Magellan Awards Submission.
Travel Agent Training program. Destination WEDucation
I started to plan Destination Weddings when it was not even really a term regularly used.
I had lost my husband to Cancer. I had 4 children from the age of 2 and I had very little money.
Survival was a necessity and making enough money to do this with young children was tough.
I started The Wedding Holiday.com in my unfinished basement and persuaded tourist boards and other related wedding businesses to allow me to camp out, so to speak, on their trade show booths at Wedding shows. It was not only a way to access potential clients but also a way to learn from them as I listened to them speaking to clients throughout the day. In Canada you needed a TICO license to be able to sell travel and I had this so it also gave me a chance to make bookings too.
In my first year I learned everything I could. I Attended webinars, seminars, educational courses, read books, read magazines and learned about every hotel I could possible fit into my stuffed brain. I would research usually 4 hours a day, mostly after the kids were sleeping.
Education was key however there were not too many courses that included anything to do with Destination Weddings. I had to combine lessons in travel planning, group planning and event organizing.
A few years later WPIC , Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, offered an add on to their regular wedding planning course but the content was really very similar to their regular course but the theme was a wedding "on location" . They taught things like who walks down the aisle first and so on.. Not much about planning the travel and the group planning. They are after all great Wedding Planners but at the time this was still more about the wedding part and not about the travel. There were few resources.
Fast forward to 2017 and I had started up my travel business once again after a brief retirement. I had sold out to a large company who later went under but missed the business and realized that travel was not only my career but my passion. Any kind of travel- I could make even local days out become an exciting voyage of discovery.
I had the urge to give back now. I was older, wiser and had a lot to share. I had learned the hard way. So many travel agents now were planning Destination Weddings I wanted to help them to do a great job.Many were doing destination weddings but few do it well. I wanted to stop travel agents who knew nothing about group travel believing they could do destination Weddings with little effort. So many were offering a service they knew little about and making a terrible mess of it.
I had several experiences of agents working with me who just did not know what to do. Did not cancel space before deadlines. Did not book a wedding date before deposits were taken, took bookings before checking if the rates had increased or were sold out...
So with this in mind I created Destination WEDucation.
At first it was for my own independent agents only.
Now I want to expand it and share it with not only agents in Canada but in USA too.
My courses are generic and not specific to booking with a specific supplier. Plus I had educated myself with the ways that USA books travel as well as UK and Canada.
Destination WEDucation is about to be released in the next month and it will be not only an online training program but a way of offering mentorship to new and even existing agents who want to get into this exciting field.
My Masterminds of Travel Educational Fam will begin in January 2019 in Mexico and will be a 7 day intense Training workshop like no other.
Think Sharktank. Think Weight loss style Bootcamp. It won't be easy. It won't be a sit in a classroom with lectures. I plan to bring in guest speakers who all have a background in group Travel such as Stacey Ray from Groupit travel and we will direct how the agents each approach groups. How they find their pied pipers and how they manage the group. I will teach what is the value proposition and how to make money whilst still offering good value to their clients.
The ongoing training course will be including Seminars, webinars, Zoom calls to have Q and A, and even mastermind weeks in exotic locations where I will include a FAM.
My FAMS have always been legendary. I love to show how great our job can really be and how to stay loyal to a few brands that you know will really take care of your clients.
I love to show agents that with hard work and dedication you can get referrals for 10 years or more, as I do..
I want to show agents that we are in the business of Dream Creation and not order takers.
My favourite saying is "Be The Realtor of Travel ... not an order taker."
Don't expect the client to tell you where and when and how much!
Be the expert.
Be the Realtor of Travel and be the one who is able to use their knowledge to make the best suggestions based on their dreams.
I have won over 25 awards for my weddings and at one wedding show I actually booked 66 Destination Weddings. (hard to do these days but the business is still out there) They were all booked that year with Signature Vacations and people such as Mike Price and Sal Bucellato will vouch for this fact.
I strongly believe that if you are going to do something then you have to make sure you do it well. You only get one shot!
I now offer more than just a basic Destination Wedding.
I offer Gay Weddings, Indian Destination weddings and exotic Celebrity Weddings with security and secrecy.
Its not just something you can stick a badge on and say I do.. its about education, about dedication and hard work.
Indian weddings for example - I made sure that I educated myself about all the different customs and ceremonies from the many different religions and cultures as well as how to behave - how to treat the couple and who are the VIPs within the wedding. There are so many aspects and when I do Indian Wedding shows I even get every agent a Sari and we speak to the clients all about the customs and what to expect. Again, not order takers but a specialist in the field.
The ongoing online course will be available for agents to take the program at any time using a teaching software called teachable. Agents will also be able to use our resources and be invited on FAM trips specifically for Weddings.
Future plans include Each agent that goes through the course being part of an ongoing referral plan.
This is aimed at people already in the travel field as it refers to travel terms that I expect them to know.
My aim is to bring this kind of course to colleges.
I teach tourism sales at Niagara College and would love to expand this to Destination Weddings and Groups as travel is becoming more saturated and easier for the consumer to book online.
Niche specialists will still be in demand in future.
I believe Niche is the future of the travel agent and ever more important for them to be the expert!
I am attaching just a few chapters of the course however there are many more including a 500 + page manual.
Each part of the course will have a quiz that contains questions to be answered and only after those questions are correctly answered can they move on to the next part.