Episode 107 – What Hosting an All-Inclusive Retreat Taught Me About Client Experience

March 6, 2019

Hi friends, welcome to this week’s episode of the Brand Strategy Podcast where we’re diving into all things client experience.

I feel I have a unique perspective to share with you about client experience, because not only have I spent the past seven years as a brand designer and strategist walking not only my branding clients through an intentional experience that is elevated and full of heart. But I also have the perspective as the founder and host of the Illume Retreat.

If you’re not familiar with the Illume Retreat, it’s an all-inclusive three-day retreat for creative entrepreneurs who are striving to build businesses that operate from a clear place of purpose.

Throughout my five years of hosting the Illume Retreat, I’ve been challenged to figure out how I can take my experience of surprising and delighting my attendees during an all-inclusive in-person retreat into a process that elevates a client experience within your own business.

How hosting an all-inclusive retreat taught me about client experience

Show Note Highlights:

1:45 – How I learned to stop chasing after someone else’s definition of success.

3:20 – From the past five years of hosting this retreat I’ve learned so much in client experience that I want to share with you.

5:50 – In order to create a space for truth and clarity, it comes down to every last detail and that comes to life through the client experience. Here’s how I create an experience where my attendees feel seen, heard, and welcome from the space and the experience I create for them.

#1 – Envision How You Want People To Feel

6:45 – I always think about how do I want my attendees to feel? From the moment they walk in the door at the welcome session to the final bittersweet welcome dinner, I am constantly thinking about the emotional feelings I want my attendees to experience.

8:05 – I want to elevate my attendees client experience by creating opportunities for them to feel seen, loved and heard.

9:05 – First when they walk through the door, I focus on validating emotions by acknowledging them out loud. I start by acknowledging how I’m feeling in hopes that it gives my attendees the space to acknowledge how they feel too.

9:25 – Then I take it one step further by creating physical spaces that are conducive to the kinds of emotions I hope to inspire throughout the days ahead.

9:55 – Think about how you want your clients within your business to feel throughout your already existing client experience process.

#2 – Create Opportunities to Surprise and Delight at Every Turn

10:45 – Brands that surprise and delight are the kinds of brands that inspire a sense of value within us.

11:30 – Think about what are some organic ways you can surprise and delight your clients?

11:50 – I’m talking through why I don’t believe you need need to shower your clients with gifts in order to have a good client experience. Here are other ways I surprise my branding clients within the time we work together.

#3 – Anticipate What Your Client Needs From You

12:40 – Take a minute and think back to an incredible one-of-a-kind experience you had with a brand recently. What was it that made that experience so wonderful?

13:18 – For the past two years, I’ve brought the Illume Retreat to my home studio here in Waco, and when I’m creating the space for our speaker sessions I like to pull in just  a handful of chairs so we can dive into the content together in that way. But by not having desks for our attendees to take notes could be tricky. So instead, I order clipboards for our attendees to know I’ve anticipated their needs before they’ve even stepped one foot through my door.

14:55 – Here’s my challenge for you, what are some steps in your client experience workflow that could be a “clipboard” experience and exceed their expectations?

#4 – Build Open Lines of Communication

15:25 – I like to think of this as keeping the phone lines open. What I mean is to build open lines for honest feedback between you and your client. Ask for feedback and be open to constructive feedback in return. Constantly think about how you can improve your process and elevate your client experience.

16:20 – This is the #1 tool I use to receive feedback from my Illume Retreat guests and b is for bonnie design branding clients.

5 Steps to Elevating your Client Experience

So if I’ve been talking through these actionable ways to uplevel your client experience process and your ready to take even more action, then I’ve got a freebie just for you.

I’ve created a five step guide to elevate your brand through your client experience.

This is a totally free workbook you can snag and walk through so you can start implementing some of these ideas on some of your own terms today.

5 Ways to Elevate Your Client Experience

Your free guide to elevating your brand through your client experience is just a click away, friend!


More Details about the Illume Retreat

Also, if you’re curious about what it would look and feel like to join my incredible speaking team on October 14-17, 2019 for this all-inclusive retreat, I’d be so honored to have you join us.

The Illume Retreat is an annual experience taking place here in Waco and the exciting news is that registration opens to the public on March 13, 2019 at 9:00am CST.

The Illume Retreat is different from other educational experiences you might find because I very intentionally limit our registration to just a handful of attendees. You will spend three days walking alongside just 10 like-minded entrepreneurs who are chasing after building a business that operates from a clear place of purpose and newfound sense of truth.

If you want to learn more about our retreat experience you can go to the Illume Retreat website for all the juicy details and sign up for the waitlist below to be the first to know about our early bird registration!


1:1 Branding

Illume Retreat

Brand Strategy Podcast

Client Experience Workbook Freebie


Brand Strategy Podcast



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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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