A Step-by-Step Guide
Have you dreamt of running a retreat? Do you feel you can help people by organising and running a foreign retreat?
This section aims to help first time retreat organisers with the basics of what is needed to successfully set up and run a retreat. Feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.
Casa Gaia is the perfect location for first timers as it has all facilities on site, is small enough to be personal and allows you to start with a small group of 8 guests, if you succeed with your retreat then increasing the number of groups or moving to a bigger space is all within your reach.
Follow the steps below to ensure you are organising a retreat correctly. Either click on a page in the contents or scroll down this page.
- Why Organise a Retreat?
- What Retreat Are You Organising?
- Where Should I host My Retreat?
- Who Will Attend The Retreat?
- When Will The Retreat Be Held?
- How Do I Organise The Retreat?
1. Why Organise a retreat?
Be sure you know why you are organising the retreat, decide on your reasons or motivation from the beginning, this is important so you can always relate back to them and check if what you are doing is still inline with your initial goal.
Examples of reasons are
- Be a practitioner – You love what you do and want to reach more people with your skills and knowledge.
- Connect with students – Retreats provide far closer contact than daily/weekly sessions, think what you could achieve via multiple daily sessions?
- For Fun – You are looking for a challenge, have always wanted to see if you could run a retreat or perhaps you want to do something for your friends.
- Free Trip – You might just want to organise an event so you get to have a few days in the sun
- Make Money – This is a valid reason but should be combined with one of the above. Decide if you are looking for short term profit or if it is a long term business, this will impact how much money you aim to make from the first retreat you organise
2. What Retreat Are You Organising?
- What is your experience? Are you a Yoga, Pilates, Massage, Silent Retreat professional or something similar? Great news if you are, if you are not then you will need to hire someone to run workshops during the day.
- What type of course are you running? You do not need an exact or complete calendar course at this point but you need to think about what will be included in general and who the audience could be.
3. Where Should I Host My Retreat?
We suggest Casa Gaia as it offers excellent facilities at a great price for organisers and is of course in the sun. This section should be answered in conjunction with section 4. Who will attend.
- Which country - Do you want to keep it local, travel somewhere hot, choose a perfect studio space?
- Local amenities - Do you need to be near open water, near shops or be away from everything?
- On site amenities - How big does the facility need to be, do you need a large studio, kitchen or bedroom space?
4. Who Will Attend?
Decide on your potential attendees, make a list of different types of groups that could be interested in your event and think about/discuss with some of them what they would be interested in.
- Current network - are you running classes/workshops and can ask the attendees. Are your friends interested?
- Local studios/spaces - do you attend a class or know one in the local area and can discuss with teachers/trainers there?
- Online groups - find social media groups (e.g. Facebook Yoga enthusiasts) and ask them what they are interested in in general and what would interest them in a retreat. This will provide general information but is unlikely to lead to attendees.
If you don't have any of the above it will be harder to organise your retreat as you do not have an active audience, we suggest you start to network on a personal level to build interest. You can always support your network with marketing activities but it is important to have a base of people who will attend.
5. When Will The Retreat Be Held?
In central Portugal the best time is March to July based on the weather however we host retreats all year round. It is important to look at availability of the venue and your guests.
Decide how long the retreat will be, the longer it is the better value you will offer attendees but longer retreats take a larger commitment from attendees. Also consider how far people are travelling, it is unlikely that many people will want to travel to Portugal for a one night retreat.
6. How Do I Organise The Retreat?
You now know the answers to points 1-5 and are ready to start going through the next stage of making the retreat a reality. The below is a simple checklist to assist you with organising the retreat. Casa Gaia has capacity for 8 guests (plus 1 organiser) so that should be your target number of people but the course can still be profitable for you with 5 guests.
- Gauge Interest
Start writing down the names of people who have shown interest, follow up with them to see how keen they are and which dates suit them.Many people will not be available when your course is on so this list should probably have 10-30 people, unless you get a very keen interest.
- Reserve a Venue
Contact the owners of the venue to find out costs, availability and the booking process. Quite often you can reserve a date with a deposit and agree a date for the full amount to be paid which gives you time to collect the money from attendees.
- Work Out The Financial Side
This can be an intimidating step for many people, we have created a template that highlights what needs to be considered. Feel free to ask us if you have questions and we can take you through each step Financial Planning Template
You must also consider insurance and contracts you will need. We can assist you with those later.
- Start Promoting
It is now time to update your list on who might attend, start to network further with your potential attendees giving them more details on the event and why it would be a great experience for themYou should have reserved some budget for marketing, they type of activities you do will depend on your retreat but what we see works well are posters and flyers that are seen/given to local groups with similar interests.Make a list of all the local groups/centres where you could promote (Google can help with this) and call each venue.
1. Can you place a poster
2. Can you send some flyers to be given out.
3. Could you give a 2 minute intro to your retreat after a class that's being run
4. Can you be included in a newsletter / email they give to their attendees?Some of these elements might have costs so make a list of replies and calculate which would be the best value based on the size of the venue and the cross over with your target audience.
You may also want to provide discounts to people if they sign up early/late, suggest a friend, respond to a flyer or because they are a friend.
- Organise Logistics for Attending
Start to plan the dates/times of the route to get to the venue, decide how you will all get to the venue via planes then car or mini bus. Put dates, times and costs down on paper so you have an idea of options and costs.
- Schedule of Activities
This is the fun bit, you can plan out your perfect retreat. We suggest 2-7 classes per day plus food breaks. The classes should reflect the type of students you are looking to attract e.g. basic level, specialists etc. Here are some examples from others who run retreats.
Yoga: 4 week, 1 week,
Pilates: 1 week, 1 week
Silent: 10 day, 3+ days
Meditation: 1 week
Let us know if you would like examples of other retreats?
- Payment from Attendees
By this point you should already have some people who are very keen, you know the costs and the dates so ask them to secure their place with a deposit (the deposits from all attendees should cover your upfront costs like venue and your travel but not any profit you might make). give them a day to start paying.
- Get Excited
If you're reading this far you must be keen to organise a retreat. Go back to the start and start writing out your ideas for each point. We look forward to meeting you at Casa Gaia.
Are you a budding retreat organiser?
Retreat organisers stay at Casa Gaia for free with one friend. Visit us to see the venue for yourselves and plan your retreat. Details