By now, you may have seen the Groups Guide in the October issue CT Magazine. With additional insight on selling destination weddings, we enlisted the expertise of Wendy Davis, owner of Zebrano Travel, an executive concierge service & luxury travel agency.
What are your top five sales tips for agents when booking destination wedding groups?
· Pick a destination with good airlift.
· Avoid hurricane season.
· Book a property with a dedicated wedding planner
· Carefully review the contract – there are rooms and food &and beverage minimums
· Don't worry if this is your first booking; hotel partners will guide you.
What questions should travel advisors ask clients when booking destination wedding groups?
· What is the budget?
· What is the vision? (Tip: create a Pinterest file.)
· What is the age range of guests and are there any disabilities to manage?
· Guests activities: What are the interests and how can we plan to keep them amused?
· An official wedding is not possible in all destinations – will they get married before “officially” and then a ceremony with guests?
What are the biggest challenges you see travel advisors encounter when booking destination wedding groups, and how should they best manage said challenges?
· Staff changes – now what? Document everything.
· Groups require a different approach. Use project management software.
· Who is booking the air? Keeping track of arrivals.
· Transfers? We recommend the bride and groom include transfers.
· Communication – When guests need information, who will provide it?
· Inquire about dietary restrictions & allergies.
· Is a site inspection in the budget?
· What about the honeymoon?
· Timing – the more time to plan the better
· Be aware of who pays and how: Some expenses are on account while others are cash – be sure to prepare the bride and groom.
Are there common misconceptions when it comes to booking destination wedding groups and if so, what are the realities?
· Weather: The bride and groom are envisioning a gorgeous sunset. They need Plan B in case of rain.
· Wedding insurance: Just in case the wedding is cancelled, it pays to be covered.
· Some think it will be less work compared to a wedding at home, which is not necessarily true.
· Currency exchange may or may not be a factor depending on where the wedding will be – Italy, Barbados, Mexico, etc.
· Each property quotes differently; be sure to compare apples to apples and help your clients make informed decisions.
What are the top priorities for the individual(s) responsible for booking the trip on behalf of their group?
· Being organized.
· Communicate with the bride & groom & their guests.
· Creating the Wedding Plan: when do decisions need to be made and what information needs to be provided?
· Conference calls at regular intervals – with clients and the destination wedding planner
· Double check everything!
How can travel advisors build their business by booking destination wedding groups and how can they find the opportunities to do so?
· Project management – be sure there is a system
· Network with wedding planners, flower shops
· Set up a booth at a wedding show in your local area
· Don’t be afraid of asking for referrals
· Write an article for a local paper or wedding magazine
Anything else to add?
· Different countries require different expectations – it's not so easy to executive in a foreign country.
· Handing over to a destination wedding planner often makes it not so easy to ensure all goes well
· Working with a quality property helps; you need professional partners with a good f&b team & external suppliers.
Do you have anything else to add? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.