Travel counselors share advice on restarting romantic travel
Ensemble Travel Group’s latest reboot session focused on rebooting romantic travel, especially weddings and honeymoons.
The panel, moderated by Jenna Mahoney, Travel Editor for Bridal Guide, featured Lauren Doyle, President of The Travel Mechanic; Sarah Kline, President, Time for Travel; Laurie Keith, President, Romantic Planet Vacations (based in Toronto); and D. Parrish Warren, Warren International Travel.
It is clear from the panelists’ statements that romantic travel is back and could even be better than ever.
Kline was notoriously optimistic about the return.
âThere are a lot of factors at play right now that make a destination wedding popular: people are desperate to go somewhere; they saved money by not traveling for a year; they feel safe traveling with what is essentially a big bubble of family and friends; and they just want to see each other after the year we’ve just had, âshe said.
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Kline sees the new strengthened measures as an advantage.
âThe increased health and safety protocols that became requirements during COVID will actually provide a better overall experience. I think we’re all pretty happy to see buffets behind glass with one person handling and serving the food. Plus, increased surface cleaning gives us all more confidence that everything is clean, âsaid Kline.
Another change that many advisers and travelers hope will be here to stay is bookings for museums and cultural institutions and the limited number of people allowed to enter at any one time. “I think everyone would appreciate it becoming permanent because nobody really wants to fight for a place to see the Mona Lisa,” added Jenna Mahoney.
The panelists provided some tips to get back on track with selling weddings and honeymoons.
Keith said travel counselors should definitely charge a fee.
âThe services we provide have tremendous value, and our customers understand and appreciate it, so they don’t mind paying for it. [the fee]. “
âYou have to understand how to charge a fee,â she said. âYou’ll get better clients who understand the value an advisor offers and that we work for them. It’s their trip of a lifetime, and we make their dream come true.
Parish-Warren noted that today’s wedding guest is tomorrow’s customer.
âAll of my bride and groom create a Facebook group with their guests, so it’s important to remember to keep in touch with them on social media as well, as chances are friends and family members may be planning a wedding as well or honeymoon soon, “says D. Parish-Warren.” These are potential clients, and they will already know how I can help them and make their vision a reality. “
Boutique properties and villas are all the rage for weddings right now.
âWe are seeing a much greater demand for villas and boutique hotels, as customers feel that, for now, smaller is better in terms of exposure to larger crowds as well as the perception that it is. easier to manage a small property compared to a mega complex. “said Keith.
The most popular destinations with customers are roughly the same as before the pandemic and include Hawaii, Cancun, Jamaica, and Mexico.
Kline noted that advisers should remind clients that passports take even longer in a post-pandemic world.
One of the challenges we remind clients of is passport – even with expedited processing, there is a processing delay of several weeks because there is a significant backlog of applications, âshe said. âWe tell customers that if they even think about the possibility of a wedding or a honeymoon, where [a passport] is necessary for them or their guests to apply now.
Passports aren’t the only thing that will take longer after the pandemic.
âBe patient with everyone, we are all learning to adapt to travel again,â Doyle said. âThings will take longer at the airport with more protocols like posting your COVID test results. Plan to arrive at the airport a little earlier than before, now it takes three hours for international travel. We should also remind clients that we are here to help them take stress out by taking over the planning and treatment of any potential issues that may arise. “
Parish-Warren suggested reminding customers of the need for insurance.
Encourage customers to purchase insurance even if they think we’re done with COVID, Parrish-Warren said. âNo one knows what will come next and we want our customers to be protected. If they refuse, ask them again … and again. And then get a signed waiver.
Kline reminded advisers that things are improving.
“The experience will be different from what it was in 2019,” she said, “but it will still be amazing, and the changes that have been implemented will not take anything away from the overall experience.”