As Valentine’s Day approaches and many couples will become newly engaged, AAA Northeast has announced a new service just for them.
AAA’s new “Agent of Honor” program pairs engaged couples with a professional travel agent who specializes in destination weddings and honeymoons. At no additional charge to the traveler, agents help design dream weddings by finding destinations that match the couple’s personalities, creating itineraries for friends and family, negotiating group rates on flights and accommodations, and acting as the go-between for couples and their wedding venue. The best part, AAA Agents can even be onsite during the wedding to assist with the plans as they unfold.
The Agent of Honor program makes its official debut at the annual AAA Travel Marketplace at Gillette Stadium. The event, March 6 – 8, will host a designated area just for brides and grooms to learn more, meet with an Agent of Honor and discuss the benefits and options of destination weddings. Appointments are recommended and can be made by visiting www.AAA.com/MarketplaceVIP
“I love working with engaged couples. It feels great to be able to make those special days less stressful,” says Carol Mendoza, AAA Agent of Honor and destination wedding specialist. “When I’m onsite the brides and grooms don’t need to concern themselves with the travel arrangements of their guests. They can relax knowing I am there to intercept any issue that may arise – a delayed flight, incorrectly assigned room or reservation change can cause unnecessary stress for the couple on what should be their happiest days. That’s why we’re there – to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.”
According to TripSavvy, 25% of marriages are destination weddings. Nationwide, the most popular destinations include Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica and Bahamas – and lately AAA Northeast sees the rising popularity of other Caribbean islands, European and Canadian destinations and even remote locales like Costa Rica, Bali and Sri Lanka. The booming destination wedding market accounts for nearly $16 billion in annual spending, with the weddings themselves surprisingly costing 20% less on average than the traditional American wedding.
“Couples don’t realize that destination weddings can be easier to plan and more affordable than you expect. Because of negotiated group rates and all-inclusive resort options, much of the planning is already done for you,” says Ms. Mendoza. “Plus, many popular destination wedding venues have something for everyone – making your guests happy and allowing them to treat this like their own mini-vacation.”
Jennifer Vasquez, a AAA member for whom Ms. Mendoza served as her Agent of Honor, says about her destination wedding in Punta Cana, “Working with Carol Mendoza made my life easier because I did not have to worry about booking everyone’s stay. Carol organized who was attending, received the payments and made sure all my questions – and those of our guests – were answered in a timely manner. My husband and I had this dream, and she helped facilitate everything to make it happen.”
AAA Northeast’s 250 travel agents have always helped couples with destination weddings and honeymoons; however this is the first time a formal program has connected specialized training, product development and delivery together under one effort. Now, through the Agent of Honor program, travel agents will complete an official certification program to qualify and be supported by an inside team of operations specialists.