You never know when opportunity will strike and for Patty Jordan, her opportunity came to enter a brand new travel niche and it was well worth it. Patty shares her experience diving headfirst into destination weddings here.
For 13 years.
A colleague reached out to me with a possible opportunity at her current agency. I jumped in and even though I had three years of selling travel behind me, booking destination weddings was a new adventure and a learning process.
The process of booking a destination wedding group versus an FIT is different in many ways. Even though you are qualifying the wedding couple finding out what their desires are for choosing a destination, the resort, the time of year they’d like to travel, etc.… you are then booking guests who weren’t involved in this process. Guests are being told, “Here’s where we choose to stay and here is where you can book your room.” In a way you’re going through the same process with each guest explaining the details of the destination, what the resort has to offer and which room type will work best for them. Some guests are very travel savvy, but for some they have never travelled outside of the US and this will be their first international trip. Especially in today’s ever-changing world, our job is to guide each guest through the booking process, answer their questions and help make the process go as smoothly and worry-free as possible. There are many resources available through VAX to help with explaining the different types of groups available and the process of the actual group bookings. This knowledge offers the agent the tools they need to help their clients make the decision of what type of group will work best them and their guests.
Once you have completed the training process, online videos, tutorials, etc… and you understand the group booking process, get to know the resorts!! Nothing adds credibility to you as an agent and your ability to provide the best service to a couple and their guests then first-hand knowledge of destinations and resorts. There are so many resources and opportunities to educate yourself on destinations and resorts and what make each one unique. Participate in FAM trips, webinars about destinations and resorts, connect with the different tourism boards, get to know supplier and resort BDMs. So many resorts and suppliers have agent rewards programs where you can book travel on your own using your rewards cash or points.
Also, familiarize yourself with and be aware of your group and cultural differences in specific destinations. You want to be able to suggest a destination that would be the best option for each specific group. You should know in advance if destination or resort will be a good option a group; are they an adults-only group or do they need a family-friendly resort; if the destination has options for the LGBT community and if they are looking for activities outside of the resort, too. Even with all of this information, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know the answer, but I will check on that and get back to you.”
Wow, that’s a tough one. We work with our couples for over a year and many of them are very special to us. We work with clients all over the U.S. so we really don’t get an opportunity to meet our couples in person. There have been a few times when I have been able to meet up with couples in-destination. That was a really special time to meet them and in many cases some of the guests. It’s so nice to see first-hand everything going smoothly and the couple relaxed and enjoying time with their family and friends. It’s a warm and fuzzy moment for us and a real sense of pride and satisfaction to know our hard work was successful.
Our primary destination wedding market is Mexico and the Caribbean. There are so many great destinations; it’s difficult to pick just one. I really enjoy experiencing other cultures and the local life. All of the Mexico and Caribbean destinations offer so many interesting experiences to explore. We started our destination wedding journey primarily booking Dominican Republic. Over the many years we have met so many wonderful people that have become dear friends, so this destination will always hold a special place in my heart.
We do not do many domestic weddings, but the beauty of Hawaii or a mountain lodge would be my favorite spots.