Sandals Resorts International has decided to "unbundle" its wedding package offerings, allowing betrothed couples to hand-pick all of the items for their destination weddings.
Travel agents will receive commission on every aspect of a WeddingMoon that they book – from table settings to flowers for the table and boutonnieres to spa treatments for the bride and her attendants, according to the company.
“We have decided to disrupt ourselves,” said Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International, borrowing a phrase from Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz.
Stewart was referring to the fact that heretofore, pre-packaged weddings have been offered by Sandals. Stewart says it’s time to unravel that concept.
“Every bride wants to be different from every other bride she’s ever seen,” said Randy Fenoli, host of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” reality television program. Fenoli was on hand with Stewart yesterday at New York’s Grand Central Station, where the new weddings program, “Your Wedding. Your Style” was revealed to media and to top-producing Sandals travel advisors, many of whom were flown in for the event.
Even more so, statistics reveal that today’s “millennial” bride, meaning those born after 1979, and who represent 70 percent of the weddings market, wants to be very involved with her wedding, rather than having someone else plan it, said Stewart. “Today’s bride sits for hours on line considering 34 to 40 different types of experiences.”
With that in mind, Sandals, which is still offering a free weddings package for brides and grooms staying six nights or longer, has created an “Online Destination Wedding Designer,” (http://www.sandals.com/weddingmoons/weddings/wedding-designer.cfm) that allows couples to build a profile for their event. They first choose which island they want to have it on, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua or Saint Lucia, they then pick their color palette and then choices for flowers, décor, wedding cakes, centerpieces, etc.
Included in the offering is $500 towards the custom wedding when they stay for six nights.
Marsha-Ann Brown, director of romance for Sandals Resorts International, stressed that the site is not a booking engine and that the online tool enables couples to share their plans for their wedding with their travel advisor.
To promote the “Your Wedding, Your Style” program, Sandals has created several videos that illustrate its offerings. It also did three photo shoots at the cost of $2.8 million launch the program, said Stewart.
Reemphasizing the fact that travel agents will receive profit from the new program, Gary Sadler, senior vice president of Unique Vacations, told advisors in attendance, “At the end of the day, it’s all about you and more commission.” He added that Sandals has recreated a new education program for its destination weddings offerings and that it will be providing fam trips for agents to come witness the product for themselves.
At the end of the event, Butch Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts International, greeted the audience and emphasized that Sandals in its 31 years of existence “has had a love affair with travel agents.”