Weddings were big in 2022, thanks to rebooked events from COVID, along with the fact that many couples became engaged during lockdown. COVID intensified many a relationship and romantic ones were not immune.
With travel plans surging for 2023, we’re certain that destination weddings will play a large role in trip planning for luxury travel advisors. And with the entire world now reopened, clients will be looking to go to the far ends of the earth for their nuptials.
Here are some insights to help advisors help their clients with destination wedding planning.
The euro is almost equivalent in value to the U.S. dollar and the British pound is not far off, for the first time in years. This should open the door to some truly glam weddings in beautiful places, just be sure to lock down the exchange rates.
Good to know: In our recent Luxury Travel Advisor Affluent Sentiment Study, nearly 73 percent of advisor respondents said that interest in traveling to Europe is even higher than it was in the beginning of the year. This means Europe is already booking up for 2023 and those who didn’t get the suite accommodations they wanted this summer have already been smart enough (if they have a good advisor) to reserve the top digs at their favorite hotels in Rome, London, Paris and beyond for next year.
If clients are already locked out of their favorite European destination, consider Asia, where the industry is anxious to receive the U.S. visitor once again. Interest in Asia, according to our research, is not quite as strong as it is for Europe, but you can expect that to change as destinations there promote to the U.S. traveler. We already know that Japan will have a strong showing at ILTM this month to promote its offerings to advisors.
Destination weddings have become well integrated into most people’s lives; they’re familiar with the concept and guests might be more likely to accept an invitation for nuptials being held in vacation destinations if they’ve got savings banked from COVID.
Luxury travel advisors truly need to take heed, however, that hotels offering to host these destination weddings will be fully staffed and able to handle all aspects of the event. The labor shortage continues across the world. It could be a true embarrassment to the wedding couple if guests are complaining about rooms that aren’t being made up or facilities that are closed or operating on limited hours. Do whatever it takes to ensure a guarantee of high-end services from hotel management.
It’s not all about the hotel and in the world of luxury travel, everyone is buying “up,” booking private excursions, private guides, private jets, you name it. Don’t be afraid to quote the cost of these services, even if you perceive them to be exorbitant. You don’t know how your clients spend, who’s paying for the wedding/honeymoon and what they perceive as having value. Honeymoons are an iconic event in anyone’s life so don’t sell your couple’s short by trying to cut costs. The last thing you want is for them to arrive at their destination and realize they didn’t know half the things they could offer themselves or their guests.
With the return of weddings post pandemic comes the return of bachelorette and bachelor parties in fabulous places. If you’re planning a girl’s getaway for a bride-to-be, be prepared to learn that bachelorette parties have taken on an all-new persona. According to Sarah Wintersteen, a wedding planner who wrote an article for Insider, bachelorette parties “are becoming all about having an overall 'brand' or 'aesthetic' for the entire weekend."
“In addition to requiring themed outfits each night, it’s not uncommon for brides to include branded ‘merch’ for the attendees that’s like the kind of stuff you would buy at a concert,” she said.
Where to search if you’re asked to help out with the merch? Etsy has become a mainstay for such items, such as personalized robes, tote bags, champagne glasses and anything else you can slap a person’s name on. Wintersteen also advises that TikTok is “the” place brides and bridesmaids are now searching for ideas so get on that platform if you haven’t already. And, always remember in planning that Instagram remains a “thing,” so be sure to book a locale that has that “Instagrammable” moment.
If all this talk of social networking and weddings makes you weary, just remember that your good work appearing on these networks will help spread the word about your serv
ices so why not ask your clients if they will tag you or credit you in some of their photos that they post?
Many clients are looking to travel sustainably now; and we know that can mean a lot of different things. In our survey, nearly 36 percent of respondents said travelers are more aware of sustainability when they’re taking a trip. One advisor said this mean her clients are “comparing fuel usage and carbon footprints for cruise lines and airline at this time,” while others said “sustainability” meant giving back to the communities clients were visiting or dining with local families. Another said, “We look for properties and suppliers who are seeking to minimize their carbon footprint, and eliminate certain things like single-use plastics.”
Whatever it means, be sure you’re ready to answer questions on this topic when working with couples, for many it’s a passion and hopefully it will be for everyone in the near future.
Lastly, consider wellness as well for your destination wedding itineraries. That’s another topic that means lots of different things; 32 percent of our advisor respondents said their luxury clients are looking for “wellness” activities on their trips. “Some will go to a spa to relax and be pampered for ‘wellness,’” said one advisor. “Others consider wellness to be an adventure for the mind; bike tours, kayaking, camel rides etc... that provide some excitement and exercise as their ‘wellbeing.’” Either way, most people no longer want to go on a trip, eat rich foods and lay on the beach for days on end; that might be good intermittently but advisors have got to provide more than “sun and sand.”