Weddings are big business, and from a Canadian perspective, there is serious potential to grow the destination weddings market.
With spring on its way, couples will be off to the races to secure the perfect venue—according to the latest data on Canadian destination weddings, the average wedding engagement lasts one year and 10 months, which means there’s plenty of time to work with your clients to plan their perfect day.
In 2015, 160,324 Canadians got married, and of those marriages, 15 per cent, or 22,445 were destination weddings, and four years later, that number continues to grow.
Romantic Planet Vacations, a host agency that’s been specializing in destination weddings and honeymoons since 2004, recently hosted an event with 21 major suppliers and hotel partners who shared some of the latest tips for creating the perfect special day or romantic getaway for your clients.
“Planning a destination wedding is not like planning a cheap getaway online; you want to work with the experts because this [vacation planning] is their area of expertise,” said Laurie Keith, president, Romantic Planet Vacations. “Ten to 20 per cent of people who request a destination wedding and thought they were going to do it all themselves end up approaching a travel agent, because they realize what it actually takes.”
Unpacking destination weddings and honeymoons
Although many couples continue to select an all-inclusive package for their destination wedding or honeymoon to some of the more affordable places down south like Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, more countries are inching into the spotlight.
Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Aruba, the Bahamas, and Barbados are among some of the most popular destinations being booked by today’s couples, who aren't necessarily looking at the best value, as they are for the best experience.
“If you’ve ever been to a destination wedding, you know that when it’s your turn to plan one, you want it to be even better than the ones you’ve attended,” Keith said.
Her advice to agents?
Don’t be afraid to suggest newer, up-and-coming destinations that can offer something more hand-crafted and luxurious, whether that means getting married underneath a waterfall in Costa Rica, or going ATV riding through the rainforest in Brazil.
Saint Lucia, approaching it’s 40th anniversary this year, was recently named the 2018 World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination.
Tying the knot with ACV
Agents who book their clients with Air Canada Vacations are in good hands. With more than 40 destinations and 700 hotels in the south, you could say ACV has many offerings for agents looking to book something special for their clients.
“For most of our popular destinations we offer daily service, so couples can book flexible stays that range anywhere from three to 14 nights,” said Diane Pedroso, area sales manager, ACV.
Agents can offer their clients the following options with Air Canada Vacations:
- Complimentary site inspection for the couple
- No deposit for 90 days
- Two complimentary upgrades to Business Class with access to the Maple Leaf Lounge
- $500 anniversary credit towards their next trip
- Wedding groups of 20 or more receive complimentary seat selection
Pedroso notes that the Caribbean is still hugely popular, as couples love the idea of being completely taken care of through an all-inclusive booking, but she advises agents to consider Europe, too.
“People want something more exciting and off-the-beaten-path and when it’s a couple’s second marriage, or maybe a couple just looking for something a bit more intimate, Europe is the perfect place to go,” Pedroso concluded.
Transat woos couples with savings
According to Chad Burnett, business development representative at Transat, European honeymoons and destination weddings are starting to do particularly well, because they incorporate all of the element’s todays couples seem to be looking for: beautiful beaches, plenty of romance, and active excursions that are rich in culture and history.
Greece, Croatia, and Italy, where Transat just launched new packages into Southern Italy in Lameza and Calabria, are just some examples of European destinations that are selling well.
When asked if the Caribbean or European destinations are more popular for couples, Burnett says it’s an even balance.
“We’re seeing a mix of couples in their 20s, 40s, and even 50s and 60s who are getting married for a second time, and they no longer just want to go to an all-inclusive to sit around,” Burnett explained. “If they’re going to go to the Mayan Riviera, they’re still going to do the excursions, but we’ve noticed huge growth in couples who want adventure off the resort.”
Agents can offer their clients the following advantages from Transat:
- No deposit wedding option holds 30 seats up to 90 days
- Future $500 travel voucher for their anniversary trip
- V.I.P lounge access at the airport
- Priority boarding with first access to overhead bins
Say yes with Sunwing
Sunwing has a series of great perks that agents can offer their clients who opt in for a destination wedding, including:
- Special group travel rates and value added offers
- Reduced deposit to only $150 per person
- Complimentary price guarantee
- $500 anniversary future travel voucher
- Complimentary upgrade to Elite Plus on Sunwing Airlines
- Complimentary access to Plaza Premium Airport Lounges
- $100 per couple destination excursion credit
- Instant group savings of up to $400 per couple (applicable to wedding guests as well).
Additionally, there are a number of honeymoon packages offering great value for couples that agents can recommend here.
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