Thank you to Wedding Market for hosting this Periscope with:
Meghan Ely “Top Tips for Real Wedding Submissions” & Robert Schenk “Understanding How to Fire a Client” & Julie Albaugh “How To Be Featured In Wedding Market’s Behind The Scenes Series on Periscope & Facebook Live”
I got started doing destination weddings by accident. I was planning a huge wedding in Nashville and the client go so stressed, they wanted to go away to a tiny private island. That wedding changed my life. It opened up a whole new market for me in the destination, travel and private island market. With that one trip, I was able to start building amazing relationships with the team on the island and started to educate myself on how I could do more.
*You have to want to travel and like it.
I have 3 words for you to think about: Flexible, Patience, Challenge
Listen to the periscope to hear me talking about loosing my luggage! It taught me to pack differently (including my allergy medicine).
*You must have the time to dedicate to traveling
It’s very time consuming preparing for our clients and trips. Having a check list is the only way I know how to function without forgetting anything. We often ship items in advance; alot of islands don’t have the everyday things we take for granted like running to Hobby Lobby, or Target. It usually takes us 2 straight days of packing.
*Have someone “the right person” who can run your business while you are away is imperative.
In this busy time of business, having a “pop back” on your email can unfortunately cause you to miss out on future business opportunities. Having a right hand, 2nd in command, communication director, in your office overseeing the day to day actvities for business is so important. I never want to fall behind in customer service, so this is probably one of the most important tips.
*Focus on the top places you want to go and will enjoy working
For example, I do a lot of wedding in the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands so I know the travel drill pretty well. I have built a great relationship with several key resort brands, and prefer to go wherever they are located; I know that the customer service and customer experience is pretty consistent.
*Use social media to gain a following in those areas
Once you have established a few places you want to work, use social media by getting the word out there. For example, we do “WOW Wednesday’s” where we share destinations we have planned events or future destinations we would like to visit to plan events. If you have a goal, you have to let the world know about it, or no one will know to help you get there. Having the verbiage on your website is important too. If a prospect searches Destination Planners, you want to pop up, right? So having good SEO is important too. We have an SEO expert we work with who helps us target market as well.
*Educate yourself on the location you are traveling
What is available to you and the guests. Know about the transportation and the communication experience. I get opportunities to go to new places often, for example, I just went to Dubai; I don’t love to read, but I did alot of research before going to ensure I didn’t offend anyone or say the wrong thing. Ensuring you are educated on the currency is important, especially for your client. Knowing the weather patterns and when it’s hurricane season or not is very important. Time differences is important as well. I have learned not to schedule things on my calendar when traveling for a client with other clients; I want to be 100% present and focused on that current client. I have had calendar appointments move around with the different times zones and have had to educate myself on how to fix that setting on my iphone. I never stop learning and getting better. For example, bugs love me, I have used every bug spray and bug bracelet out there; I look like a pharmacy junkie, but I now know to apply and reapply bug spray just like sunscreen to avoid from itching to death.
*Invest in yourself
You know that saying, it takes money to make money. It’s true in this market. Investing in several Conferences a year has been well worth my investment. The return has been me booking destination events by networking, following up and having great communication skills. There are several great conferences out there such as the Destination Wedding Congress, which is in Thailand in May of 2017. I just came back from there attending a conference a Leadership Conference with the Entrepreneur Organization. It took over 16 hours to get there, but I educated myself before going, like the shots I needed, the currency, the safe places to go, etc. There are several FAM Trips a year; again, I would recommend only attending those if you have interest in working in these locations. It’s a waste of your time and the organizers time for future growth if you are going just to go!
*Build relationships and partnerships
Having great communication, and ensuring your on the same page with the island you're working on is so important. Pictures and videos of explanations often help ensure we are on the same page. If you are not well traveled, partnering with a Travel agency who is, is key. We work with The Travel Siblings to oversee all of the guests booking, and help us connect with the right resorts and islands for our clients. It’s a great way to expand. Having someone you can trust point you in the right direction is an invaluable resource to have. By building relationships, word of mouth referrals are your best source of advertising.
*Understanding and using technology for planning
Being a productivity coach, this is probably the most important to me. Being able to share documents and quotes with clients all around the world really makes them feel comfortable knowing all of their details are backed up. And at any point in time, someone from my team can access the planning documents to help communicate details. We use dropbox and google drive mainly, to help keep our clients up to date on the planning process. It also reduces emails and miscommunication between you and the client.
*Get travel insurance
I can’t tell you how many people say, “Oh I don’t need this, it’s just another way for companies to make money.” Well I am here to tell you from experience, I have used the insurance multiple times.
-First for myself, my luggage was lost when traveling to Italy. Thanks to travel insurance, if my bags were not delivered within 24 hours, the airlines owed me X amount of dollars to reimburse me for my belongings. I have now learned to take pictures of all my bags and what is in them.
-I had a wedding in St. Croix during a hurricane. We had to relocate the wedding to Hawaii.
-In St. Lucia, I was in an earthquake.
-Even locally, Nashville flooded in 2010 and was under water. So having event insurance came in handy.