For those who were around in the late 90s, the travel mantra was fees, fees, fees. If you wanted to survive a reduced (and subsequently eliminated) commission environment, you needed to make it up in fees. And you needed to add some value to the transaction. Now we are in the early 10s and fees are now de rigueur. The old mantra has been replaced. Niche, niche, niche. But what happens when the carpet is pulled out from under you?
Richard Earls, publisher of Travel Research Online had a column discussing your “plan b” for when the unexpected happens—war, illness, recessions, terrorism, etc. Everyone needs to be prepared for the “what ifs” of our business. Richard’s examples were fairly immediate—if a volcano that no one can pronounce erupts in Iceland—we know about it pretty quickly and can react. But, are you able to react appropriately when something equally as significant sneaks up on you?
CNN recently had an article on destination weddings—not a particularly flattering one either. As we all know, destination weddings have been a big deal for the past few years. In some markets they are still very strong. But this article just gave the rug a giant tug. Might this niche be starting to diminish?
As we all know, perception is reality; and these 800+ comments to the article seem to hop on the anti destination wedding bandwagon. People are growing very weary of being invited to far flung locales on what many perceive to be a forced vacation.
- The only people being selfish are the people getting married. If this whole day is about you, why are you making other people have to alter their lives so much just so that they can attend your wedding.
- A distant relative is having a several days-long wedding event at a remote resort, and is requesting guests to pay for the accommodation. To me, this is like asking the guests to pay for the wedding costs. I say, if you can’t afford the wedding you want, have the wedding you can afford.
- I have no qualms with a bride and groom planning their wedding when and where they want. I do have a problem with the bride who has a hissy fit right up to days before the wedding about your not being able to attend. We were just not comfortable with leaving our children with a strange sitter at a far away resort for a no-children allowed wedding.
- I am not a huge fan of weddings and if a friend expected me to pay air fair to another continent to attend her or his wedding I would look at them as if they just got off the pipe. The average person cannot just pack up and go to another country for a wedding.I personally think its offensive to ask someone to do something like that when you know the chances are they will have to say no.
- What’s worse is when the wedding party plans a destination stag/stagette and the guests have to shell out for both. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that everyone doesn’t want to attend but add it up: $1200 flight to and from stag, $500 for room, $1000 for meals and entertainment, $2000 flight to and from wedding, $800 for room, $500 for meals and entertainment, $200 transportation = send me a DVD of your special day
- If you’re going to have a wedding in a far away place, you simply have to do so with the understanding that some of the people you purport to love will be intentionally excluded and have their feelings terribly hurt by your selfishness.
While not a groundswell of opposition yet, the potential is certainly there. If you are niched out as a destination wedding specialist, what happens if these commentators are correct?
Certainly you could specialize in elopements—but then you need many more clients to make up the lost volume of the guests. Perhaps it makes sense to take your destination knowledge and begin a sub specialty on the destination—sans the wedding. Or, if you happen to have a full database of former brides and grooms and their guests, it seems that an “Anniversary Agency” might be a good idea. You still keep the romance alive, but you are also on your toes to move as needed—and quickly.
I called a colleague of mine, Laura Frazier of Bliss Honeymoons & Destination Weddings for her opinion. I consider Laura one of the nation’s leading honeymoon planners and destination wedding experts. While her business and her dealership program is not based solely on destination weddings, they are a significant part.
Destination weddings aren’t for everyone. Couples need to be sensitive to the financial constraints of their intended guests.
We often see brides planning a destination wedding, and leaving their guests to fend for themselves to make their travel arrangements. If you’re going to ask them to go the distance to attend your wedding, at least hire a travel professional to make the arrangements for your guests. Anytime you mix family, friends, and money things can get sticky. Having a travel professional that handles everything for you will alleviate those awkward moments.
I am not trying to be an alarmist or a buzz kill; but we also need to be keenly aware of our past. We have had the rug pulled out from under us time and time again; and each time we step up to the plate and reinvent ourselves. All I am suggesting is that the rug for destination weddings may have been tugged and we need to be prepared. What do you think? Am I on track? Or barking up the wrong tree?