After many years of retreat building experience, Catherine Kontos developed the The RetreatBoss™ Certification program as a way of providing her clients with step-by-step lessons on retreat development. Her goal was to help clients build their business faster by providing tools that would save them time, money, and stress. During our interview, Catherine discusses her own experience in the retreat industry, big changes that have happened since the pandemic started, and how retreat organizers can best adapt.
What inspired you to start RetreatBoss™?
My retreat journey started a decade ago when I bought a beautiful lakeside Inn in the Laurentians of Quebec. I converted it to a luxury addiction and mental health retreat center. Unfortunately, I fell very ill with stage 3 breast cancer as soon as I launched it, and as fast as my dream business started, it ended.
My shock and despair took over, and my treatments started. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop me from starting a reservation platform for my retreat center. So I created my website, hired staff, and promoted it from my laptop between treatments. The same business won an award a couple of years later.
Because of all the publicity, others in the field started noticing me. They hired me to do the same for them, so I expanded my business and duplicated my success.
Fast forward a few years later, COVID-19 hit, and my retreat business shut down. So I decided to pivot my business in a new direction and RetreatBoss™ was founded as a new division in my company. I took all my years of business coaching, retreat building, and property management and launched my online course on planning and selling out with retreats. RetreatBoss™ also is a retreat planning company. Graduates from my program get the opportunity to plan for our clients.
What is your approach to retreat development?
Like any product or service launch, you need to build a good foundation. The number one mistake retreat leaders make is skipping the step where they clearly define their retreat’s mission, vision, and values. Without doing that, they will have difficulty honing in on their perfect niche. The niche that will be clawing to be a part of their retreat. The RetreatBoss™ courses will take away that fear of not knowing where to start and put into place a proven system of filling up their retreats with their ideal clients.
The next mistake often made is not giving enough time to market your retreat. Many retreat leaders think they can do it within two months. I promise you not only will they not fill out their retreat, but their retreat will not have all the nuts and bolts needed to deliver the most transformation to their clients and most profits to their pocket.
Pricing your product is also crucial. Price too high, people won’t pay. Price too low, you lose money. So there’s a straightforward way in assuring that you price for profit, allowing you to make five digits with every retreat without gauging your clients.
There are many points in developing a retreat, but one last point: the retreat leader needs to protect himself and his guest from liability. Contracts need to be in place to ensure that everything is covered with insurance.
How do you think the retreat industry is changing?
For leaders, COVID-19 has created a challenge. The ones that didn’t stop offering retreats have had the most profitable year of their career due to the lack of active retreats. But, as the world opens up, it makes us think differently about ensuring consumers feel safe mentally, physically, and financially.
The Wellness Travel Association surveyed wellness travel consumers and industry professionals and found the following trends will become a staple in wellness travel.
People have health at the forefront of their minds, and they will seek wellness retreats that will address that.
Being in several lockdowns over the pandemic, people seek outdoor activities to surround themselves with nature to disconnect from the world and enjoy peace and quiet.
There will continue to be an increase in solo travelers seeking connections with like-minded people; therefore, more individuals will come alone to retreats.
There will be a more significant consideration on sustainable retreats and giving back to the planet.
Because of all these results from the studies, the organization estimates wellness travel will see a record high by the fall of 2022. Those who want to be ready for this expansion need to prepare to take advantage and profit from retreats. A professional and profitable retreat takes 9-12 months to prepare, so the time is now.
They should also take this information and create their marketing strategy. Key takeaways are to target solo travelers who love many outdoor activities where they can feel safe and inspired with a like-minded community.
Where can leaders learn more about your course?
They can go to our website at retreatboss.com, where they can see details on how our courses offer a step-by-step solution to launch their retreat by the end of the program. They can also email me at email@example.com any of their questions or schedule a call where I can give them free tips on creating their dream retreat.