From marketing techniques to working with planners and vendors, experts at oceanfront hotels gave Hotel News Now their methods for hosting destination weddings on-property.
GLOBAL REPORT—Some people dream of a wedding by the ocean, and that’s why hoteliers in places such as Jamaica, Florida and Mexico work with their staff and outside vendors to make the destination wedding experience flawless.
At the Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the most popular time for wedding celebrations is from May to November.
Linda Lawrence, director of sales and marketing at Round Hill, said weddings make up 15% of the hotel’s business.
“Round Hill hosts only one wedding celebration each weekend, which ensures exclusivity for the bride and groom and their wedding guests as there will not be another wedding party at the resort,” she said.
Since there are other guests on property during weekends when there’s a wedding, Lawrence said the hotel keeps things running smoothly by “keeping all guests informed of the wedding celebration and the events that will take place and ensuring that our service standard is not compromised for our wedding and non-wedding guests,” she said.
Getting the word out
When it comes to spreading the word to engaged couples about on-property weddings, Lawrence said Round Hill partners with sites to market to those types of guests.
“We target engaged couples by partnering with (sites) whose audience matches with the Round Hill bride,” she said, “and ensure that our weddings have a presence on social media sites such as Pinterest, which is used as a resource by couples.”
She added that “a good number of the weddings that are booked at Round Hill are from referrals from past wedding guests.”
This is also the case for Hotel Esencia on Xpu-Ha Beach in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
“A great deal of our clients are referred by previous couples who have held their weddings on property,” Marcela Lara, event sales at Hotel Esencia, said. “We also work with wedding planners and travel agents. Events constitute a significant income for us, especially during specific times of the year.”
At the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina in Islamorada, Florida, Eddie Sipple, regional general manager at the Postcard Inn, said the hotel uses the tagline, “sell the venue, not the menu.”
“Meaning that our gorgeous spaces draw couples to choose Postcard Inn Resort & Marina,” he said. “We have some of the best real estate in the Florida Keys for beachfront weddings.”
Because the hotel is an independent, Sipple said Postcard Inn is able to customize the couple’s dream day, whether it’s a wedding on the beach or on the lawn overlooking the ocean.
“As far as contribution to the business, we see about 70% leisure and 30% group, with about 20% of that being weddings,” he said. “Not only do weddings bring food-and-beverage dollars, but they also drive room revenue.”
Sipple said the hotel has a preferred list of vendors that they’re in constant communication with throughout the wedding process.
“We ensure our brides and grooms are introduced to the best in the area and try to pair them with the planner that fits their personalities and needs,” he said. “These preferred planners are familiar with our property and can guide our couples in making the best choices for their special day.”
Lara said Hotel Esencia is also always keeping in touch with wedding planners.
“We love when planners are able to see the (property) for themselves and can experience a tasting or meet some of our vendors,” she said “However, we are certainly able to coordinate and collaborate remotely as well. We welcome local and international wedding planners and gladly collaborate with them to ensure each event’s success.”
Lawrence said Round Hill also works with a team of vendors to make sure the day goes as planned.
“We have a team of vendors that we have worked with that guarantees the standard of excellence that Round Hill offers,” she said. “Our team of vendors includes the usual team of officiants, photographers, cinematographers, florists, musicians, bands to the specialty vendors such as henna artists, pyrotechnics and cigar rollers.”
Each hotel has a different policy when it comes to room blocks for wedding parties and guests, sources said.
At Round Hill, Lawrence said the hotel will offer a group rate if 15 rooms for a minimum of three nights are reserved.
Sipple said the Postcard Inn offers “20% off the guaranteed guest count” for a wedding that is contracted.
“(For example), (if we) contracted 100 guests, we offer 20 rooms,” he said. “Once your block has been filled, we can add rooms based on availability. If the couple would like to block more than the courtesy number of rooms offered, they can request a guaranteed room block with a 90% attrition.”