I am just going to fall with the door in the house and tell you up front, that unless you are just booking a flight from one city to another in the US, please don’t book any real travel online. Don’t do it! I recently spoke to a few couples who made that mistake, which prompted me to write this blog. Yes, I know some of you have become online travel “experts” and can do it all by yourself, but believe me, if anything goes wrong, as it unfortunately often does, you have to figure out how to fix this it by yourself and often in a Country where you don’t speak the language. I was reading an article in Forbes in which the writer mentioned someone asking her to help with getting their money back from the agency the ticket was purchased through ONLINE, and of course there was no way for her to help. If the person had booked through her, she would have told her to get insurance. There are so many horror stories about travel plans that have gone wrong that I really don’t understand why people still do it to themselves. Not to mention that nowadays, travel is becoming complicated as security to almost all Countries have become really strict and rightly so!
Did you know some Countries require two full blank pages in your passport and others won’t allow you to enter if your passport expires in fewer than six months after your final day of travel? Travel agents and designers know all these things so you won’t be stuck somewhere you really don’t want to be. While doing research for this article, I came across some confusion as some people were not sure what the difference is between Travel Agent, Travel Planner, Travel Specialist or Travel Designer to name but a few and Camille Sanders, a certified travel agent who specializes in Romance Travel thinks that it depends on the generation people come from. She says 35+ travelers are somewhat familiar with what an agent does as their grandparents used to work with one to plan all the family trips. However, those in their 20’s – 30’s really are not sure what the Travel Agent does or the value of using one. Her and her colleagues have rescued several bride-to-be’s days, trip, and even weddings in some cases! If these clients had not booked through a Travel Agent, they would have been stuck in a foreign country, not knowing who to call or what to do! Imagine how much valuable pool or fun time you would be wasting, trying to fix a problem on the phone with someone who really doesn’t care about you or your vacation and has been taught standard responses to your problems. Especially with international travel. Any travel agent worth their salt will jump in to help work it out while the client is still enjoying their vacation & hanging out at the pool! A Travel Agent is a valued partner in making sure you have a wonderful vacation, by using their travel expertise & professional personal connections with many travel partners. She or he is with you every step of the way, until you return home. While you are planning your trip the agent will be able to tell you how to find the activities you enjoy and are interested in and the best time of the year to experience them.
This is especially important for those planning their very special destination wedding or honeymoon. In fact, I would say it is vital that you make these travel plans through an agent. If you are religious with strict dietary requirements, or observant and/or have family who keeps kosher, you cannot be sure that the resort or hotel you are making your reservations at actually has a kosher kitchen, supervised by a Rabbi and with a hechsher you know and trust. I have come across hotels that have claimed to have a kosher kitchen and all that meant was they won’t serve you treif. In other words Kosher style, and then when you arrive, they plead ignorance. Don’t do it! Don’t let your wedding or honeymoon be a learning experience!
This is the time you want to focus on nothing other than your partner, wedding or honeymoon experience and do not want to be bothered with anything going wrong! Camille says that besides sharing their FAQ link with wedding guests, brides, grooms, honeymooners and clients as to why to use a travel agent, they also let them know that working with a travel agency for your destination wedding or honeymoon, can save you so much time & energy which is exactly what you need. If you are planning your destination wedding you have so much to do! You should delegate the activities you are not an expert at, so that you can focus on preparing for your wedding and focus on looking fabulous and enjoying this incredible experience! Most brides and couples have a vision for where they want to get married and/or have their honeymoon, and if you have a destination (in another country) in mind, then the best you can do is sit down as a couple or family, as the case may be, with your agent and give her your wish list. The agent will know the best time to visit the country you want to have your nuptials in and will find you the spot you want, while ensuring you have all the help possible at your destination venue for all your wants and needs, so your dream wedding becomes a reality.
Travel agents are adept at what they do and will be able to book your travel in a fraction of the time it would take you to sift through all of the (often incorrect) information on the Internet. They have booking tools and relationships with hotels, cruise lines, airlines and tour companies and can speed through the process much easier and faster than you can. So that you just make the phone call to your agent and then relax and know you’re in good hands. Here a few things a travel agent can do for Brides & Grooms to help coordinate their wedding: As Destination Wedding Travel Specialists, their role includes:
- 24/7 assistance while traveling.
- Assistance in the choice of destination/resort.
- Securement of the wedding date, specific location within the resort
- Securement of available group perks and amenities based on room nights and resort offerings.
- Advice on legal destination marriage /or symbolic/vow renewal requirements, passport/visa requirements, and travel insurance.
- Guidance through the wedding process and role as your liaison with onsite wedding coordinators and resort staff • Arrangement of all travel plans: round-trip air, hotel accommodations, transfers to and from airport/hotel, travel insurance, optional excursions, and payment plans for the wedding party, and guests.
- Role as point of contact for all wedding guests booked through Chic Romance Travel.
- Notification as guests are booked in to the room block.
- Wedding registry setup. *Available upon request
- Coordination of honeymoon plans
- Custom wedding website
Just imagine doing all this by yourself! I think not. In addition, a travel agent can save you quite a bit of money as they often get exclusive offers from travel industry partners – cruise deals, airline sales or upgrades, incredible fares, hotel specials – and they can keep you informed according to your interests.
Your agent can tell you that your that it’s considered rude to tip in some countries, among them Australia, China, Belgium, Japan, Switzerland and New Zealand and warn you how your “inexpensive” hotel room suddenly costs an additional $100 when you get there in “hidden fees!” These are all invaluable things to know especially when you have just spent a lot of money on your wedding and honeymoon. She can tell you that if you go on an African Safari, where the reduced prices are for brides and which exotic island will be a great stopover before you go back home. She will monitor your reservation and keep you informed of any changes that could occur. Even after you finalize your booking, she will be with you to make certain everything goes smoothly with your travel. There are countless reasons for using a travel agent, however it is even more important when you are planning a destination wedding or honeymoon. Aside from all the support you will receive for your travel plans from the time you start planning, till the moment you return home, you will be treated as a destination wedding or honeymoon VIP! Resorts work with travel agents and know that if they don’t deliver excellent service, the word will spread throughout the travel community and that it can adversely affect future business with the agent. There really is no reason not to use an agent… and hundreds of reasons why you should.
Thank you for spending this time with me and follow me for more info about exciting adventures, delicious food and excellent wines!