It takes a special disposition to be a travel agent who handles something as personal as someone’s vacation time. But specializing in destination weddings will challenge that temperament exponentially, experienced agents say. In the end, though, the personal and professional benefits make it all worthwhile.
“I really love love,” said Jennifer Doncsecz, president of VIP Vacations in Bethlehem, PA. ”I watch (the 2004 movie) The Notebook and cry. What we do is very sacred; couples are going to look at their photos for a very long time. You need to want to make a difference.”
“You need a certain set of skills to do this,” says Lisa Sheldon, executive director of the Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA) in Janesville, WI. “We get some agents who say, ‘I just don’t think I am cut out for this.’ But I’m in my 30th year as a travel agent, 17 years in romance and weddings. You become a psychiatrist, surrogate mother to the bride, sometimes the mother of the groom. You really build these relationships with them.”
One of the keys to success, Doncsecz said, is “super organization skills. Try to organize 200 people to go to an Indian wedding.”
Most experienced agents said it’s best not to take on more than one wedding per agent per month if you want to deliver superior service and keep your own sanity. “It’s hard to stay balanced sometimes. Guests are calling. The mother may be calling you asking you why you booked something. I keep a spreadsheet of every booking and regularly send it to the bride to give her peace of mind.”
If you start to detect that a couple may be impossible to please, Doncsecz said, you might not want to take them on as a client. “If the bride and groom are hard to work, everyone else in the family and wedding party will be hard to work with. People attract the same kind of people,” she said.
And sometimes the answer is to not offer them a destination wedding at all.
Diane Bean, owner of Off on Vacation in Bangor, ME, said she asks “What is your dream?” Then she makes it her job to make that dream come true. “I have one wedding where the groom is in his 40s and the bride is in her 20s. It’s his second marriage. He doesn’t want the traditional wedding. She wants a destination wedding. I told them it would be better if they had the wedding at home, and go on a honeymoon.”
Kitzia Morales Torres, co-founder of Cancun Wedding Experience, agreed. “If you don’t see that they are 100% sure that they want a destination wedding, offer them alternative choices.”
And for an in-depth education on how to build a destination weddings niche, we hope you will join us at Travel Marketplace 2017, a unique peer-to-peer learning experience TMR will be hosting in Toronto, Canada, June 13-14. Stay tuned for more details on our Destination Weddings expert panel. Put in on your calendar and come meet the TMR team!