Honeymoon travel is one of the more popular niches in the business,
but are you making the most of each booking?
Liana Carlson, creator of a 3-year-old honeymoon gift registry
service called After I Do, doesn't think so.
Carlson, based in Dallas, works with travel agents to create a
honeymoon registry whereby wedding guests can contribute to the
graduate of the MBA program at Southern Methodist University in
Dallas, Carlson came up with the idea while on her way to a
"A friend and I were bridesmaids, and we were complaining about
the gifts we bought which we knew the bride wasn't going to use,"
Carlson decided the idea of a honeymoon registry would address
the two most common complaints about wedding gifts.
"Couples are getting married after they are established in
homes, and they already have the traditional household gifts," she
"Also, traditionally the gift-buying process involves picking
something from a list that has no meaning for [the giver]," she
With After I Do, couples are referred to one of the company's
preferred agents, or they can work with their own.
Once the agent has designed a package, Carlson breaks the
itinerary into components.
"In some cases, like inclusives, it will be price estimates,"
she said, adding that typical components can include breakfast in
bed, a hotel night or scuba diving.
Guests can opt to purchase a component, which can be as
inexpensive as $30, go in with other guests on more expensive gifts
or simply pay toward the total cost of the trip.
The gifts typically allow an agent to "up-sell" a trip by $500
to $1,000, she said.
As for creating the itinerary, "we leave a lot of that to the
travel consultant we work with," Carlson said.
After I Do works with about 50 agents, Carlson said, offering
preferred-agent status and referrals based on geography or
Noting that some honeymoon specialist agents already have
honeymoon registries, Carlson said, "There is an overhead of time
and money to do that. Our travel partners can still offer the
registry as a marketing tool, but we take away the hassle."
Because the company is not involved in the travel plans, agents
keep their entire commission, Carlson said.
Agents can call (800) 956-4436 or www.afterido.com.
A happy marriage
Kathleen Dutton, owner of 2-year-old OMO Travel Inc. in
Huntington Beach, Calif., has been working with After I Do for six
months, and so far the bloom is still on the rose.
"You have to be specialized these days, and my niche is
customizing itineraries for honeymooners," Dutton said.
While Dutton does send couples to inclusive resorts and on
cruises, she also comes up with more unusual trips, such as to a
ball and New Year's Eve concert in Vienna.
Because honeymoons are, by definition,
supposed to be fabulous, Dutton is always looking for ways to punch
up itineraries with extras.
"I was looking for that added service for my clients, and I
thought After I Do would work with my business," she said.
"If I were a guest, I would love to give the couple a dinner
cruise or a massage," she said, adding that the registry service
takes care of sending out announcement cards that can be inserted
into invitations, keeps track of the gifts and sends out the
Dutton receives referrals and reciprocates with referrals back
to After I Do, which she touts on her own Web site.
"As a preferred agent, I can offer my clients discounts for
signing up," she said.
Because honeymoons are only one of Dutton's many niches, she
said: "I never go into this to sell one trip. I'm looking to be the
couples' travel consultant throughout their traveling life."
Q:I'm hiring a new agent. What's the best
way to determine his compensation?
A: The level of compensation you set now will
stay with both you and the employee for as long as he or she
remains at your agency, so do some homework.
Generally speaking, you should base compensation on skill level
or what that person is bringing to your agency that will add to
Check salary surveys provided by ASTA and ARTA.
can compare salaries offered by other agencies in your area.
Previous job applicants, if fairly recent, also can help you
determine the correct salary range.
If the new agent told you what he or she made prior, you might
consider simply offering a 5% to 10% increase.
If you can't afford this, then offer an incentive, such as a
bonus, if certain goals are met.
Q:Will incorporating help my
A: Almost always. When you incorporate, you
separate your business from your personal assets.
This is an important distinction, since it lowers your financial
If there is a problem with the business, such as a financial
loss or a lawsuit, your personal property can't be attached unless
it's been used as collateral.
If you are in business with someone else, incorporation is all
A partnership makes you liable for both your actions and those
of your partner -- including any personal debts he or she
undertakes. A corporation structure would provide separation and
sidestep a lot of headaches.
Corporations can be set up for well under $1,000. They do
require some administrative work -- holding meetings and recording
minutes -- but the benefits are well worth the effort.
Former agency owner Dan McManus is the publisher of the
newsletter The Successful Worldspan Agent. Contact him at [email protected].