May 10, 2021

Destination of the week

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The Emerging Market of Encore Destination Weddings

By Rosa Harris From Travel Pulse

Destination weddings continue to be a valuable source of niche business, a market that creates lifelong ambassadors with powerful word-of-mouth recommendations.

These couples have a very special place in their heart for a location where they get married and all of the service providers who help to make their wedding dreams come true.

One of the biggest trends we have observed over recent years of couples visiting The Cayman Islands has been the increase of “encore weddings.” An encore wedding is one where either one or both of the parties being married is not doing so for the first time.

This trend has had influence over much of how we have approached this market segment from both a
marketing and sales point of view.

Here are some important elements to consider when targeting this important market segment:

Mature Couples/Later in Life Marriages

What appeals to young, first time wedding couples is not the same as what will appeal to couples marrying later in life. Ensure that your marketing messages and, even more importantly, imagery, reflect that you work with couples of all ages.

Highlight activities and attributes that appeal most to this demographic. In the Cayman Islands, we are known for being the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” and this is a great attraction to couples marrying later in life.

Family Weddings

While not all encore weddings have the presence of children, a vast majority do. This changes everything and shifts significant focus from planning being ‘couple-centric’ to ‘family first’.
Highlighting various aspects of what is important to a wedding that is inclusive and focused on bringing a family together is key.

In the Cayman Islands, we encourage couples to include their children in every part of the wedding—from offering fun activities like swimming with the stingrays before the wedding to participating in a sand ceremony that signifies coming together as one family. There are countless ways to create memorable experiences that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Break from Traditions

Encore Weddings often are looking to break the mold of what has been done the first time around.
Couples are far more likely to choose unique venues, wear less formal attire, incorporate meaningful and heartfelt vows and focus on fun and family.

In the Cayman Islands, we have enjoyed witnessing carefree couples experiencing photo shoots all around the island, including trashing the dress and taking the plunge off the back of a boat minutes after exchanging vows! They often incorporate their passions into their ceremonies and receptions—from underwater weddings to paddle boarding and much more.

Guest Focus

These couples put great value on creating unique experiences for their cherished guests. Typically, encore weddings have slightly smaller guest lists than first-time weddings, but they often spend more per person over the course of many days.

Of particular importance is the availability of flexible accommodations to host all ages of their guests.
We are seeing an increase in private villa weddings as well as weddings taking place in luxury condo properties, so guests can take advantage of staying together and enjoying the enhanced amenities and flexibility these types of accommodations offer.

Vow Renewals

Don’t overlook the opportunity to focus on vow renewals. As more couples celebrate anniversary milestones, they are looking to do so in more meaningful ways. Renewing vows, whether just the two of them or with cherished family and friends, is a trend that is continuing to grow.

Understanding that there are important nuances to working within the destination wedding market is key. A one-size-fits-all type of approach no longer will work.

Ensuring you are communicating specific messages to appeal to all different types of couples and their guests promises to yield powerful results for any company or destination.

IMAGE: PHOTO: Encore weddings are on the rise. (photo via flickr/Ray Bodden)

AUTHOR: Mrs. Rosa Harris is the Director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. Mrs. Harris has a long history with the department and within the tourism industry of the Cayman Islands. With over 15 years experience in the Tourism/Hospitality sector in the Cayman Islands, she is a Senior Level Executive with extensive hands-on experience in management, business leadership, and working with Government Officials, Board of Directors, Advertising Executives and Tourism Partners. To help manage and shape the Cayman Islands’ tourism industry, Mrs. Harris serves on multiple boards and committees. She is the Chairman of the Public Transportation Board, the Hotel Licensing Board, and the Cayman Islands Hospitality School Council. Mrs. Harris also serves as Deputy Chairman of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame and is a member on the Boards for the Cayman Islands Film Commission, the Tourism Attractions Board, and the Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association. Mrs. Harris has a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Manchester University. She is the first recipient of the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism Scholarship, which was issued in 1996. Mrs. Harris is a proud Caymanian, born and raised. She lives in Grand Cayman with her husband Callroy Harris.

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