Thinking of hosting a retreat or mastermind event?? GOOD! This one’s for you.

Many coaches and entrepreneurs take their virtual businesses out from behind the laptop and into the real world by hosting an event, mastermind or retreat. This is a wonderful way to connect deeper with your audience and provide awesome experts and training!

…But before you start packing your bags and selling tickets, it’s important to get the planning done right, from a legal standpoint. I know the beachfront house is way more exciting to plan, but this is VITAL to your event!

While I want you to spend time dreaming of all the amazingness that is your upcoming retreat or event, FIRST, I want you to make sure you are legally protected! Here are a few of my top tips to consider:

  1. Get Yourself a WAIVER

Before you even launch the sales page for your event, you’ll need a GOOD liability waiver in hand. When I say good, I mean, drafted by an attorney! This isn’t something you want to look up on the internet and copy/paste together…we are talking about HUGE potential liability here, and this is something you just have to get right. If you take nothing else away from this article, know that you must have an attorney-drafted waiver. (To get access to my template waiver – head HERE!)

Okay okay…so why is this waiver such a big deal after all? A few reasons…

First, you’ll need people to confirm they are attending voluntarily. No, this doesn’t mean you want them to confirm they aren’t being dragged against their will, but you do want them to agree they are choosing to attend, and do not hold you responsible for their trip. Along these same lines, you’ll also want to make it clear that you aren’t responsible for things like travel and transportation. If someone’s luggage gets lost, they get into an accident on the way to the hotel, or some other issue occurs, you don’t want to be at fault.

Second, you’ll want to include a “media release,” which gives you the right to use things like photographs and videos of your clients taken at the retreat. If you’re hosting any kind of event, you will most likely want to photograph and video it as much as possible, right?? You’ll want to share photos in real time on social media, tag speakers and attendees, and use the footage to market future events! BUT – before you can do any of this, you’ll need permission from each of your attendees.

Many times, guests assume they’re being photographed, and wouldn’t have any problem being featured in photos or videos promoting the event. But what if they don’t like the way they look in the photo? (How many times have you had to delete a photo because one of your friends insists they look terrible? It happens.) You don’t want to be at the mercy of every attendee and need his or her approval to use every single photo.

Or what if you decide you want to use some of the photos in a Facebook advertisement, to market the event in future years, and those pictured in the photo didn’t expect this and doesn’t like it?

It’s not that we’re trying to trick anyone, or trying to publicize a photo that emphasizes someone’s bad side or double chin. It’s that you want to have control over how you want to use these images, and don’t want to have to get individual permission from each person just to use the photo.

In addition, your waiver will include several other paragraphs that will explain the retreat, and help decrease your liability to attendees. Again, trust me that you need an attorney-drafted waiver that has been confirmed to fit with the type of retreat or event you’re hosting.

  1. The Venue

WAY before you market and start selling spots to your event or retreat, you want to first iron out and confirm your venue. If you’re hosting a retreat or conference-style event, this will likely be a hotel. Event planners on the hotel staff will be able to guide you regarding the specific rules and requirements for that venue. Make sure you are forthcoming with the details of the event you’d like to hold and pay attention to what they say! If there are any additional things you need to purchase, bring, or show proof of, do that well in advance of the retreat.

Additionally, carefully read the contract the venue proposes – what does it say regarding liability? Do you need event insurance or any other liability insurance? Is there anything not covered by the hotel?  If you need to bring in additional staff or services, who is liable for them?

  1. Insurance

Depending on where you hold the event, insurance may be a key piece to this event or retreat. If you are planning to hold the event in another country, you may need to jump through a few more hoops in order to legally run your event. Some venues will require event liability insurance coverage for the duration of the event; others may not. But make sure you ask this question when talking to venues, to make sure you know what you’ll need to do, and make sure you’re compliant with venue rules.

  1. Expert Speakers

If you are bringing any expert speakers to the event, you’ll also need an attorney-drafted Speaker Agreement between your business and theirs (or them individually). This is where you will again outline liability for travel, accommodations, and other things outside the event itself, as well as payment, and whether you’ll be covering any of their travel or accommodations. You’ll also want to disclaim liability for anything they say to your audience, as well as the content of their talk, in case it later surfaces that it wasn’t their material. Have each expert sign this agreement before they are confirmed, paid, or leave for the event. To get a speaker agreement template, reach out to me at!

So to sum it all up, you want to make sure your attendees sign the Retreat or Event waiver (Get your event waiver template HERE!), make sure your speakers sign your Speaker Agreement, book your venue, and get any necessary event or liability insurance! While there may be other things that come up, depending on the type of event you’re planning to host, these are the major legal steps you need to take to get you well on your way to a legally compliant and epic event!