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Lu Maggiora of Luxury Latitudes/Vacation Discounters in San Ramon, Calif., knows firsthand about Oahu’s romantic allure. The travel agent and her husband took their children and grandchildren to Oahu for a combined celebration of their 35th wedding anniversary and their son’s fifth anniversary. Joined by friends from Kauai, the couples renewed their vows on the beach.
“It was such a lovely and unique event with orchid petals strewn on the sand and soft Hawaiian music,” said Maggiora. “It even mesmerized our normally squirmy grandchildren long enough to behave during the entire ceremony.”
Marilyn Clark of Lighthouse Travel in Huntington Beach, Calif., feels equally passionate about Oahu as a destination for first-time and renewed weddings. Her cousin brought her entire family to Oahu for her vow renewals in front of a waterfall at Waimea Falls Park. From there, the group went to the Dole Plantation and wandered around the world’s largest maze. They ended the day with a picnic by a lagoon at Ko Olina Resort & Marina while watching a vibrant sunset.
“Everyone spent the night at Ko Olina so that they could go swimming with the dolphins the next morning,” said Clark. “Only on Oahu.”
These are just two of the countless memorable experiences awaiting clients who are looking for a personalized destination wedding or vow renewal on Oahu. From tying the knot during a sunset cruise to taking the plunge while skydiving or scuba diving, the island’s natural beauty, scenic locations, widespread activities, ideal weather and overall romantic aura are irresistible to couples looking to say “I do.”
“Brides and grooms want the perfect place in which to express their love and commitment to each other — one that reflects their personalities and tastes,” said Clark. “No matter what location and amenities they want for their wedding ceremony, they are bound to find them on Oahu.”
After the ceremony, couples and their guests can continue to enjoy Oahu’s extensive attributes. They can stay in Waikiki with its fine dining, great shopping, world-class hotels and vibrant nightlife. For a completely different experience, they can head to the more rural windward side with powdery sands, smooth waters for kayaking, pretty gardens and vast valleys; or the laidback North Shore with casual towns, wide-open spaces, beaches and famous surfing spots.
“The island also offers a great deal of culture and history at places like Pearl Harbor and Iolani Palace,” said Clark. “There really isn’t anything that couples can’t do on Oahu.”
Travel agents who are looking to boost their bookings of Oahu destination weddings and vow renewals should participate in bridal fairs and enlist the help of the Oahu Visitors Bureau (OVB), said Maggiora.
“OVB can send materials, such as posters and brochures, to enhance your booth,” Maggiora said. “One year, they sent me a huge box of Hawaiian cookies to distribute in goodie bags and a gorgeous ginger lei to wear, something you don’t see here on the mainland. Its unique design and fragrant scent were both attention-getting and a great conversation ice-breaker.”
For 2012, OVB’s director of travel industry sales, Stacey Martin Alford, said that the bureau is dedicating a series of live webinars to the destination wedding market. It’s also hosting a travel agent fam that will showcase Oahu as a perfect fit for what she calls the “active romantic” niche.
“The more targeted our training, the more relevant we become to our valued travel agent partners who seek to tap into this market’s unrealized potential for Oahu,” said Alford.
Alford encouraged agents to break through the scores of destination wedding/vow renewal options and, within various categories, align themselves with a few top picks.
“For example, clients have the option of weddings on beautiful beaches and in botanical gardens, rainforest valleys, chapels, private estates and resorts, just to name a few,” said Alford. “Plus, there are active options like getting married or renewing vows on canoes, surfboards or horseback.”
“We mentor our partners to achieve very in-depth knowledge in each top pick they put their brand behind,” Alford added. “These suggestions allow them to showcase their expertise to their clients.”
Agents who get to know and stay in touch with Oahu partners on a regular basis will enjoy smooth communication during the planning and execution process of a destination wedding or vow renewal.
“These key relationships differentiate the power of the travel agent’s brand with competing channels of distribution,” said Alford. “With relationships come personalized service and heightened value — both very important to the destination wedding client.”