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Even before the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down earlier this week, freeing the federal government to recognize marriages by same-sex couples, the Parker Meridien in Palm Springs was a popular destination for same-sex commitment ceremonies and honeymoons.
But after the Supreme Court’s decision, the hotel is formalizing its pitch to gay couples. “We are working on some fun packages this time around,” said Marisa Zafran, the company’s director of public relations & marketing, who said the offers will capitalize on the property’s mid-century modern appeal.
She said the company has had success with similar deals in New York, which it launched right after that state passed gay marriage. An advertisement for the “Love Has No Boundaries” wedding package urges, “SHOUT it from the terrace …. It’s LEGAL! FINALLY!” and the hotel’s wedding brunch offer is branded as the “Born This Way” brunch.
Those offers went over so well, in fact, that the hotel is still running them two years later. “We had an expiration date, but with everything happening, we decided to keep the packages going,” said Zafran.
In San Francisco, the Mandarin Oriental has rolled out both proposal and wedding packages that it says were created with same-sex couples in mind. “We have been ready and prepared for marketing to the gay community,” said the hotel’s director of communications, Edwina Kluender – and indeed, the packages she described were first announced in May of this year.
Still more hotels may do well to take a cue from the just-released results of the first-ever same-sex wedding survey. That study, conducted by TheKnot.com and The Advocate, contains some insights that could help the industry market to this new audience. The survey found that, compared to their counterparts, same-sex weddings are more casual, have lower budgets on average, and tend to feature more after-parties rather than pre-wedding events like showers and bachelor parties.
With all of this in mind, the hotels with the most to gain from the success of post-DOMA partnerships may actually be budget options or those willing to offer deals with steeper discounts, rather than the luxury brands that have most visibly embraced the demographic so far.