Weddings and honeymoons
By Debbie Ward – February 2020 – 5 minute read
Romance is far from dead and weddings and honeymoons remain a lucrative niche with lots of opportunities to upsell. In many cases, a destination wedding and/or honeymoon is the longest and most expensive trip a couple will ever take and clients tend to want to do more and spend more on a special holiday, so it’s easy to upsell and add experiences.
Twins are trending
Multi-centres are still very much on trend for honeymoons, so suggesting compatible destinations is an easy way for agents to maximise sales. A once-in-a-lifetime safari followed by a relaxing beach break is the twin-centre of choice for many of Premier Holidays’ honeymoon clients.
John Parker, Product Manager for South Africa, says Mauritius works well for the beach section of the holiday. He adds: “South Africa has some great locations for the honeymoon experience, such as Eagle’s Crag at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, which has an upper deck with viewing pods and panoramic views of the reserve.”
Kuoni suggests the unforgettable experience of a hot-air balloon safari after a wedding ceremony at the luxury tented Governors’ Camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
Or clients can have their wedding ceremony on the plains, the riverbank or on the deck at sister camp Loldia House in Naivasha, complete with Maasai dancers.
You don’t have to look long haul for great destination combinations, says Georgia Edwards, who as Personalised Travel Team Leader looks after weddings for Classic Collection Holidays. “We are getting a lot of multi-centre requests. It seems to be that clients are after something more original than a simple fly-and-flop honeymoon.” She adds: “They tend to be a shorter city break-style trip where we can include experiences and then a longer relaxing beach or island retreat part of the holiday.”
The Croatian island of Hvar is trending for Sovereign Luxury Holidays and combines well with Dubrovnik’s medieval architecture and Montenegro’s mountains, villages and beaches for twin- or triple-centres.
“Hvar is perfect for honeymooners who want to sample the nightlife or enjoy romantic fine dining,” says Shusma Knight, Sovereign's Destination Manager for the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Balkans.
In Greece, Sovereign suggests twinning perennial wedding favourite Santorini with Mykonos and Crete. Another good combination is Venice (currently trending for weddings and honeymoons) with the Italian Lakes. “Upsell by linking with Lake Garda or Lake Como for relaxation – it’s easy to make it a twin- or triple-centre by train,” explains Knight.
Adult-only and blessings
Classic Collection finds that adult-only all-inclusive resorts are always popular requests for honeymoons, although this can be a challenging combination in short-haul destinations. Swot up on these options and it could help you to attract prospective romance clients through wedding fairs.
You may have to book well ahead for the Greek romance hotspots, Olympic Holidays warns, with Paphos almost sold out for 2021 already. An increase in same-sex ceremonies in the Cypriot resort is partly the reason for the boom, the operator notes.
Olympic is also seeing a rise in requests for Greek island blessings since civil partnerships for heterosexual couples have come into law in the UK. “Now that the minimum stay in Rhodes has been reduced we’ve seen an increase in weddings too,” says Head of Marketing and Communications, Carl Catterall.
It doesn't have to be an epic trip. “More couples are looking for ‘mini-moons’, which don’t entail a long-haul flight,” says Kirker Holidays' Joint Managing Director Ted Wake. “This is especially true for older couples celebrating a milestone anniversary, or perhaps a second wedding.”
Experienced travellers often enjoy exploring classic cities, booking tickets and restaurant tables in advance. This is another upsell opportunity, stresses Wake. "They can enjoy an art exhibition, a walking tour with a local expert, opera, ballet or a concert, not to mention excellent local restaurants – and the Kirker Concierge is at their disposal to help with all these details.”
Wake recommends Lecce in southern Puglia, Italy for such a trip. Often referred to as the ‘Florence of the South’.
‘Something new’ is not just for the wedding ceremony; it can be an enticing sell to honeymooners, particularly for the Instagram generation who are tempted by images of new resorts with 'wow factor'.
Kuoni is expecting big interest in the newly re-launched Maafushivaru in the Maldives with refurbished villas. Lovebirds can also take off to miniature white sand isle Lonubo, just off shore, where there’s a romantic private beach villa for two.
Two new resorts from One & Only for this year are also bound to make a splash. One & Only Portonovi in Boka Bay, Montenegro, will be the brand’s first European resort. Due to open in June, it will feature 140 rooms, villas and private residences, a stand-out spa and a restaurant headed up by a Michelin-starred chef.
This spring, One & Only Desaru Coast will open on Malaysia’s southeastern coast, with rainforest and ocean suites with plunge pools and butler service, and the four-bedroom Villa One with its 27-metre pool (perfect for ‘house party’ style weddings).
The personal touch
An overseas wedding or honeymoon is one booking that many are often reluctant to trust to the web. Showing off your bespoke skills should keep couples coming back for future trips, particularly with the trend for experiential travel.
Operators advise building around special activities. “Always find out about the client’s interests and use these to help create a very personal experience which they can’t buy online," says Wake.
Classic Collection’s Edwards advises: “Provide a really unique experience and build a two, or multi-centre itinerary around the stand-out must-do item on the client’s bucket list.”