Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise has a few staples across all cities: business launches, fraud investigations, and lavish vacations. Who pays for these trips: Bravo, or the cast members?
Most Real Housewives are pretty wealthy, and even when they’re not it’s because they owe more money than most people can dream of, so they could certainly fit the bills for these trips. However, they are creating content for a reality show, so the burden shouldn’t be on them to finance things like elaborate trips that set the stage for entertainment. With the new show Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip, the vacation is the whole focal point of the show.
In short, Bravo foots the bill for the trips and also helps organize them with the help of the ladies. They always try to tie to trips to something relevant that’s going on in the women’s lives. For a while, they weren’t exactly open about this, but an exchange at the 2019 Bravocon festival finally confirmed that the trips were financed by Bravo.
Of course, sometimes the trips are to property that the women own themselves, so in those cases, Bravo doesn’t have to pay for housing accommodations. Every trip has a different budget and a different agenda, but they are all planned out to fit in with the show.
“The trips are always rooted in something that’s really going on in the show,” former RHONYC producer Darren Ward said at the conference (via Vulture.) “It is based on something that the ladies really want to do. It’s places that they really want to go to. It’s places they’ve been to before.”
While he was speaking, someone who presumably worked in PR whispered something in RHOA producer Glenda Cox’s ear. When she returned to the microphone, Glenda said: “A little birdie just told me to tell you … Bravo pays for the trips.”
Andy Cohen also confirmed to OK Magazine that Bravo pays for many of these trips. However, he clarified that Bravo doesn’t pay for every single one. “There have been some that have been generated by us and there have been some that have been generated by them,” he says. “The women take the planning of the vacation really seriously and so it’s a case by case but we have paid for them, yes.”
As a longtime Real Housewives viewer, it seems like in the early days the trips and parties were a little more organic. However, as the Real Housewives have solidified into a brand most of the trips now seem more arranged by production.
It’s not just trips that Bravo pays for: Each season gets a budget separate from the cast’s salaries that they can spend on production. This pays for meals out as well as the production crew’s pay. Anything left over is profit for the production company. Sometimes meals are free from the restaurant in exchange for promotion (the names and menus of the restaurants are often prominently displayed.) Some restaurants, venues, and vacation spots don’t want to work out a deal with production: they just want to get paid. Other locations actually decline production from filming there at all.