WU Expert Tamara Golden, our in-house consultant, and planner of our WU SoulTreat Retreats is the owner of Journeywork Retreats; a full-service destination retreat planning company operating across the US and overseas.
If You Build It, They Will Come.
Umm. Not always. Sometimes you have to get a little creative to fill your retreat, or at least in getting to the numbers you want or require to be able to cover all your expenses!
Some of these may be old hat to you but here’s a list of options to consider to help bolster your registration numbers.
Here Are 10 Creative Ways to Fill A Wellness Retreat:
Survey Your Clients.
This is an easy option that many forget, ask your clients where they want to go and when! Not only will this help you fill your retreat by giving your clients what they want but you’ll start to create buzz and buy-in by making them part of the planning process!
The further out you plan your event, the better able you’ll be to reverse engineer your marketing and sales efforts to ensure you can bring new or current clients through your programs in a timely manner. Ideally, you want to bring them to a place where a retreat makes sense as their next step.
Offer an Early Bird Special.
This option incentivizes people to sign up early to take advantage of a lower price with a set expiration date. This method can get you much needed revenue upfront to use in paying deposits on venues, etc., plus it can start to provide important social proof as others start to see their friends and peers signing up for your event. Added bonus? It will make you feel good early on that, yes, there will be at least one person in the room!
Bring A Buddy.
When someone brings a buddy, offer to take money off both the registration price for both. This creates a win-win incentive. Not only do both participants get to come for less money, but they have the added bonus of having a friend along for the experience. Women love to travel and particularly so with a friend!
Refer A Friend.
Introduce a special perk or bonus during the retreat that participants receive when they refer a friend who registers. This could be a room upgrade, paid meal on you, or extra excursion; something that will add value to someone’s overall experience and motivate them to get the word out and encourage those in their circle to attend your event!
Form A JV Affiliation.
Expand your prospective participant pool by forming a referral relationship with someone you know and trust in a business that aligns with yours. Their clients can become your next retreat participants and vice versa. Bringing guest speakers or vendors on board? Offer them a slice of the pie to advertise to their lists as well.
Create Strategic Partnerships.
Plan on using a specific retreat venue again and again? Or caterer? How about a photographer? Don’t be shy about asking for a discounted rate from those you plan on giving repeat business to on a regular basis!
If your retreat participants fit a specific demographic, find companies whose products or services are a match and ask them for anything from contributions, to your swag bags, to significant coverage of pieces from your event.
Up the Value.
Increase the perceived value of the event by advertising additional elements you’ve recently added to enhance your participants’ retreat experience. This could be an added excursion, a special workshop, a guest speaker, etc. Pro tip: plan and pad for this ahead of time, simply don’t reveal it at the outset.
Create A Sense of Urgency.
Offer an extra incentive to those who sign up within the next 48 hours or by a certain date. Let people know you only have a limited number of spots still available. Creating deadlines and a sense of urgency plays into that very human quality called FOMO (fear of missing out)!
Now that this is all said and done, buyer beware. Some of these methods of bolstering your attendance will cost you money. Know upfront this may be a trade-off you have to make, especially when filling your very first retreat. (As with so many things, the first time around can often be the hardest.)
Have the conversation with yourself about how much you can spend, and the trade-offs of making less profit vs. filling the room and leveraging, for example, an upsell offer to compensate for that revenue loss.
And always keep that long-term vision in mind!
Understand that success doesn’t always come overnight and isn’t always measured in immediate gains. Sometimes starting off with a smaller-than-desired group is fine. Especially when you think of all the great photo and video footage, testimonials, firsthand experience, repeat, and referral business that will come of your having dared to step into a larger vision for your business!