Michelle Villalobos

The Superstar Scoop: How To Run a Retreat Business During A Lockdown

Let's face it, this past year has been challenging and unpredictable for all of us.

If you’re at all like me, then you’ve had to reinvent, refocus and regroup to weather the storm. In these ever-changing times, knowing how to adjust can make or break your business. 

In my world, that meant figuring out how to take a tried and tested LIVE retreat, and turn it into a virtual one – and have it be just as impactful and successful for the participants – and for me. 

In today’s video and blog post, I share how to run a retreat business virtually, so you can still deliver impact and generate revenue under any circumstances. 

First, I want to share a little bit about my own experience this past March, when the pandemic was announced. Right away, I was really concerned for my clients and for my business.

I had a live, in-person retreat scheduled for mid-March in Miami. This was an event that I’d been running for 6 years. With social distancing in full effect and live events at a standstill, I knew that I had to do something – and fast. 

I needed to make some big changes but I just didn't believe that my live retreats could translate into virtual. But I didn’t have much of a choice. I had people registered and waiting for me to make the call. So I did. 

It took me 2 weeks to overhaul my live event and reimagine it for virtual. And now, in hindsight, I can say I’m SO glad I did it. Adding this new virtual component to my business – something I thought would be just a temporary fix – has now become a permanent offering! 

I actually – surprisingly – LOVE the virtual format as much as, though in different ways from, a live retreat. 

Here are some of the structures and systems I put into place to turn my live retreat into a (successful!) virtual one. 

One of the keys that makes a live, in-person retreat so effective, so productive, and so transformational is that people actually retreat. Hence the term. 

This means they pull themselves out of their normal life, get away, and focus all their attention on this one area. That creates the kind of focus and distraction-free environment that supports a big breakthrough. 

But when a retreat goes virtual, participants are not getting away from their environment. Instead they’re video conferencing from their home and their home life is going on around them. Maybe their children, their animals, their spouse, or something else is clamoring for attention and it’s really easy to lose focus, or “walk away for a sec” and then they may miss something really important. 

So, one of the key factors I learned was to make sure our participants agree to FULLY retreat and to help them – in advance – to create a “distraction free zone,” so they can be fully be immersed in the retreat experience, even virtually. We do this in a retreat prep call, where we gain their commitment for this concept first, and then give them ideas for how to create what they need. 

I recommend incorporating this into the guidelines of your virtual retreat beforehand to ensure that everyone is fully present, engaged, and understands the importance of their full participation.  

Another idea to consider is that maybe you don't have to go completely virtual. 

Perhaps you don't have to make ALL of your events/retreats virtual but just the front-facing events for new people. Once you've anchored that initial retreat experience virtually, you are in a position to possibly sell a “back-end” program that’s much smaller and may still include an in-person experience.  

In my business, we have an up front retreat with about 30 people, and then we have the “back-end” retreats for our year-long clients that are usually much smaller, and we have been able to continue gathering in person for those. 

If you're in a hot spot or a place that's completely locked down, of course, you will need to stick to only virtual events. But often smaller groups are still able to meet even when bigger ones aren't, as long as they are doing so with the required precautions in place. .

Structuring the content of your virtual retreat effectively is critical in making your virtual experience a successful one. 

Consider creating a virtual structure that gives you the opportunity to sell into something on the back end (as mentioned above). 

What I mean by that is at a virtual retreat, the focus should be on delivering a very compelling outcome, a breakthrough that people really want and need, in a compressed time frame. The beauty of the virtual environment is that is that you don’t have to invest energy focusing on venue, food or other in-person logistics. This frees up both energy and budget to focus on truly delivering on your retreat outcomes. 

Watch the video to see an case study of a client of mine who does this really well. 

If you can design a retreat that achieves an OUTCOME, and that's more focused on some sort of value proposition that people really want and need, then it’s even more valuable – and easier, in my opinion – than creating a live retreat for people to gather and connect and bond in person. 

For those types of experiences, perhaps you can move them into a back end program once people have already connected and experienced your foundational retreat virtually. They might be even more excited to meet in person later, as that bond has already been initially established in the virtual environment.


If you want to lead virtual retreats and are looking for guidance and support, let’s connect and explore if and how my team and I can help you to design your program for both alignment and expansion. 

Book a Business Model Breakthrough Call on my calendar at superstaractivator.com/go

Let's explore and see how you can generate both income and impact with virtual retreats! 



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