Hugh Riley

Position your destination as a romantic catch

 

Raise your hand if you’re a romantic. No? I’m not surprised! For reasons that remain unclear, people sharply deny all kinds of simple things. They don’t watch television – except the odd sportscast and educational documentaries of course – and just about no one ever sleeps longer than four hours a night. Yeah right. Well, they also deny being starry-eyed. But thankfully, many destinations do own up to being romantic, and by so doing, attract visitors in droves.

For years the Caribbean has been able to maintain its prominence as a global leader in the romance business.  Being beautiful and exotic seems to be the right combination to lure lovebirds of all ages from every corner of the globe to sample the sweet nectar, a blessing which seems to cover the entire region. That’s the reputation of the Caribbean. But how does an individual destination capitalize on the romance market?

  1. Launch your own cupid campaign. Embrace the opportunity to showcase every romantic nook and cranny in your destination and invite consumers to identify them for you. Let the lovers submit their own views on the most romantic spots on your turf to pop the question; to say I do; to kiss under the stars; to renew vows; to smooch at full moon; to celebrate an anniversary; to spend a babymoon or to have a second wedding. The images they submit and the stories they share will not only inspire others, but will also work wonders for engaging the public on your social media platforms. Nadia and Ian (the couple in the photo) tell their amazing story of two total strangers from New Jersey and California, meeting in Haiti, popping the question on the other side of the Atlantic and exchanging vows on that beach in Barbados.
  1. Promote romantic travel research. Do your own surveys and encourage your hotels to share theirs. It benefits everyone overall. Proudly tout credible research that shows the benefits of traveling to improve the overall health of relationships. The U.S. Travel Association conducted a study on the effects of travel on couple’s relationships and here are some of the findings that you can consider integrating into your promotional efforts:
    • Nearly two-thirds of couples (63%) surveyed say a weekend getaway is more likely to spark romance in their relationship than large or small gifts.
    • More than eight in ten (83%) of those who travel as a couple say the romance is still alive in their relationship.
    • Seven in ten (72%) of the couples surveyed believe traveling inspires romance.
    • Nearly two in three couples (65%) state that being romantic is an important reason to travel with their partner.
    • More than one in every four couples (28%) say their intimacy improved after traveling together.

Curling up in bed at home with a book just isn’t the same!

  1. Boldly appeal to each romance segment. Destination weddings are amazingly popular for a variety of good reasons, including the fact that they often save a couple significant money; but couples also choose the Caribbean for honeymoons, babymoons, and wedding anniversaries. People come here to fall in love or to start a family. Expatriate Caribbean nationals and people of Caribbean heritage often choose to return to their roots for romance. Various marketing initiatives can be custom-tailored towards each of these segments. Give them ideas that will spur their own creativity and perhaps challenge the most imaginative wedding planners! Some destinations are even eyeing the growth of same-sex marriages, although with the requisite amount of caution and relevant advice.  Over the years many Caribbean countries have simplified the process for obtaining a marriage license and have removed cumbersome residence requirements. Have you reviewed yours to make sure you stay current?
  1. The ties that bind. Visitors – singles and couples alike – often form strong romantic bonds with a destination. When they themselves want to keep the romance alive it’s a cake walk for any destination that seeks to capitalize. The good news for the entire Caribbean is that destination weddings are a great source of future business. Keeping in touch, Happy Anniversary notes, babymoon promotions and birthday greetings all make great business sense and go a long way to make previous visitors feel truly special. Impressing the couple’s guests is certainly a smart strategy too. TravelMarketReport.com says the average wedding has five bridesmaids and three of them are either engaged or will be engaged within the next year. Imagine how many other business opportunities can arise from just one wedding! MarryCaribbean.com states that the average attendance at a wedding exceeds 165 and the most frequently asked question is: Where are you going on your honeymoon? A great experience will create a word of mouth and, in turn, more customers. The romance market also works wonders for helping to diminish the seasonality woes; despite the perennial popularity of Valentine’s Day and June weddings, the fact is that the romance market tends to be year-round. Experts also argue that the bridal market is virtually recession-proof, so no matter what sacrifices a couple (and their generous parents) have to make, spending on a first-time wedding continues to trend upwards. Why? Because everyone knows they’ll be doing this only once in their lifetime!

These small steps could help make any destination a keeper. Let’s vow to position the Caribbean as the leading choice for romantic travel.