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Stellar Events is Ottawa's premier wedding and event planning company. Let us worry about the details so that you can enjoy your next event. Our goal is to make sure your event is: Stellar!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cristie Featured on Alan Viau's Blog

Since I was awarded the 2010 Young Business Person Award, I have gotten so much wonderful feedback and support including a recent blog post by Alan Viau. Alan is an officiant in Ottawa - so if you are getting married any time soon I would recommend giving him a call! Although I haven't had the pleasure of working with him yet, I have met him a number of times at industry events as well as being friends on Twitter and Facebook! Just by talking to Alan, you know that he is amazing at what he does because he loves it. I look forward to working with him soon.

Thank you for the support Alan!

Exciting Project in the Works

I am beyond thrilled about an amazing project that I am working on in collaboration with Sylvain Renaud and Caroline Renaud from Reno Video Productions. It is something that no one else in Ottawa has done yet so we can't wait to release it within the next few weeks and hear people's reaction. We have been working on this for the past few months and shot for the first time yesterday afternoon at Tripp Photography's gorgeous studio in the Glebe. In addition to Christine Tripp from Tripp Photography we worked with Baz Kanda from 5 Rivers Studio, Kathy Youssef from Fleisher Photography and Adriano Pagliarello from Media Ball. Stay tuned! Can't wait to share with you what we have been working on. I promise you one thing though: it is going to be Stellar ;)

Guest Blog Spot Featuring Stellar Events

I recently had the pleasure of guest blogging on Sheila Gallant-Halloran's blog - which led to my last post of her guest blogging for me! Thought I would share the link of the Q&A that I did for her earlier this week.

Check it out:

Enjoy! I had fun working with Sheila on these blog posts this week. Without a doubt, she is STELLAR ;)

Guest Blog: Some Q&As with Travel Agent Sheila Gallant-Halloran

I am very excited to have Sheila guest blog for me today. She is an amazing Travel Advisor for Vision 2000, and is my first call when working with destination wedding couples! I also recommend her to my couples when deciding on what they want to do for their honeymoon. In my opinion, Sheila is one of the best in the business - definitely on top of her game when it comes to all sorts of travel.

Take a look at what she had to say, during our Q&A:

Why are you in the travel industry?

Everything I do, I believe that caring for family is the most important job in the world. I believe that we all have a finite amount of time to do all the right things. I believe in building memories that families will cherish. The way I value my family is to be present in their lives, maximize quality time, and experience wonder. I believe that we can enhance wonder by carving out magical time together on vacation. It just so happens that I "sell" vacations that will help your family have "wow" moments, and build memories. Wanna buy one?

How do you become a travel agent? Do you have any specialities?

I worked in financial services for 20 years, and regular business commuting took me away from home. We often escaped to Walt Disney World on vacation. So, when I had children late in life, I looked for a way to combine my business acumen with my love of travel. I specialize in Disney travel (my own family has been 18 times), but I add magic to every vacation -luxury, cruise, beach, adventure, romantic getaway, escorted tour, safari: whatever you crave. I tailor vacation experiences to your desires and interests. Some of my certifications include being an Anguilla Travel Connossieur, a Certified Sandals and Beaches Specialist, and being a graduate of the Regent Seven Seas travel agent university, as well as the Disney College of Knowledge.

How long have you been doing this?

I supplemented my personal travel experiences by working as an authorized Disney vacation planner for 2 years, and for the last 2.5 years, I have worked as an independent contractor. I now run my own business as a travel advisor with the Vision 2000 Travel Group, so I can better orchestrate your travel dreams. Vision 2000 is a leading member of Virtuoso, a network of the world's finest travel agencies. This gives me more resources and global connections, and gives you access to exclusive travel offers that you can't get on your own, along with your best value for the money.

What’s your favourite memory of working with a client?

Recently, a client asked me to organize a surprise birthday gift for his wife - he wanted to take her to Disney to celebrate her retirement, cross off a "bucket list" trip, fete her at the best restaurants, have her meet "Winnie the Pooh,” and generally act like a kid again. This is an older, well travelled couple, and I'd organized many trips for them previously. This email is self-explanatory.

You have no idea how surprised, happy and all the emotions that you can imagine she demonstrated when she realised what was happening, and this was the start... I understand why you return there so many times. We will certainly go back as well....In short, there is no other word to explain our satisfaction/pleasure other than say this week was one of the most marvellous and magical weeks that [we]... have spent together.

Do you do destination weddings?

Of course. I have a destination wedding group returning from Punta Cana today.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome with a destination wedding client, just by your own sheer will and determination?

One couple wanted a family friend to marry them in the Dominican, but that wouldn’t work legally – so we had them legally married in Canada, and had the symbolic wedding on a DR beach with their friend officiating. Another couple had a set wedding date and after we’d worked hard to secure a judge at destination, the tour operator suddenly lost space on the flight – I had to scramble to make alternate arrangements, but it got sorted.

What’s the biggest stumbling block in taking on/ working with a new client?

I don’t get the do-it-yourself syndrome. I bet you could research how to perform your own appendectomy on the internet, but few would be willing to turn the scalpel on themselves. Yet, many do that with their vacation. There are many scams out there, and many consumer-rating agency sites that are not quite what they purport themselves to be. Why not deal with the professionals that have your best interests in mind?

Why should someone use a travel agent, especially when coordinating their destination wedding, as opposed to trying to book it online?
Group travel is a special animal. You want folks travelling together on the same plane, staying together in the same part of the hotel, paying the same price, and maybe getting some special amenities or travel concessions. Individuals don’t get that booking piecemeal; nor do you have access to the same resources and vendors that I do.

Look - you never get to recapture your personal time, especially your wedding day. So your vacation, and your destination wedding, has to be right the first time. Extraordinary travel experiences don't just happen - they are created through collaborative effort. So, if you're thinking about the kind of memories you'd like to take away from your next vacation, please give me a call.

What is the biggest misconception when a couple is planning their destination wedding?

You have to remember you’re still planning a wedding. Taking the wedding to another destination doesn’t remove the decision-making – it just changes the locale of the party. Involve a knowledgeable travel advisor to take care of the travel, and a wedding planner to take care of everything else.

Do you book honeymoons? Offer any special services or incentives to couples?

Of course! I meet with couples to find out what memories they are looking to take away, and what kind of honeymoon they want. We also offer a honeymoon registry program (allowing guests to contribute funds towards the honeymoon), and for destination weddings, we can build personalized websites for the bride and groom that can feature a gift registry, an RSVP page for all guests with full travel details, and an invitation service.

Sheila Gallant-Halloran
Travel Advisor
Made-to-measure travel: Please, go away!

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P : 613-837-0699
Twitter: @sheila_gh

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Young Business Person of the Year

Last week I was honoured to receive the Young Business Person of the Year Award for the 2010 TD Canada Trust People's Choice Award for the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. I was born and raised in Orleans, so it means so much to be recognized by my community this way, especially since I am just going into my third year of business! It has been a very exciting journey so far and I can't wait to see how it continues to unfold. I have met and had the pleasure to work with so many people so far, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Most people in business face multiple challenges, and I think that being a young entrepreneur has a few additional challenges to add to the typical list! Seeing other people my age succeeding in business is very inspiring to me, and definitely helps motivate me when I start to feel overwhelmed. When I accepted this award, I did it on behalf of the two other finalists in my category: Jenna Majkot from Dahlia Party & Event Decor and Jeff Stoveld/Adam Quinn Taylor of Top of the Hill Bakery, who are successful young business people in Ottawa and should be recognized for their contribution to our community. Congratulations to all the nominees, especially the finalists.

I am blessed to be able to do what I love for a living, and I would not be where I am today without the continued support and encouragement of my family and friends - especially my parents! It is because of them that I am living my dream, and I am truly grateful.

Thank you to everyone that voted for me, it means the world to me!

Me with my parents after the awards gala - so happy they were there to share the moment with me!