Wedding and Honeymoons – Specifics
- The South Pacific’s leading destination for weddings and honeymoon is Fiji, followed by Tahiti and the Cook Islands. Out of New Zealand, the most popular destinations for weddings and honeymoon is the Cook Islands.
- The average length of a honeymoon trip is 4-6 nights and the average cost of a trip is US$4,200 per couple. Travellers to French Polynesia/Tahiti spend about US$5,500 per couple.
- About 40% of all weddings to the Pacific Islands countries is made of couples only; followed by party size of 4-10 pax that make up 25% of travellers and then 21-50 pax that make up about 18% of travellers.
- For long haul markets, wedding and/or honeymoon travellers to the South Pacific are all about reaching a status symbol, are experiential seekers, tend to be of the older demographic, are generally less price sensitive and are just couples.
- For short haul market travellers, the cost of wedding/honeymoon (cheaper overseas), participation by family members and ease of access in terms of flights and infrastructure on the ground are crucial factors.
Weddings and Honeymoons – Accommodation
- Accommodation is a crucial consideration for weddings and honeymoon traveller. They prefer a nice resort on a romantic location.
- A nice resort does not necessarily mean a 5 star place. “Nice” is interpreted in terms of having a clean and tidy property, having the spa amenities and treatment room, great locations for weddings, a good-sized room for the bride to use and great hotel service.
- Location by the sea or with great sea-views and access to beach is highly prized. Dream locales include overwater bungalows in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, resort settings in Aitutaki, Cook Islands; Mamanuca Islands, Yasawa Islands, Northern and Outer Islands in Fiji; Isle de Pines in New Caledonia, azure waters along most Samoan resorts, spectacular water and mountain scenery across resorts in Santa, Tanna and Efate in Vanuatu.
- For weddings chapels (closed or open air) are very popular in Fiji and Vanuatu. In the Cook Islands and Samoa wedding couples also choose to experience more traditional island church weddings.
- Increasingly there are boutique accommodation catering for honeymooners in Pacific Island countries. Offering breath-taking settings over volcanic rocks (Vanuatu, Fiji), over water (French Polynesia) or overlooking the sea and mountains with spa facilities are all trending as new accommodation developments across the region.
Weddings and Honeymoon – Access
Travellers for special occasions like weddings and honeymoon prefer direct connectivity to their destination with minimum stopovers.
- Fiji is the most connected destination in the Pacific Islands countries with direct flights from Australia, NZ, Hawaii, United States, South Korea and Hong Kong where global connections can be made.
- French Polynesia has direct air access from USA, Japan, NZ and Chile.
- Cook Islands is connected directly from USA, NZ and Australia.
- New Caledonia is connected directly from Japan, NZ and Australia.
- Other destinations are mainly connected directly to Australia and/or NZ such as Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, and Niue. Samoa has direct flights to Hawaii.
- Islands in Micronesia typically have flights from Hawaii, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Philippines and/or Japan.
Wedding and honeymooners prefer to be spoilt for their special occasion and there is significant demand for private transfers by road in 4WD/limousines/high end cars and via helicopters/private sea transfers and seaplanes.
Weddings and Honeymoons – Activities
Most wedding clients prefer to have some element of the Pacific Islands included on their special day. This includes having a local church choir sing at their wedding, having local floral setups to even considering getting married in local traditional costumes. The rise of wedding support services such as florists, wedding co-ordinators, photographers, wedding costume hire and beauty salons across Cook Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa in particular have seen increases in booking activities.
Spa and Wellness is a perfect adjunct to this market segment. Most resorts have moved on just having “massage rooms” to providing a complete oasis of serenity and well being. Other activities include village tours, participating in cultural activities (visits to villages, cultural centres, trying out kava at hotels/resorts, traditional dancing shows), snorkelling, diving, round of golf, motorised and non-motorised activities at resort and indulging in good food and wine.
Requirements for Weddings
Each country has different legal requirements for weddings. An understanding of these requirements is important to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met.
The easiest of the Pacific Islands countries to get married are Cook Islands and Fiji where guests are required to file papers and be present in the country at least three days prior to their wedding. Samoa requires filing of papers 14 days out and Vanuatu requires papers to be lodged 28 days out. French Polynesia and New Caledonia have more stringent requirements, including original paperwork to be completed (in French) at least 30 days prior which explains why these destinations tend to be more popular with honeymoons than weddings.
Each of the Pacific Island country also has different minimum wedding age from 18 years to 21 years. Same sex marriage is not legal in all Pacific island countries.
Opportunities for Travel Agents and Tour Operators
- Weddings and honeymoon is constantly evolving in its offerings. Signing up to destination newsletters, trade media updates and destination/property social media channels are good ways to self-update knowledge.
- Weddings and honeymoon segment is not a fly and flop destination; therefore knowing the activities a destination offers will greatly enhance your clients experiences.
- Although all Pacific Islands countries enjoy beautiful weather, are endowed with pristine beaches and crystal clear waters; each destination has distinct and unique characteristics that sets it apart from the others. Understanding and updating knowledge on these characteristics will improve client experience.
- Pacific Island countries, especially the key ones in Fiji, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Vanuatu and Samoa are in their various stages of becoming a “one-stop” destination in terms of offering support services (bridal dress hire, photography, wedding co-ordinator).
Issues in the Marketplace
- Short haul markets of Australia and NZ for Pacific Island countries provide a unique opportunity to sell wedding packages to larger groups to the bigger hotels and resorts which are easily accessible. This translates into bigger bookings, holidays tagged after weddings that extend length of stay and increase tourism receipts as well as booking commission levels.
- Having and understanding of flight arrival times from overseas and transfer options to the resort/hotel is critical in generating positive first impressions – do your clients really have to overnight? Are there 24-hour transfer options available?
- It is usually difficult to pin-point a honeymoon client from the normal FIT couple. Having the ability to separate the two and offer special recognition all along the customer journey enhances the experience and usually results in rave revues of the agent, agency, transfer provider and property.
- Similar opportunity also exists for airlines and ground transfer providers to recognise wedding clients by welcoming them on board, having specially marked headrests and offering unique tokens on their way to the resort.