When Jenny Finkel arrived at the five-star luxury resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in February, the first thing she did was stuff incredible goodie bags for her guests… well that, and finish off some rum-filled coconuts.
It may have been her first retreat, but from the reviews her students gave her, it could have been her 50th. This incredible instructor led 11 eager yogis through daily yoga sessions on the Caribbean shores and she’s now in the midst of exploring options for her second retreat. We asked this all star to give us some pointers on what made her retreat to Punta Cana — and a luxury one at that — so successful.
Trip Tribe: Jenny, how long have you been teaching yoga/fitness?
Jenny Finkel: 5 years
What were the main reasons why you wanted to lead a retreat?
I wanted to parlay my work as a yoga teacher into opportunities for travel, especially to places I might not make it to on my own, personal travel agenda. I also wanted to challenge my own boundaries and expectations of what it would be like to lead a group of students outside of the safe confines of a yoga studio and a 60-min class.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone organizing a retreat for the first time?
In the planning stages, every “no” got me closer to a vision of what my “yes” would be. So if you don’t have a solid idea yet of what you want to do, don’t be afraid to inundate yourself with options and ideas, and say no if it doesn’t feel right. Talk to people and ask for opinions and feedback. Your vision can keep adjusting until you know you’re on the right track.
How did you get the word out about your retreat?
I started the conversation with many of my clients and students as soon as I made the decision to lead a retreat, before I had any firm plans of where/how/what. As the plans started to take form, I kept my clients in the loop, and was able to adjust things based on how I interpreted their interest and opinions. Once the plan was solid, I hit up the social media sites, in-class announcements, etc.
Which marketing tactic seemed to work the best?
On the front end, I think direct conversation with clients was the most helpful. By the time the retreat was online and ready to book, people were already excited about it, and in some way had had a hand in the planning and decision-making. Social media definitely helped as well. During/after the retreat, social media posts were HUGE and I got a lot of comments from people about how amazing it looked and how they want to go on the next one. So that is definitely worth doing while on-site!
Which marketing tactic did not work?
The paid promotions didn’t lead to any bookings.
Who were the participants of your trip?
Family, regular students, referrals from professional networks and a random bookers from Trip Tribe’s site
What is your current favorite yoga pose?
Extended side angle
What is your current must have piece of yoga apparel?
Lululemon Cross Your Heart bra
What did you consider most important when deciding on a location for your retreat?
Mix of exoticism and accessibility
Jenny Finkel began doing yoga as a scoliotic, asthmatic 12-year-old after reading an article in Seventeen magazine. Now that she is kind of an adult, she teaches yoga full-time. She completed her 200-hour training with YogaWorks and a 50-hour specialized training in Therapeutic Yoga for Cancer at IIntegrative Medicine.
Originally published April 2015