How to Survey: Find Out What Your Students Want in a Retreat

So you’re thinking of planning a yoga retreat.

Maybe somewhere by the beach, or maybe at a cabin in the woods. Or maybe you’d like to go camping. Wondering if you should do a day retreat or go all out and do a 7 day retreat? Decisions, decisions.....

Hold your horses! Before you make any decisions, ask yourself “Do I really know what my students want?” After all, the retreat you're dreaming up will be for THEM.

In our last blog we went over the 3 Essential Steps to Take Before Planning a Yoga Retreat. Today we go more in depth into Step #1 Survey Your Students as promised... keep on readin'!

Why survey your Students?

We can play the guessing game forever. And often as yoga teachers we have a good intuition about what our students want and need.

But that’s just it- without asking our students directly and really listening to them, we are basing our offerings on what we think our students need, and this can definitely be clouded by our own needs and desires.

So is this such a bad thing?

If you intuitively think you understand what your students want in a retreat, you may get lucky and have success filling it up. But what if your brilliant idea is not received as well as you thought and you end up struggling to fill your retreat?

This can mean a whole lotta stress, financial loss, and maybe even cancelling your retreat.

Is this a risk worth taking? Only you know that answer of course.

In our minds, it is not.

We’ve been there. We started out this way, making decisions based on instinct and desire, and predictions based on zero to few actual facts. And sometimes we got very lucky and we were super successful. Other times our “brilliant” ideas weren’t as popular as we’d imagined.

Over the years we learned to really look at each of these experiences and analyze what worked and what didn’t.  We learned the importance of ASKING our students what they want, what they liked during their retreat experiences, and how we could constatly improve our retreats.

We learned that in order to continue doing what we LOVE, creating amazing and transformative experiences, we had to first understand the needs of our students.

Getting to know your students is a key component in the success of your retreat and your yoga business.

You’ll stop guessing and start creating retreats, workshops, events based on what your students want. As simple as this sounds, this can be one of the most important things you do in your yoga business.

How to get it done

So how are you supposed to find out what your students need? You ask of course!

Here are 3 ways to get to know your students and learn what they need. Regardless if you are already doing some of these things, think about it the big picture, a strategy and, put it forward with more intention. Go deeper into to your inquiry. 

  1. Conversation - Start with good old fashioned conversation. A good time to do this might be before or after class. Let your students know you are thinking about planning a yoga retreat. Before sharing all YOUR ideas of what you’d like to offer, ask them if they’d be interested in a yoga retreat and what they’d want from the experience. Let go of your own agenda and go into the conversation with an open mind. You might be surprised to hear some of the things they say. Also, it’s a good idea to have a list of general questions you are ready to ask, i.e. how long they’d like to retreat, somewhere local or abroad, how much time they’d need to plan/ save up before signing up, etc.

  2. Email - If you have the email addresses of your students you can send out an email and ask them this way. This could be a nice way for them to have some time to think about their answers. You can ask the same general questions you would in conversation, but get a little more specific, i.e. “Are you interested in rustic cabin accommodations or would you prefer something luxury?” “What type of extra activities would you like to see in a retreat?” A great tip is to be personal in your emails so that people feel you are truly interested in what THEY have to say.
  3. Online Survey - Now here’s where you can get really specific! And maybe even get the most honest answers from your students (especially if your students decide to fill out the survey anonymously).  There are great online tools out there to help you do this. Survey Monkey, Zoomerang and Survey Gizmo all offer FREE survey tools that are super easy to use.

TIP: Remember to create a survey that is short and sweet. People don’t have a lot of time (or interest) in filling out a long, tedious questionnaire. Try to make the survey doable in 2-3 minutes (and mention how quick it is when you ask them to fill it out!).

TIP: It never hurts to offer them something in return for filling it out, like a small discount on your upcoming retreat or workshop. People love and appreciate gifts no matter how small they may seem. In the business world people do this all the time because of the simple fact that it is an incentive (some big stores offer you coupons to fill out their surveys, right)

TIP: Don't give up if some people just don't respond to you. It doesn't mean they don't care necessarily. We are all busy and overloaded with tasks, work and family. Keep asking and find new fun ways to get to those students (why not grab a coffee with your fave student).

What to ask them

Make your survey easy to answer. It’s possible to ask open ended questions that your students need to fill in the answers, like “What would your ideal yoga retreat look like?” It’s ok to have a couple of these fill in the blank questions. But in order to make the survey quick and simple, it’s best to ask mostly yes/no or multiple choice questions.

Here are some sample retreat survey  questions:

What type of retreat would you sign up for in a heartbeat?

  1. Yoga and hiking retreat at a rustic cabin in the woods
  2. Yoga and wine tasting retreat at a secluded luxury villa
  3. Yoga and detox cleanse retreat at a beautiful countryside spa
  4. Restorative yoga retreat at a house by the beach

How long would you like to get away?

  1. 2 night weekend retreat
  2. Extended 3 night weekend retreat
  3. 5 days
  4. 7 days
  5. Other_______________________________(fill in)

How much time in advance do you need to plan for getting away on a retreat?

  1. I’m ready now!
  2. At least a couple of months
  3. 6 months to a year
  4. Other_______________________________(fill in)

What are the main reasons you’d like to retreat? (Option to answer more than one)

  1. Relax and renew
  2. Deepen my yoga practice
  3. Connect with other like-minded yogis
  4. Travel and see new places while practicing yoga!
  5. Other_______________________________(fill in)

So whether you are just starting out a seasoned yoga teacher with a few retreats under your belt, sending out a survey is a great way to really get to know your students and be able to create unique yoga retreats your students want and need!

Here are some additional links to help you get your survey on

Article on how to survey your audience

Sample Yoga Survey

Now to you my friend! Have you ever surveyed your yoga students before? Was it helpful? Share your answers in the blog comments below or ask us any questions you have about this fun topic!

Want to dive deeper into retreat planning. Download our free e-book The 5 Key Elements to Planning Successful Yoga Retreats below!