One way in which Cayman’s destination weddings can be given an edge over those of other islands is through having a live web broadcast of the ceremony.
This is one of the suggestions from Rebecca Grinnals of Engaging Concepts, Romance Travel Consultant with the Department of Tourism. She was speaking at the sixth update on the weddings/romance sector of tourism hosted by the Department of Tourism, which took place at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Tuesday evening.
In the past couple of years there has been a huge upsurge in destination weddings for US couples, with the industry having doubled and set to double again in the near future.
Live webcasts at such wedding ceremonies are the way to go, said Ms Grinnals.
This means that a wedding in Cayman can go out live on a webcast over the internet, allowing friends and family that could not attend to view the event wherever they are in the world.
A presentation from local firm IT Outsource outlined how a live web broadcast can be a potential tipping point for a bride and groom in choosing where to hold their wedding. A basic package for a live web broadcast costs US$500.
Ms Grinnals detailed how popular destination weddings are becoming. Currently 16 per cent of brides have a destination wedding. This figure was eight per cent two and a half years ago.
Destination weddings are now worth US$8.6 billion of the $161 billion US wedding industry. This craze is not anticipated to level out until it gets to between 23 and 25 per cent of the overall US wedding industry, she noted.
One of the interesting points she made is that weddings are disaster and recession proof. This was borne out after Hurricane Ivan, she said, when one of the first big events to take place when the island was re-opened to tourists was a 200-plus guest wedding at the Westin Casuarina Resort. In fact, New Orleans, which was ravaged by last year’s Hurricane Katrina, is the number three wedding destination in the US.
She quoted from the New York Times, saying, ‘Destination weddings are the single hottest trend in the bridal industry’.
Currently 60 per cent of brides consider a destination wedding, she said.
The average number of guests is now 88, up from just 56 two years ago.
‘This is where the economic benefit spreads to each and every one of you,’ she said.
The average cost of a destination wedding is $25,806, while a regular wedding costs $26,000. Although the number of guests at a destination wedding is half the number generally at the regular wedding the couple is spending more money on less guests, she said.
Noting the importance of websites for brides when searching for wedding services, Ms Grinnals emphasised the importance of having a photo library on the site. Brides will quickly search elsewhere if they don’t see photos, she said.
Quoting a survey, she noted that 58 per cent of brides want to see more pricing on websites and the most important factors for a bride in her wedding are the photography, floral décor and the location.
Noting some of the competition in the region, she said Barbados has a new romance ad campaign and it targets the all inclusive weddings, but it is limited with high end service providers.
Jamaica leads the market with the volume and all inclusive weddings. All price points are covered and it also has many high end accommodations. However, there is a danger factor still for family weddings and it has very few high-end service providers.
Turks and Caicos is a hot spot at the moment, and although Bermuda is aggressive in the market there is not a lot of buzz about it.
St. Lucia is No. 1 Caribbean destination for UK visitors and there is a lot of interest surrounding Mexico.
She noted how huge a feat Weddings Away, the Travel Channel’s six-hour documentary on the Cayman Islands events company Celebrations was.
‘This was huge,’ she said, and allowed for a great pitch to the major bridal magazines.
She outlined how Cayman Islands’ weddings have been featured in many bridal magazines.
Ms Grinnals also outlined how the DoT is making its presence felt at high-end bridal shows in the US and in Canada.