FORT LAUDERDALE — How do you break into the romance business? Surrender to sentiment, stock up on fairy dust and put on your tiara.
That was the advice of Jennifer Doncsecz, owner and president of VIP Vacations of Whitehall, Pa., during the “Master the Art of the Romance Sale” session at Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld and Home Based Agent Show.
She kicked off her session with a sentimental slideshow packed with romantic images of Disney princesses, setting-sun-over-the-beach scenes and couples of all ages holding hands.
Agents attending the sessions were touched by the slideshow, and Doncsecz said that her teenage stepson told her it made him want to get married.
Doncsecz also recommended reading “The Notebook” and “Shades of Grey” and watching the movie “Enchanted” to get in the romance mindset.
And, think princess. Doncsecz says she considers herself a princess.
“Princesses are very loyal,” she said.
She even has an imaginary tiara. For one thing, she said, it helps you keep your head up. And it also puts you in the right mindset for the bride, who wants to feel like a princess marrying her own Prince Charming — whether she’s 50 years old and getting married for the second time or 23 and getting married for the first time.
Of course, selling romance is about more than about love. It’s recognizing the responsibility of booking a couple’s destination wedding or honeymoon.
“It’s the vacation they will remember forever, it starts their life together,” she said.
Brides are under a huge amount of pressure to put together the perfect wedding, Doncsecz said, and agents can help them deal with that by easing the travel planning. That means paying attention to detail, listening carefully to what couples have to say.
“Ask them what they envision,” she said. “You’re going to save a lot of time if you ask them where they want to go — and where they don’t want to go.
“You’re their guide,” she said. “You can be their fairy godmother!”
She still uses some of the touches she used when she first started selling Disney to families several years ago, when she would sprinkle glitter onto the schedules and maps she gave families for their Disney vacation.
She has a silver wand that one of her brides sent her after her wedding. She told Doncsecz that she considered Doncsecz her fairy godmother.
Agents have to respect their client’s budget, but also tell brides that the agent can book excursions and a hotel at the airport so that the couple doesn’t have to worry about missing their 6 a.m. flight the next day.
“Think of the most you can do,” Doncsecz said. That means contacting resorts to make sure that clients are getting the special touches the resort offers honeymooners and bridal parties.
Pay attention to detail. When she sends a bride to a wedding planner at a Karisma Azul resort, she is cc:d onevery email exchange between the bride and the wedding planner. And she reads them. She follows up with wedding coordinators after the wedding. One of her agents continually checks hotel rates for honeymooners even after they’ve booked. If the rate goes down, she tells the couple so they can get the lower rate. Doncsecz said the loss of that part of the commission is well worth the referrals that such moves generate.
“Always let your conscience be your guide,” she said.
She said that honeymoons and destination weddings are recession-resistant and that they generate referrals. Destination weddings usually generate referrals before the wedding; honeymoon referrals come after the couple returns from their honeymoon.Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.