Celebrations' owner to speak at major US events conference

How the Caribbean competes on a world level for event tourism is key to a speech to be given by a Cayman wedding and event designer during an upcoming significant global gathering. 

Joanne Brown of Celebrations will address the Special Event Show in Chicago, which runs from 15 to 18 January and is attended by the world’s foremost event planners and vendors. 

Her subject is “Destination Wedding and Event Markets of the Future: What is the new niche?”. It will discuss how to bring business back to destinations following the recent recession, with event and incentive tourism seen as a vital cog in the medium- to long-term planning for the tourism industry. 

“We are breaking the barriers of common misconceptions of destination weddings and events,” Mrs. Brown said. 

“In the digital age, we can make planning a seamless experience – from travel arrangements to special, native touches to make any special event one-of-a-kind.” 

One of the major topics on the agenda is the expectations of the modern bride and groom. According to Mrs. Brown, even with an economy on the rebound, today’s couple or event client is in search of value for money – whether their budget is big or small. 

“One of the points that I am focused on demonstrating for this discerning crowd is that destination event planning can be efficient. There are so many options for a variety of budgets and planners have such a wide knowledge base – not only of their home country but also of the cultures from which their clients come,” she added. 

She said one of the common misconceptions of Caribbean events was that they inevitably had a beach component. 

“One of my main focuses is the great flexibility and diversity of offerings within the Caribbean. From castles to catamarans, the Caribbean offers so many rich cultural experiences and we find modern clients want authenticity, on top of anything else,” Mrs. Brown said. 


Data analysis 

Her presentation will last for 90 minutes and includes data on the international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions markets as well as destination wedding statistics. The event planner will also look forward to 2013, looking at brides and brands’ top objectives, cost and value adds, new trends, technologies and trends of the new niche market, she explained, adding that environmental issues and sustainability will also form part of the discussion. The Caribbean, she noted, was a “turnkey solution” because of the levels of service, supply and vendors and Cayman was at the forefront thereof.  

“We are also making our Caribbean vendor options a feature of this speaking engagement, as well as touching on our willingness to work with preferred on-shore planners and vendors during the organisational process. As a leading event economy – including weddings and corporate conferences – it is in our best interest to project competitiveness and the fact that we can actively lobby for business, based on our expertise in the field and our willingness to vie for business based on our flexibility, convenient options and stellar service.” 

The ability to deliver an authentic cultural immersion through local crafts, food and souvenirs was also important, she said. In terms of pure wedding parties, the average size of a destination wedding group is now 86 people with the average length of the wedding three days and many people extending their stay for a week. This had an obvious trickle-down effect to all sectors from restaurants, hotels and bars to taxis, water sports, activities and entertainment. 

The presentation also features video contributions from fellow stakeholders including Caribbean Club, Grand Old House, photographer Rebecca Davidson and Director of Tourism Shomari Scott. 

The 2013 Special Event Show takes place in Chicago, with more than 6,000 delegates from all 50 states in the United States and more than 40 countries worldwide. More than 50 per cent of delegates are described as “key decision makers” within their respective planning organisations including owners, presidents and professional independent planners.