Welcome to the “bank,” or what we refer to as our annual Destination Weddings & Honeymoons issue, where you can withdraw information that can help you cash in on the $53.3 billion wedding industry and the $6 billion honeymoon industry. According to The Knot’s 2011 Real Wedding Survey of 18,000 brides and grooms, the average wedding cost in 2011 (excluding honeymoon cost) ran $27,021 and the average guest list was at 141—think group rate bookings for out-of-town guests. The survey also noted that for the fi rst time since 2008, wedding budgets were on the rise with one in fi ve couples spending more than $30,000 and 11 percent spending more than $40,000.
The latest honeymoon survey we could fi nd from The Knot was from 2010, released in June of last year, and that showed 1.4 million couples taking an average 8-day honeymoon travel with average expenditures at $4,466, excluding air, with the bulk of those “international” honeymoons going to Mexico (15 percent), Hawaii (12 percent), Jamaica (7 percent), The Bahamas (5 percent), Italy (5 percent), Saint Lucia (5 percent), France (3 percent) and U.S.V.I. (3 percent). The survey said 15 percent of 1.4 million honeymooners fell into the luxury category, spending more than $7,000 on average, with 28 percent going to Europe, 21 percent to the Caribbean, 18 percent to Hawaii and 11 percent to the South Pacific.
Our own publisher and editorial director Lorri Robbins had a destination wedding in Jamaica with 80 guests. “The invitations were sent out with the usual detail, but also enclosed was a card from the travel agency and specifi c agent who was there to facilitate the travel for those attending. Naturally, the agency contracted group rates not only for the hotel but for the gateway airline carriers,” she points out. “The fi rst item to consider as an agent booking a destination wedding is that a qualifi ed prospect list will fall into your hands. This is the beginning of a somewhat forced transaction that can lead to a lifetime relationship with a customer. Our agents conveyed the point to the prospective clients that since they were going down to Jamaica, did they want to add on a little vacation time? In most cases the answer was yes, which led to longer hotel bookings, excursions, additional stays at other resorts, transfers and in some cases even other islands. “The point is, if you want to develop great business but are steering clear of bridezillas, you are missing out. The last thing a bride wants to do before the big day is deal with travel arrangements—hers or anyone else’s.”
And there’s plenty of hotel destination wedding and honeymoon programs information in these pages to develop that great business, including info on Sandals Resorts’ latest weddings product, Your Wedding. Your Style. (there’ll be a big launch in NYC on June 14).
We’ll continue this destination weddings and honeymoons conversation via our Caribbean, Mexico, & Latin America Spotlight on June 5, providing even more product info specifi c to those regions and topic, including a Guatemala honeymoon tour with ViaVenture that takes couples to Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Wedding bells will also be ringing in June 20th’s Recommend Weekly with more on the conversation our managing editor had with Eric Gavin, v.p. of marketing, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, for the Hotel Desk feature. Additionally, Noble House Hotels & Resorts has set up an exclusive webinar for Recommend agent readers for Wednesday, June 27 on destination weddings, with Jen Gavin of LaPlaya (Naples) and the DOSM at Watercolor. We’ll have more specifi cs in the June 20th Recommend Weekly.
If you’re looking for a plethora of information on Florida destination weddings and honeymoons, go to the Visit Florida Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Specialist program on edu.recommend.com. It provides insight into best destinations, top hotels and resorts, and regional offerings throughout the state. Then check out the dedicated Facebook page, facebook.com/recommendweddings, where you can interact with potential clients.
brazil travel planner
We’ve put together another “keeper” for you this month, an in-depth, region-by-region travel planner for Brazil that we’re confi dent will help you sell more Brazil vacation product and familiarize you and your clients with all the country has to offer. Last year’s Brazil Travel Planner, highlighting the 12 cities that will host the 2014 World Cup, is still available online at recommend.com—under the magazine tab, click “issue archive” and search for the June 2011 issue. In the meantime, have a great read.—Rick Shively