Can I get a refund?
This is probably the most common question I receive. I understand. You sign up for a retreat with the best intentions to attend and somehow it’s just not going to work with your schedule. The timing isn’t right, you can’t commit financially, your best friend scheduled their wedding that weekend, your boyfriend passed away…I’ve heard it all. Believe me, it’s not easy having to tell someone, “No,” and it happens more than you think. So, I thought I’d break down why I am unable to issue refunds and where that deposit goes.
When I put together a retreat the first thing I must do is place a non-refundable deposit myself to hold space for the retreat. I am able to accomplish this by using the deposits I receive once you, the client, sign up. For popular retreats that sell out quickly, I usually have more money available which I can then use as savings to pay for other items I need before the retreat. These items include retreat event insurance, tank tops/hats, brochures or other retreat swag, and any yoga space rentals. I try and price my deposit so that I have the funds for the minimum amount of people needed to sign up so I can run the retreat without a loss. For many retreats, I rent condos or other types of shared lodging and am thus charged the same whether I have one or 4 people in that space. Just because one person drops out doesn’t mean I can drop my cost. Essentially your money is spent and there’s nothing I can do to get it back.
Timing is everything
Another reason I’m unable to refund deposits is because most people who cancel do so last minute. I’ve had guests cancel anywhere from a week before to two days before a retreat. My balances for retreat rentals are usually due 60-90 days out from the scheduled retreat so I make sure my guests are paid in full by then as well. If a guest cancels within this time frame and cannot fill their spot, I’m left scrambling to try and fill their place. If I can’t fill it, I have to eat the cost out of my profit. It’s extremely difficult (and humbling) to go back and promote a retreat after you’ve declared it sold out. Usually my waiting list has made other plans by this point as well. Sometimes I need a minimum of at least 7 to attend an event so you can imagine if two people drop out last minute. I then have to run the retreat below my minimum and if I had known this sooner I may have just cancelled the event or condo rental altogether. There’s also the issue of now having a shirt printed for a guest that can no longer be used. There is no guarantee that if I get a replacement participant they will be the same size.
So what’s the solution?
An easy solution to all this would be, of course, to charge higher prices for my retreats. That way my minimum number of participants needed could be lower and I could always ensure I made a profit. But, that’s not the route I’ve ever wanted to pursue. I’ve always had the desire to create competitively affordable retreats that offer value for the cost and give the guest more than what they expect. Denying refunds has also allowed me to run a retreat that might otherwise have been cancelled.
So, at the end of the day I rely on my participants to have the ability to ask themselves what they can afford to lose. If you feel you cannot afford to lose $300-$500 then it’s better to take the chance and sign up last minute (space permitting) when you know you can attend. You can also message me about being first on the wait list for the retreats that sell out quicker and keep your fingers crossed in the off chance a spot opens up. Also, ask yourself if money is tight for you now, where do you think the rest will come from later? Remember a retreat is like any other vacation, the money used to pay for it should be available because you have set money aside for a trip like this. If you are using rent money to fund your travels or counting on a tax refund to fund your travels you may find yourself in a bind when it comes time to pay in full.
Thank you for understanding
My refund policy is something I’ve upheld over my years in business and one I do not take lightly. I treat each participant the same when it comes to this policy whether I have known the person for years or only through emails. I understand life happens and at the end of the day it never hurts to ask how I can help you make the best decision if you decide to cancel a retreat.