Today we talk to Megan Lynas about what it takes to start a retreat business. Founder of Replenish You, a women’s only global retreats and events company, she works with influencers and corporates alike to create bespoke retreats, achieving a six-figure turnover in 12 months.
Since working in the corporate world for six years herself prior to launching Replenish You, Megan is also the Co-Founder of Embrace, a social and events consultancy for wellness in the workplace, seeking to change perceptions of corporate wellness. Megan has worked with some of the biggest fitness & wellness influencers in the UK and brands such as Reebok, Lancome, L’Oreal and Primark.
With more and more influencers, professionals and brands looking to start a retreat business, it’s interesting to see what people overlook when launching their own: “I definitely think there is a perception that it is easily done, hence the sudden increase in retreat weekends and escapes. However, the reality of running a retreat is very different, with the required aspects to ensure customer satisfaction such as legal and medical requirements, is much more complex.”
We could argue that customer service is paramour for any sort of service, however, when dealing with this type of events, the idea of hope for the best, prepare for the worst is very valuable:
“I don’t think many people consider worst-case scenarios such as an attendee seriously injuring themselves during the retreat. There are plenty of one man bands offering retreats and you do hear numerous horror stories and last minute retreat cancellations due to a lack of sales or organisational issues.”
The one piece of advice I would give to consumers is to research the company before booking and looking for testimonials and evidence of previous well-run escapes.
Let’s talk about start a retreat business: why do you think the trend has grown so much in the last 2/3 years?
I think it is a variety of reasons. Firstly, I think it’s an offering which influencers can use to promote engagement and their brand, to create a genuine experience for their followers to understand their ethos. Secondly, with travel being so accessible, and until 2 years ago it being a very limited market, there was a huge scope for retreats to be created as well as the demand for them.
And finally, I believe it offers consumers the opportunity to travel, to stay fit, to focus on themselves, to explore and to take the time out they need for themselves. Which in the world we currently live in, full on digital communication and a lack of face to face interaction and genuine, authentic relationships, is something people are now in need of.
Why do you think wellness is taking over the world of travel?
Historically when you travel it has fallen into two categories, backpacking or all inclusive’s, there has been a very limited offering around being able to explore the world whilst also maintaining health and fitness goals, or even being able to focus on this whilst abroad. To be able to travel whilst also remain conscious of wellbeing seems like a natural evolution from the growing wellbeing industry as it offers the best of both!
How do you think the way we experience retreats is going to change?
When I founded Replenish You two years ago retreats were either strict boot camps with restrictive food offerings, remote yoga retreats or meditation based escapes. I believe over time retreats will become all-inclusive and less ‘strict’, offering people a combination of all aspects of wellbeing, both mental and physical, along with the opportunity to travel, reflect, enjoy good food and meet like-minded individuals, which is exactly what we offer at Replenish You.
Airbnb launched its own wellness experiences – do you think it’s a way to tap into a trend or a genuine interest for wellness traveling?
To be honest, both! A huge company like Airbnb would be missing a massive gap in the market not to tap into wellness experiences because it is such a fast growing market, but still very much on a micro scale within the bigger picture. However, with all trends, the challenge is maintaining the offering in a way that will continue to grow and not follow wellbeing trends.
Where do you think sustainability sits when it comes to traveling, retreats and exciting destinations?
Ultimately, people travel to see the wonders of the world; stunning landscapes and nature at it’s most precious and beautiful. If sustainability and at the very least, an awareness of sustainability, is not taken into consideration, the very reasons people travel will begin to disappear. We are one of the first generations to actually know we are destroying the planet, so I think it is our responsibility to do what we can, where possible, to allow future generations to experience these wonders.
What’s your favourite destination and why?
A couple of years back, I went on an 8-night safari in Kenya and Tanzania. I traveled to 3 different areas, each with its own unique environment. There is something truly humbling being surrounded by the silence of nature as far as the eye can see and feeling as though you, or to be more precise, humanity, is the one who shouldn’t be there when the rest of the world is so overcrowded.