Saturday, 30 January 2010
Travel Destination Press Conference - only freelancers learned 'bout "Trashing the Dress" trend
Yawn. For beat reporters and photographers covering a travel destination media conference there is precious little to do aside from nibble on the great food and proudly refuse the free booze that flows like lava out of a spewing volcano. Why? There isn't usually any new news given out. In fact almost everything you learn at the press conference could have been emailed over to the newsroom (and they probably still wouldn't have used it).
Air Canada will soon be flying non-stop Charlottetown to Ottawa. Canadian money offered at par in the Buckeye State. Hilton Head Island Goes Green. Those are real headlines from recent press conferences. And the photo ops? travel destination press conference invented the Grip and Grin.
It is a different story for freelancers. It is a chance to meet up with visiting destination officials (usually the tourism minister), tour operators and fellow travel writers. Freelance writers are under no moral obligation to avoid the libations,turn down free trips or take home bags of swag. And if you are covering a destination you no real well, and have the chance to ask probing questions you do find out some neat things. Take for example a presser I attended in January, put on by the Cayman Island Tourist Board.
Cayman has long advertised in Diver Magazine. I go there a lot. It is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for diving and there are non-stop flights from Toronto (which means you don't have to pass through the US).
I am a Cayman junkee. I listen to Cayman Lime Radio. I read the Cayman Compass. My Google News scans 24.7 for Cayman News. Even so, this presser held out nothing for me, it was a two-hour session all about out-of-country weddings. Sure there have been underwater weddings, but, that is a story that has been told many times already.No, I didn't for see learning about anything that I could transfer into an article for Diver (or even a posting on my website for that matter).
I was wrong! I did learn a few neat factoids about travel destination weddings from Cayman's guest talking head Rebecca Grinnals of Engaging Concepts based in Celebration, Florida. Grinnals talked in person to over 30 travel experts at the Yorkville movie industry friendly Sassafraz Restaurant. At the same time she was conversing with a whack of bloggers, tweeters and God knows who else was lurking on line in real time.
Her message? Despite a recession in 2009, destination weddings (especially in the Cayman Islands) are hotter than ever.
“The world’s largest financial crisis last year really fuelled the trend of destination weddings,” she said “While the industry was bracing for the worst, the opposite occurred. Brides began to reprioritize and rethink everything about their wedding. More brides opted for simplicity, choosing to wed away from home in a more casual setting.”
Grinnal referenced a 2009 study conducted by Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine. It says that the market for destination weddings is on the rise. In 2009, the market ballooned to $16 billion up from $3 billion in 2001. A couple’s destination wedding budget has also grown from US $19,800 in 2008 to US $20,600 in 2009 with the average number of attendees rising to 48 guests.
Some of the factoids I learned at the conference?
Marrying Passions – “Over 9,000 Chinese couples married on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics and I anticipate many will choose to do the same during the Vancouver Olympics,” says Grinnals. “Couples who have a love of sports or the great outdoors are choosing to share their passion,” she says. From diving out of an airplane to getting married underwater in dive gear, couples are pushing the boundaries of tradition.
Two Dress Brides – Brides who travel to marry are tending to buy two wedding dresses. Faced with so many stylish options at great prices, Grinnals says brides are opting for a ceremony dress and a fun, party dress for later in the evening.
Dramatic Getaways – When the big day comes to a close and the couple is ready to make their exit, they’re doing it in style. From skiing down a mountain, riding off in a hot air balloon or speeding away on a yacht, the fun is all in the big finale.
DIY DJ – “Whether at home or abroad, couples are ditching the DJ in favour of creating their own play lists on an iPod,” says Grinnals. “Plus they’re downloading music from local artists to create a unique party mix.”
Hitched in High-Tech – Brides are fully immersed in technology, using their mobile device to coordinate planning and vote on bridal party choices. “Social media is particularly popular for the destination wedding couple who are using sites like Twitter and Facebook to keep everyone up-to-date, especially those unable to attend,” she says. “Some brides are even designating a ‘tweet of honour’ who’s responsible for giving a blow-by-blow of the wedding, while others are using webcast services like http://www.ourcaymanwedding.com/ so those at home can still feel a part of the festivities.”
Eco Everything – Because it’s easier than ever to go green at your destination wedding, Grinnals says brides are embracing the trend. “From venues to vendors, they are making green choices in an effort to give back to the environment,” she says.
Map It Out – Couples are creating custom maps of the destination which are given to guests upon arrival. “It’s a great way to make your guests feel welcome as soon as they arrive and immediately orients them by providing attractions, restaurants and other information they’ll need while there,”. She suggests http://www.weddingmapper.com/
Trashing the Dress – “Popular in Caribbean locales, the couple holds a photo shoot the next day and jumps into the ocean in their wedding outfits,” says Grinnals. “It’s a chance for the couple to really let their hair down after all the stress and pressure from the months leading up to the big day. It’s one of my favourite trends and I don’t see it losing steam anytime soon.”
Photos by Stephen Weir
Cutline: Below: Rebecca Grinnals at the Cayman Island podium
Above: Tweeters and Bloggers followed Grinnals hour long Toronto, Canada presentation.