Let me just tell you a story. I was a new agent with enough experience to be dangerous, ready to take on the world. I get a facebook message… “What? You want a destination wedding? How can I help?” I started working with the couple. The guest list kept growing and before I knew it I was planning a destination wedding for 75 people! This was no small undertaking. It was a planning and logistical nightmare for a newly almost experienced agent!
There were people flying in from different cities. They all needed rides from the airport. They all needed a place to stay. They all wanted park&fly rooms. About half of them booked their own flights with miles and points and whatevers…..whew, dodged a bullet there! Heck, most of them needed passports, they hadn’t ever left the country! I had to hold their hands?! Did I need to hold their luggage too?
I told myself over and over, “Deep breath, you got this.”
Did I really though? In the end, yes. It was tough though. I can’t imaging not even being an agent and trying to do it alone as a bride!
Here’s the best part for me, the commission. Was it worth it? NO! Well, kind of. But, mostly no. I had no system. Not even one for filing client travel documents. Not for forming a rooming list. Not for communications. No system. No automation. Everything done by hand. Thank goodness my Tour Operator was there to help guide the way. I didn’t even know what a group contract was or that it existed, let alone what to look for!
How Have Things Changed?
First, my mindset has changed. I used to DIY my life and everything in it. Guess what I found? There are other competent people out there to help with my business needs. I don’t have to micromanage every detail! Not only do I have a great staff now, but I have found an array of travel professionals that work for me doing things like contract negotiations for flights and rooms, people to handle transportation, the wedding planners and staff at the resorts that are willing to lend a hand. It’s been great having amazing people surrounding me.
Second, my organization. I have file cabinets! I have files! I expanded beyond post-its and notebooks and emails. My organization has taken a turn for the better and I’m a better business woman for it. I didn’t do it all myself. I took tips from organization and planning experts, took classes on automation and systems for business and masterclasses on client contact organization type stuff. AND, the biggie, a class called Marketing for Travel Agents by Heidi DeCoux. If you’re like I used to be in the travel world, give Heidi a try! It’s worth it just for the organization techniques and recommendations.
Creating a dreamy destination wedding is a system of organized chaos, but it works well. And, once you have all the details from the couple (or even bridezilla) you can really get to work. But, you have to have the expectations in front of you for what your couple want in their dreamy destination wedding. Have an in person meeting or a series of phone calls to go over the details.
How does this help you? Well, I’m what they call a seasoned expert, with a combination of dedication, experience and education. I know my shit and I’m great at what I do. I turn down PITA (Pain In The Ass) clients right off the bat. I learned to spot them from a mile away. Want cheap flights….ever heard of Expedia? Or Hopper? Or any of the other great apps out there?
You want a travel specialist in your corner fighting for you from Day 1. What you don’t want is an inexperienced travel specialist in your corner. I’m down to earth and relaxed and I like it that way. I’m dedicated to continuing education, so I travel and sit in on webinars and tour resorts and fly different airlines and……..I could go on for hours about what I do to keep learning. Honestly, I’m a student of life and I like it that way. I’ve always enjoyed learning, straight through all 7 years of college.
Keep Simple, Well, Simple
Creating your dreamy beachy all-inclusive destination wedding….or any destination wedding….doesn’t have to be complicated. It should be a care-free planning experience, because who needs that hassle? Pick the budget, pick the resort, pick the wedding package, pick the reception, pick the room, pick some things to do.
These are all options to you as a bride because that’s the way it should be. You’re busy, so there’s already packages to fit your lifestyle and tastes. Start with your destination wedding specialist who can start you off right.
What To Look For In A Specialist
- Experience with Destination Weddings an/or groups
- Experience with Group Contracts
- A destination for your budget (and your guests!), first comes budget then comes destination.
- Experience with Air Contracts
- Experience working remotely with on-site wedding planners and resort management. Personal contacts go a long way when you show up at the resort.
- Added benefits. Groups get benefits and if your agent doesn’t pass added benefits and perks on to the group shame on them.
- Someone who listens. If they don’t listen and throw more ideas and suggestions at you that you didn’t ask for, walk away. It’s YOUR wedding, not theirs.
- Someone who offers suggestions and tips for your group.
Destination weddings are supposed to be simple. They’re supposed to be fun. But, they’re not for everyone. So, pick a good specialist to help you along the way and make your process easy.