How to Get Your Destination Featured on 'The Bachelor'

And What Can Happen When You Do

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'Bachelorette' Andi Dorfman on a date in Ghent, Belgium.
'Bachelorette' Andi Dorfman on a date in Ghent, Belgium. Credit: ABC/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

This week on "The Bachelorette," Andi Dorfman and the three remaining men vying for her heart traveled to the Dominican Republic for the infamous "fantasy suite" dates. It's here that Ms. Dorfman will present her final rose in two weeks and perhaps get engaged.

Along the way, viewers will be exposed to Dominican Republic's sprawling beaches, extravagant resorts and sparkling ocean.

For the Dominican Republic, ABC's reality dating show is nearly free publicity. Unlike traditional product placement, the destinations featured on "The Bachelor" franchise, do not pay for the integration, according to producers, tourism officials and managers at the locations.

For tourism boards, resorts and boutique hotels, which tend to have limited marketing budgets, being featured in an episode provides an opportunity to speak to a national audience they otherwise wouldn't be able to reach.

So how does a travel destination or resort get into the show? And what happens when they do?

Producers are thinking about potential destinations year-round, seeking spots that "embody high-end romance," said Peter Scalettar, co-executive producer on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."

Producers take into account their budgets, the logistics of getting the cast and crew to a destination and input from the Bachelor or Bachelorette starring in a given season of the show. But it's also about finding locations where they can be creative.

"Be ready for us to pitch you crazy ideas," Mr. Scalettar said. "The Bellagio fountain in Vegas is iconic and a destination for couples -- but not everyone can have dinner on a platform in the middle of it. We want to find a balance of things that anyone can do, mixed with things that can only be pulled off by the Bachelor."

No locations are necessarily off-limits, but a small town in Kansas would be hard to position effectively, Mr. Scalettar said.

"We get celebrity chef and spa pitches all the time and they are often hard to make work -- a chef becomes a third wheel on a romantic dinner and watching two people get massages can be a bit of a snooze," he said. "Those two are not selling points for us."

And of course, producers are also looking for destinations that have been untapped by the show. The wish list includes Indonesia, where Nicole Woods, another co-executive producer on the series, said she'd love to shoot a finale. South America and Japan are also on their minds.

It can take years to massage relationships with the right people and snag a certain destination due to the financial and on-ground requirements necessary to participate, Ms. Woods said.

While the parties involved say no money changes hands between Warner Bros., which produces the series, and the destinations, there are plenty of requirements. The cast and crew need hotel rooms, meals and buses to get around, for example. Ultimately the locations also have to make their peace with having little control over how it all turns out.

During earlier episodes in the season, the locations featured may need to host 100 or more members of the cast and crew, Ms. Woods said.

Montana was featured in week five in season 17 of "The Bachelor," where Texan Sean Lowe chose from 26 women.

"They came to Montana with 12 girls and Sean, but needed accommodations for 110 people including camera men and other support," said Donnie Sexton, media relations, Montana Office of Tourism. Ms. Sexton said the hotels helped cover room fees, while the tourism board provided other financial support, but did not pay producers directly to appear in the show.

In 2012, Belize hosted a crew of over 100 people and needed more than 50 rooms to accommodate, said Alyssa Carnegie, director of marketing and industry relations, Belize Tourism Board.

Belize used several hotels to host the cast and crew. Hotels occupied by the Bachelor and contestants were featured prominently in the show and typically provided the rooms free of charge, while hotels hosting the film crew that didn't get airtime typically provided a discounted rate, she said.

New Zealand was featured in both season 13 and season 18 of "The Bachelor." In both instances, the production team approached the tourism board's PR agency to ask them to be involved, said Gregg Anderson, general manger-Americas and Europe, Tourism New Zealand.

"We do not pay incentives, production fees, and just work on ways to assist the productions by often organizing logistics on the ground for the producers," he said. "This may include tourist activities, venues, accommodation and transport, but is of course dependent on the value we can see for the production."

Mr. Anderson said that approach is similar to how New Zealand has worked with other reality shows that have passed through, including CBS' "The Amazing Race" and NBC's "The Biggest Loser."

It's less of a commitment to be the location of a one-on-one date. Ms. Dorfman visited Connecticut earlier in the season, where she rode the Essex Steam Train and had dinner at The Griswold Inn. Both locations said it required a day of commitment and some staff, but not much else.

The Griswold Inn provided dinner to Ms. Dorfman and her date, but it was left untouched, said Joan Paul, owner of The Griswold Inn.

Finale locations, which Ms. Woods said are the most sought after, require the biggest commitment from the destinations.

Juan Pablo, not proposing in the finale of last season's 'The Bachelor.'
Juan Pablo, not proposing in the finale of last season's 'The Bachelor.' Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell
Since Jaun Pablo didn't do it, a resort exec's son showed how a proposal there would look.
Since Jaun Pablo didn't do it, a resort exec's son showed how a proposal there would look.

Saint Lucia has been featured in the finale twice, in season 14 and season 18. In total, set-up time and filming spanned 15 days, said Tracey Warner Arnold, deputy director of tourism, Saint Lucia Tourist Board.

For the most part, destinations say it's worth the time and effort.

In the days and weeks following integrations, locales like New Zealand, Bermuda, Belize, Saint Lucia and Montana have experienced an uptick in hotel inquires and visits to the tourism board web sites, travel officials said.

For Fiji, the advertorial exposure provided by "The Bachelorette" was more than $21 million, which is equivalent to 15 years of its marketing budget in the North American market, according to a testimonial from Tourism Fiji.

South Africa experienced a 50% surge in traffic to its web site and had the most visitors ever in a single day the day after an episode set there aired, while Tahiti had to increase the bandwidth on its site to accommodate the traffic.

Aside from publicity from the show itself, there's also social media buzz and the potential for a trickle effect.

When Juan Pablo and his ladies traveled to New Zealand last season, two of the activities featured -- Ogo and a visit to Hobbiton -- trended on Twitter following the episode, Mr. Anderson said.

For Belize, shots of the destination were shown during an Ellen DeGeneres spoof of "The Bachelor," which added to the exposure, according to Ms. Carnegie.

But that's not always how it works out. Saint Lucia has experienced the good and the bad.

The first time around, "it took us to a new level in the U.S. market in terms of awareness," Ms. Arnold said. "We couldn't afford to buy that kind of exposure."

But Saint Lucia had a different experience during the finale of the season starring Juan Pablo, whom many viewers disliked by by the end. For one thing, the Bachelor didn't propose to either remaining woman, leaving his hosts without the romantic image they had hoped would capture tourists' imaginations.

"I was not so happy with Juan Pablo's lack of a proper red-rose proposal," said Karolin Troubetzkoy, executive director of marketing and operations at the Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet resorts, both of which have been featured in the show.

To demonstrate what a proposal at Jade Mountain would look like, Ms. Troubetzkoy had her son and his girlfriend enact the final red-rose proposal in a photo shoot the next day. "We emphasized being on one knee and presenting a ring, none of which Juan Pablo did," she said.

Jade Mountain then sent its photos out on social media with the message, "that's what a proposal normally looks like here."

"The second time around Juan Pablo dominated the story," Ms. Arnold said. "You don't know what will happen on the show while they are in your destination and how it will impact the experience."

Ultimately, Saint Lucia didn't see the same pickup in hotel inquires last season as it did in 2010.

"We regret it because the perception around Juan Pablo distracted from everything else," Ms. Troubetzkoy said.

Locations also can't dictate how they appear on the show.

The Griswold Inn, the oldest continuously run tavern in the U.S., is known for its marine art collection and historical ambiance. But when a "Bachelorette" set designer got there, she strived for a heavy New England vibe, decorating the dining table set up for Ms. Dorfman and her date with lobster pots and nets, Ms. Paul said.

"It was very salty and wharf-like, but that isn't us at all," she added. "We are a more sophisticated place."

The Griswold has been featured in many movies and TV shows, and individually Ms. Paul doesn't believe any one such integration has helped boost tourism, but said all of the placement combined does inflate visibility.

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