What makes a retreat, a retreat

Retreat is a trending word among travelers – you can find yoga retreats, digital nomad retreats, and even forex trading retreats…but what exactly is a retreat? Is it a workshop or is it just a group traveling and doing an activity together?

According to Dr. Sheri Rosenthal from Wanderlust Entrepreneur, a retreat is a custom-crafter life-changing experience that most commonly takes place in a group format at a gorgeous location. The emphasis here is on the “life-changing experience” and, dare we say it, the very purpose of a retreat in the first place. This experience is a result of multiple parts working together; destination, location, activities, information, and message. Retreat facilitators and operators should all understand these parts and how they work together to craft a life-changing experience.

Here are the three things that make a retreat, a retreat.

The Information
Most retreats exist to solve a problem. Healthy eating, better yoga, connection to the self – these are all areas where people are looking for information to resolve an issue they are having. Destination and activities are important but the essentially you as the facilitator are providing a space in which your client’s problems are solved. Information is often passed along formally or informally through teaching, both in classes and in excursions and trips. A proper retreat allows for a traditional classroom setting but it also has a lot of emphasis on spending time outside of a classroom. The difference between a workshop and a retreat is this aspect of how information is transmitted. Workshops are more utilitarian and straightforward while retreat are more multi-sensory and experientially focused. This is what provides a retreat with value over a workshop.

The Location
While a retreat can technically happen anywhere, including the backyard of your childhood home, a more inspiring location is probably called for. Retreats are crafted experiences and you want your client to feel detached from their everyday problems and ready dive into the experience and learn. A new and inspiring setting means a new and inspiring mindset. You need to understand the environment that best suites your client – for example getting your clients to adopt a healthier diet would be easier in the jungles of Ubud than it would be in hubub of Bangkok. Be sure to connect your information to your location. Instead of a “Women’s Weight Loss Retreat” why not try “Eat, Love, and Become Healthy in Bali Retreat”?

The Needs
Traditional wisdom states that retreat facilitators should focus on marketing their program and experience – but reality states that the most important factor in a facilitator’s success isn’t about meeting basic needs at high quality. This consumes a lot of energy and time that would be better used elsewhere because the most important factor in your success as a retreat facilitator is YOU – your client’s personal connection and time spent interacting with and learning from you. So have someone else take care of the little things while you take care of your people.