There are about 40,000 full-time travel agents in the United States. And then there are a lot more part-time travel agents. So that means you have lots of options when it comes to choosing a travel agent to handle travel arrangements for your destination wedding.
So how do you choose the right one? Here are some tips:
Have a conversation. A REAL conversation, not a bunch of emails or DMs.
Most travel agents will schedule a complimentary phone call or Zoom to discuss your destination wedding plans. You’ll learn a lot during this call. It’s essentially an interview for both the wedding couple and the travel agent to see if you’re a good fit.
If a travel agent won’t grant you this call, then it’s a red flag. They’re likely not well-versed in destination weddings and aren’t comfortable being put on the spot.
Look for a Specialist
Travel agents have evolved over the years. We no longer just issue tickets all over the world. Most of us have a specialized niche, whether it’s a certain destination or a certain kind of traveler/travel style.
For instance, there are some travel agents that specialize in Disney Vacations. (Side note: these agents truly are magical and if you’re ever planning a Disney vacation, then you should definitely seek one out. That agent is not me. Haha!)
For your destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean, you’ll want to find a travel agent that specializes in that destination AND destination weddings.
While there are many travel agents (hot tip, most of us prefer to be called travel advisors) that sell all-inclusive resorts, they may not be familiar with the wedding offerings and departments at those resorts. This could lead to them suggesting an amazing resort that may be awesome for a vacation, but can’t deliver on your wedding vision or stay within your wedding budget. Which leads me to my next point….
Price-focused vs Service-focused
A great destination wedding travel agent will be more focused on matching you with a resort that can deliver the wedding of your dreams. They will take into consideration all of your visions/needs/wants as well as specific guest needs. After all, this is one of the most important days of your lives….the choice of resort should NOT be driven solely based on price.
If you talk to a travel agent and they seem focused more on how much things will cost rather than the big-picture vision, then that’s usually a bad sign.
Don’t get me wrong…I certainly take budgets seriously and always strive to get my couples a great deal on their resort. But it’s never my driving force when suggesting resorts.
I’m more interested in making sure you choose a destination and resort that your guests will love. There’s nothing worse than your friends & family constantly complaining about the resort you selected! I want that resort to have a great weddings department and beautiful wedding venues, while also offering wedding packages that stick to your budget.
And beyond choosing a great resort, it’s important for me to provide you and your guests with excellent customer service. More on that later!
Do they understand group room block contracts?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, many travel agents are terrified of group contracts. They are complicated and a bit scary. But they’re also a very important detail when bringing a large group to a resort.
If you’re expecting at least 20 guests, then in most cases you should be engaging in a group room block contract with the resort. This means the resort will hold x amount of rooms at a locked-in price for your group.
A group room block contract is advantageous for several reasons:
- Most importantly, you’re guaranteeing the resort will have enough rooms for your guests
- You’re locking in the price
- The resort usually offers some great perks such as free rooms, free upgrades, and free events
- This is how the resort knows which guests are part of your wedding group
You want to make sure your destination wedding travel agent has experience working with group contracts. If they are pushing you towards NOT having a group contract, this could be a red flag.
Will they provide guidance?
Chances are, you’ve never had a destination wedding before. That’s why you’ll want an expert by your side!
At KP Travel Group, we provide our couples with lots of planning tools to keep them organized and on-schedule. Each couple receives a Trello Planning Board chock full of advice and to-do lists. We have a comprehensive welcome guide that outlines the destination wedding planning process from start to finish. We have tips on how to communicate with your wedding planner at the resort. Tips on how to travel with your wedding attire. A wedding budget worksheet and guest list planner.
In other words, we go well beyond the usual travel tips that a travel agent provides. Make sure you’re hiring a travel agent that can offer guidance and understands the inner workings of destination wedding planning. Trust me, you’ll have moments where you need to be talked down off the ledge & the right travel advisor will be there for you!
Quantity vs Quality
Every travel agent has a different way of running their business. Some focus on the quantity of bookings. Others focus on the quality of bookings. Neither approach is wrong, but it’s important for you to decide which is best for you.
The agencies that take a QUANTITY approach will take on as many clients as they can get. These agencies are less focused on individual customer service. They usually have a handful of ‘go-to’ resorts they sell most often & your proposal may not be customized to your vision. They will give your guests a website where they’ll book their own rooms. They may not be easily available to answer your guest’s questions or handle their special requests. They probably won’t jump in to assist if you’re having issues with the wedding coordinator at the resort. You’re likely familiar with these travel agencies, as they’re usually at the top of the Google Search results. The biggest advantage to these agencies is that they rarely charge for their services.
On the other hand, an agency with a QUALITY approach is usually a more boutique experience. They will take on less clients and therefore can provide a more customized service. They will tailor your proposal to your unique vision, desires and budget. They will take the time to answer your guests’ questions and do their best to honor their special requests. These agents are usually much more accessible and involved as an advocate for you throughout the entire process. A specialized boutique agency has a maximum number of destination wedding groups they’ll handle each year (KP Travel Group only takes 15), allowing them to provide you and your guests with this increased customer service. An agency offering this individualized approach will likely charge a one-time fee to the wedding couple for their comprehensive services.
And lastly, look for testimonials! A travel agent can talk a big game, but do they have the social proof to back it up? Look for reviews from both wedding couples AND wedding guests. You’ll find testimonials sprinkled throughout the KP Travel Group website, here are a few examples:
“I do really want to say, from the bottom of our hearts, we really appreciate your help in this process. We’d be a wreck without you. Another example of how lucky we are to have you on this journey with us, because I’m not sure we would’ve survived with anyone else!!”
“I want to tell you you’ve done an amazing job so far keeping us updated on things and giving us all the pointers and ins and outs . I really appreciated and enjoyed that. I am getting excited for this vacation. Thanks again for all you do.”
“Thank you for helping us plan a wonderful wedding and trip for our guests. We heard from our guests that all of your services were very helpful with the email tips and you were very organized and attentive”
Ready to Take that Next Step?
I hope this helps you choose a wonderful travel advisor to partner with for your destination wedding. You’re going to be working with that agent for a long time, so make sure it’s a good fit!
If you’d like to schedule your complimentary one-hour consultation with Kathryn at KP Travel Group, head on over to our Destination Weddings page.
Think a destination wedding is DEFINITELY for you, but now you have no idea where to start? How do you even figure out WHERE to get married, let alone pick a resort and a venue??
Check out our free guidebook with allll the questions you should ask to find YOUR perfect destination wedding spot. Snag your download today!