Small Retreats that Create Massive Impact

I think we can all agree that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed everything when it comes to events. While more people are getting vaccinated and things are beginning to open, there is still a great deal of apprehension. Some are afraid of big gatherings, while others whose businesses were hit hard financially are less reluctant to spend money on yet another conference with little to no significance.

I attended a retreat late in 2019, and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. The event itself cost $5000 to attend and yet, there was nothing tangible that any of us walked away with. I could have saved myself a ton of money and just vacationed with a bunch of girlfriends. It did, however, inspire me to create my own retreat and to purchase a retreat home in the Colorado Rockies.

While conferences and larger events will always have a place, I believe smaller, intimate retreats are on the rise. People like the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with the organizer and fellow attendees. The isolation brought on by the pandemic has created a need to connect more in person and smaller events seem like less of a risk.

As an event planner, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts, tips, and best practices for planning your own successful retreat.

Get Away– Creating your retreat in a beautiful venue is a must. People need to feel special and that they are in for an amazing experience. It has been proven that people who attend more experiential events tend to retain more and take more action after the retreat. If people love your retreat, they will become fans and attend year after year. It’s hard to feel special if you are doing the same old thing everyone else does… a conference room and a stale hotel lunch.

Create a plan and a timeline – At SmartFem, we use the same philosophy for our retreats that we do with a corporate event: It is all about the timeline. The retreat planning committee begins mapping it out months in advance based on best practices. We schedule everything from breakfast and branding sessions to hikes and art projects, as well as the wrap party. As a business owner, the cost of a retreat can be pricey, so you need to make sure you’re using your time and resources wisely as well as the time of your attendees.

A Chance to Bond & Network – One of the most important aspects of your small retreat is to give attendees a chance to network and bond. Everyone at SmartFem events gets along, but the retreats offer a deeper dive and more time to connect and bond. Events big or small can be stressful and chaotic at times, but with a group of people who are relaxed and enjoying each other’s company, it gets you through the occasional mishap.

Consider Collaboration– While retreats are usually run by one person, I like to bring in strategic partners. There are so many advantages to strategic partnering. For instance, this year, I will be bringing in Erin Loman Jeck to discuss how to monetize your event and Breanna Gunn to talk about event funnels. I will also have my team member Niki Jorgenson demonstrate how to create an agenda and timeline. This year, for the first time, we included a little collaboration at our retreat. I have found that strategic partnering with others who have the same target demographic but do not do the same thing is a winning scenario for all parties. In addition to creating great content at the summit, they also help promote and fill the retreat as well.

Swag– Part of building up the excitement for the retreat is being known for swag.  While many people use swag bags, I prefer to use a wow box. It’s always filled with fabulous things to pamper our attendees along with a current issue of SmartFem Epic Events Magazine and the retreat workbook. It is our way of showing our attendees we appreciate them and to show them what is possible. This year’s retreat will include some amazing swag from a few of our sponsors. Now that’s what I call SWAG!