’re missing where we’re feeling as if we’re missing something vital. And if you’re feeling this, then, you know, lots of other people are feeling it. So one of the things that we’re also seeing is that the buying power of millennials is increasing. And as we know from the comprehensive research that was done, millennials want to buy experiences more than they want to pay for bills or to get mortgages.
Sarah Riley: They want experiences. And these are all reasons why it’s very likely that the right style of retreat promoted in the right way are going to skyrocket. So one of the questions that I would ask you is what kind of retreat would you run if you were going to do this, what kind of style of event would you set up and who would you be promoting it to So who would you want to attend So if this was something that was going to be your passion project and your thing, what would you do I’d love to hear if you would like to put that in the review section of the podcast or come over to inspired courses.com and chat to me over there and tell me, what is it that you would like to do when it comes to retreats And in the meantime, if you want to find out what it takes to run a successful retreat and to learn the steps involved, then you can find out more on https://inspiredcourses.com/retreats
Sarah Riley: So I hope this has really helped you understand the potential that I can see for retreats over the coming years. And I think this is only going to increase and all you need to do is to decide what’s right for you. And then you can run it. It’s just a matter of planning it in the right way and launching it in the right way. And you know what There are so many ways you can make that easier for you to do. And all you need to do is get in touch with me and I will help you as much as I possibly can. And in the meantime, do, please get in touch and let me know what your plans are. I’d really love to hear about it all. And I can maybe give you some advice about what to look for and the right direction to go in.
Sarah Riley: I hope that’s helping you feel inspired and motivated with all kinds of ideas buzzing around your head. I hope you can join me again for the next episode of the business of glamping and Nico holiday rentals. I’m really excited to share with you something that I’ve been working on for a while called a day in the life of, and it’s when we’re talking to glamping business owners and unique holiday rental owners about what they do, what they deliver, what they work on day. So it is really a snapshot, an idea of what’s involved with these business owners every day. So what they have to do every day to run their businesses. And it’s really inspirational because it will give you kind of ideas and an opportunity to look behind the scenes at what is really involved in this industry. So I can’t wait to share that with you. So don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. See don’t miss out, take care, enjoy your wins.