How to choose a travel agent as your destination wedding specialistApr 25, 2020
Whether your destination wedding is going to be at the bow of a cruise ship off the shore of Alaska or on the beach at sunset in Riviera Maya, you're going to want to work with a Destination Weddings Specialist to make sure that every detail of the event is as picture-perfect as you've been imagining it to be since you were using your mother's robe as your wedding dress. Unfortunately, not all travel agents are created equal. Just as you would interview a general contractor for your home repairs or a doctor for your brand new baby, you should take a few preliminary steps before jumping into the deep end.
Step 1: Meet With Them.
Get to know the person that will be putting these dreams together. First impressions are everything and considering that you will be working with them for the next year or more, you want to make sure that they share the same vision, professionalism, and goals as you and your spouse. Whether it is a video call or face-to-face do not book an agent without a consultation.
Step 2: Communication is Key
What are your agent's hours?
There are over 1,000 ways to communicate in the world today. How does your agent make themselves available? Phone and Email are the most popular ways to communicate but what about text and Video Conference? If you've found the most amazing inspiration for colors but you aren't sure if the resort is able to accommodate, can you video chat your agent to ask, or do you have to try and describe the color over a call? If you are a hands-on bride, you're going to want to work with an agent who offers multiple communication channels.
Step 3: One size does not fit all.
A travel agent with a niche is key to a unique experience. Ask the agent what they specialize in. It takes time to get to know each destination and each vendor. If your potential agent specializes in domestic travel, cruises, Europe, the Caribbean, and Mexico, they may be stretching themselves too thin. However, if they have taken the time to visit and get to know a few areas really well, you know that you're going to be able to get the answers that you need.
How does your agent represent themselves online? Take the time to look over their website and social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you are looking at Punta Cana weddings but all they post about is Cathedrals in Italy, you may need to look into another agent who is more aligned with the destination you are looking for.
If you realize that the agent you are speaking to is great at what they do but may not be representing the destination you are looking for well, ask them to refer you to another agent. Destination Wedding Specialists who are well established usually have a network of agents who they can refer you to in order to help you create your dream wedding.
4. Knowledge is Power
As in any profession, the longer you've been in the business, the more you have seen. You want your agent to have been around the block a few times. How long have they been in the travel industry? Have they ever worked in hospitality or handled travel outside of being the booking agent? You're going to get a much different experience from a professional agent who has a well-rounded background.
Continuing education is key to keeping your skills sharp as a travel agent. If your agent sold a Sandals vacation 4 years ago and hasn't had any interaction with the brand since then, they won't be up-to-date on their latest offerings. If you are interested in a cruise through the Caribbean but your agent has never stepped foot on a Princess cruise line, you could have a problem. Make sure they are engaged in your destination on a regular basis, whether that is through classes or first-hand travel.
5. Quality over Quantity
How many weddings does your agent plan per year? Too many and you could be dealing with a wedding factory. Too little and they may be out of touch with the industry, doing weddings only as a side-business to their agency. You want to make sure that your agent has enough time to tend to you and your guests throughout the duration of the planning process. If your particular agent is planning more than 3 to 5 weddings per month, they could be overextending themselves. Keep in mind, that's per agent, not per agency.
At the end of the day, a good salesperson can give you all the warm and fuzzies in the world. Reach out to past clients. Ask the agent if they have references. Check their websites and social media accounts for reviews and feedback. A happy bride will be glad to share her experience with a great agent just as she would the baker who made her cake or the tailor that created her dress.
As always, go with your instinct. You know what will work best for you and your guests. If you aren't connecting with your agent, find another. If there are red flags or you just have a bad feeling about a travel agent, move on. Just like your fiancé, there are many fish in the sea, you just have to find the one. The wedding planning process should be enjoyable and a great agent can ensure that it stays that way.
If you'd like to learn more about our experience in destination weddings and schedule a complimentary 45 minutes planning consultation here.