Thursday, February 28, 2008

Specialist Travel Agents

The video killed the radio star. And the Internet killed the travel agent. Or so, that’s what we thought.

Like most people, several years ago we gave up on the travel agent, the paper tickets, the hassle of telephone tag and the fees travel agents charge. Like most people, we moved exclusively to web-based services. And for a while, it worked real well for us. More specifically, it worked well for very simple travel plans.

Looking back on our wedding planning experience, our single biggest time investment was researching locations and travel logistics. Looking back, we should have brought in professional travel agent who deals in destination weddings to help simplify the process. We knew we wanted the Caribbean, but it had to have reasonable flights from New York, Philadelphia, Dallas and Denver (where most of our guests were coming from). A professional travel agent could have narrowed down the field considerably and then we could decide on the location from there.

Another challenge we had was all of the guests making their own travel arrangements. The bridge’s grandmother used her favorite travel agent – and despite the very specific wording on the invitation – the agent ended up sending her to Nassau, Bahamas instead of the correct location on Grand Bahama Island.

Our concern with utilizing a travel agent is that they push the venues and packages where they make commissions or where they are most comfortable…not necessarily what is in your best interest. So, it’s critical to find a vendor you feel comfortable with.

So, we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered the Caribbean Journey Destination Wedding Blog. The woman, Laura Sangster, is a travel agent, but also planned her own Caribbean destination wedding. While, we have not actually used her to plan either our own destination wedding or any travel (so therefore cannot actually recommend her), we’ve been impressed with her thoroughness, aesthetic, and quality information. We are trying to get a scuba dive trip together for later in the year and may use her, so we’ll let you know how it goes.

When you are just starting the process, the idea of planning your own destination wedding can sound like a lot of fun – dreaming of all those fancy resorts and beautiful beaches. We thought so too, but the stress it caused between us was considerable. In retrospect, having someone help us and make the process much more manageable would have been a good idea.

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