Honeymooners React to Uncertain Economics: Tactics for Obtaining the "Trip of a Lifetime"

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The new travel reality of unfavorable exchange rates, high fuel costs, and a fragile economy has led honeymooners to deviate from established planning norms. Howard Green, CEO of MoonRings, Inc., discusses these changes and provides suggestions to couples currently planning a honeymoon.

The new travel reality of unfavorable exchange rates, high fuel costs, and a fragile economy has led honeymooners to deviate from established planning norms. Simply choosing a dream destination is no longer "the key factor" for many couples, as planning behavior has changed in a number of important ways over the past year.

While cost has always played a role in the choice of destination, a weak dollar and lofty airfares are forcing some honeymooners to consider their options more carefully, often including locales that may not have been on their original list. Countries aligned with the Euro, in particular, appear to be feeling the effects as newlyweds seek out better-value alternatives.

"While our clients are showing less interest in perennially popular honeymoon spots like France, Italy and French Polynesia," explains Howard Green, CEO of MoonRings, "Interest has increased in more unusual locales, like Argentina, Croatia, and Bali, which still offer bang for the buck."

Today's financial uncertainty is also impacting the way honeymooners approach the use of loyalty programs. Once a secondary concern for many, trying to utilize frequent flier miles or hotel points has now become a top priority.

"In the past, couples seemed to make use of loyalty programs primarily when they fit with their ideal itinerary," says Green. "Now, however, we are seeing additional flexibility with more people settling for second or third choice destinations and/or hotels if there are loyalty program options available."

The less-than-predictable state of travel has had another unusual effect - an apparent change to the traditional planning timeline. On one hand, honeymooners with frequent flier miles to burn are initiating the planning process earlier than ever in an effort to secure hard-to-get seats. On the other hand, many couples are moving to a last-minute strategy, possibly compelled to wait until their wedding costs are finalized, or perhaps in hopes of finding a deal at the eleventh hour.

Even in an unstable travel environment, there is still hope for those desiring a trip of a lifetime. Mr. Green offers honeymooners the following five suggestions:

Don't procrastinate - Plan early to maximize flight and hotel choices and have the best opportunity to use miles/points.

Remain loyal - Earn as many points as possible within one airline, hotel group or credit card program. Choose programs, such as Starwood Preferred Guest, that offer a broad range of hotel types around the world. Charge wedding expenses to chosen loyalty card.

Utilize a wholesaler - In addition to discounted airfares and room rates, many wholesalers have the ability to lock in current exchange rates now, while still allowing travelers to take advantage of better exchange rates in the future should rates move in a favorable direction.

Stay flexible - While not always desirable or feasible, shifting travel dates to the shoulder or off season can often result in better value.

Get creative - Consider setting up a honeymoon registry to help defray costs.

About MoonRings, Inc.
MoonRings, Inc. is an international travel company specializing in honeymoons, destination weddings and special occasion travel. The company takes a holistic approach to travel planning, offering concierge-level services designed to meet the needs of the discerning traveler. All programs are custom-tailored, and 24/7 assistance is provided while traveling. More information on the company is available online at http://www.moonrings.com.

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Maribel Perez
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