Marsha Ann-Brown, Sandals Resorts International’s Director of Resort Sales. // c 2013 Sandals Resorts International
Learning the ins and outs of booking destination weddings can be a daunting process for travel agents. Sandals Resorts International’s WeddingMoons Specialist workshops have proven to be immensely successful in providing the education this red-hot market requires.
“We’re very conscious that our product has to be understood,” said Marsha-Ann Brown, Sandals Resorts International’s director of resort sales. Brown is also known as the company’s director of romance. “Once an agent successfully completes the Certified Sandals Specialist Program, they become eligible to take our WeddingMoons Specialist workshop.”
There’s no charge for the WeddingMoons Specialist fam, although agents are responsible for their own airfare. The fams are held in one of two Caribbean destinations — four-day fams in Jamaica or three-day fams in The Bahamas.
“We use Jamaica more often, because of the ease of airlift,” said Brown.
The Jamaica fams are split regionally — Montego Bay and Negril, with visits to five resorts, or Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, where agents tour six resorts. The fam includes a four-hour seminar that educates agents about the fine details of booking a destination wedding at a Sandals or Beaches resort. The seminar covers selling techniques, destination wedding trends, wedding pre-planning, legal documents associated with the wedding and island-by-island wedding regulations. The seminar also provides insights about the honeymoon and vow renewal market.
Agents participating in the WeddingMoons Specialist fam also go through an enjoyable and immersive experiential process. They participate in a mock wedding rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and wedding reception. A wedding cake tasting familiarizes them with a variety of wedding cake options for their clients.
“Agents retain these experiences and call on this personal knowledge when they go home and close bookings,” explained Brown.
In addition to learning the nitty-gritty details of booking destination weddings, and going through the experiential process, there is another factor of the fams that is very beneficial. Brown noted that during the course of the fam, agents develop valuable relationships with the resort managers they meet. These connections are an important resource to agents once they return home and begin booking weddings.
“‘Explosive’ is how I would describe the feedback we receive from agents who have taken the fam,” said Brown. “Knowledge is power and these agents feel more empowered. Being known as a WeddingMoons Specialist gives them valuable recognition in the field.”
For information on upcoming Sandals WeddingMoons Specialist workshops, contact a local Sandals and Beaches business development manager or visit the online Travel Agent Portal for more details. Space is limited.