KB recently had the chance to catch up with Christi McGown from Happy Place Travel. As advocates for our couples we wanted to learn more about her business and what all she has to offer. If you book a trip with Christi and mention you are working with KB she offers a variety of deals for our clients. Check out Christi’s story, thoughts, and love of travel below.
How long have you been doing this?
Why did you get into this?
After 20+ years in the financial industry as a compliance supervisor with various stock brokerage firms, I was looking for a change. My next endeavor had to be something I really enjoyed but also something that is portable. Being tied down to an office or a retail storefront was not going to work for me. Something that would let me continue to work no matter where I was at the time. Travel has been a great fit and I especially love working in the Romance Travel niche with honeymoons and destination weddings.
Most unique trip you have ever booked?
How about a honeymoon to Fiji AND Tonga? That's some honeymoon! The resorts were simply amazing and the couple was a lot of fun to work with also.
Best place you have traveled?
I love so many places and have been fortunate to visit so many! There is a soft spot in my heart for Europe - France and Germany in particular - love the architecture, the wine and food. But, it's always nice to return home to Kentucky.
Benefit of you booking honeymoon vs groom or bride?
For me, I look at honeymoon planning as us working together in a team approach. After the initial consultation, I will have recommendations for the couple to consider. Then they can really focus in on a smaller number of options vs. reviewing every resort their friends have been to on their honeymoon. I'm pretty passionate around the resort fitting the couple's personality. We don't just sell a certain resort brand. We consider the clients interests, the time of the year they are traveling and their budgetary needs.
Most popular trip that you get asked about?
All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean - they are a great fit for honeymoons. Most couples are just wiped out after all the months of wedding planning, meetings and events leading up to the wedding. The resort honeymoon gives them time to reconnect at a slower pace. They can rest and recuperate from all of the wedding planning.
Destination weddings, what all do you do vs people on site?
First, we help the couple determine if a destination wedding is right for them.
We talk about where their guests will be traveling from so we can determine which destination will have the best air lift for their guests. Will children be attending the event? If so, that tells me we need to only consider family friendly resorts.
Do any of their guests have mobility issues? If someone on the guest list cannot climb stairs and the only way to get to the rooftop terrace wedding venue is by stairs, then we need to look at a different resort option. Is this a same sex wedding? If so, we know to look only at certain destinations where the same sex marriages are legal. We review what wedding packages the resorts offer. Is there an offer where the wedding can be free? What are the decor options? How festive can I get with my wedding cake? Does the resort have a terrace wedding location? Do they have a gazebo? Do they have a pretty stretch of beach and will they help to keep the tourists out of my pictures?
More and more we are seeing the resorts going to an a la carte menu vs. wedding package A, B or C. This lets the couple's personality come through.
How can you help when booking group travel?
We assist the group in determining which destination would be a good fit for the group. What price point will be attractive to the majority of their group is another consideration. Often the lead person is thinking with their pocket and might not be thinking that their planned budget is a bit more than other members of the group would be willing to spend.
Group travel often involves legally binding contracts. Are we going to go with a group contract with the resort or will we need to set up a flexible group? The contracts can be a major concern and we help to walk the couple through the contract to be sure they understand the number of rooms we are promising will be filled with guests. Contracts have timelines for dropping unsold rooms or for having a certain amount of money paid down on the contract by a certain time. We manage those dates with the couple.
We assist their guests in setting up their reservations and process their payments.
With the internet these days why do we need a travel agent?
Love this question! The biggest feedback that I hear is that people are finding the internet to be very overwhelming. While everyone should start with some preliminary research on the web, it does get a bit confusing when you read one great review about a destination then scroll down to a terrible review about the same destination. What gives? Could be several factors: the destination could have been a perfect fit for the person who wrote the favorable review and a major non fit with the person who wrote the terrible review. Maybe one of the reviews is a "fake" review. Maybe management of the resort changed between the favorable review and the non favorable review.
If you have seen it on the internet, it must be true - right? Not necessarily. We have been to the resorts and we can compare our personal photographs and on resort experiences with what has been shared online. It's probably no surprise that the resort's marketing pieces are going to look pristine. They are trying to lure you in to their destination after all.
The internet is full of teasers - you might see a trip being promoted at a nice price - then you read the fine print - you can only travel on these certain dates or you have a 10 hour layover somewhere that really chews up vacation time. We help you to find the best value. If we replace that 10 hour layover flight with one that is only a few hours, we have gained you 8 hours on the resort. Is an additional 8 hours on the resort property worth a few more dollars to you?
Is the internet proactively reaching out to you and telling you that your travel advisor is keeping an eye on the weather. Proactively rearranging your flights if needed? Proactively giving you ideas about honeymoon location plan B due to a hurricane heading for your original honeymoon destination? Are they serving as your advocate if you get on the resort and something is not as described in your reservation?
As you can see Christi has really worked hard to learn the business the past 5 years. She is helpful, friendly, and hardworking. No matter what type of trip you are looking to plan check in with Happy Place Travel to see how she can help!
*Remember to mention KB Events & Design to see what specials Christi currently has running for our clients.