Travel Advisors Share Tips on Restart of Romance Travel

Ensemble Travel Group’s latest Restart Session focused on the restart of romance travel, particularly weddings and honeymoons.

The panel, moderated by Jenna Mahoney, travel editor for Bridal Guide, featured Lauren Doyle, president, The Travel Mechanic; Sarah Kline, president, Time for Travel; Laurie Keith, president, Romantic Planet Vacations (based in Toronto); and D. Parrish Warren, Warren International Travel.


It was clear from the panelists’ statements that romance travel is back—and could even be better than ever.

Kline was notedly optimistic about the comeback.

“There are a lot of factors at play right now that make a destination wedding popular: people are desperate to go somewhere; they have saved money from not traveling for a year; they feel safe traveling with what is essentially a large bubble of family and friends; and they just want to see one another after the year we just had,” she said.

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Kline sees the new enhanced measures as a benefit.

“The increased health and safety protocols that became requirements during COVID will actually provide an overall better experience. I think we’re all kind of happy to see buffets behind glass with only one person handling and serving the food. In addition, the increased cleaning of surfaces gives us all more confidence that everything is clean,” said Kline.

Another change many advisors and travelers hope is here to stay is reservations for museums and cultural institutions and limited numbers of people allowed in at any given time. “I think everyone would welcome this becoming permanent as nobody really wants to jockey for a spot to see the Mona Lisa,” added Jenna Mahoney.

The panelists provided some tips for getting back into the swing of selling weddings and honeymoons.

Keith said that travel advisors should definitely be charging a fee.

“There is tremendous value in the services we offer, and our clients understand and appreciate that so they don’t mind paying for [the fee].”

Doyle agreed.

“You need to wrap your head around charging fees,” she said. “You will get better clients who understand the value that an advisor provides and that we work for them. This is their trip of a lifetime, and we are making their dream a reality.”

Parish-Warren noted that today’s wedding guest is tomorrow’s client.

“All of my brides and grooms create a Facebook group with their wedding guests, so it’s important to remember to stay connected with them on social media as well, as it’s likely there are friends and family members who may also plan a wedding or honeymoon soon,” says D. Parish-Warren. “Those are potential clients, and they will already know how I can help them and make their vision a reality.”

Boutique properties and villas are trending for weddings at the moment.

“We are seeing a much greater demand for villas and boutique hotels as clients feel that, for now, smaller is better in terms of being exposed to bigger crowds as well as the perception that it’s easier to manage a smaller property vs a mega resort,” Keith said.

The most popular destinations with clients are much the same as before the pandemic and include Hawaii, Cancun, Jamaica and Mexico.

Kline noted that advisors should remind clients that passports are still taking longer in a post-pandemic world.

One of the challenges we are reminding clients about is passports – even with expedited processing, there is a delay in processing of many weeks as there is quite a backlog of applications,” she said. “We are telling clients that if they are even thinking about the possibility of a wedding or honeymoon, where [a passport] is needed for them or their guests, to apply now.”

Passports aren’t the only thing that will take longer after the pandemic.

“Be patient with everyone—we are all learning how to adapt to traveling again,” said Doyle. “Things will take longer at the airport with more protocols such as showing your COVID test results. Plan to arrive at the airport a little earlier than you would have before this started—three hours for international travel is needed now. We also need to remind clients we are there to help remove the stress for them by taking over the planning and handling any of the potential issues that could come up.”

Parish-Warren suggested reminding clients about the need for insurance.

Encourage clients to get insurance even if they think we are done with COVID, said Parrish-Warren. “Nobody knows what is coming next, and we want our clients to be protected. If they decline, ask them again … and again once more. And, then get a signed waiver.”

Kline reminded advisors that things are looking up.

“The experience will be different than it was in 2019,” she said, “but it will still be amazing, and the changes that have been implemented won’t take anything away from the overall experience.”

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