Selling Weddings: Beyond Honeymoons

“Friendsmoons” are best served by booking villa accommodations, says Bridal Guide Magazine’s Jenna Mahoney, who also notes, “Bora Bora is getting big for this.”

From mini-moos to first anniversaries to babymoons, honeymoons aren’t the only post-wedding getaway you can sell to clients. Right after the wedding, the newlyweds will immediately want to celebrate with a trip away together. However, this might not be the honeymoon, but a smaller “mini-moon.” These are typically just a few days in length, and may also include family members, especially if the newlyweds have children. It is also possible the mini-moon will lead into the honeymoon. The first few days may include family and then the couple will jet off to another destination to be alone together.

Jenna Mahoney, travel editor with Bridal Guide Magazine, says the mini-moon is becoming more and more popular, adding that, in some cases, these couples will then book a 10- to 14-day, full-blown honeymoon either a few months later or for their first-year anniversary.

“A short honeymoon getaway can be perfect for a destination wedding couple,” says Nikki Miller, owner of Travel With Nikki. “After spending days with your closest friends and family, it’s time for the newlyweds to have some time on their own. I suggest having the bride and groom move to an alternate resort one or two days after their wedding, so they can have some time together and not have to be hosting during their honeymoon.”

Mega-Moons

Lindsey Epperly, owner of Epperly Travel, says the trend that agents can make the most money on is the “mega-moon,” which she describes as “an epic honeymoon adventure that combines multiple destinations that are not typically combined.”

“Whether it’s multi-city, multi-country or multi-continent, a mega-moon is the best way to do something that no one else has done before, a request that many honeymooners have,” says Epperly. “In an age where we all want to top one another with our photographs and ‘check-ins,’ imagine starting your honeymoon in Paris, taking in all the City of Light has to offer, before jetting off to Mauritius, checking off two continents and achieving a city-to-beach experience outside of the conventional combinations.”

Domestic sites such as Red Rocks in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, can provide a romantic domestic alternative to Caribbean beach honeymoons.

Buddymoons/Friendsmoons

One of the top travel trends of 2017, according to Cruise Planners, is “buddymoons,” or honeymooning with friends. Couples asking their guests to fly into town or to an exotic destination for weddings are now inviting couples to do a little more — stay for the honeymoon. “Buddymoons” allow for couples to spend more time with family and friends while enjoying a celebratory vacation. Couples are also planning buddymoons close to home, giving out-of-town guests the opportunity to extend the wedding weekend and spend more time with the newlywed couple.

Mahoney calls them “friendsmoons” and says that you can thank former “Friends” TV star Jennifer Aniston in part for the trend. The actress created a buzz when she got married in 2015 and had a honeymoon that included all of her friends.

“That’s really a villa market type of trip rather than a hotel,” says Mahoney. “They are not as long as a regular honeymoon either. Bora Bora is getting big for this.”

First Anniversary Getaway

The first-anniversary getaway is an important trip for any couple. Travel Agent suggests that agents offer up a destination that was considered during planning the honeymoon. In fact, be proactive at the earliest stage: If your clients are torn between two destinations for their honeymoon you might prevent a potential argument by suggesting a first-year anniversary vacation to the alternative place as a compromise.

For example, the bride wants to honeymoon in Tahiti, but the groom has his heart set on Europe. Suggest one for the honeymoon and the other for the first-year anniversary.

Miller also says a great tip when planning a first-year anniversary is providing small reminders of the couples’ special day from a year ago.

“A fun surprise for a first-anniversary trip is having a small replica of the cake that the couple had on their wedding day,” says Miller.

Miller also suggests looking into the same hotel brand they got married at since several reward couples for tying the knot at their property with some added value.

“For couples that had a destination wedding, many resort chains will offer special discount or free nights to the couple to come back and celebrate their first anniversary,” Miller tells us. “Many of these resorts will let you stay at any location within the brand so the bride and groom can return to the scene of the crime, or they can try a new location.”

It is also important, says Anna Yott of Dream Come True Vacations LLC, to make sure an agent knows everything that worked and didn’t work for the couples’ honeymoon with hopes of correcting it for the first-year anniversary.

“If you did not help your client plan their honeymoon, ask and see where they stayed, what they did and what they enjoyed,” says Yott. “Some clients may want to re-create the honeymoon while others may want a completely different experience. Also, if a client is staying at the same resort chain where they celebrated their honeymoon, they may be eligible to get perks such as a free anniversary night or an anniversary package.”

Clients who are planning on having children may want to avoid destinations with known Zika virus cases, which leads us to…

Babymoons

Healthy choices and expenses are on the mind of any expecting parents, so travel agents should take these to mind as well. Packaged trips and all-inclusives, with an upfront price, may make clients more comfortable and more likely to book. Agents should look for resorts that serve organic dishes, offer prenatal massages and butler service for a stress-free experience.

Agents should be upfront, of course, about locations with confirmed cases of Zika virus. There perhaps wasn’t a niche market hit harder by last year’s Zika scare than babymoons. This was one of the hottest forms of celebration travel in 2015 and then Zika, the mosquito-borne disease that can cause birth defects, scared off just about every pregnant woman, or those looking to become pregnant, from such tropical destinations as Latin America and the Caribbean.

So, can we expect a resurgence in this market for 2017 now that people are well informed on how to avoid contracting the disease?

Bridal Guide’s Mahoney says yes, but expect the bulk of 2017 babymoons to be taken within the U.S. And that’s something Mahoney thinks is good for the industry. After all, she says, many people may have forgotten just how beautiful the U.S. can be.

“I think we all sort of forgot how many places there are within the U.S. that can be just as romantic as a Caribbean beach,” says Mahoney. “We forget how romantic the desert can be. The ‘Red Rock’ parts of Utah and Arizona are spectacular and have some wonderful resorts that can cater to expecting mothers. People think ‘beach’ means relaxing. But I think we are going to see a bigger rise of Americans traveling within the U.S.”

And Mahoney thinks Zika is only part of the reason clients will be taking more babymoons a little closer to home. In the past eight years, she says, the average age of having babies has risen. Because of that, there are more high-risk pregnancies in general, so women cannot travel too far from home.

As far as international destinations go, Mahoney says Bermuda and the Cayman Islands can take advantage of this growing phenomenon since they are both close to the U.S. and easy to get to.

 

Selling Weddings: Beyond Honeymoons

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