by Kara-Leah Grant
Hosting a travelling yoga teacher can be a successful and profitable venture for a yoga studio – if done right!
- It can use up “dead time” in the studio.
- It opens up an additional income stream.
- It can bring in students that don’t usually come to the studio, some of whom may come back.
- It can increase the exposure and awareness of the host studio in the marketplace.
- It can educate and inspire the studio’s student base.
And it can be the beginning of an ongoing, rewarding relationship between the travelling teacher and the host studio.
However, hosting a travelling teacher is not as simple as booking the workshop, immersion or training and telling everyone about it, hoping that people show up.
Here’s how to maximise the experience for everyone involved – the host studio, the travelling teacher and the student base. Ask yourself the following questions!
1. Do you have the time and energy to wholeheartedly commit to hosting a travelling yoga teacher?
It might seem like a great idea to invite that Big Name Teacher to come and run a workshop at your studio… but if you’re already struggling to find minutes in the day to run your studio, you may not have the time necessary.
It takes time to get it right. Don’t underestimate this. Don’t assume that it’s as simple as booking the teacher, throwing up a few posters, doing a few class announcements and making some social media posts.
If you’re the one hosting, it’s your job to know what’s going on with bookings, how the students are responding, what’s needed for advertising and marketing, and all the other hundreds of tiny little details that come up when hosting. This could add an extra 30 minutes or hour to your day’s work – especially if it’s a full weekend workshop, or it’s the final week leading up to the event.
If a visiting teacher feels like they’re doing all the work, and they have to keep contacting you to keep things moving forward, they may not want to work with you again. You’re hosting – it’s our job to project manage the experience.
2. Is the travelling teacher is a good fit for your studio?
So you’ve got the time and space to properly host a teacher. Who do you host? Just because that travelling teacher has a huge social media following, or is the world’s leading expert in chakras, it doesn’t mean they are a good fit for your studio.
Always check in with your community – do they know the teacher already? Are they interested in the topic material the teacher is proposing to teach? Is there already organic demand for what’s on offer?
Take some time to really feel into your community, maybe even speaking to them over a week or so, and feel whether this teacher is a good fit or not. Don’t be afraid to say no, even if it’s a big name teacher, if you feel like it’s not a good match. If possible, suggest another studio that might work better – that way, you’re still building the relationship, even if you don’t end up hosting the teacher.
And that’s what this is all about – relationship building!
3. Have you clearly agreed to all financial possibilities?
You’ve got the time, you’ve agreed to host a teacher. Now it’s down to the nitty gritty. Don’t be afraid to go into detail as you nail down all the financial details surrounding the event.
What kind of split will the studio and teacher each take? The usual is 70% for the travelling teacher and 30% for the studio, but there are times when this won’t be suitable. What expenses need including before the profit split? Who is paying for transport? What about accommodation? Transfers? Food? Marketing costs? Can studio teachers attend for free?
Never assume anything. And don’t be afraid to talk about money! Clarity is key here.
Travelling yoga teachers say…
It’s a bummer when a host breaches the contract because they have already spent the income from the workshop and thus are unable to write a check for the workshop and expense reimbursement. I totally understand how that can happen, but it’s super important to put liability income aside for the teacher, especially since they often front money for the travel and have income that comes in sporadically. ~ Amy Ippoliti, 90 Monkeys
4. Do you have contingency plans in place?
You can’t assume success, and you should also plan for low numbers. Is there a bare minimum number of bookings required for the event to go ahead? When do these numbers need to be reached? If the event is cancelled, who pays for the expenses incurred to date?
Maybe it’s ok to have only five students in the room because the long-term plan is to build demand over a few years. Maybe there need to be at least 20 students registered and paid before flights are booked because the transport costs are so high.
Talk about all these things, and create contingency plans that are a win/win for all. Don’t come from a place of fear, or lack. But be realistic and honest about what could happen.
5. Who is in charge of creating the marketing and advertising material?
You can have the best teacher in the world coming, but if the marketing material sucks, you might get no bookings at all. And while the visiting teacher might have branding in place, and have a specific way of marketing their events, don’t be afraid to share what works for your community.
For this reason, sometimes it’s better for the hosting studio to create all the marketing material, using supplied text and images from the travelling teacher. The studio knows the market better, and they know what has worked in the past.
The travelling teacher will have a much stronger grasp on their workshop topic – do they have related content that can be shared out across social media, websites, and newsletters?
Related content is some of the strongest marketing material you can create – way more potent and engaging that a poster or flyer. Make sure you leverage this to its absolute maximum. And don’t be afraid to ask the travelling teacher to create new content, if that’s their thing. Ask them to make a short video talking about the workshop subject.
Travelling yoga teachers say…
I’m very fond of the hosts who packed the house with curious, enthusiastic, and amazing students with very little marketing effort on my part! Of course I’m happy to participate in spreading the word and helping out, but it’s really wonderful when the host makes it happen, because then I can focus my time on studying, preparing and teaching! ~ Amy Ippoliti, 90 Monkeys
6. Have you agreed on an advertising and marketing plan?
Don’t assume anything. Be clear on how you’re going to market the event, and be clear on the level of support you expect from the travelling teacher. Travelling teachers can be so busy that they assume the host studio will handle all the marketing and so not reach out to their own audience at all.
Sometimes the opposite can happen – the host studio will assume that the travelling teacher has such great reach that they don’t need to do too much.
Be clear with the travelling teacher on the nitty gritty of marketing. What channels will you use? How often? With what content? How are you cross-promoting and creating engaging conversations between the hosting studio community and the teacher? What level of social media engagement do you expect? Where else is the event being listed? Who is responsible for doing that?
You also need to understand that giving people information about an event is NOT the same as marketing an event.
Telling someone that this is happening on this date can be completely useless.People need to know how this event is going to change their lives. That’s the marketing. Once you’ve got people interested, because they want to experience the benefits, THEN you can tell them the boring details like when and where and how much.
Information is NOT marketing. I had to say that again… and marketing often starts with education, then engaging content and finally detailed information. If your students are unfamiliar with the teacher, or the topic, you need to first educate them on why this teacher or topic is so wonderful, then share the relevant content, and then – once the students are interested, worry about the details.
7. Have you got all the studio teachers on board and educated?
The number one way that workshops and trainings fill up is through enthusiastic word of mouth. And the number one place this enthusiastic word of mouth comes from is the teachers at the hosting studio.
Ask all the teachers – do they know this travelling teacher and the topic on offer? If they don’t, educate them! Have a meeting, introduce the travelling teacher via Skype, or watch an interview with him/her, or share why you’ve booked this particular teacher. Share how students lives will change if they attend the workshop.
If the studio teachers are NOT excited about the visiting teacher, or the event… how on earth is the community going to get excited? There’s nothing worse than a teacher reading out studio announcements at the end of class because that’s what she’s been told to do.
Teachers need to be sharing the information because they see the benefits of having this teacher in the studio and they are fully on board. And, they need to be able to answer questions about the teacher and the workshop on offer. If they can’t answer the question, they need to be sufficiently motivated to find out the answer and get back to the student.
8. Have you covered all of the teacher’s possible hosting needs?
Make sure you ask the travelling teacher what they’re going to need when they come. Small things make a huge difference.
Anticipating the needs of the travelling teacher and asking what’s required is hugely appreciated. Go beyond what might be expected. If the teacher knows no one in town and is there for three days, ask if they’d like to come for dinner, ask if they’d like to be shown the sights of the town. Look after the teacher the way you would a dear friend because if all goes well, the teacher might become a dear friend!
I sometimes travel with my son, and it’s so awesome when the hosting studio asks me, what kind of child care do you need? How can we support your son? It feels very different from when I have to ask, and it feels like a chore for the hosting studio to support me in this way.
Travelling yoga teachers say…
“One of the best things any hosting studio can do during a visit is VET the accommodation where I will be staying. As I am often on the road for several months at a time, I always stay in apartments that have kitchens rather than hotel rooms. These are often sourced through airbnb or other rental services. Pictures on the internet can be very misleading: an apartment might be nice on the inside but the agent fails to tell you it is located right above a metal recycling bin! Or the bed is a sagging mess. It’s essential for someone to check that 1) the location will be quiet, 2) the apartment is clean and 3) the bed is comfortable. When hosts do this it makes a world of difference because it means a teacher can get good rest. ” ~ Donna Farhi
“Most studios I travel to arrange transport from the airport and provide decent accommodation, a few have even set me up with a private residence and a vehicle! My favourite studios, however, are the ones that included me as a visiting teacher in the community to the greatest degree. As long as sleeping arrangements are adequate, this community access is the most fun!” ~ Lucas Miles
“The best thing a hosting studio has ever done for me? A yummy local organic fruit basket and a service dog for the night (I was by myself and feeling sad).” ~ Briohny Smyth, Bryce Yoga
9. Finally, do you know what the teacher needs with they arrive?
This welcome is crucial – you need to make sure that the travelling teacher has everything they need to deliver the event and to nourish and nurture themselves. Go over the timelines for the event and any final details.
If they’ve flown in from out of town, they might like to go to the supermarket to pick up some food. Go over all the audio and space requirements for the event. Make sure they know what else is happening in the studio, introduce them to all relevant staff members, in general, make them feel like they’re at home and are being well-cared for!
Travelling yoga teachers say…
“I once had a studio fail to complete an airport transfer as agreed, and when I arrived at the address where I had arranged to stay after a very expensive cab ride, I was shown to my “quarters”, a dingy couch under the basement staircase, complete with stinky cat litter boxes on either side!” ~ Lucas Miles
“As a traveling teacher and a mama the most supportive thing a studio can do for me is providing a quiet landing spot with a yoga mat and time to practice upon landing. This ritual seems to be what keeps me grounded amidst the movement. Also, when they consider my basic needs of healthy food and water, well, that is always appreciated.” ~ Janet Stone
“Probably my worst ever experience was having a studio director drop me off at a dark and dingy hotel (when contractually she had agreed to an apartment with a kitchen), and then before the workshop began she left town! The hotel room overlooked a busy four way intersection in a Frankfurt, Germany and the only way to get ventilation to the hotel room was to open the windows. The noise was deafening – sleep impossible. Combined with the astonishing negligence of not even being present for an event she had hosted, this had to be one of my worst ever teaching experiences.” ~ Donna Farhi
A great host not only supplies a venue and gets people in the door, they also hold space, anticipate needs, and take care of all the small details.
I’m working with a yoga teacher in Mexico right now, who is hosting our Heart of Self-Love Retreat and she has been AMAZING. She’s proactive, anticipate needs, promotes authentically to her audience, takes care of emails before I even have to ask her, found me an amazing place to stay without me even asking and goes the extra mile in a myriad of tiny ways.
Her hosting makes me feel supported, cared for, welcomed and super excited about working with her. And I just know that when I show up to co-facilitate this week-long retreat, she’s got my back.
And this is the thing. As a travelling yoga teacher, I want to work with people where it’s not just enjoyable and profitable for both of us, but also easy and a delight.
My intention is to develop on-going relationships with host studios and communities so that I can go back year after year. This means I can continue to develop my topics based on what the community needs, and it means the community get to know me and what I offer. Then we grow together.
That’s the ultimate – creating ongoing powerful relationships for mutual growth.