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24% of U.S. weddings involve non-local destinations. 7% of operator revenue comes from weddings.
The Indian wedding in Orlando, Fla., ran from 6 p.m. straight through to the next day. In addition to full airport, hotel, wedding and event transportation services during the weekend, a Hummer stretch limo was rented and parked at the outdoor reception just so the wedding party and guests could use it as a backdrop for photos.
The wedding also included a 15-foot above-ground pool that was constructed just for the day, and oh, elephants, tigers and other exotic animals were brought in to add more pizzazz to the festivities.
Not your typical wedding — but not out of the ordinary anymore. In fact, unique global destination weddings are the hottest trend in the industry that includes traditional weddings, commitment ceremonies, and vow renewal events with family, relatives and friends all coming together for a three-day to full-week combination wedding, getaway weekend or weeklong vacation.
“We handled all the airport transfers and transportation for the Indian wedding group,” said Cliff Wright, President of Royal Coach and Limousine in Orlando. “The wedding business here has always been good because of Disney, but it’s booming right now. Every weekend we’re doing three to four, sometimes up to six weddings every weekend. Wright said his white Lincoln stretch limousines are still the go-to vehicles for weddings. We’ve used the Rolls Royce a few times, and the Hummer stretch is popular.”
Cliff Wright, President of Royal Coach and Limousine, Orlando, Fla., has seen an uptick in Orlando area wedding business. He has a diverse fleet, including the traditional white stretches, to handle destination weddings.
Wright noted that he books a good bit of wedding business from English couples who often want to get married in Cocoa Beach about 60 miles away. “We take them there and they get married in a church and then go to the beach for pictures.”
In fact, destination weddings make up 24% of U.S. weddings, according to Bigcitybride.com
, and international destination weddings are the hottest growth segment, says Rebecca Hochreiter
, vice president of marketing and customer engagement at Destination Weddings Travel Group
, Wayland, Mass.
The company focuses on international destination wedding planning for U.S. and Canadian couples, but the company is eyeing U.S. locations to add to its destination portfolio, such as Florida, Arizona and California, says Megan Velez
, vice president product development.
Hochreiter notes that domestic destinations sometimes appeal more to couples than international ones because older relatives or friends may not have a passport or find travel difficult. So a short domestic flight is a better option.
“The stereotypical cookie-cutter destination beach weddings have been replaced with more customized weddings, where people bring their own personalized touches to their event,” Hochreiter says.
For example, a couple may opt for an eco-themed wedding, a kosher wedding, an action-packed adventure in Costa
Rica, or other lifestyle theme that represents their taste and style. Hotels have noticed the growing customization trend and are more eager to accommodate unique wedding events. Weddings are also getting bigger, which bodes well for limousine companies that can offer an array of mini-buses and coaches to meet any and all transportation needs.
In addition, invited guests with children can all attend destination weddings together because all-inclusive resorts often provide supervised children’s activities and events, which makes it an incentive to attend the wedding as a family.
In general, whether a domestic or international wedding, operators should ensure that their local wedding planners, hotels and wedding venues are kept updated on their services and fleet. They want to know about larger capacity vehicles, such as buses, exotic stretches, vintage classics, and/or trolleys that can handle any size destination wedding transportation needs. Further, given the growth of domestic and international destination weddings, affiliate operators need to make sure they are aware of partner upgrades in fleet vehicles so wedding travel requirements can be handed off seamlessly from one operator to another.