Hot Tips That Make Destination Planning a Breeze

Hot Tips Make Destination Planning a Breeze

Budget right—Develop an overall budget, keeping in mind added expenses you may incur – such as travel, hotel, meals, transfers. Buffer in any exchange rate for weddings that occur in Europe, Asia, or Mexico.

Block out airfare for guests with their preferred carrier—Keep in mind origination points and connections. Take a test run of the transfer time and transfer type required to get the guests from point A to point B.

Learn the marriage license requirements for the destination you are booking—For instance, in France, the couple must live in that country for 60 days to be eligible to get married there.

Watch the weather for the dates of the wedding—Don’t plan a Caribbean wedding during hurricane season.

Get a website and plan ahead—Available free through us, or The Knot, or consider This is a great option as it allows all guests to know who to contact for travel arrangements. Allow six months mailing for destination wedding Save the Dates. Consider an online version.

Remember you’re traveling with the gown—When traveling with your gown, don’t check the gown as luggage – you may never see it again. This applies to all members of the bridal party. For brides, Wedding Gown Specialists offers a destination gown travel kit that fits in most air place overhead compartments (

Prepare for windy conditions—Make sure the veil is weighted for weddings
on a beach or it will whip around, obscuring the bride and hitting guests as the bride walks down the aisle. Weighted magnetic veil clips are available through

Passports—Remind guests that valid passports are required for any travel outside the United States.

Keep an emergency kit—Carry stain sticks with you at all times and a steamer, along with adaptors in case you cannot plug into the power strips at the hotel.

Have your couple buy insurance—Require clients to purchase wedding insurance through vendors like or along with travel insurance.

Travel has become safer, but one never knows what can or will disrupt a destination wedding—Weather conditions, illness, government issued warnings, etc.

Keep your rental contracts handy—Shipping items ahead may cause a problem if they get stuck at customs. If you take things with you, like linens, pack them separately and include your rental contract inside. Keep an extra copy with you. If you get stopped at customs, you can show that these are a rental and the items will come back with you and are not being sold.

Hire a translator—Mostly not necessary when booking with all-inclusives, but to help you become familiar with the location. Find a destination friendly locale—in Europe there are many hotels that do not welcome weddings.

Exotic Islands, Romantic Cities, Foreign Countries

Although destination weddings may involve exotic islands, romantic cities, or foreign countries, for the wedding planner, destination weddings can be a great deal of work. This is where we come in!

“As a travel agent, destination weddings are the part of my job that I love the most. The brides we get are confident that we do our utmost to make their day perfect, and that makes us all feel much more relaxed and get things going in a smoother way!”

– Lia Vincent

Getting married in another country means you and your guests can be immersed and experience the food, culture, sites, services, language and more that will make your wedding truly unique and an experience of a lifetime!

Destination weddings are weddings that take place in a location where the bride and groom do not reside. Often, these weddings are outside of one’s home country and passports are required. But, increasingly, destination weddings are being held a bit closer to home, which expands the destination wedding market. “Couples can be very creative. Whether they select an exotic resort in the South Seas, a castle in Europe, or a lodge in Northwestern Wisconsin. Making this happen, and a success, is our job.”

It’s so true that “Anything is possible!” Just look at the explosive changes in destination weddings over the past 10 years. What started as a small, niche idea has grown exponentially. Not only have the numbers increased, but the very definition of what constitutes a destination has been revised. Is a destination weddings right for you? We can help you navigate the challenges and make it a success! Explore the ancient ritual and charm of a Mayan destination wedding, as well as events in Italy and Ireland. The possibilities are truly endless! We can help you discover your unique wedding and use it to set yourself apart from the crowd!

Destination planners face other challenges unique to their specialty, like identifying the client. In the end, not only are the bride and groom the client, but the guests as well. Planners find themselves playing host by assisting guests with questions about the location. The guests see the planner as the point person in assisting them with travel plans and questions. There are also legal and procedural challenges planners encounter. “We often get in touch with couples thinking that they can arrange their legal wedding in one to three months.” “It can be hard to make them understand that some procedures, like asking for a marriage license, especially if we are speaking of a Catholic wedding, take time. The bureaucracy of Italy is terrible. It can be quite a clash of cultures.

Budget, too, can be an issue as couples often have an unrealistic expectation that holding a wedding in a foreign country is less expensive than their home country. “Sometimes it can be hard to make them understand that if you want to get married in famous places like Venice, Rome, Florence, or Amalfi, prices can be rather steep and accommodations, especially during peak season, are very expensive. It’s then our job to make them see the other possibilities and help them choose the solutions that fit their expectations, and which do not break the bank.

Research is often the key to getting the budget right—especially outside your home country. “When working on a budget or quoting costs to the client, be sure that you have researched on-island costs and have these in writing. For example, flowers can cost more than five times what they are in the U.S.

Logistical considerations and back up plans are also critical to address in destination planning. Rain and back up options are a must. Many hotels have small or limited event space to host an inside event, so the planner must consider renting tents to ensure the wedding occurs without a hitch. Find out if the location or venue offers tents before you suggest a location. If it cannot accommodate a rain plan, move on. Sometimes, this leads to disappointment for couples set on a certain locale. “Occasionally, their dreams are not reality-based and compromises are difficult to swallow. Breaking the news is often more difficult than solving the issue.

How destination wedding specialists make those weddings perfect is in the details—incorporating local traditions, customs, and flavors into the day. Perhaps it’s being entertained through dinner by a local Mariachi group, dining on regional fare, drinking local wines, or gifting guests with sweet treats from the area. “Each time, we offer something different, depending on the style and taste of the couple. I could never think of doing the same for everyone,” says Lia, who has arranged varied events for her destination weddings including wine tastings, spa treatments, and tours of the Italian countryside.

In the end, the memories that are created for couples are life-changing moments that lead to happy endings. “Up until now, among the biggest challenges we’ve had, are a symbolic destination wedding which was planned in just three weeks; a double, twin wedding; a Catholic-Protestant wedding that needed the authorization of the Bishop; super-small weddings and quite large weddings; relaxed country-style weddings and hyper-modern weddings; beach, lakeside, and vineyard weddings,” “Oh, yes, destination weddings can be anything like this, or not be like this at all. And we are always happy to help out!

Flying High Despite Industry’s Travails

Disclaimer: This story was originally posted to the archives, which is no longer in operation.


Flying high despite industry’s travails

Christopherson targeting business travel

There was a time not so long ago when being a travel agent was a job only slightly less glamorous and sought after than ski instructor, airline pilot or guitarist in a rock ‘n’ roll band.Much of the travel agent hype was myth, of course. The job has always meant long hours on the phone sitting in front of computer screens trying to get Joe Executive to Tampa in time for his industry convention or Mr. and Mrs. Retired around the world in 21 days without losing them in Hong Kong.

Ah, but there were the comped “fam” trips — shorthand for “familiarization” — the travel industry’s equivalent of political junkets. After all, you can’t expect a travel agent to sell a customer on the delights of a trip to Paris or Bermuda without having sampled them firsthand.

Or can you? Is travel agent still a glam job?

In a word, no, says Michael Cameron, president of Christopherson Travel Group.

“The glamour of the free fam trips and the easy lifestyle has gone away,” Cameron said. “Everyone is working harder for lower commissions now than ever before, which has put a burden on me to provide my employees a meaningful career path.”

That’s because travel agent wasn’t always a “serious” profession. Like real estate, there were a lot of people who dabbled in it, for second incomes and not very large ones, but the benefits of free travel tended to offset that. No longer.

“In today’s environment, most travel agents are the primary breadwinners for their families,” Cameron said.

But it’s even more complicated than that. Travel agencies are being attacked on several fronts. Over the past five years, the nation’s airlines have been slashing the commissions that agencies receive for ticket sales, and the Internet has become a source of cut-rate tickets for Web surfers, cutting travel agents out of the picture altogether.

Then there’s the slowing economy and, more specifically, the bear stock market. When times are tough, one of the first places a business looks to cut costs is its travel budget — a company’s third biggest expense after salaries and information technology. And the average family? They scrap their plans for Disney World and take the kids to Lagoon instead.

This sounds like a disaster scenario for travel agencies, but Christopherson Travel’s sales are up 36 percent this year over last. The company is on track to do $80 million in sales this year, which would make it Christopherson’s best ever and a 38 percent increase over last year.

Unlike many local businesses that are tightening their belts, Christopherson is constructing a new three-story, 42,000-square-foot headquarters at 5588 Green St. in Murray. They will move into the building by late summer and from it will oversee their 12 branch offices in Utah and Idaho. (The company’s main office for the past 19 years has been at 4659 S. 2300 East, Holladay.)

Cameron credits his company’s prosperity in the face of so many obstacles to several strategies.

The main one was the decision he made to focus primarily on business accounts. Only 5 percent of the company’s income now stems from leisure travel, and most of that centers on arranging vacation trips for its business clients.

“Travel agencies can no longer be all things to all people as they once were,” he said. “It seemed to be a good niche to focus on business travel, and it has paid off for us. Business travel has been where the money is, and we consider ourselves the premier business travel agency in this marketplace, growing at an annual rate of 30 percent a year — a rate at which the (sales) numbers get pretty big pretty fast.”

Another strategy that has paid off for Christopherson has been to set up agency offices right at the sites of its best clients, which include Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. in the University of Utah Research Park; CompHealth, a temporary job agency for physicians; and MarketStar Corp., an Ogden-based company that provides marketing research for high-technology businesses.

And finally, Christopherson has prospered by embracing, rather than fighting, the Internet with its ResAssist Web product that allows corporations to book travel on the Net with Christopherson providing a blended reservation and quality control service.

“They can save money booking online, not in the cost of the tickets, but we pass on the labor-saving costs in the form of reduced service fees.”

Cameron also credits his company’s growth to putting a strong focus on its employees, who have an average of 16 years of experience.

“We have had less than 5 percent annual job turnover in the past 11 years, and that’s unheard of in this industry where people usually job-hop a lot,” Cameron said. “We’ve put a lot of focus on taking care of the people who work for us, and it’s a great competitive advantage.”

The advantage stems, he said, from the personal relationships that develop between his agents and the people for whom they book travel. “They say, ‘I want to talk to Joe. He’s my guy.’ ”

Cameron said he sees part of his job as making sure that “Joe” doesn’t leave for greener pastures, and one of the obvious ways to do that is to pay salaries that are higher than the industry standard. Not commissions, but a package of salary and benefits.

A little camaraderie doesn’t hurt, either. They aren’t really fam trips, but every March all Christopherson employees and their spouses are taken on an expenses-paid trip, usually to the West Coast. Last month they went to San Diego.

Christopherson Travel was founded in 1953 by Merrill and Lucille Christopherson as an offshoot of another business, Provo Flying Service, that they launched in 1940.

The Christophersons sold the business in 1981, and Cameron was hired by the new owner as chief financial officer and a part owner. On March 1, 1990, Cameron and his wife, Camille, bought the company outright and became the sole owners.

At that time, the firm had two employees and was doing less than $1 million in sales per year. Today it has 75 employees and, as noted above, expects sales this year to hit near $80 million.

How can a travel agent deliver to my preferences and style of vacation needs?

During consultation, your travel agent advisor will ask questions about your travel plans and preferences to help ensure that the resort, tour, or destination matches your travel style and expectations. We know what resorts offer nightlife, which are quieter, relaxed, cater toward families and more! The same goes for cruise lines, all-inclusive resorts, and more!

Is there a fee or cost for using a travel agent?

There is typically no fee. Unless you have an extremely personalized trip involving several hotel stays and multiple cities, there is no fee or cost involved using our travel agents. Based on our top sales with multiple vendors, using Vincent Vacations means you’re able to save money over booking with a smaller agency. We have access to discounts and specials. And if you find a lower price online, the vendors we work with value travel agents and their services, and are willing to match pricing.

What is a travel agent and why do I need one?

What is a travel agent and why do I need one?

Travel agents provide an invaluable, and often free service, to ensure that your vacation, honeymoon, destination wedding, corporate incentive, etc. is the vacation trip of your dreams. If something does go wrong, you have someone to call, text, or email who is in your corner and can contact airlines, resorts, or tour companies on your behalf. Make sure whoever you work with has the appropriate certificates. And to ensure you hire a travel agent or agency with great pricing, make sure and check their reviews on Google, Facebook, and other services.