Thinking of tying the knot in a tropical paradise? We know someone who can help. Continuing our Destify Team Spotlight Series, top-rated Destify Sales Manager Lauren W., answers the following question: how do you choose the perfect destination wedding resort and venue? Citing years of experience in the hospitality and wedding industry, Lauren discusses the nuances of destination wedding planning and how Destify helps you discover your dream oceanside haven:
Q: How do you guide clients to choosing the right resort and venue?
A: A lot of times people want to just do a destination wedding, but there might be something specific about a destination that they really like. So maybe it’s Jamaica and they want to be near the mountains or maybe it’s Cabo, and they want to see the cliffs. So really, first and foremost, getting the destination is important and then any defining factors. So we’ll ask that question, like, how do you envision your wedding going?
Like they could say, I want my feet in the sand, or I want to overlook the ocean, but I don’t want to be on the sand. So we do ask that question of our clients. And then depending on the answers, then we kind of narrow down our options and our choices and our recommendations to them.
Q: How much flexibility is there when it comes to choosing between venues?
A: It’s not only just one venue because there are multiple different venues that you can choose. You can mix it up so you could go to the beach for the ceremony and then go to a sky terrace for the reception or vice versa. So it’s really flexible. And the hotels are super accommodating to what the bride wants, so you can kind of mix and match it to deliver exactly what the client is looking for.
Q: So feasibly, you can have three different venues within your wedding day?
A: Absolutely. There are always going to be multiple venues at a property. I feel like that’s a misconception, too, from our clients is that they think it’s only the beach. That is rarely ever the case that someone only books a beach venue. There are multiple options at different properties to choose from. And I think that’s how it can be a little bit hard because there is something for everyone and every single property, but it’s really getting down to not only the venue, but it’s also what location you want, what level of service, what price point.
Q: How do all-inclusive packages factor into choosing your wedding venue?
A: Well, the wedding packages across all-inclusive resorts are very similar in price. So that actually kind of helps out with the decision, because some people think that it’s all different across the board, and they’re going to be spending thousands of dollars more at this property than this property.
But that’s not necessarily the case, because a lot of times it’s 50 people. You’re getting a wedding for $10,000. And because they’re so competitive against each other, the packages are just built to be very similar across brands across resorts.
At the end of the day, it’s still not as expensive as in the US. It’s still going to be less money than anything that you would find in the US, especially with the views and what you’re getting for your package.
Q: So that gets into my next question is, what kind of advantages do couples have just by considering a destination wedding venue as opposed to a traditional stateside venue?
A: So stateside, you have to work with multiple different vendors, so you have to find a caterer. You have to find the venue. You might have to find a florist. You might have to find a DJ, photographer, and videographer. Those are just a few off the top of my head of completely different vendors, all different deposits that you would have to do to go towards your wedding.
Those can really stack up and be really expensive. Whereas at an all-inclusive resort, everything can be found on site. So they have florists on site.
They’ve got already the all-inclusive catering aspect included in the package. They’ve got like vendors for photography and videographers. So there’s not a lot of decision-making or research that’s needed from the client. So it makes planning a wedding a lot easier and not as stressful because there are not so many checklists and things that you have to do in order to accomplish a beautiful wedding.
Q: How do you best respond to clients and couples who have that not necessarily misconception, but just that anxiety behind saving money and budgeting by guiding them to choosing the right, not necessarily just the resort?
A: I do bring up the whole comparison of what a US average wedding is. And I think the US average is around 40 grand, and the average for a destination is around eight. So you’re getting it for about a fifth of the price. And then you still have incentives. The fact that our services are free and a majority of the properties will offer comps, all makes it affordable. Essentially, the more people that you have come, the more money that can come back to the couple.
So there are ways of saving money, all-inclusive weddings, in general, are going to try and help you save money wherever we can.
Q: Are there any other misconceptions you’ve encountered?
A: I think that in general, people think it’s more expensive than it actually is. A lot of times me and my team and all the real salespeople, they’ll price it out for people and just give them a visual of what it looks like in terms of the budget and what you’re all paying for.
Q: Are there any other reasons that factor into choosing a destination venue over a domestic venue?
A: Well, weddings in the US are one day and it’s kind of done and over with. Whereas a destination wedding is also a vacation for their family and friends. And it’s not just one day that’s done and over.
You are out by the pool. You are enjoying their company over at least a three-day period, if not more. And I think that’s a real benefit to the couple because then it’s not one day where you’re stressed having to talk to everyone, whereas you can talk to them over a three-day period, out by the pool, drinking or out by the beach. And you can really enjoy their company in addition to celebrating such a joyous event.
Q: So how has COVID affected the way that couples search for venues and how people approach either seating or just the overall experience?
A: Well, after going on a couple FAM trips recently, something that I noticed when in relation to COVID is that capacities have been cut a little bit to make sure that social distancing and everything is still in line. They’re still able to host large groups, but I do feel like in general, weddings are getting a little bit more intimate and a little bit more “You want the people that are there that want to be there kind of thing.”
So I think that guest lists are kind of being cut down a little bit, and people are being not as open, but at the same time when it comes to destination weddings, with people paying for their own room itself does kind of cut your list if you needed it, too.
Q: In your own words, what is the perfect destination wedding venue? What is your perfect wedding venue for me?
A: That’s such a hard question because I’ve seen so many and I’m like, “Oh, I could totally see myself getting married here. I could totally see myself getting married there.” It’s all over the board because I could totally see myself getting married in a beautiful garden with a ton of greenery around. But then I also want a destination with the ocean, and I don’t get to see that every day. So I would probably want that, too. I’d be one of those brides.
I would probably mix it between, like, a garden and an ocean terrace. I’m not someone that necessarily wants to be at the beach, but I know a lot of people that are. So I would say, in my opinion, hosting a ceremony at an ocean terrace and then a reception in a garden that’s kind of a little bit more private would be my ideal location.
Q: Of the resorts you’ve visited in person, which ones stick out the most?
Their beach was fantastic. Their ocean terrace was fantastic. Their garden was fantastic. They also have a lot of cultural aspects that I didn’t realize. So I feel like it is a great Cancun spot in general, and they’re an anomaly because they’re the only family all-inclusive in Tulum, and they kill it.
When it comes to Jamaica, a property that I very, very much enjoyed was the Hilton Rose Hall. I think that it’s a really underrated property because their rates are super great and their setup of everything is awesome. They’ve got family pools and even a quieter pool, and then they’ve got a golf course next door and some historical venues that are just very unique.
Q: How did you get started with Destify? And how did you get to where you are right now with the Destify?
A: We kind of found each other. I was working for Hyatt, and I was ready for something new. I was ready to get into a different kind of space. My whole life I’ve been obsessed with travel and tourism and even my major. So I love the hospitality industry as a whole. But when I started, I started out in sales, and I just really fell in love with it.
And then recently, there was a position for a sales manager, and I applied and I was happily kind of offered the position. And I’m really excited to now be like, giving my expertise and giving my guidance to my team. My team is doing fantastic. But I think that we’re coming out better and stronger than before.