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ExecConnect: Elite Agent Symposium was not the only event taking place at Melia Cabo Real during my stay. On my walk along the resort’s vast, sandy coastline, I spotted it first — not love, per se, but one of its most recognizable symbols: a wedding. Against the deep blue of the ocean and the light tan of the shell-and-stone speckled sand, a simple gazebo dressed in white cloth stood before several rows of chairs, also draped in white. I had viewed many photos of beachside Mexico weddings, but seeing the set-up in person made me truly understand its appeal. Later, I walked past the tables decorated for the wedding’s reception, with photos of guests serving as place cards, a personal touch that made me think that, while destination weddings and honeymoons are popular in Mexico, they are neither a tired cliche nor are they all identical, pre-packaged affairs.
Sure, many resorts have a framework in place for romance vacations but as weddings and honeymoons become more popular, resorts are expanding their staffs to allow for more tailored trips.
“We are growing amazingly on the wedding side,” said Rafael Sanchez Navarro P., director of sales for Melia Cabo Real. “Right now, we have a wedding department with three people, and we are investing money to showcase our property exclusively for weddings.”
Especially after talking to many of the hotel representatives at ExecConnect, it’s clear that there’s plenty of potential for creating a unique event.
“Sell the country first, then the destination and then the hotel,” said Alejandro De La Garza, director of international sales for El Cid Resorts. “If you narrow in on the country of Mexico, then you have endless opportunities.”
According to Dulce Carranza, leisure sales manager at Melia Cabo Real, travel agents should customize a whole package around what their clients want. Of course, this means that agents must qualify their couples.
“It’s all about profiling,” said De La Garza. “Are they a younger couple? Are they a very active couple? Are they a couple who wants to lie on the beach or do they want to spend all day in the spa? Secondly, where are they from? Are they from Colorado; are they in New York? Do they want to go to the Pacific Ocean or do they want to go to the Caribbean Mexico? Do that homework because even the clients themselves may have a different idea of their own honeymoon.”
One travel agent attending the panel, Sheryl Fick, owner and travel consultant at Endless Travel in Evergreen, Colo., agreed that agents need to know about the various destinations in Mexico and understand how vacations in Mazatlan, Los Cabos, Riviera Maya and other locations differ. Fick also said that agents need to constantly stay aware of all of the changes at destinations and resorts, which she remarked is a never-ending process.
Mexico’s tourism website breaks down the areas of Mexico for agents, but as Maria Rojas-Fox, U.S. West Coast sales representative for The Royal Cancun and Playa Del Carmen for Real Resorts stated, it’s a privilege to be an agent because you have the opportunity to experience the destinations that you are selling.
Talking to suppliers, who also happen to be locals, doesn’t hurt when tailoring a honeymoon vacation.
“In San Jose, I think it’s really romantic to do the walk-through of the art district on Thursdays. Get a glass of wine and walk through all the art galleries in the area. It’s close to the main square where you will find lots of Mexican treats and local people hanging out, listening to music,” said Jorge Castaneda, sales manager of Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar Golf & Spa Resort Los Cabos. “In Cabo San Lucas, if you don’t want to go with others in a big boat, you can get a water taxi and some beer and go to the arch and have a fantastic dinner at one of those restaurants.”
Also, don’t forget to contextualize the location and share relevant traditions. Put your clients in a story that they can get excited about.
“Keith Richards had his first wedding in Mexico,” said Ascencio. “Sure, he’s had something like five weddings, but his first one was here in Los Cabos.”