Destination weddings are gaining in popularity, especially since a lot of couples are paying for their own weddings and honeymoons these days. With a lot of competition out there – store front agencies, online booking engines and even booking directly with the resort – which is the smartest way to go? Laura Rhein, Caribbean Specialist at LoveShack Vacations, knows first-hand the importance of booking through a travel agent. “Prior to becoming a travel agent myself, I had a terrible experience after booking a family vacation online,” she says. “When the eight of us arrived at the resort five hours late at 11 p.m., the resort was crawling with teenage kids partying. The rooms were gross and everything was an upcharge.”
“The nightmare went on and nobody seemed to care,” Rhein continues. “Had we booked through a travel agent, we could have had an advocate to help resolve the issue – and we wouldn’t have paid any more for the trip!”
LoveShack Vacations were formed in 2013 and is part of Host Agency KHM Travel Group out of Cleveland, Ohio. Independent agents that are part of LoveShack Vacations are Romance Travel Specialists with extensive destination expertise, dedicated to designing trips around a couple’s unique needs. While they do focus on romance travel, they are full-service travel specialists offering FEE FREE service to clients.
Since joining LoveShack Vacations in 2014, Rhein has tripled her annual sales. “Romance travel is a great business,” she says. “I love doing bridal shows, meeting future brides and grooms and finding out how I can help. Many resorts, especially in the Caribbean, will offer a FREE wedding and even a FREE honeymoon if the bride and groom can book a minimum number of rooms.”
“I love the independence of being self-employed and being able to work from home,” Rhein continues. “I, of course, love to travel, and there is no better career than being a travel agent. The most rewarding part of my job is happy clients. I love to hear about what a wonderful time my clients had on their trip and of course when they refer their friends and family. To me, there is nothing better than that!”
As for what sets LoveShack Vacations apart from other booking methods, the bottom line is simple: they save you time and money. Not only is working with a LoveShack Vacations agent a fee-free service, but they are available 24/7 and have access to upgrades and amenities that you won’t find on the internet.
According to Rhein, her first step in working with a new client is to really understand their wants and needs.
“In many cases, with younger clients, they may not have a lot of knowledge about destinations, and that’s where I can help,” she says. “I worked onboard cruise ships with Royal Caribbean for over 10 years and have been to every island in the Caribbean and Mexico more times than I can count. I have also traveled to many of the destinations and resorts independently as well.”
“I spend a lot of time working with the client to identify the best fit in a destination and resort and will provide them with several options, including price ranges,” Rhein continues. “Much is driven based on the client’s budget, however, there really is something for everyone! I even run side-by-side comparisons of their favorite resorts, so that it’s easier to make an informed decision!”
In looking to the future, Rhein’s personal goals are to continue growing her business – year after year – while helping as many couples as possible plan the vacation or honeymoon of their dreams. On the near horizon is the Afterhours Bridal Show at Great American Ball Park on Thursday, March 10th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Here, Rhein will be in attendance and be registering for two honeymoon giveaways.
“Our Corporate honeymoon giveaway, which is drawn in June, includes a five-night all-inclusive honeymoon stay at the El Dorado Royale in Riviera Maya, Mexico – including round-trip airfare,” says Rhein. “I’ll also be giving away a four-day/three-night stay at Couples Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts in Jamaica, which will be drawn the night of the show!”