Peer Advice — Selling Destination Weddings
By Paloma Villaverde de Rico
Fireworks—that’s what you want when you’re booking a destination wedding. These two advisors know how to make a destination wedding sparkle, and they’re offering up the 411.
Communication & Organization are Key
“Be relatable to brides and grooms and let your passion shine through.” That’s what
-affiliated Shonte Alce, a destination wedding specialist with
Just Book It Travel
, says are the most important things for travel advisors to keep top of mind when planning a destination wedding for their clients. She’s also quick to point out that in order to be successful at booking this milestone event, it’s crucial for travel advisors to know where their expertise lies. “I am very clear with couples that I’m a travel agent and
a wedding planner. That said, I have enough proficiency in the wedding planning space to lead and guide couples in the right direction. I can help pick resorts for them, help them choose their wedding package, ceremony and reception locations, and even answer certain questions that they have in relation to the planning aspect of their wedding,” she says.
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To complement her skills, Alce has a wedding planner on her team. “[My agency] offers two packages—travel coordination only or full-service wedding planning + travel coordination. These are two different skill sets. It’s a much easier experience for couples when the planner and the travel agent are on the same page and in constant communication throughout the journey.”
Also important, she says, are the resources that are provided—she points to a project management planning board that she creates for couples. “That keeps couples on task,” she says. She also uses moodboards, checklists, and she notes, “I have manual that I try to follow for all couples so that all of my [clients] get a very consistent experience.” The most important item, though, is a quick response. “If I had a dollar for every bride who told me how other agents take too long to respond, I’d be rich,” she says with a laugh.
She recommends travel advisors who are new to the industry to carve out a niche: “When I marketed myself for everything—Europe, cruises, weddings, domestic travel—it became too time-consuming and I never really mastered one particular thing. So now, I try to stick with what I know, what I love. Now clients consider me an expert on a few things rather than ‘just okay’ at many things.”
Be There for Every Milestone
“If you’re thinking of booking destination weddings, take the time to really understand the destinations and all the available options,” says Kathleen Herman, owner of
Vacation Travel Pro, LLC
, a member of the
. “This ensures you’ve made the right choice for the experience they are seeking. Taking the stress off the bride by being the go-to for all the travel-related questions will help make the experience a success for everyone involved.”
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Herman points out that it’s also a great way to easily gain clients: “I absolutely love booking destination weddings because once the bride and groom have committed to the location, the clients [wedding guests] come to you ready to book. There are not many other ways you can find that kind of business.” Don’t just be an “order taker,” she stresses, because all of the wedding guests are now potential clients for the wedding and all their future travel plans. “Some of the guests most likely have never used a travel agent or don’t know what it’s like to have a knowledgeable agent available to assist with future travel needs,” Herman says.
Makes sense, considering destination wedding groups are getting larger. “I believe that with so many people ready to travel and visit places, all it takes is the happy couple saying, ‘We’re getting married in Jamaica!’ and next thing you know over 20 rooms are booked,” she says. “Couples are considering it as an option now more than before because of the rising costs of domestic weddings. Getting to experience an exotic destination with friends and family while celebrating such a happy occasion is a dream, and people are realizing that it isn’t necessarily out of budget.”
She also says that once you have the couple as clients, don’t let it be for just the destination wedding booking. “Make an impression that will have them calling you in the future. Once the wedding happens, start the conversation about the anniversary travel; it may be five years or it may be one year later, but plant the seed that you’re available for the next milestone, too.”
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Table of Contents
Advisor Speak: Peer Advice — Selling Destination Weddings
Industry Insights: The Caribbean is on a Roll
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