My honeymooners are calling me, we’re still booking people…not at the pace we were before, but we’ve had solid bookings. [My clients] are ready to travel; we still have people on the books for late June,” says Kim Goldstein, president/travel consultant, Journeys Travel, noting that “we’re primarily tropical focus, so we get a lot of Mexico, Caribbean. In fact, I have not had any requests for anything outside of domestic, Caribbean and Mexico.”
Lauren Doyle, executive v.p., The Travel Mechanic, agrees, pointing out that with her clients, if they are having a destination wedding, “they are waiting until it’s closer to when they have to make the decision. My Millennials are booked; they are having weddings, they are traveling. They want to get away and celebrate this special time in their lives.”
Getting away seems to be the recurring mindset among young couples whose wedding plans and honeymoons have been upended due to COVID-19. Dawn Warner, Dream Vacations franchisee and vacation advisor, notes that “Cabin fever has struck so many couples and they can’t wait to get away. The bigger trips are tittering on airlines, tour companies and cruise lines providing plans to keep them safe. For couples who were previously scheduled to travel on international land vacations they have decided to stay a little closer to home and visit places like Hilton Head or St. Augustine. A few have even taken to renting an RV. They want to know what they can do NOW until travel fully reopens. Europe is moving down the list of destinations for now. The visions of getting stuck overseas is still fresh.”
Doyle also points to domestic destinations for honeymoons, specifically noting that Hawaii still remains front and center for future bookings for honeymooners, with Warner adding that she’s seen honeymoons go from 14 days to seven.
A New Normal for Destination Weddings
COVID-19 has shifted the invitee list, dates and locales when it comes to destination weddings, with Warner noting that “Everyone wants to feel safe and comfortable in this new normal. This new normal, unfortunately, means leaving some senior family members and those with compromised immune systems at home for their safety until more is known about COVID-19. For clients impacted it was an easy decision. One of my European groups opted to rebook in 2022 but this time without the grandparents. Travelers who have been impacted by unemployment are deciding to push their travel out another two years instead of incurring credit card debt.”
She adds that in terms of securing the destination wedding booking, “Navigating the various vendor’s cancellation policies has been the biggest hurdle. One size does not fit all and at the end of the day clients want to enjoy their family and friends; however, if there is another surge of the coronavirus they want their full refund in a timely manner. This situation is very fluid, which is why I have recommended paying the minimum amount required to secure their booking. It’s easier to wait for a $500 refund verses a $14,000 refund.”