Decoding the Destination Wedding Business

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This week I attended the inaugural Destination Masterclass, an all-day conference-style event focused on building better community among wedding industry professionals and wedding venues. While you’d think the relationship would be smooth sailing, communication can be wrought with difficulty and the changing demands of millennial couples creating a wider gap in understanding between industry veterans and their clients. Needless to say, tips were offered in mass, pros shared laughs, journalists offered recommendations on getting published, and some of my wedding icons spoke brilliantly on things like branding, collaborating with venues, and hot new destinations.

The Destination Masterclass is the brainchild of Claudia Hanlin of Wedding Library and JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions, two seasoned planners who saw a need to put vendors and venues in one room to talk about how destination weddings are evolving. Ceci Johnson, founder of stationery company Ceci New York, talented artist, and female powerhouse discussed how to brand yourself for destinations. Peter Kressaty, SVP of Partner Services for Forbes Travel Guide gave us all insight into how they rank hotel properties (hint: they send out inspectors like the Michelin Guide), and Event Space Consulting’s Jesse Tombs inspired us to help venues think out of the box when it comes to their event setup and logistics. Amy Shey Jacobs of Chandelier Events hosted a panel of wedding pros, including Alison Events’ Alison Rinderknicht and Rafanelli Events’ Bryan Rafanelli, that shared what works and what doesn’t, while Kirsten Magen of the travel-focused public relations firm Brandman Agency led a discussion from journalists on how they cover weddings, travel, and destination celebrations. Then, of course, we toasted to a successful day with rose bubbles and plenty of Thai food care of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Who wants to go to Chiang Mai?

My favorite tips of the day? How to best negotiate research stays at properties that demand coverage and that you can archive posts on Instagram. (Seriously, it’s RIGHT in front of me so I have no idea how I missed this!) Oh, and it reinforced everything I’m doing to build my “journalism brand.” Can't wait until their next event.

Stephanie Cain