Retreat Series: How To Sell Out Your Yoga Retreat

*This is part 2 of a 2 part series all about yoga retreats.


Whether you're thinking of hosting a yoga retreat or have one on the calendar that you're trying to fill now, this is going to be super helpful. Yoga retreats are a great way to work with your students in a longer format so that you can help them progress with something specific. I share a marketing timeline, what marketing channels work best and how to come up with your marketing messaging that will fill your retreat with ease.



Timeline For Marketing Your Yoga Retreat

The first thing to consider when it comes to a timeline for filling your yoga retreat is your students. You know them more than I do and ideally you've had conversations with them about this retreat so you have a better idea of how long it will take you to fill this retreat.


For example, if you've being sharing this idea for a few months, you might fill your retreat by sending a few emails to your current students. But on the other hand if you know that your students typically need to budget for things and find child care, then it's best to give them a longer runway for this retreat.


In an ideal world, I would suggest having 12 months of marketing time so that there isn't a rush and you are catering to all types of travelers:

  • Lots of prep time traveler (18 to 12 months in advance) - someone who likes to have something booked well in advance so they have plenty of time to prep and be excited.

  • Last minute traveler (3 months or less in advance) - someone who is more spontaneous (also with the budget to allow for this) and will book at the last minute.

  • Everyone else (11 to 4 months in advance) - this is where most people will fall. They have enough time to plan and budget for the trip and feel comfortable with the timeframe.

Timeline Breakdown:

  • 1 year out: share a "save the date" type message and let people know they book now to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount on your retreat

  • Between 12 and 9 months out: share about the retreat (and Early Bird Discount) every time you're teaching and include it in at least 1 email per month. If you use social media, share something retreat related no less than every other week. Share about your planning progress, how many spots are left, and what they can expect at the retreat.

  • Between 9 and 6 months out: remove Early Bird Discount and raise the the price. Continue sharing about the retreat but increase the frequency. This will be easier as you're working more on the retreat details and can simply share about this process and how many spots are left.

  • Between 6 and 3 months out: Continue sharing about the retreat but increase the frequency. This is prime-time to get sign ups so it's time to kick things into high-gear for marketing. Share about how many spots are left and focus on the benefit for the retreat goer in your messaging on a weekly basis until the spots are filled.

  • 3 months out: close registration for your retreat so you can focus on your students and prep for the retreat


**This was also a podcast episode (episode #166. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.



What Marketing Channels Will Help You Fill Your Yoga Retreat

As I shared in the timeline breakdown, there are several marketing channels that will help you fill your yoga retreat. Below is a breakdown of each and how they can help you specifically.


Word of Mouth / Your Existing Students:

You will most likely fill your retreat with your current students, especially if this is your first (or first few) retreats. For someone to travel and pay a higher price for an experience like this, they need to trust the retreat leader and your students already trust you. This is why it's critical that you have tested the idea of hosting a retreat with your current students before you move forward with this idea. If you haven't talked to your students about the idea of a yoga retreat, now is the time to start talking to them. The goal is to get an idea of if they want to travel with you to practice yoga and would be willing to spend a few thousand dollars on this type of an experience.


Email, Email, Email:

You will mention "hey, I'm planning to host a yoga treat" or "Great news! My yoga retreat is ready for you to sign up" as you talk to your students before and after class but it's actually an email that will get them to sign up. No matter what email system you're using, use emails to get your sign ups. This channel is more important than any other channel as it allows you to (1) share details that people need and (2) link to the sign up page easily. Please don't skip using this marketing channel.


Q&A Session (Zoom or In Person):

Since this is a type of offering that people may have lots of questions about, hosting a Q&A session is a great idea. I've known of yoga teachers who used Zoom and others that hosted them in person with their students. Either way works and it just depends on what your students (specifically, the ones who are most likely going to sign up for the retreat) would respond to most. This can be a casual and fun event with no pressure to sign up.


Website:

Your website is the hub of information so you definitely want to have a specific page on your website for your yoga retreat. This is where you will include all information for the retreat so people can learn more as well as sign up for the waitlist or the actual retreat. This is what you will link to in your emails and any other marketing you have.


Flyers:

It goes without saying that flyers will work if you are trying to attract students that are local to you. This works well if you own or work in a studio space that will allow you to post your flyer. Or you can post your flyer up in your local area at coffee shops, boutiques, libraries, whatever local businesses that attracts your dream student (for your retreat) and allows you to post a flyer. Keep the flyer simple by sharing the main benefit of your retreat as well as the details (dates, location, price).


Social Media:

You can use social media or not, it's completely up to you but it is a channel that can help you reach people who aren't on your email list or in class with you. Personally, I look at social media as reminders for those who are on my email list and are connected to me. Instead of putting the pressure on a social media post to "do the selling" of the retreat, you can look at it is as a reminder of "just reminding you I've got this retreat coming up" or "look at this! I'm prepping for my upcoming retreat and just finished...".


Retreat Listing Directories:

I've never had a yoga teacher tell me that a listing in a directory helped them fill a retreat but I'm sure it's possible. If you want to have your retreat listed in a directory, go for it but only if you're open to the possibility of someone that you don't know joining your retreat. Most yoga teachers I've worked with are more comfortable having their current students fill their retreat versus people they don't know. Just food for thought.



*Want to host a retreat where this photo was taken? Get all the details for yoga retreats at Vista Celestial >> HERE.



Marketing Messaging That Will Fill Your Yoga Retreat

When it comes to what message will help you fill your yoga retreat, there are 2 things to identify.


Identify your dream student:

This is key! While yoga is inclusive and available for everyone, your yoga retreat is not built for everyone, or at least ideally it's not. In order to create a great experience for your retreat students it's best to truly hone in on who is perfect for your retreat. This is more than an hour in a yoga studio, this is a week of togetherness so specificity is critical.


Start with the topic/focus of the retreat and then identify who it's perfect for. For example, if you are dreaming of hosting a restorative yoga retreat that has meditation and lots of restorative activities, then you wouldn't want someone who's looking for lots of adventure. And visa versa. Sometimes it's easier to think "who do I not want to sign up" and then work backwards.