September 27th marks the official celebration for World Tourism Day as initiated by the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) in 1980. This is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the contribution that tourism has made and continues to make to sustainable development across the planet. 2017 was named International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and this year the UNWTO is championing Innovation and Digital Transformation in tourism, whilst also having launched a new initiative to encourage and support tourism startups investing in these activities. These goals i.e. the adoption of sustainable business practices and investment in digital technologies, are changing the face of the tourism industry, and the romance sector has not been excluded.
Tourism has been calculated to represent 10.2% of world GDP with honeymoons, destination weddings and romance travel continuing to play an important role in both domestic and foreign tourism. This is proved as these types of travellers tend to have a larger budget than the regular tourist; in fact Solimar International, the sustainable tourism consultancy firm, calculated a global contribution of $28 billion to the worlwide industry in 2014. However, it is highly likely that the real value that weddings contribute to tourism goes underestimated; with the rise of international weddings, guests who often travel for the nuptial event will participate in tourist activities before or after the day of celebration. It is clear that wedding and honeymoon tourism is a sector that continues to support the growth of this global industry.
Many business owners in the industry have hence refocused energy on implementing and adopting new practices for the the sustainability of their services, increasingly investing in technology for greater efficiency in management, logistics and operatations. However, sustainable tourism is not just a practice for busineesses. There has been a growing number of newly-weds who are adapting their tourist activities to play a role in the the longevity of this economic sector too.
Honeymooners no longer just fill the category of luxury travellers, often seen as tourists who hid away in their resort complex for the entirety of their trip. Today’s highly educated millenial couple are more interested in cultural immersion and social impact, seeking a range of new and different experiences in addition to having those important “instagrammable” moments. Many still look for luxury and relaxation but also desire an additional offer to the historical proposition.
Here are five trends in wedding & honeymoon tourism that are presenting new opportunities for couples, destinations and local businesses alike.
1) Two Honeymoons
More and more couples are opting for multiple trips post wedding. Perhaps opting for a mini-moon right after the wedding (a 3 day trip) and then a longer trip to multiple destinations a few months later. Not only can this help combat seasonality – thanks to couples spending their extended second honeymonon travelling during “low season” – but it is allowing more destinations to welcome this type of tourism. Couples no longer have to decide on just one country to visit! This could explain the increase in romance travel to countries such as Japan, Colombia and New Zealand.
2) Use of Big Data
Big Data is a concept which transcends markets and so Tourism has truly been able to take advantage of the tools available to capture it. Not only does it allow for the analysis of consumer trends, but take for example hotels, by tracking consumer profiles and activity, they can now offer more relevant and customized packages, perfect for a busy millenial honeymooner. Tour operators and travel agents also use Big Data to be able to undergo effective negotiation with suppliers, in addition they are able to understand existing demand and hence make more accurate demand forecasts. And let’s not forget airlines who use Big Data to offer strategic pricing and offer relevant add-ons, amongst other things. All these developments are allowing for better interaction between market supply and demand, bringing benefits for both companies and travellers.
3) Green Honeymoons
As couples become more environmentally conscious, considering their carbon footprint, more are opting for an eco-tourism honeymoon. These activities include for example, staying in “green” hotels, perhaps opting to stay in a responsibly-run resort steeped in a forest in Costa Rica. This satifies their desire for a new and unique experience, spending their first holiday as a married couple nestled in the traquility of nature; in adddition to being able to expand their education through simultaneously spending time learning about conservation and green issues. These natural options are even more attractive to the “typical” millennial couple who nowadays are also on the hunt for the most pictureque spots to upload to their instagram profile.
4) Digital Destinations
Technology is also transforming the destination experience for travellers. Novelties include mobile geo-tagging allowing apps to give them recommendations of local services, alongside this are mobile apps with walking trails of the local area, just a couple of examples of how mobile technology is improving the consumer experience for couples during their romantic trip. Free, high speed wifi is another essential in today’s digital destinations, allowing couples to research services and book in real-time, (whilst of course allowing them to access their social media platforms). Couples are also benefitting from online check-ins at hotel digital desks in addition to in-room ipads that allow honeymooners to easily buy add ons during their stay. The list of technologies are endless and are all contributing factors to growing customer satisfaction and long term success within the tourism industry.
5) Volunteer Honeymoons
Sustainable tourism also consists of supporting local businesses & causes and many couples are choosing to spend part of their honeymoon particpiating in charitable activities. These may include helping at wildlife conservation centres, supporting local farming activity, volunteering to help disadvantaged women and children, or simply visiting smaller towns, away from main tourist centres, which support local craftsmen and small business owners. All these seemingly unrelated honeymoon businesses can now cater to the modern honeymooner who are on the hunt for complete cultural immersion.
So here are just a few of the industry activities paving the way for a tourism industry with a more sustainable and techniologically advanced future. If you offer services for wedding & honeymoon tourism, then learn more here.