Going Global: Simplifying Retreat Planning

By: CarolAna Dimopoulos, President of Learning Journeys

July 21, 2015

You’ve added pictures of India, Costa Rica, Bali and Peru to your vision board. The dream of becoming a traveling yogi is within your reach, if you view the concept as a business. Creating a strategic plan will help clarify your vision to attract what you really want. It’s not as complicated as you think; in fact, it’s a holistic growth of the yogic experience.

1. Qualify, Qualify, Qualify – Define Your Audience

Before researching destinations and retreat programs in your bucket list, make sure you understand your market. Who are you inviting to your retreat? Students only? Students and friends/spouses?

Engage your students to learn what they are looking for in a retreat. How many days? What is their price point? A young demographic might seek a quick and inexpensive experience. Mature yogis may be looking for exotic destinations with a greater duration and a higher price point. Many yogis want to see a destination when they travel, so decide if you want to offer a stay-put program or one that moves through the destination. The first option is best for offering a certification or training; the latter for yoga students seeking to incorporate yoga and explore destination highlights.

2. Size of My Tribe

The number of anticipated participants depends on your experience in yoga retreats and your comfort level. Teachers new to retreats should anticipate between six and 10 people. Over the years, you can build up to 50-plus students. Many first-time retreats do not travel. Don’t give up. Keep trying. You will succeed!

3. How Do I Begin? Finding Services and Locations

You have qualified your base and determined where they want to go, what they are looking for and how much they are willing to spend. Now it’s time to look for a location and service providers. You have the option of booking all services individually or working with a company that can package all components of your program. Whichever you choose, make sure the services are reliable and ask for references. Note there are misconceptions that going direct will save money. This is not the case. Using a company to facilitate your retreat needs often results in better buying power and a guarantee of services, particularly in foreign destinations where you are navigating time zones and foreign currency. These companies can also assist with air tickets.

Don’t forget to incorporate seva and include a sustainable or community project in your program.

Whichever route you choose, you will be given a “net” price, meaning you need to add your profit. Ensure there are no hidden expenses and work with a professional retreat partner who will include free places for you. If you choose a location that does not provide this service, make sure you calculate the costs of your program and your air tickets. For example: if the retreat is $900 and you anticipate having 10 students, you will need to add $90 per teacher on top of your profit. The same holds true with the air tickets.

In most cases, you will need to confirm services with a contract and be asked for a deposit. Make note of your deposit dates and whether they are non-refundable. Larger companies many not require a deposit. Do your homework.

4. Choose Your Date

Choose a date, generally six to nine months in advance, to ensure ample time to market and sell the program, and keep in mind the seasonality of the chosen destination. You may be able to get the best deals if you travel in a “low” season. Tip: start from the end (the retreat date) and work backwards.

5. Selling Price, Profit and Payments

Money is metaphysical. We are entitled to create wealth doing what we love! Some yogis don’t add enough profit and some overshoot, which results in diminished participation.

Here is a general rule:

You will take the net prices and add your profit. That is your selling price.

Make sure to include your free place calculations into the selling cost as well if it’s not provided. You will need to give students booking deadlines.

In general, requiring a $350 deposit to join and later paying the balance will allow ample time for savings. You will need to set a payment schedule based on the contract you signed with the supplier and give people who are interested in signing up a call-to-action book by date. Create a short window—no longer than three weeks—from the time you begin marketing to the time people book.

6. To Market, To Market

Everything is booked. What now?

Create a mini-marketing plan.

Start raising the vibe about the trip. Create flyers, spread the work through social media and host a night at your studio. Remember, you want participants to sign on early and spread the word about you and your brand!

7. Long-Term Plan

Create long-term goals for your retreat offerings. Offer one the first year, two the second year. By your fifth year of establishing retreats, you should be able to successfully run three or four programs annually. Decide on the destinations over the five-year period and book early to maximize buying power.

Good luck! The dream of becoming a traveling yogi is well within your reach.


This is a sponsored article from our Affinity partner, Learning Journeys. For more information about Learning Journeys and the programs they offer our members, check out our Member Perks page or visit the Learning Journeys website.

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