In the June issue, we covered destination weddings and honeymoons across the globe. And for those of you whose clients prefer to take on an adventure, whether it’s immersing themselves in a unique culture, going on safari, or taking a hike or bike ride through some of nature’s most splendid landscapes versus sipping margaritas by the beach, we’ve rounded up some pointers from top tour operator execs on how you can sell active honeymoons. According to Scott Wiseman, president of Cox & Kings, “People aren’t wanting to just sit on the beach anymore. Cultural insight and being up-close and personal is the new ideal. People want to spend their time delving into new cultures and seeking out more local experiences. We have been receiving more requests for hiking, ballooning and biking verses the typical spa experience.
“As long as the agent knows their clients well, we can make sure the active components are perfectly matched. There are many different levels of ‘active,’ so we want to be sure we know exactly what that means to their clients,” he points out.
“Ask your tour operator about suggestions for a special experience you can give your clients as a honeymoon gift. We enjoy making the agent look like a hero, and appreciate the opportunity to create a truly exclusive ‘gift’ experience on their behalf,” he adds.
Kara Lucchessi, G Adventures’ U.S. global purpose specialist and regional sales manager, says agents should “Think outside the box. Think bigger than the norm. Give your clients options, and ask qualifying questions to find out what makes that couple tick. Just as every bride has a different idea of what the ideal wedding dress is, so, too, do couples about their dream honeymoon. Ask questions, show a variety of options, and let them decide on the best fit.”
She notes that, “It really comes down to the agents themselves taking the time and getting to know their coupled clients. Are they the type of travelers who would only want an all-inclusive or beach vacation, or are they more active and adventurous travelers with true wanderlust in their hearts? The biggest challenge I’ve observed for agents is putting their own assumptions and biases aside. It may not be the norm for honeymooners to go on a trekking holiday with other travelers, but there really are couples who are not ‘relaxers.’ So don’t always go straight for the all-inclusive or the overwater bungalow options. Be open-minded and proactive to see if some of your clients want something a little bit more active and adventurous.”
Phil Cappelli, president of Insight Vacations, says that, “Active honeymoons are actually more special, and agents need to market them as such. Agents need to emphasize the differences in our itineraries: the interactivity, the luxury, and how we focus on genuine experiences.”
However, when booking your active honeymooners, keep in mind that, “Clients want to truly experience the country,” he says.
In fact, says Connor Frey, private groups manager for Intrepid Travel, “At the end of the day, your honeymoon will and should be a trip that you remember for the rest of your life. When you take an adventurous honeymoon you get so see and experience amazing landscapes and local cultures. You get to see ‘real life.’ There will be plenty of opportunities to holiday at a resort, but your honeymoon should simply be unforgettable.”
Joshua Smith, sales director of private travel for Travoca, also suggests that getting to know your clients and their interests is key. “I always advise agents to really get to know their guests, but more so provide background on their past experiences, which will help us to understand where a similar opportunity may reside,” he says. “If the couple met at a coffee shop in Paris and fell in love while traveling throughout Europe, a beachside resort in Guadeloupe may be exactly what the couple wants.”
According to Smith, it’s all in the details; and you won’t know the details unless you ask the questions and really get to know your honeymoon couple. “I encourage our travel partners to ask questions to really get to know the couple: how did they meet, what was their first meal they had together, or first movie.… Have they every dressed up as a couple on Halloween? Once I know some details of their relationship, I can take some elements and integrate that into small gestures throughout the trip. It may be as small as two cookies in their room in the shape of Miss Piggy and Kermit, but if that was their first Halloween costume as a couple, they’ll know someone wants them to feel special.” Those small touches are what creates a memorable honeymoon, one they’ll be telling their soon-to-wed friends about. And that’s what you want—more leads equal more sales.