Destination Weddings ♥ Booking Stage

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Ready to say “I do”

We’re so happy you’re ready to say “I do” to booking your destination wedding. Our destination wedding specialists are here to guide you through the process!

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What is the step-by-step process to plan a destination wedding?

First is the research phase: Work closely with your travel agent to narrow down resorts and find the perfect one for you and your guests. Before booking the resort, we recommend holding the wedding space at the property. We, as travel agents, don’t do this for you. We will connect you with the resort’s wedding coordinator so you can book your wedding date and time. Once this is done and your ideal wedding date is saved, we will book the packaged holiday for you, and later, book your guests. We build a customized, password-protected website for your wedding group to access for details and make the booking process easy. In the months leading up to your wedding, you’ll work closely with your wedding coordinator and communicate your vision for the big day.

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Can my travel agent help me organize my destination wedding ceremony?

We can help with all aspects of your travel to and from the resort of choice, however we leave wedding planning to the professionals in destination. In rare cases, we can offer a higher level of service and work with the wedding coordinator on your behalf, but our recommendation to ensure your expectations are clearly communicated is to deal directly with the resort’s wedding coordinator.

Do we all use the same travel agent?

A “group” has to be booked with the same agency to reap the benefits, however you can use different travel agents within tripcentral.ca if you prefer. We strongly advise working with the same agent to keep everything together and organized. Our custom private group booking page allows your guests the flexibility of booking 24/7, anytime they want. All online bookings stay with the booking agent for servicing and are double checked by our support staff.

You do not want to play travel agent yourself! Nothing is worse than having to explain to your guests about cancellation penalties, insurance, flight times, etc. and you should not be handling your guests credit cards — it’s actually in violation of TICO rules. We, the registrant travel agent, must make disclosures to our customers who are paying about terms and conditions of sale, cancellation penalties, required documentation, insurance, etc. The group booking tool and dedicated travel agent is the best way to avoid problems as there are many tricky legal implications of not disclosing required information.

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How does everyone know to contact the travel agent?

We will create a customized website for the bride and groom to share with their guests by word-of-mouth, email, or phone. We can also provide business cards to hand out. The assigned agent’s extension is clearly marked on the custom website. In case of agent’s taking time off, most agents will work with a “buddy,” but using the online tool is the best way do it.

Can we book online?

Yes, though a customized destination wedding website we will build for you. This will make it easy for your guests to review the trip details and book. It’s secure and contains all the information they’ll need for the booking. We’ll contact them after for insurance options.

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Can my group leave from different cities?

Based on the wedding destination you choose, you can leave from multiple gateways if it is available. However, the majority of the group has to depart from the same city in order to get the group rate, as per the tour operator’s minimum amount of passengers. If there are other gateways the tour operator offers, we can add that to the group. We can also book a separate flight for someone to get into the gateway everyone else is departing from, so you can all travel together. Or, we can book with different supplier, but that person won’t get the group benefits.

Can we all take the same flight?

Yes, you will be on the same flight providing you are leaving from the same gateway. Occasionally, there are two flights on the same day and guests may have preferences. It’s important to note that fight times are always subject to change at the airline’s discretion. No one can guarantee the flight times, including the airline directly. Requesting day flights, night flights or deviations may result in price differences. It’s also important to know that if guests add on to a group that has already been finalized, any new space is subject to availability at the time of booking — and this goes for flight times too. Generally, the further out in advance people book, the more likely you will all be on the same flight.

Can we all sit together on the plane?

The airline will provide you the opportunity to pre-book your seats on the plane. Seat selection for groups is usually at additional cost, though most times you will get a reduced group rate based on the supplier. Otherwise, you can select your seats upon check-in.

Premium seating can be available on a limited basis. It’s best to book early to secure any upgraded flight options for more legroom, priority check in, and other services. Lounges are available at major airports. There are arrival services in some destinations available for a cost that can speed up arrival at the airport. These little touches can be built into your package for a VIP experience, but they do come at an extra cost.

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What if we want to reserve on short notice?

If the space is available at your desired resort and you have enough time to work out the details with your wedding coordinator, we can book your wedding on short notice.

What happens for people who want to book last minute?

If there is space they can be booked, but it could be at a different rate.

Can we extend our trip and make it a honeymoon?

It is common for bride and grooms to stay in destination after their wedding for a honeymoon. We can ask for longer duration rates and help arrange this for you either at the same resort or a different one.

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Can we have rooms that are close together?

We can request this but cannot guarantee it. The wedding coordinator on site may have some pull in the room assignments. Rooms are tricky because guests are vacating and arriving at different times. It requires timing for cleaning. Further, some people are staying “by the night” and are unpredictable. Not everyone is staying on one week or fixed durations so getting rooms close together is a logistical challenge, especially at a large resort. The resort typically does their best to accommodate guests.

Can we get rates for different durations?

Yes, different durations are available. This depends on the destination/supplier’s flight schedule and availability. It’s important that a core number of people travel as a group however. These are known as “deviations” and there are a limited number allowed before it is no longer considered a group but a collection of individuals. Most often, we can accommodate these deviations within the group contract, but it’s best to know up front to avoid surprises.

Can I book extra space on the plane for my dress?

The airline typically has a section for wedding dresses on the plane. This is based on the rules of the airline but is usually complimentary.

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Can you arrange a special tour or activity for our guests?

Excursions in destination can be arranged either by your travel agent or wedding coordinator. If you want a true group experience, it can be calculated into the cost of your package and pre-arranged.

What is a “stop sell” on a group?

Very rarely, we will get a call from our tour operator partners, where the hotel has been placed on “stop sell.” This means that all rooms being held on a speculative basis (without names or deposits) must be released.

Hotels are trying to fill their rooms in a worldwide market. They give a theoretical “allotment” to each tour operator around the world. If you added up these allotments, they would exceed the actual capacity of the hotel. It’s a way for tour operators to “free sell” the rooms without checking availability and allowing their systems and confirmations to be much faster.

If a hotel gets a firm request for a large group, or if other tour operators around the world need to increase their block of rooms to sell, the hotel will contact their tour operator partners and effectively say “OK, what have you sold – give us names and deposits to prove it.” This is also why there are change penalties on names – travel suppliers do not want wholesalers acting like “scalpers.”

If not all of your guests have reacted, booked, and paid their deposit, they could find themselves locked out for a while or permanently if the hotel is sold out. To be 100% clear, until there is money and names on a group, there is no real secured inventory. It is a courtesy block of rooms, but the hotel cannot have people tying up rooms with no money when others are trying to secure space.

It rarely happens, but it can cause a scramble when it does. The bottom line is, you should encourage your guests who intend to come to actually commit with a deposit. Some people are procrastinators by nature and they can end up losing out or finding they have to pay a higher price outside the group block, go through a different tour operator and flight, or even stay at a nearby hotel and end up with a day pass to attend the wedding. Even though we have a contract to hold a certain number of rooms and air seats, the hotel and airline can demand that space back unless we have payment and names.

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What about changes in price after we book?

Price changes is a contentious issue and we are very clear: When you commit to a block of rooms and air seats, you have the benefit of knowing you are booked. Prices change up and down all the time and it can be frustrating. It is a floating market price, similar to the stock market. Your broker cannot guarantee that the stock price will never be better than when you bought it. It’s no different here.

That said, many tour operators and hotels have incentives for people to book rather than wait for a better price. Some allow for one price drop before the final payment date (not all – we will tell you). As far as after final payment, it’s simply not going to happen. Sometimes they sell off unsold rooms at a lower price and there’s nothing to be done. Think of it this way: had the price gone up, do they have a right to come after you for more money?

We are bombarded with all kinds of price guarantee messages that have many asterisks and loopholes – especially in other industries. It simply doesn’t apply to travel. There’s no competitor price match within 30 days of purchase like you’ll find in consumer electronics and other products. The structure and model of the industry is entirely different.

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What about flight schedule changes?

Another golden rule of the airline business: they have the right to change their schedule, including time of day and day of week without notice. Ontario travel regulations do require airlines and tour operators to offer a full refund for schedule changes greater than 24 hours — but they are not required to refund you for anything less. That means, in theory, you could lose a day on each end of your vacation, with a schedule change from morning to afternoon departure, and evening return to morning return. Once again, these kinds of drastic schedule changes don’t often happen – but they can — and they are beyond our control. Our role is to advocate for you and negotiate the best possible alternatives, and we are in a far better position to do this than you yourself, as we do tens of millions of dollars in business with our suppliers. But at the end of the day, we do not fly the planes or set the schedules, and no one can make any guarantees about flight times – even if they tell you they can.

Continue to Part 5: Planning Stage ♥ Taking care of the details

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