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6 Top Tips

"Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out"

Become a Master Chef

You might not be a fantastic chef yet, but there are a few great reasons why it's well worth you learning. Firstly I would say that in contradiction to what you might believe most people would prefer the homely feel of their host cooking for them and will appreciate the love and effort that has gone in to preparing their meal far more than a chef coming in, cooking and then leaving.

 

Caterers or private chefs can be very expensive, often even more expensive than eating in a restaurant and as a small business you want to keep the costs down where possible. At our retreats some of the money that we save from cooking ourselves we spend on improving our meals by using premium, quality ingredients such as truffle oil, pine nuts and quality wine.

 

I believed it was a skill well worth trying to master if I intended to run my own retreats. So I spent a few months hosting dinner parties for my friends, trying out recipes and seeing what worked and what didn't. I am still a long way from entering master chef, but overtime I have honed and improved my abilities which is something that has given me a real sense of satisfaction and enjoyment.

 

Some of my top cookery tips include :

Take pride in presentation : The way our food looks massively changes our experience of the meal. At our retreats instead of having a buffet where you can help yourself, we present each portion individually to make it feel more like a restaurant service. We even have a deserts board and offer a choice of deserts at the end of each meal.

 

Use colour in your dishes : A dish which is all one colour looks boring regardless of how it tastes. Think of colourful elements you can add to brighten up the dish.

 

Make the dish your own : There is nothing wrong with getting your recipes from a book if you don't know where to start, but try experimenting a bit with new ingredients to give your own twist and make the dish uniquely yours.

 

Pre prepare what you can : Anyone who has ever worked in a kitchen before knows that it takes a lot of pre preparation to have everything ready at the same time. So when you have free time in the afternoons get everything peeled, chopped and ready to go.

 

You can try making some of our own delicious vegan recipes from our website here :

Create a powerful defining moments

What makes an experience truly special and memorable?

We tend to remember the peak moments of any experience the most. And we don't just have to hope that these moments will automatically happen, they can also be created.

 

For inspiration I would highly recommend reading one of my favourite books of all the time 'The Power of Moments' in which psychologists Chip & Dan Heath explain their research into what makes a powerful defining moment and tell heart warming stories of individuals, businesses and organisations that have cultivated defining peak experiences in various ways.

 

At Bliss Yoga Retreats we create dozens of small and large defining moments. For example on the last day we surprise guests with a personalised framed photograph of themselves and the group. As well as their star sign bracelet in an ornate wooden box, with a message in a bottle and some sand collected from the local beach so that they can take a small part of the island home with them.

 

It is these small, personal and thoughtful touches that people remember and take away with them and its such an amazing feeling when people get emotional because they have had such an amazing experience with you.

Create a great content

​In the digital age where people are used to being bombarded by advertising and everyone has increasingly shorter attention spans, content needs to be able to grab people's attention long enough for you to be able to communicate what you are offering. 

 

You don't need to be a photographer or filmmaker in order to create amazing content these days, you can take incredible photos easily on a good camera phone. The picture for Tip 4 is one of our pictures taken on an iPhone 10!

 

These days with AI automatically selecting the settings and the best camera to use a phone can often be far more effective in the hands of an amateur than a professional camera.

Some of our top tips for creating amazing content include :

- Get a phone gimble for steady, stable videos

- Invest in a good phone camera

- Invest in a professionally filmed promo video that will capture potential customers imagination

- Stage some pictures. Often its difficult to get perfectly synchronised pictures during a live class and also you obviously don't want to distrub the class. That's why it's often best to shoot pictures for those that want to be involved after the class has finished

Use booking sites

You could be an expert in SEO and you still would have absolutely no chance of coming up on the first page of search engines like google. Our quick hack to come up on google searches is to make a free google business listing, this way you will at least come up on the first page when people search by location or for local businesses. 

 

However realistically especially in the early days of your business you are not going to be able to drive enough traffic to your website to generate all of your bookings if you are running regular retreats. We ran 15 sold out retreats last year and around 80% of our bookings came through booking sites. If you think about your own habits, if you want to book a holiday or hotel where do you look? You look on a comparison site like booking.com so that you can compare all of the options and read the reviews knowing that they are genuine.

 

That's why it's so important to build a strong profile on the booking sites and to work on ranking highly on their site. The main booking site we get bookings through is Book Yoga Retreats, this booking site dominates the first page of google and have been invaluable for our business. We have worked hard to establish ourselves as one of their top listed retreats. You can see our listing here : Bliss Yoga 

 

If you would like more help and advice on which booking sites to use and how to grow your profile. Then get in touch to book a coaching session with us :)

Find a perfect place

Many people go for the easy option when running retreats and choose a dedicated retreat space to run their retreats.

 

Obviously these purpose built spaces are designed for running retreats, but they also charge a massive premium for the convenience. I would say that on average by using a suitable villa instead of a dedicated retreat space you will save at least half on your accommodation costs.

 

The main features that you will be looking for in the right villa include :

A quiet location where your practice won't be disturbed by traffic or noisy neighbours.

A beautiful outdoor space ideally with some shade if in a hot country and a spacious indoor area in case of bad weather.

Mostly single beds in the bedrooms in order to make it possible for people to share rooms and reduce the cost per person.

An adequate sized kitchen with a good sized fridge or fridges to cater for so many people.

Relatively close to local amenities if you aren't providing activities so that the guests don't feel too isolated.

 

It may take time to find the perfect place, but its well worth putting the time and effort into a finding a space that has everything you need within a budget that you can afford.

 

We found a beautiful space in Tenerife that you can book through us and we will include all of the yoga equipment, cooking equipment and can even provider a cleaner or housekeeping. To learn more check out the link below :

Learn how to sell

Many people don't appreciate that every time you get an enquiry from a customer that is an opportunity for a sale and depending on how you respond to the customer will greatly increase or decrease your chances of that enquiry converting to a sale. We have a very high conversion rate from enquiries to sales because we employ the correct techniques when responding to enquiries.

 

Now some people may believe that sales should play no part in running a yoga retreat and that you should just let people make decisions freely. My belief is if you truly believe in what you are selling and you manage to convince someone using sales principles to choose your retreat and you have every intention of creating the most special, amazing and memorable experience that you possibly can, then why should you feel bad about this?

 

In my opinion the best book ever written on the principles of sales is Influence by Robert Cialdini. In this book he outlines 7 specific principles that are used by compliance professionals to make sales, these include :

 

1. Scarcity : People have a tendency to desire something more which they consider scarce and mentioning that something is scarce is a great way to instil urgency in people to book.

 

2. Liking : People are far more likely to buy something from someone they like and feel a connection with, you can build rapport with people through using their name, pointing out similarities, use of friendly emojis, offering extra detailed advice and many other ways

 

3. Authority : People naturally trust authority figures and feel safe spending their money with them. That's why its important to convey your competency. This may be your first ever retreat and you might be really nervous, but you don't need to communicate this to the customer.

 

4. Unity : Conveying togetherness and similarity, for example when people mention they are a yoga beginner, I reassure them by telling them I myself am far from a yoga expert and that we get many guests coming who are beginners trying their first ever retreat.

 

5. Social Proof : People do what they observe or hear of others doing. For example when we are fully booked we offer 1 or 2 extra guests a package without accommodation and they can book a hotel locally to the retreat. When I offer this though if we already have a guest doing it then I make sure to mention it, if not then I point out that guests often do it.

 

6. Commitment : Most people need to think that they are being consistent when they make decisions. Therefore if someone has an objection or a question once you have removed that objection then their need for consistency will compel them to book. Once I have answered a question/ removed an objection I will finish with 'if you need any more information before booking just let me know'. Notice the difference between just saying 'if you have more questions let me know', which leaves it open, to saying 'if you need more information before booking just let me know'. In the second statement the expectation is that they will book because you have answered their queries.

 

7. Reciprocity : Most people are born with an ingrained sense of fairness and reciprocity. Therefore if you reply quickly to enquiries, answer people's questions in detail and provide them with extra information and you even offer them something specifically to cater to their needs, then they are naturally going to want to reciprocate by booking your retreat. 

 

If you would like to know more about the principles of sales and how to apply them to your business then you can book a coaching session with us here :

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