For many U.S. and Canadian travel agents, destination weddings and honeymoons are big business. Let us take a look at the numbers:
* 350,000 destination weddings take place every year – they make up 24 percent of all weddings, in fact.
* More than half of those couples say they get outside help planning these trips.
* And, 86 percent of them still plan to talk honeymoons after their destination weddings.
To help more agents tap into this market, the Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA) will soft launch, in preparation for a charter membership drive this spring. Planning for the new organization began in the fall of 2011 with a series of regional workshops which were coordinated by the DWAgents.com training program. In the past 18 months, more than 600 agents completed a class.
“We surveyed more than 300 destination wedding and honeymoon specialists around the United States and Canada to create these courses,” saidJohn Hawks, the DWAgents.com administrator.
The Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialists Association will focus on the following areas:
- Networking, primarily through a private Facebook group where agents may ask questions and exchange ideas in private.
- Training, with a year-round schedule of half-hour webinars, 60-minute teleconferences (“coffee chats”), and half-day online conferences on topics ranging from dealing with difficult brides and capturing wedding guests’ bookings to working effectively with wholesalers and using social media, web sites, and other tools for honeymoon prospecting.
- Marketing support, from sample client forms and sales material templates to a consumer-facing web site that will direct brides to these specialists.
- Supplier relations, from rating individual resorts and cruise ships to creating fam trips highlighting specific destinations.
“We want to build a huge membership base around two types of agents: those who’ve sold destination weddings and honeymoons for many years, and those who’re just getting their feet wet in this niche,” said Lisa Sheldon, the association’s founding executive director.
“Many travel agents want to learn more about this enjoyable and profitable niche, but they don’t know where to start. Agents who have been selling destination weddings and honeymoons for years want to network with professionals just like them. That’s why we’re starting this group,” explained Sheldon.
Charter membership information is available now for agents with applications being accepted February 1- April 30, 2013. From May 1 through September 15, the association will be closed to new members to allow the staff and DWHSA’s agent advisory board members to roll out programs and prepare for its first annual conference.
“We really want to thank the many agents who’re part of our Facebook group, who’ve taken the previous classes and our surveys, and who’ve served on the agent advisory board,” Sheldon said. “They’ve been very helpful as we’ve worked to build this group by agents and for agents.”