July 15, 2017
 
 honeymoon travel

Anju Anna Alex

New trends in the honeymoon travel segment!

The honeymoon travel & romantic getaways niche is witnessing rapid growth. Industry experts leave no stone unturned while discussing the evolution of honeymoon travel and the latest trends that have successfully captured the imagination of newlyweds.

After tying the knot with their loved one, couples yearn to have a romantic trip with their partners to celebrate their union. Though there are lots of breathtaking sites in this world, India still remains one of the most preferred destinations to the honeymooners. Weddings have always been huge and more so an exorbitant affair for Indians. Young Indian couples leave no stone unturned when it comes to planning their honeymoons. Since weddings take place all year round, honeymoon travel is considered a perennial source of income for the travel and hospitality industry and therefore is seen as a highly lucrative business. From the serene backwaters of Kerala to the quaint, princely land of Udaipur or the immensely popular Goa; India has plenty to offer for honeymooners. Vishal Hanmattekar, Co-founder & CEO, The Blueberry Trails says, “Couples nowadays are exploring various unique experiences around India - Snorkelling in the magical islands of Andamans, romantic hideaways in the beautiful mountain clad Sikkim, experiencing moonlit camel safaris in the deserts of Rajasthan or backwater stays and getting Ayurvedic massages in Kerala are some of the popular Indian honeymoon getaways today.”

Recently, Munnar was adjudged the ‘Best Destination for Romance’ by the magazine Lonely Planet Indian Travel Awards 2017; the enchanting hill station undisputedly being the perfect backdrop to kindle romance. Because honeymoons are generally once-in-lifetime experiences, travellers are reasonably accommodating when it comes to paying a premium for honeymoon travel. This is to say that most are ready to splurge a little extra to indulge in luxuries during their trip.

There was a time when newlyweds dreamt of travelling to iconic destinations that offered them plenty of sightseeing opportunities like Agra or Singapore or Paris. A photo by the side of the magnificent Taj Mahal or the breathtaking Eiffel Tower was a dream for many newlyweds belonging to the 80’s, 90’s era. In the recent years, couples have begun to fancy beautiful locales in remote sites that offer them utmost privacy. Candle light dinners, private beaches in exotic destinations, rooms with spectacular views or cosy villas with pools or hot Jacuzzis etc. has captivated the minds of newlyweds. It is also interesting to note that the travel decisions of newlywed millennial honeymooners are increasingly influenced by social media trends and images. Celebrities take to social media platforms like Instagram to share drool worthy images of their life style, the picturesque destinations to which they have travelled or the delicately arranged exotic dishes that they have savoured during their vacation.

Millenials are also motivated to travel to particular locations or engage in specific activities to take photos so that they can garner the “likes” of their friends or followers. They in turn prompt others to do the same and in a way become social media influences. Many destinations and their marketing agencies are eyeing the potential and actively utilize social media and social media influencers to promote their destinations. Bollywood movies are also excellent marketing tools for the destination promotion and branding. With easy access to information, the new age honeymoon travellers are able to judiciously identify relevant information or even make connections with people and places previously unheard of. Better airline connectivity coupled with ease in procuring visitor visa is enabling honeymooners to travel to lesser known, far-flung locations. The increase in appetite for travel, spurred by social media has also fuelled the idea of travelling to multiple destinations in one single trip allowing couples to make the best out of the opportunity. Newlyweds also do not shy away from adventurous activities like sky diving, rafting or even bungee jumping. Shopping also finds it place in the itinerary of newlyweds, be it from a bustling flea market or a luxury departmental store.

Though the general trend in the travel industry is towards disintermediation, wherein the middleman is removed; the recent years has witnessed an increasing number of newlyweds reckon the services of experienced, trust worthy travel consultants. This being said, honeymooners are very particular about their choices and go to great lengths to ensure that travel itineraries are planned out to the smallest of details. Expert travel consultants empower tourists to make well informed decisions with credible information on factors such as weather, accommodation type, culinary facts, natural background, activities and budget.

Sudhir Patil, Director, Veena World, comments that “The honeymoon market is always a good market. There are FITs as well as those who opt for group travel packages. The mass segment tends to look at budget friendly options and is willing to consider group travel, though the majority of travellers favour peaceful areas as compared to crowded cities. Elite travellers too tend to choose idyllic destinations but search for destinations that offer unique experiences.” This entails that many honeymooners like to enjoy the calm atmosphere in some lesser explored destinations away from the maddening crowd. Vishal describes the honeymoon market in India as a rapidly growing segment with YoY growths of 25-30%, especially the outbound destinations. He says, “ In the emerging Indian economy with growing income and capital power & growing demand for destination weddings, people don’t mind spending on an unique and experience filled honeymoon since it’s a once in a life time experience”. Abhijit Gupta, Managing Director, Travel Bazaar, observes that the honeymoon market in India is a burgeoning segment. He notes that, “A lot of our clients prefer overseas destinations. The demand to travel to some lesser known, untouched destination is ever increasing among honeymooners.” Though the period between May and October is the peak wedding season, there are many couples are willing to postpone their honeymoons to the off-season, mostly during the winter.

The average number of days for which the couples spend their honeymoon is around 8 to 12 days, this being much more than that of regular travellers. While beach-destinations are still a hot favourite for destination weddings as well as honeymoon travellers, Indians still love to escape to hill stations for their honeymoon. Destination weddings are also a blooming segment in the romantic travel niche. But unlike the popular notion that they are in favour only among the affluent is a misconception. In fact, Sudhir affirms that destination weddings are a budget friendly option considering that only a selected few invitees make it to the guest list. Simply put he describes them as, “attractive and economical.” Besides, bachelor parties and bachelorette or hen parties are in vogue among millennials.

Wine tasting, cruising, food tours or even engaging in various adventurous activities are novel experiences that young honeymoon travellers are enthusiastically gearing up for. According to Abhijit, “Young couples these days are very adventurous and they want to try new things. They like to mix it up in terms of activities.” More importantly, they want to explore authentic cultural experiences. The need for experiential travel has insinuated this segment as well and is on the rise. Another emerging trend among the honeymooners is that they want to travel multiple destinations and opt for packages that allow them to visit more than one place. Honeymoon packages to European countries or Malaysia-Singapore-Thailand packages are still much sought-after.
Talking about the most sought after Indian and overseas destinations Sudhir says,“ Ooty, Kodai, Mahabaleshwar, Shimla, Manali, Sri Nagar etc. are very popular honeymoon getaways in India. Overseas destinations like Singapore, Krabi, Switzerland, London, Paris, Thailand, Austria, Budapest, Spain, Prague, Tuscany etc. have been witnessing an influx of honeymoon travellers especially from India. Honeymoon travellers always request for special arrangements such as candle light dinners, special cakes, beautifully decorated rooms, expensive wine etc. ” Experts like Sudhir and Abhijit are positive that the average-spend on honeymoon holidays remains relative to the customer.

Commenting about the preferred overseas locations for honeymoon travellers Abhijit says, “South Africa, Austria, New Zealand, Bora Bora are exciting destinations for honeymoon travellers. Maldives, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and Bhutan have been witnessing an influx of honeymooners. We have always found Europe as well as Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain, France are hot favourites among especially for the mid to high segment of travellers. Switzerland continues to remain the dream destination for newlyweds”. Commenting about the popular honeymoon packages, Vishal, says, “The best selling honeymoon packages are mostly for Europe, couples usually want to explore their romance through the city of light - Paris or soak up in the southern flavours of Spain and Portugal, or the Dalmatian coastline of Croatia etc. On an average couples spend at least 10-15 days on their honeymoon here and couples spend around Rs. 2-4 lakhs per person. Romantic dinner on the Eiffel Tower, Thermal baths at Budapest, Sky dinner at Brussels, Private Hot Air Balloon rides with Champagne, Helicopter hilltop picnics etc are some of the unique sought after experiences.”

With adventure tourism and activities, steadily gaining recognition, the increase in demand for offbeat destinations has become very evident. Abhijit opines that offbeat destinations like Taiwan, Philippines, Bhutan, Reunion Island, Greenland, Iceland etc. are growing in popularity with each passing day. Sudhir observes how Croatia is leaving its imprint on the global tourist map as an emerging yet offbeat destination for travel. As people are becoming more adventurous with an increasing appetite for new experiences and culture, offbeat destinations are gaining favour among honeymooners.” “Indians are unfazed by the terror attacks in many parts of Europe and continue to make travel plans to Europe”, he adds. Abhijit on the other hand mentions that “Indians relish the refined, polished culture that many European countries have to offer.” Vishal further explains that, “Some of the sought after offbeat honeymoon destinations are: Zykanthos in Greece for people who prefer a serene and romantic backdrop to celebrate their love by the clear water beaches, Gazing at the spectacular Northern Lights in Iceland, Strolling in Dubrovnik, Croatia to experience some Mediterranean romance.”

Honeymoon packages that offer cruising in their itinerary are becoming mainstream. Cruises are usually a part of the honeymoon package than the honeymoon as a whole. According to Vishal, “Ideally couples like to spend 3-4 days of their honeymoon on a romantic Cruise. Caribbean or Norweigan cruises which offer many romantic getaways & Mediterranean cruises are some of the most popular ones.”

When quizzed about Thailand reining the list of go-to destinations for Indian honeymoon travellers both Sudhir and Abhijit agree that Thailand is easy-on-the-pocket and offers incredible sightseeing opportunities with its enticing blend of gorgeous beaches and interesting culture. Indians can also avail the visa-on-arrival facility which is a major contributing factor to the upswing in Indian travellers to travellers. Like other parts of the world, Thailand also has some best kept secrets in the form of lesser known pristine sun-kissed beachfronts for the laid back and romantic experience as well as fantastic shopping opportunities for the shopaholic.
It is also essential to note the rising trend today is a romantic trip together without the kids or a second honeymoon. Vishal says, “ Many couples use the time to reconnect with each other outside the walls of their home. This along with other niche travel trends like babymoons or post retirement travel are growing rapidly.”

Abhijit throws in a word of caution to suggest that travellers, especially honeymooners, should exercise diligence in separating the chaff from the grain when it comes to choosing a good travel consultant.

Featured Image Credits: Vishal Hanmattekar, Co-founder & CEO, The Blueberry Trails

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