First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby
carriage. But eventually, for about half of all Americans, there comes divorce.
And while no one wants to see a marriage break up, there apparently is one
positive commercial aspect to consider: Some agents have noticed an uptick in
the number of post-divorce trips they are planning.
No one would call the post-divorce getaway a new travel niche,
but Liberty Travel has dubbed the phenomenon the "start-anew-moon,"
which joins the ranks of milestone celebration trips like the honeymoon and
"When we begin the process to help a customer book a
trip, we always ask if they are celebrating a special occasion," said
Christina Pedroni, senior vice president of Liberty Travel. "Lately, we
have been hearing more and more people tell us the reason for the trip is to
mark the finalization of a divorce."
Much like the similarly named honeymoons and babymoons,
Pedroni pointed out, start-anew-moons are aimed at helping agents' clients
commence a new chapter in their lives.
Paradoxically, the divorce rate is actually at a 40-year
low, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at
Bowling Green State University. In 2015, the divorce rate -- which the center
determines using an algorithm taking into consideration the number of women
divorced in the past 12 months and the number of currently married women --
fell to a national average of 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women in the U.S.
The American Psychological Association estimates that 40% to
50% of married couples in America eventually divorce.
Nonetheless, based on agent polling, Liberty has seen an
uptick in post-divorce trips for the past year or so.
"They are seeing it, and they're booking them, and some
of them have even taken some of their own," Pedroni said of Liberty
agents. "It's definitely becoming more of a trend."
Pedroni attributed the uptick largely to client retention.
Agents form relationships with their clients, she said. The first booking might
be a honeymoon, then they handle their travel from that point onward, sometimes
suggesting trips when life events like divorces happen.
Group trips are also alluring, Pedroni said, and a
post-divorce trip is a reason to gather friends for a vacation.
The typical post-divorce travelers are 40- to 50-year-olds,
primarily women. Pedroni said that often women are taking trips that have a "girls'
getaway vibe." They tend to gravitate toward all-inclusive resorts in
Mexico or the Caribbean. Liberty has also seen a number of start-anew-moons in
U.S. cities like New Orleans, Las Vegas and New York.
Home-based agent Diane Frisch, a Nexion member in Frisco,
Texas, said that she, too, has noticed an uptick in post-divorce travel. In her
experience, those clients are typically new empty nesters who have decided they
need a change, and that change is a divorce.
"It's not necessarily like a mourning kind of vacation,"
she said. "It's like, 'OK, I'm starting this new chapter, and I'm going to
do what I want to do.'"
She recalled, for example, how she recently sent several
clients on bucket-list trips. It also helps, she noted, that newly divorced
people in that empty-nest stage of life tend to have bigger budgets to apply to
travel, and they lack a spouse to weigh in on how to allocate that budget.
She also sees another type of post-divorce trip, one
focusing on a newly single parent taking younger children on an excursion to
bond and, in some cases, compete with trips an ex is planning.
The bonding post-divorce trip is one that Gary Smith, owner
of a Dream Vacations franchise in Eugene, Ore., has personally experienced.
About 10 years ago, a newly divorced Smith took his teenage daughters on a
Christmas-to-New Year's cruise to spend quality time with them.
"One of the qualifying questions we always ask is, 'OK,
is this trip about you and about you healing, or are you going to be traveling
with kids?'" he said.
Smith said he hasn't noticed the uptick in post-divorce
trips that some others are seeing, but he allows that they have always provided
steady business. They aren't the kind of vacation he advertises, he said, but
oftentimes, post-divorce trips are born out of ones that couples had planned
when they were still married.
"They're trying to figure out whether they should keep
that vacation [or] whether they should restructure that vacation," he
Frisch said her post-divorce-trip clients are typically
either repeat clients or referrals.
Outside the agency community, suppliers are also picking up
on the post-divorce trend, according to Pedroni.
"There are a lot of hotel partners out there that are noticing
this as well, and they're putting together some really unique packages geared
toward this customer," she said.
For example, Breathless Resorts and Spas is offering a
package that includes gifts and upgrades for the divorcee, cocktail-making
experiences, a reserved nightclub table and a "Trash the Memory"
ceremony that includes breaking a pinata adorned with a photo of the traveler's
ex. Private pole-dancing lessons and guided bar crawls can be added for an
Fittingly, the package is called "Untying the Knot."