How To Run a Retreat Business Effectively: Best Practices and Activity Ideas

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Retreats are events made for a group who wants to get away from their usual routine to recharge and gain energy to be productive again. Hosting retreats or starting a retreat business serves a huge market and can be a profitable way to earn for event planners. In this article, we will give you all the information you need on how to run a retreat effectively plus some activity ideas you can apply to your retreat planning business.

Article Outline

What is a Retreat

The literal definition of retreat is to “withdraw or move back”. In events, retreats are designed to be peaceful and relaxing so participants can have the time to be in solitude, recharge physically, and regain mental clarity. Depending on the type of retreat, there can be different purposes for why a retreat is organized. Usually, it is to achieve a certain state, outcome, or emotion for the attendees. 

A retreat brings a lot of essential benefits to a person’s life. Retreats can foster personal growth, build communities, deepen spiritual practice, and enhance one’s overall well-being. 

One study shows that a week-long wellness retreat can bring “substantial improvements in multiple dimensions of health and well-being, with many improvements being maintained at 6 weeks” 

Also, we all get the feeling of just wanting to have a change of routine for a while especially when life gets overwhelming. Spending time in a retreat can help clear one’s mind, especially in today’s digital world. 

Retreats are great events for individuals with an opportunity to relax, recharge, and reduce stress levels, leading to improved mood, increased resilience, and enhanced overall quality of life. 

The Benefits of a Retreat Business

Running a retreat business can be an immensely rewarding endeavor, offering both personal fulfillment and professional success. A retreat business caters to a big market because anyone can benefit from attending a retreat. 

At its core, a retreat business involves curating immersive experiences that allow participants to disconnect from their daily routines, reconnect with themselves, and rejuvenate their mind, body, and spirit. Since it is an experiential business, there is a big potential for being a lucrative business depending on its impact on your participants. An article cited a statistic, that on average, a health retreat business owner can earn from $50,000 to $100,000 a year.

More than the potential profit, a retreat business can have a significant and positive impact on a person’s life. Just imagine the word-of-mouth that can happen when your participants are satisfied with their retreat experience with you. 

Elements of a Retreat Business You Should Know About

Define your Niche and Target Audience

Before getting too far down the road with hosting a retreat or starting a retreat business, you need to define your niche and target audience to determine if you are interested in starting a retreat business, hosting these retreats, and if you are interested and capable of giving attendees a meaningful experience at your retreats. What background and experience do you have that can help you attract the right customers and make them want to come back to your retreat again?

Client Consultation and Needs Assessment

A retreat business exists to solve the needs of the people they serve. Part of what a retreat business does is conduct thorough consultations with potential clients to understand their objectives, preferences, and budget for the retreat. Additionally, they can offer personalized recommendations and proposals based on their needs and requirements.

Retreat Planning and Design

Planning for a retreat involves a lot of coordination and research. A retreat planner will select suitable venues, design comprehensive itineraries, and coordinate logistics such as transportation, accommodations, and vendor management. Implement risk management strategies to mitigate potential challenges during the retreat.

Marketing and Promotions

Creating content and making sure the retreat reaches the client’s ideal participants is part of the services a retreat business offers. Utilize digital marketing techniques, networking, and referrals to attract clients and generate leads.

Operations and Logistics Management

Choosing the venue, setting up the retreat website, and coordinating food – these are just some of the operational tasks that a retreat business takes care of. Establish efficient systems and processes for managing bookings, payments, and administrative tasks. Coordinate with vendors and service providers to ensure smooth execution of the retreat.

Post-Retreat Evaluation and Feedback

Keep the retreat business profitable and running by ensuring the quality of your participant’s experience. Gather feedback from clients and participants to evaluate the success of the retreat. Analyze data and metrics to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for future growth.

Legal and Administrative Considerations

Since a retreat requires transporting your participants to a different location, there is necessary paperworks needed to make it happen. A retreat business will take care of obtaining the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance coverage for your retreat planning business. Draft contracts and agreements with clients, vendors, and service providers to protect your interests and ensure compliance with industry regulations.

Types of Retreats To Organize For Clients

Spiritual Retreat

Almost all churches host some form of retreat for different age groups or seasons of life. Participants attend a retreat to be with fellow participants, listen to sermons or messages, engage in fun activities, and reconnect with nature.  Held in sacred spaces, monasteries, or retreat centers, spiritual retreats offer a refuge from the distractions of modern life, allowing participants to engage in meditation, prayer, reflection, and spiritual practices. 

Corporate Retreat

Corporate retreats offer organizations a valuable opportunity to invest in their team’s professional development, collaboration, and well-being. The team can experience a boost in morale and strengthen teamwork after experiencing the intentional activities of the corporate retreat. Whether held at off-site locations, resorts, or conference centers, corporate retreats provide a break from the daily grind, fostering creativity, innovation, and teamwork among employees. 

Including team-building exercises, leadership activities, workshops, and strategic planning sessions, corporate retreats empower teams to strengthen relationships, align goals, and enhance performance, leading to increased productivity, morale, and employee satisfaction.

Writers Retreat

Writing is a creative process and usually requires writers to have a clear mind for focused thought and concentration. Through workshops, writing exercises, and feedback sessions, a writing retreat offers a supportive environment for writers to hone their skills, unleash their creativity, and make progress on their projects, whether it’s a novel, screenplay, poetry collection, or memoir.

Creative Retreat

Just like writers, artists can find a getaway helpful for inspiration. Being in an environment with fellow artists can be productive as they bounce off creative ideas with one another or simply network. A creative retreat can also be a safe space to experiment and try new things for art’s sake. 

Leaders Retreat

Choose a venue that has ample space for leadership activities and team building. Invite speakers to talk about a relevant topic for your group. Add workshop sessions or experiential exercises that can build on the participants’ skills. 

Wellness Retreat

Organize a health and wellness retreat that is open for all ages. Partner with doctors or medical professionals for activities like holistic health checkups, spa treatments, health assessments, etc. If your venue is within nature, you can use activities like a nature walk, meditation, massages, or workout sessions for nature healing sessions. After the retreat, your participants must feel physically recharged and refreshed. 

Educational Retreat

The education industry is a big market to host a lot of events. Educational retreats combine learning and exploration that offer participants an opportunity to expand their knowledge, skills, and perspectives.

Educational retreats can address different goals like teacher team building, lesson planning, mentorship, school events, skill-building workshops, and more. Event organizers can create an inter-school retreat too with fun school event ideas for networking opportunities. 

Couples Retreat

Work on your relationship or marriage with a couples retreat getaway. Activities can be geared towards strengthening elements of one’s relationship like empathy, trust, communication, and teamwork. Invite marriage counselors or relationship experts to give talks or seminars for an enlightening experience for attendees. A couples retreat can serve as an avenue and safe space for couples to openly discuss their issues and concerns.

Personal Retreat

Spending time alone can do wonders for one’s mental health and personal development. Sometimes, a getaway with people you don’t know can help give you peace of mind. A personal retreat can host self-discovery activities and explorations like tailored workshops and activities, depending on the needs of registered attendees.

Alternatively, a personal retreat can be in the form of multiple events that target different personal goals. Examples include personal reflection, personal growth, creativity, and inspiration.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Plan a Retreat

Retreats are event getaways that usually take two or more days. Meticulous and strategic planning is needed to create a successful and good experience for attendees from the moment they register until they head back home. This section will guide you on what event organizers can expect in retreat planning. 

1. Define your retreat purpose

As with any event, the purpose and goal of the retreat will serve as the foundation for your whole planning process. Activities, target audience, decor, and program will be aligned with the goal of your retreat. 

Here are some examples of SMART retreat purpose: 

  • Participants to develop a habit of meditation daily for 15 minutes
  • Retreat goers will develop a new technical skill after the retreat
  • Participants are productive and it translates into their creative project by finishing a certain measured task 
  • Attendees will develop 2 new friendships and an improved sense of unity and teamwork with colleagues 

2. Select the ideal retreat center

A woman doing a yoga pose during a retreat by the beach

Ideally, a retreat location is situated in nature or has a relaxing ambiance. Since retreats are usually overnight, you must also consider lodging, dietary concerns, safety, toilet facilities, and safety permits. Discuss with your venue vendor your expected outcomes for participants so both of you can work together to achieve them.

3. Consider the event budget or financial considerations

Planning for retreats entails significant preparation and often demands a larger investment than the cost of a single-day event ticket. However, the potential profit or earnings for a retreat can also be significant.

Account for the costs involved for your retreat to happen like marketing, venue rentals, speakers, and activities. Then, you can set a target profit goal for your retreat and work backward. Identify your potential sources of revenue like participant registration fees, sponsorships, merchandise sales, grants, and donors. 

4. Open registrations/ sell retreat slots

Consider the planning effort, materials, speakers, activities, staff salaries, prizes, accommodation, and food to determine the best pricing strategy for your retreats. 

Your target audience might have a lot of questions about your retreat. Having a website where all the information is available is important to address potential objections. Accept retreat bookings or registrations through your event site powered by Event Espresso. Event Espresso is a WordPress plug-in that enables secure payment collection and no commission fees on an unlimited number of tickets you sell. 

5. Define and create the experience for your retreat

A group of friends smiling together at a retreat getaway

The selling point of your retreat is the experience. Create an immersive experience for your guests by creating an inclusive and safe culture for your group. Establish clear guidelines and expectations regarding behavior, boundaries, and confidentiality from the outset. 

Communicate your set guidelines to participants through pre-retreat materials, orientation sessions, and written agreements to ensure everyone understands their role in creating a safe and respectful environment.

Trust is another important thing to cultivate to encourage your participants to open up and participate. Set a culture of vulnerability by asking your facilitators to set an example if possible. Exemplify active listening and respect as each attendee shares their insights and opinions.

When it comes to the environment, try to engage senses like visuals, scents, and sounds. Add greeneries like plants and play relaxing music for a calming vibe.

6. Plan the retreat program

Based on your retreat goals, you can create a retreat program complete with the retreat theme, format, time, agenda, point person, and instructions. Think about what you want your attendees to experience from start to finish. As much as possible, every aspect of your event program must align with your overall goals. 

Next, determine the format and structure of the retreat, taking into account factors such as the duration of the event, the number of sessions or activities, and the flow of the agenda. Choose a format that allows for a balance of structured programming and free time for attendees to relax, reflect, and connect with others.

Develop a detailed agenda that outlines the schedule of activities, including session topics, speakers or facilitators, and any special events or excursions. Be mindful of pacing and transitions between activities to keep attendees engaged and energized throughout the retreat.

Assign a dedicated point person or event coordinator to oversee the planning and execution of the retreat program. This individual will serve as the main contact for attendees, speakers, vendors, and other stakeholders, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and according to plan.

Incorporate a variety of engaging activities into the retreat program to captivate attendees and enhance their overall experience. Consider incorporating gamification strategies, interactive workshops, team-building exercises, outdoor adventures, or wellness activities that align with the retreat theme and cater to the interests and preferences of your audience.

Allocate dedicated time for networking opportunities throughout the retreat, allowing attendees to connect, share ideas, and build meaningful relationships. Incorporate structured networking sessions, breakout discussions, or informal social gatherings to facilitate connections and foster community among participants.

7. Manage Retreat Logistics

The next step on how to host a retreat can be tedious but it is a very important step – organizing the logistics. For example, once a potential attendee signs up through your event registration site, you must have your pre-retreat communications ready. 

With Event Espresso, there are features where you can customize the emails and communications you will send. Write your event confirmation email and event email reminders to make sure your attendees are ready when the retreat comes.

Event planners are also in charge of contacting speakers and briefing them about the expected outcome per session.

Additionally, event organizers also have a point person for coordinating the food and beverage, transportation, and accommodation of the participants. 

8. Promote the retreat 

Retreats are usually targeted towards a specific niche or target group. Understand where your target audience spends most of their time and do your marketing promotion there. Since retreats are more emotional and aim to solve an intangible problem, your marketing message should answer your target audience’s pain points and desires. 

Highlight the transformative benefits and outcomes of attending your retreat, emphasizing how it can address their specific challenges, provide solutions, and fulfill their deepest desires for personal growth, connection, and fulfillment. 

Create your event promotion strategy like choosing your social media channel, segmenting your audience, creating your event timeline, etc.  

9. Evaluate the retreat’s success

After the retreat, you can hand out survey questionnaires to your participants to evaluate their retreat experience and to help you as you plan for the next retreat. Some questions to ask are:

  • Which part of the program did they enjoy the most?
  • What are the workshop sessions they found most valuable
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how will you rate the speakers of this session?
  • How can the retreat improve?

These surveys can serve as your event data to create a persona for your existing audience. You can send a follow-up thank you email, send souvenirs, send retreat materials, and further announcements for your next retreat.

Activity Ideas for Retreats

Quiet Hour

Every day, a person is bombarded with emails, notifications, and social media updates. The retreat is probably the only place where participants can experience the peace of being in a disconnected environment. 

Strength Building

Focus on building your participants’ targets and strengths through games, activities, or exercises. These can be executed in groups or experiences as an individual.

Sound Healing

Relax with the different sounds from instruments and materials. Concentrating and listening to the textured and layered sounds can be soothing for participants.

Art Therapy

Feel like a main character and retreat somewhere just to do art. Painting, singing, and pottery are therapeutic ways to release emotions and express creativity. selling point for your retreat too.  A fun art activity can help participants clear their minds over immersive art projects. 

Meditation and Reflection

Meditations are great for calming one’s self and self-discovery. Participants can enjoy some time in introspection and reflection during a retreat. Facilitators will guide the attendees into a state of mindfulness and guide them into a state of clarity and tranquility after the session. 

Open forums / Sharing Circles

Ladies sitting on a circle and talking

Retreats bring people into a mood that is more vulnerable and open to sharing. Corporate retreats for example can use this opportunity to gather feedback from teammates, brainstorm ideas for improvement, or resolve conflict with one another. 

Team building 

Event planners can bring textbook concepts to life when done in a team-building session during the retreat. Games like trust fall, relay games, and other leadership activities are some of the ideas you can try. 


Ladies participating in a retreat activity of journaling

A quote by James Clear said, that if your mind is cluttered, write everything down on paper and eliminate everything into two sentences that best describe your idea. The quote shows the power of journaling and its impact on thinking clearly.


Gather your participants over a campfire to set the mood for warm and heartfelt stories. Bring snacks like marshmallows for roasting, sausages, or even barbecue grill. Storytelling allows participants to be vulnerable and share their unique experiences and journeys. 

Guest Speakers or Lecture Sessions

Invite industry experts to share learnings and expertise with the retreat participants. Event organizers can plan for the desired objectives of the different messages and brief their guest speakers. These sessions provide opportunities for learning, reflection, and skill development, empowering participants to cultivate new knowledge and practices that they can integrate into their daily lives. 


Prepare workshop ideas that fit your retreat objectives. Workshops allow participants to engage in a hands-on activity and gain practical and new life skills. Depending on your retreat, you can pick niched workshops like a creative workshop, women’s workshop, corporate workshop, and more. Hire a workshop facilitator and make sure that each participant is given enough attention and space to learn. 

Nature Connect

Connect in nature by having your activities and sessions outdoors. Nature has always been connected with its healing properties and effect on our bodies. Being outdoors can be an instant mood booster because of the vitamin D and fresh air. 

Best Practices for Planning a Retreat

Focus on the deep connection

Retreats are events that focus on deep connections among members. What event planners should note is that participants usually sign up for a retreat to experience healing or relaxation. 

For example, you can create opportunities for deeper connection through small group breakout sessions focused on specific themes or topics of interest. These intimate gatherings allow participants to engage in more personal and meaningful conversations, fostering deeper connections with their peers.

Cite testimonials and positive feedback from previous attendees

When promoting your event, you can highlight the transformation and specific experience your previous attendees have experienced with your retreat. Gather testimonials on where they were before the retreat and the immediate results they’ve experienced after. Take photos and videos for a glimpse of the experience that you can post on different social media channels. 

Choosing your retreat planning committee

Select your retreat planning team based on their experience and commitment to your event. Open registrations for volunteers and conduct interviews to assess their motives for joining your committee. Conduct an assessment to identify their strengths and experiences so they can contribute according to their expertise. 

Also, consider being conscious of diversity and inclusivity when forming your retreat planning committee. Aim for a team with a range of backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets to ensure a well-rounded approach to planning. Prioritize individuals who are passionate about the retreat’s purpose and are dedicated to creating a meaningful experience for participants. 

Train your facilitators 

Your facilitators are at the forefront of dealing with your retreat participants. As event planners, you can organize a few days of training for your facilitators to give a run-through of the activities. Educate facilitators about the best practices of active listening, diversity, and other reflection prompts. 

Consider diversity and inclusion in your program

Ensure your event activities at retreats are inclusive and sensitive. Create a safe space where everyone feels valued, making meaningful connections and meeting new friends, while ensuring no one gets left out. If possible, you can ask specific questions on your event registration forms to be prepared for specific participants’ needs. 

Prioritize authenticity throughout your planning

People buy from people. Especially for events like retreats, participants give a lot of weight to the value of authenticity of the organizer and the retreat itself. Start by setting the tone to be authentic as early as in your marketing materials. 

Communicate your sincerity and be intentional in your transparency. If you’re comfortable you can be courageous to share your vulnerabilities with the group. Author Brene Brown puts it perfectly, “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Be prepared for backups 

You can never be too prepared as you plan for your retreats. Train your facilitators for potential safety concerns and protocols for emergencies or unexpected events. Additionally, it’s important to establish clear protocols for addressing safety concerns and managing risks. Also, have supplies on hand for contingencies, such as extra food, water, and first aid kits.

Seek Feedback and Reflect

After the retreat, collect feedback from participants to understand what worked well and what could be improved. Use this information to refine future retreats or design new experiences for current clients.

Follow Up

Maintain the momentum and connections formed during the retreat with post-event communication. Share resources, continue discussions, or plan future gatherings to build on the retreat’s success. Also, prepare to invite attendees to your next retreat and encourage current attendees to bring a guest.


The article presented all the information you need on how to run a retreat business and the steps on how to plan a retreat. Since the retreat industry has a lot of potential, planning a retreat is worth the profit. Retreats are a profitable and meaningful way to build connections and community with your target audience.

Include peaceful and healing retreat activities no matter the type of retreat your business or client needs. Value authenticity and personalization by getting to know your audience’s persona and behavior to create a memorable experience for attendees.

Run Successful Retreats or Start a Retreat Business Now

Open registration for your retreat bookings on your website with Event Espresso. If your retreat event website is hosted on WordPress, you simply need to install Event Espresso as a plug-in and you can start selling unlimited tickets at no commission fees. 

Compared to other ticket-selling platforms that charge a fee, Event Espresso offers an affordable and value-for-money plan that has all the features you need. Collect secure payments, customize attendee registration forms, and organize multiple events with this powerful plugin.

If you don’t use WordPress, Event Smart is a similar platform that has all the perks and features but you don’t have to build your event site from scratch. 

Be known as the event organizer who changed your participants’ lives with a successful retreat. Organize your retreat now by checking out our free live demo or our 14-day free trial.

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