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.
Made-to-measure travel: Please, go away!
W : www.vision2000.ca/sheilagh
E : firstname.lastname@example.org
P : 613-837-0699