Friday, July 3, 2009

Using a Travel Agent as Your Wedding Planner

I'm a travel agent. If you've been following this blog, you know that by now. I own the Candy Cain Travel Co., and am featured on various wedding websites as a destination wedding and honeymoon expert. I love my job. Every new travel booking - whether a wedding or not - is exciting for me. I love sending people on vacation, or taking care of their business travel. I love looking at their photos, hearing about their experiences, planning everything for them so that they have a stress-free vacation. I have the greatest job in the world.

Weddings are a completely different beast entirely when it comes to travel planning. There is just so much that goes into planning a destination wedding, couples really should enlist the services of a travel agent to help them out. With everything available on the internet, many couples are under the misconception that they can do everything for themselves and pay less. This is absolutely not the case!!! Most times, travel agents are able to at least match any printed quote that you get. Travel agents can often beat the quotes, as they have a variety of resources at their finger tips. Your travel agent is your friend.

When it comes to planning a destination wedding, your travel agent also takes on the role of your wedding planner. Whether you are going to have guests at the resort or it is just going to be you and your fiance, your travel agent will make sure that everything for your wedding is set up before you get there. Once you arrive at the resort (or cruise, as the case may be), you will do a site inspection with the wedding coordinator that the travel agent worked with in setting everything up.

Your travel agent will help you set up your wedding group, if you have one. This means that he or she will offer the same exceptional service to your guests when they book their rooms. Your travel agent will arrange all group gatherings and let everyone in the group know the details regarding time and place. They will also arrange the transportation to and from the airport, so that your guests are all together in the airport transfer. Plus, they can also arrange flights so that everyone can sit together. Are these things that you really want to take care of yourself? Trust someone that has experience.

Your travel agent should have your best interests at heart. While it is true that travel agents earn a commission on your travel as well as some items you may book for your wedding, travel agents should not act as sales people. They should inform their clients of what is available, make suggestions for what they think their clients would like, and never be pushy. If you feel pressured by your travel agent, find another one immediately. You should feel a certain comfort with and loyalty to your travel agent. If the relationship isn't there, you should find one that you do have a connection with. That way, you know that they have your best interests at heart.

Most travel agents do not charge a fee for their services. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of travel agents get burned. For example, several brides have approached me for information regarding booking a destination wedding. I give them a lot of information in the hopes that they will book with me, only to find that they book themselves, then start asking me questions regarding planning their wedding. It doesn't work that way, folks. If you want a travel agent to answer your questions and work with you - ESPECIALLY for your wedding - book through one. If you don't want to pay a fee for it, find a travel agent that doesn't charge a fee. The travel agent will be paid a commission from the resort where you are booked-- It costs nothing extra to you. After all, you wouldn't do your job for someone else (not to mention someone that you just met) without earning anything on it, would you? It just isn't right.

Travel agents are not there just to book your travel for your wedding and honeymoon. Many travel agents have made connections and even friendships at the resorts where they send their clients. A good travel agent will contact the hotel and let them know to expect you. For example, I send an email to the hotel manager of every resort where I book a client, regardless of whether I know them personally or not. If I don't know them personally, I introduce myself. If I do know them personally, I share some information about the clients that I have booked there. Nine out of ten of my clients have come back to tell me that they received a free upgrade, special perks and other things. It's good business for both the travel agent and the resort.

Your wedding is the most important day for you and your fiance. It unites you as a couple. Whether you do it alone or in front of a group of people, it should go off without a hitch. The planning process - especially for a destination wedding - should not be stressful in the least. Work with a travel agent that has experience and the connections that you need for the perfect wedding. It is the smartest decision you will make... Aside from getting engaged, of course!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

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