Weddings are now legal in Tahiti. // © 2010 Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa
Experts in travel to Tahiti shared their experience with agents during TravelAge West’s Tahiti Connection, which was held last month. Among the topics covered during the live, online webinar, was the strong weddings and romance market in French Polynesia, where recent changes in the law have made weddings in Tahiti easier than ever.
“Weddings are legal [in Tahiti] now. We’re going to conduct some training, and we’re going to be looking for travel agents who are willing to specialize in destination weddings so that they can become a certified destination wedding specialist,” said Al Keahi, managing director of Tahiti Tourisme, North America. “We will be going through this process over the next year and, eventually, we will send these agents sales leads. There’s an indication that the demand for having a destination wedding in Tahiti could be very strong.”
When asked why Tahiti has such a strong romance market, panelists had a range of responses — from the destination’s ambiance to its amenities.
“The scenery, the colors, the climate, they are all ideal for romance,” said Pierre Lesage, regional director of sales and marketing for InterContinental French Polynesia. “All of the senses are much stronger on the islands.”
Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays, cited the range of experiences available in Tahiti as a key to the destination’s strength.
“You’re talking world-class spas, beautiful white-sand beaches, luxurious hotels, overwater bungalows and fantasy suites,” Richards said. “So it’s all ideal for couples, honeymooners and romantic escapes.”
The quality and range of resort experiences were also credited.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to have a Polynesian wedding, on the beach, at sunset,” said Laurent Bessou, CEO and president of South Pacific Management. “All of us hoteliers have very diverse menus of amenities that we like to provide to couples. And as a credit to our success, one of the hotels in French Polynesia was recently named Most Romantic Hotel in the World by Trip Advisor.”
Keahi is grateful for the success that French Polynesia has had with the romance market, and he said he has no intention of taking this success for granted.
“We work hard with consumers and agents to make this a special destination when it comes to romance,” he said. “They have helped us gain this position. This is now our core business, and we want to maintain this business.”
According to Richards, the key for agents who want to sell more Tahiti is to put their trust in the right partners. He pointed out that reservation agents who are selling Tahiti at Pleasant Holidays have an average tenure of more than eight years in the market as well as firsthand knowledge of the product.
“When you work with Pleasant Holidays, you’re going to be talking to experienced reservation agents, most of which have visited and experienced French Polynesia and can offer suggestions based on their personal experiences,” Richards said. “These people know French Polynesia, and they can make you comfortable, steer you in the right direction and help you make the sale. I think that is very, very important.”
The complete archived version of the TravelAge West Tahiti Connection is available online.