Nearly half of all engaged U.S. couples last year tied the knot 200 miles or more from home — more than double the number who did so in 2014. This is according to The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Survey, which also reported that wedding spending reached an all-time high in 2015. If you haven’t been pursuing this lucrative market segment, now — with December, the most popular month in which to get engaged, almost upon us — is as good a time as any to start. Here is just a sampling of some of the latest developments on this front.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts recently introduced its newly enhanced website for destination weddings. The site —www.memorablemomentsweddings.com — is designed to make it simpler for couples to budget, organize and personally design their “Gourmet Inclusive Wedding Events.” Karisma presents services and its “Memorable Moments Signature Wedding Collection,” wherein couples can choose from six style categories inspired by brides and influenced by designers. Highlights of the website enhancements include:
Your Day, Your Way: With this customizable solution to plan and design their nuptials, couples have access to a collection of more than 400 “Signature Accents” wedding elements.
Digital Save the Date Announcements: This enables couples to create personalized and interactive wedding notices to send to guests. Included is a link to a resort slideshow, date and location specifics, and reservations details. The tool also allows the couple to store and track their guest lists in one place.
Promo Predictor: This tool allows clients to sort through Karisma’s weddings promotions and find offers that meet their desired criteria only.
Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a year-long presentation of new fashions and experiences being added to its portfolio for couples interested in the classic “Disney-dream” wedding at various Disney resorts and parks worldwide. Likely the largest addition to the portfolio is the new after-hours wedding experience at Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World, Orlando. The customizable evening event is the latest addition to the Disney Wishes Collection. It allows couples to wed in a private ceremony at Cinderella’s Castle, followed by a reception with entertainment and dancing.
For 2017, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons Collection has gowns that draw inspiration from iconic Disney princesses Ariel, Belle, Cinderella and Mulan, along with new custom tiaras, designed exclusively for the 25th anniversary celebration.
Pleasant Holidays recently released its 2017-2018 Destination Weddings & Honeymoons guide for the romance travel market. Designed as a sales tool and resource for agents assisting newly engaged couples, the 24-page brochure details 78 romantic hotels and resorts in Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Tahiti and Fiji, Central America, Europe, the U.S. and Canada, as well as four cruise lines. Information to help couples identify and book the destination that best suits their special occasion includes “Must See / Must Do” highlights and entry documentation required for each destination. For couples planning a destination wedding, the guide includes essential information on documentation required for legal ceremonies; packages, customizable nuptials and venue options for each participating hotel; and destination options for same-sex weddings.
Both the printed and electronic versions of the guide offer a customizable text box where travel agents can include their own contact information for the wedding couple. In addition, Pleasant Holidays’ Wedding Travel Desk has a toll-free hotline (800-818-9080) with dedicated wedding travel specialists, flexible travel options, custom wedding packages, activities and experiences, a range of airline options and more. An electronic version of the brochure that agents can e-mail to clients is available on Pleasant’s website. Printed copies can be ordered online in the Agent Resource Center at www.pleasantagent.com or by e-mailing [email protected].
Wyndham Reef Resort on Grand Cayman has created four new customizable wedding packages, with ceremonies held beachfront, poolside or on the dock.
The Silver Package, which starts at $1,299, includes a religious or non-denominational ceremony, arrangement of fees for a minister or officiant, choice of wedding site, a one-category room upgrade, late check-out, labor fees, champagne and chocolates on the wedding night, a matching bridal and groom boutonniere and a 10 percent discount at the spa for the couple.
Couples looking for added value can purchase the Gold Package, from $1,799, which includes the Silver Package plus a one-tier wedding cake and a champagne toast for 10 guests. The Platinum Package, $2,299 and up, includes the Gold Package offerings and adds the chef’s choice of hors d’oeuvres for 10 guests and one hour of photography. The Diamond Package, starting at $2,799, combines all the amenities of the Platinum Package, along with a two-tier wedding cake, with champagne toast and hors d’oeuvres for 25 guests.
The resorts offer a variety of wedding, honeymoon and vow renewal packages and an onsite wedding coordinator assists with arrangements for beach nuptials through Aruba Weddings For You.Couples who are almost as much in love with the idea of sustainable travel as they are with each other should note that the Divi Aruba and adjacent, oceanfront Tamarijn Aruba all-inclusive resorts have, for the fourth consecutive year, earned Silver certification from Earthcheck, the world’s leading certifier of sustainable travel and tourism operator. In order to become Silver certified, the properties were required to meet measurable standards for key environmental indicators such as energy and water consumption, total waste production, community commitment, and others.
For newlyweds-to-be who want to feel (and spend) like royalty, the 18th-century neoclassical Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, in the heart of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, has created a new and exclusive program called “Own a Palace for a Day.” Available from €30,000 (roughly $33,000) a day, the program is targeting, among other potential guests, destination wedding clients and anniversary celebrants.
The price includes double occupancy of the hotel’s 30 rooms, with breakfast, as well as use of all the public spaces such as the outdoor swimming pool (with its views down to the sea); ballrooms decorated with paintings, tapestries and frescos; the restaurant with its outside terrace; and extensive gardens and mazes. Also included in the cost of the program is hotel staff service and decoration of the different public areas with flowers freshly picked from the gardens.
Closer to home — Naples, FL, to be precise — the Edge-water Beach Hotel’s new Jet Set Celebrations provides a high-flying private party experience for weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations for up to eight guests. Created in partnership with Aura Jets, it includes a private jet champagne flight for up to eight people, with return next morning; round-trip airport ground transportation; overnight suite accommodations for four couples; beach ceremony (for wedding or vow renewal); candle-lit waterfront dinner and farewell brunch for the entire party; and 24 hours’ use of the Celebration Suite, with personal concierge, bar, video gaming and entertainment center, and guests’ preferred snacks. Price starts at $30,000, depending on the city from which the private flight originates.
Among the educational seminars slated for Questex Travel Group’s second annual Travel Industry Exchange event, December 13-15 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront is “Romance Travel Specialist Certification.” Conducted in partnership with the Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA) and sponsored by the Nevada Division of Tourism, the program includes:
* Love at First Site: Romance and Destination Wedding Travel 101: Getting Started
* Best Practices: How To Fast-Track Your Romance Travel Business Growth
* Strange Love: Why “Something New” Beats Out “Something Borrowed” in Today’s Destination Weddings Market
* The Building Blocks of Profitable Partnerships: Better Working Processes for Vendor
Relationships and Success
* Bridal Show Buy-In: Getting Your Investments to Pay Off
* She (or He) Said “Yes”: Prospecting and Closing For Business Success in the Destination Wedding Market
* Practice What You Preach: Selling Luxury Weddings With Panache
For more ideas on tapping the romance market, look for our Jamaica and Mexico Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Focus supplements in the November 21 and December 19 issues, respectively, of Travel Agent.