Mexico is the top international country for a destination wedding from the U.S. market, according to Visit Mexico. And travel agents continue to respond to the country’s appeal to the romance market with major sales.
“Simply put, Mexico is a romantic destination,” said Gina Johnson, wedding and honeymoon specialist for Playa Hotels & Resorts. “It has beautiful beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides, plus it is easy to get to, with affordable airfares.”
Destination weddings, particularly, have seen a boom in popularity-- and suppliers are looking to capitalize on the expanding market.
“Destination weddings in Mexico are on the rise,” said Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing at the All Inclusive Collection for Hard Rock Hotels. “Couples are looking for a stunning backdrop to their weddings, and for an overall fun time with their friends and families.
Many hotels and resorts are using value-adds to attract agents—and their clients, he added.
“At our resorts, they get unlimited fine dining, 24-hour room service, top-shelf drinks, hydro spa tubs in each room, free Wi-Fi and long distance calls – and up to $1,800 in resort credit to spend on spa treatments, meals and more,” said Maduro.
Where to go
Agents do very well by selling romance-oriented clients on Mexico’s beach resorts – many of them all-inclusive and located in prime resort areas like Cancun and Riviera Maya.
“No matter what honeymooners want or what their budget is, Mexico delivers – beautiful beaches, tons of activities, history and culture,” said Michelle Busse with Brentwood Travel in St. Louis.
“Most of my clients end up at an all-inclusive because even if you want a couple of dinners outside the resort you’re still ahead of the game.”
Busse said one up and coming destination for honeymooners is Huatulco on the Pacific coast. “It’s gorgeous and very authentic,” said. “You have the Pacific, beautiful sunsets, mountains and even waterfalls.”
Beyond the beach
One agent looks beyond the big beach resorts to find romantic travel in Mexico’s towns and cities.
Laurianne Manchester, an Avoya agent in Bay St. Louis, lives part of the year in San Miguel de Allende, a Mexican city that has long been popular with American expats and one of the places Manchester sees as ideal for a honeymoon or other romantic trip.
“To me it’s the small luxury hotels in these towns that are really special,” said Manchester. “Any traveler can figure out how to book an all-inclusive but if people want really great food and a European feel, they will love these cities.
“If you get them to go there once you have a client for life,” she added. “If you recommend a small bed and breakfast where they will feel at home, they will really appreciate it.”
And you don’t have to be an expert to sell these kinds of unique experiences to your clients, according to Manchester.
“I realize I’m an expert but agents who learn about these towns can sell these same kinds of trips,” she said.
A romantic trip doesn’t have to be long.
According to a Visit Mexico spokesperson, a “mini-moon” is ideal for those postponing a major honeymoon trip. Mini-moons, she said, are easily booked and they are often available as packages.
Romance often requires a smaller, more personal experience where they get the kind of attention a once-in- a- lifetime vacation deserves. Agents need to be able to sell that, the spokesperson said.
Focusing on one brand
Nancy Finn, who owns Island Getaways in Brookfield, Wisc., finds success in specializing in a specific brand in a specific destination – Karisma Resorts in the Riviera Maya.
“Being a five diamond Karisma producer with good online reviews from client gets me lots of extras for honeymoon and anniversary packages – private candlelit dinners, couples massages, discounts on spa services, free Wi-Fi and more; for destination weddings, they do the 11th room free,” she said.
Finn’s high-yielding business has become so strong that the resort has a dedicated team working with her agency.
“I now turn down more weddings than I can handle because of the referrals,” said Finn. “I have a team at each resort that works exclusively with our agency.”
What romantics are seeking
Romance clients are changing with the times, said agents.
As Manchester said, “a lot of honeymooners are now into environmental issues and I send them to eco-friendly places like Zamas and Azulik in Tulum.”
Also growing is the “buddymoon” where couples celebrate with friends and family said Playa Hotels & Resorts’ Johnson.