We reached out to your peers to get insight on the ins and outs of booking destination weddings.
Travel advisor Quinne Hannah James of Perfect Events, who books about four weddings a year and honeymoons monthly, notes that the typical destination wedding booking for her is about 50 guests; however, there are times when that number is surprising. “We have had about 250 to Spain,” she says. “It shocked the bride; she invited everyone out of courtesy as most destination brides do, but Barcelona was definitely a draw and they all accepted.”
James, however, points to tropical destinations such as Mexico and Jamaica, as the top draw for weddings. That’s“mostly due to being the most cost-efficient for guests,” she says. “Europe, too, is quite popular with Italy being the most requested.” Travel advisor Kim Goldstein, president of Journeys Travel Inc., who books over 100 honeymoons a year and about 10 weddings yearly, says that her average booking ranges between 15-35 guestrooms, adding that a majority of her wedding bookings are also in Jamaica and Mexico, or Saint Lucia, pointing out that “my clients typically always want all-inclusive resorts.”
Out-of-the-Box Requests & Trends
James says that no request is too extreme. “Live animals such as horses and elephants at the events, exotic cars are common…usually local cultural entertainment such as hula dancers, fire throwers, and flamenco dancers. The most unusual request,” she adds, “has been ziplining into the ceremony, or exact timing such as the 12/12/12 wedding at 12:12 p.m.”
Unusual custom requests aside, she points out that what seems to be a consistent trend is that “more and more brides are choosing intimate getaways versus the traditional wedding.” Goldstein concurs, noting that “my brides and grooms generally want something fairly simple for their events and their main concern is always the cost for the guests.”
Goldstein says she prefers to work with a brand that can easily show her client the breakdown and effectiveness of planning a destination wedding. Her favorite brand to work with is AIC Hotel Group,“because their wedding packages and comps are very simple, so it’s easy for the bride and groom to understand. The comps are also very generous, so it’s easy to show them why those resorts would be cost-effective.“
James says her favorite brand to work with when planning a destination wedding are Hyatt and Four Seasons. Adding that they “usually make my job easier, their attention to detail is impeccable and their results always make everyone happy, from brides to guests.” James says she usually helps find the couple a local planner for the wedding. “It is very difficult to separate the travel from the event,” she adds, noting that she assists when needed. Goldstein also tag teams with the hotel’s wedding coordinator. “I assist them in locking in the wedding date,” she says, “and then I turn them over to the wedding planner. I do stress to them that I’m always happy to help if they have any challenges with the wedding department, but the couple handles most of the wedding planning directly with them. I assist with air, transfers, travel insurance and tours for all of the guests.”
Advice for Advisors
Goldstein’s first tip is to make sure you have the correct software to manage large groups. “Ensure that you have a CRM like Vacation. I no longer need to have spreadsheets or e-mail programs for my groups because VacationCRM can do all of it for me.” She also says that “checking in monthly to see if the couple has any questions or concerns, and to ensure that your service level meets their expectations” is at the top of her list.
When it comes to managing large groups, James suggests creating a group page “because information flow is the most critical.” And, when it comes to managing the bride and groom, she says “listen and be open.”
And, as Goldstein says, don’t let your client forget the importance of your services. “Get them excited about their wedding and show them your expertise. Ensure that you have an extensive follow-up system to keep your name front of mind until they book.”
For intel on how to book your client’s perfect honeymoon, head over to recommend.com.