I know for a fact that come the wedding day, many couples are hanging out for the honeymoon. Finally, time to relax, escape the decisions, the fuss and sometimes the family. What if your honeymoon was a disaster?
Well, I spoke to Jodi from Travel Manages, who is based on the Central Coast and definitely knows how to organise and put together an amazing holiday package after your wedding.
Below is the transcript from my interview but if you’d rather listen to it, you can do that here.
Have the best Honeymoon
Andrew: It’s Andrew Hellmich here from Impact Images. I’m here with Jodi O’ Sullivan from Travel Managers. Jodi’s booked lots of our holidays over the years, I’ve been really lucky to have done a bit of travel over the last few years for myself and for my family. But I want to speak to Jodi today about booking a honeymoon, specifically, and what couples need to consider before they book their honeymoon. I know it’s pretty easy, when I come in to book my holiday, I’ve got a pretty strict budget and exactly what I want to do, well roughly, and then I get guided by Jodi. So maybe Jodi if you just want to tell us a little bit about yourself. How love you’ve been in travel for, and where you work now, that would be great.
Jodi: Hello Andrew! Nice to see you again! I’m Jodi O’Sullivan, I’ve been working in travel on the Central Coast for 30+ years now, which is a bit scary. I am now currently working for Travel Managers Australia, which they’re a home-based, mobile agency, which is wonderful. Absolutely enjoying it, I’ve been doing it with Travel Managers for the last 8 months now, just gives me more flexibility with customers.
Andrew: I know when I first met you as a travel agent, I used to go in the shopping centre and you were there working behind the desk like you see every other travel agent. And now you’re basically working from home or you come and see us, sometimes when we need to book something. So there’s no real difference between you and a shopping centre travel agent.
Jodi: Just a bit more flexibility and a little bit more casual, I think, as well.
Andrew: Okay. So what about planning a honeymoon? So I know, like I said, when I booked my holidays, I know that I’ve got a strict budget, usually I’m going somewhere because I want to do something, so I want go cycling or skiing, whereas I guess honeymoon is a little bit different, or some of them are. What do they need to consider before they book their honeymoon?
Jodi: I think the most important thing would be your budget. That gives us something to work within. The next important thing would be the style of holiday that you’re after. Whether or not it be resort-style, whether it be a mountain retreat, whether it be adventure-style, backpacking through Europe. The third thing would be the time of the year that you’re getting married, as well, because that would depend on the seasons and the weather, etc.
Andrew: Sure. So with the budgets, looking at those three points. Do you just get a ballpark figure from the couples?
Jodi: Just a ballpark figure, doesn’t have to be an exact figure. Just to give us something to work with, some couples can only afford $2,000. You know, they’ve spent an awful lot of money on their wedding, so I need to or we need to just have a rough idea of what they’ve allocated for their honeymoon.
Andrew: So if I’m considering an overseas holiday, because I know a lot of couples love to go overseas for their honeymoon, what would be a starting budget you think to get away with, say, maybe a 5 day trip if you want to go overseas.
Jodi: I would probably start with anywhere from $2,500.
Andrew: Okay. So you get could overseas as little as that?
Jodi: Yep, you could. You could.
Andrew: Okay, great. And if I have that same $2,500 would I get a better holiday, or a better honeymoon, you think, if I stayed within Australia?
Jodi: Again, it’s going to come down to the time of the year that you’re getting married, with the seasons and so on. It’s always a good idea if you can try and avoid school holidays, obviously it’s going to be a bit more expensive regardless of where you go.
Andrew: Yeah, sure. And so you’re talking about styles of holiday before. So I mean, I guess you’re referring to, say, you’re sitting on a beach somewhere under palm trees with blue sky. Or skiing, snowboarding, surfing…
Jodi: Exactly. Backpacking through Europe. It depends if you want be busy, on-the-go, adventurous, or something secluded on the beach, snorkeling. And that’s what you need to worry about.
Andrew: And I know some of my couples, the guy will want to be out surfing and the girl want to be shopping. Or sitting by the beach. So would you suggest places that will work for that?
Jodi: Yes, we can.
Andrew: Okay, that’s great. And then time of year, if I want to have that beach holiday and be out in the sun and under the blue sky, and it looks like it’s going to be wet season where I intended to go, will you be able to offer suggestions?
Jodi: We can, we can, that’s what we’re here for. You know, we want your honeymoon to be as special as your wedding has been. There’s an awful lot of planning and we try to take the ease out of it, I try to take the ease out of everything, for you.
Andrew: So is it better when couples come to you, is it better when couples come to you and they say ‘You know, we’ve got this budget, and we want to have this holiday and we want to go to this place, like is there the more information, the better? Or would you rather be a little bit more vague?
Jodi: Some couples do know exactly what they’re after. And that might have been their dream honeymoon from when they were 5. So it really does depend with, it’s really up to the individual. We’re here to make suggestions for people. Some people haven’t thought of specific destinations or ideas for their honeymoon, so we’re just here to offer suggestions.
Andrew: So if, I know that it’s lot of couples and myself too, I’m using the internet every day and lots of people are booking stuff online and doing their own sort of thing. So what’s the difference between doing that or coming and seeing a travel agent?
Jodi: Usually there’s not a great deal of price difference booking through a travel agent. The difference is, if you’re overseas, you don’t have a contact. You are on your own if you’ve booked it on the internet, should something go wrong. And the difference is I guess you can’t ask the little detailed questions.
Andrew: Yeah, right. Because obviously you’ve been to a lot of the places that you’re suggesting, or you’ve done research on them.
Andrew: Okay so how did you find out about places? Because you can’t have gone to everywhere.
Jodi: No, no. We usually have functions like get-togethers with different suppliers so they will update us on the information. We have webinar training as well to keep us up-to-date with current products and specials.
Andrew: Okay. So when you talk about products, is that like new resorts coming online or different packages where you might have a bus trip or a tour with a stay?
Andrew: Okay so if I’m going to do that online, that’s going to take me a lot longer, than if you do it for me?
Jodi: It’s sometimes asking, usually, it can. You can ask, doing it online, you don’t have a person to speak to, basically, to ask the finer questions.
Andrew: Yeah, I know. I wouldn’t even consider going online anymore to book my holiday after using you for so many years. It’s just.. I’ll ring and say “Jodi we want go here, we want to go there..’ So the other thing I guess with wedding couples is they’re so tied into a date. They’re not very flexible, so does that mean they have to book earlier?
Jodi: I do suggest a couple of months after you start planning your wedding, you should start consider planning your honeymoon.
Andrew: Okay. Because they can’t move those dates around or..
Jodi: Unless they’re flexible, some couples get married and don’t want to have their honeymoon until a month after. Only because of work constraints or whatever, but most couples do tend to like departing a couple of days after the wedding. So I do suggest you do book earlier rather than later or start planning earlier, not book but start planning.
Andrew: Okay. And what about things like travel insurance? Good idea , don’t worry about it?
Jodi: Definitely take travel insurance. I was overseas 20 odd years ago and didn’t have insurance. And I’m a big believer of insurance, I crushed my tibia bone.
Andrew: Sporting accident?
Jodi: No, no, no. I slipped on a wet floor.
Andrew: After a few champagnes?
Jodi: No, I was working. I wish. But I was working, unfortunately. So yes, I’m a big believer of travel insurance. And that just covers everything for you. It covers from luggage to cancellation, to whether it be a natural disaster, I’ve just had people stuck in Fiji floods over there and they were delayed and what not. And they where contacting me every day while they were there, which was good, weekends and all different hours. Fortunately they had travel insurance to make a claim on what they missed out on.
Andrew: So if I’m travelling, say I’m on a honeymoon, and I’m having a ski holiday in Japan and I broke my leg. If I have travel insurance, I’m going to call an ambulance anyway..
Jodi: Your travel insurance, you can phone your travel insurance and they will organize the ambulance for you if need be. But your first option would be to call the ambulance.
Andrew: Yeah sure. So I don’t have to worry about any cost at all? I just do what I got to do to get myself better.
Jodi: Exactly and they will cover it for you.
Andrew: Okay. So how soon after an accident or an incident do I need to get in contact with my insurance company?
Jodi: If it’s a major accident, like if you’ve broken your leg and you’re in a hospital in Japan, I would do that as soon as possible to give them a call. And they will even sort out doctors. I did have a case years ago, I had a customer who was in a hotel room in Asia – had chest pains, he was there by himself for business, he actually phoned the emergency hotline number, they organized for the doctor and everything to come and see him. So it was one call from him, and they sorted everything out for him. So if it’s just something minor, you’d just pay your medical bill and you make a claim when you get back.
Andrew: Okay, so then you don’t even have to contact the insurance company?
Jodi: No, no. If it’s something small. But if it’s a major incident, then contact them immediately, if it’s something small, make a claim when you get back.
Andrew: And what about, say you’re on a honeymoon and you’re doing a tour somewhere. You might be in Europe, and you’re meant to get on a coach trip from Paris and the coach doesn’t turn up. Are you covered against those sort of things?
Jodi: Yes, you are. Yes it does cover for travel delay and so on for unforseen circumstances. But a lot of the time the tour companies that were supposed to be there to pick you up, they will, there was obviously a reason why they didn’t get there, so they will sort out something for you. But yes, your travel insurance covers you for all of those things.
Andrew: So in an incident like that, I guess that’s where it’s a benefit to have an agent, a travel agent back at home, as well. So I can ring you and say ‘Jodi, my bus isn’t here.’
Jodi: And we can do it all for you.
Andrew: Okay. I can go and grab a coffee.
Jodi: Yes, you can, you can.
Andrew: And a baguette and you can sort out the bus.
Jodi: Well I’ve just had a client of mine, she had, and I’ve never heard of it in my 30 years of travel. 13 hours schedule delay on 1 of her flights. So that was fine, a couple of phone calls, couple of clicks on the computer booked me flights and everything for her and off she went.
Andrew: All done, that’s great.
Jodi: And she made her next part of the trip and she was in Europe.
Andrew: Fantastic. So what about honeymoon destinations? Is there anything off the top of your head that you can recommend?
Jodi: Again, it depends on the style of the holiday. But you’ve got from the Maldives, you’ve got the South Pacific, Tahiti is absolutely beautiful. My family were there a couple of years ago now, absolutely amazing. You’ve got from overwater bungalows to mountain retreats. Whether or not you go to Tassie, you know, Cradle Mountain. There’s so many suggestions depending on the time, your budget and the style.
Andrew: The couple, they really need to have some sort of idea what they want. They can’t come in totally vague.
Jodi: We have had people come in, we don’t know where we want to go. The most important thing, I think, is we need a budget. Because I can suggest a million different places for you. There’s that many beautiful places out in the world. But without having a budget..
Andrew: You’re pretty much buggered really, aren’t you? You can’t plan anything.
Jodi: No, no. A budget is really important.
Andrew: And what about for shopping destination for the girls? Any particular places that recommend if they want to go shopping?
Jodi: If you still want your resort-style holiday, and a bit of nightlife, and your shopping, I think Asia’s always good there and they have some beautiful resorts. If you’re wanting more laidback style, relaxing, the South Pacific, Maldives, as I said Tahiti, Samoa – again, but they’re not shopping destinations.
Andrew: Okay, more beach. So for shopping, Asia.
Jodi: I think so. Hawaii is a great one.
Andrew: Yeah, right. What about cruises? Are they still popular?
Jodi: Cruises are very popular, cruises are very popular. Honeymooners do do cruises as well.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s no Cliché?
Jodi: No, it’s not really, it’s different, everybody’s different. I’d probably, I don’t know if I’d do a cruise for my honeymoon. But I love cruises, don’t get me wrong. But all of your meals are included, everything.
Andrew: So why not for a honeymoon?
Jodi: Depends how private, I guess, you want to be.
Andrew: Because you are surrounded by thousands..
Jodi: You are and you’re on the ship.
Andrew: Yeah, right. So you can get off though…
Jodi: You can get off.
Andrew: At each port? Is that each morning?
Jodi: Not necessarily. It depends on the itinerary.
Andrew: Okay. And so if couples are booking a cruise, is it true you’re meant to stay as high above the water as you can in your cabin – that’s the better cabin?
Jodi: No, not really.
Andrew: Okay. So where should you be looking for when you’re booking a cruise?
Jodi: If you where doing a cruise, well, mid-ship, definitely. If you can try and be in the middle of the ship.
Andrew: So you’re not talking about height-wise, but actually in the middle of the ship.
Andrew: Left rocking?
Jodi: Yes. So if you’ve got your rough seas, if you’re at the front or the back, yeah, but no, middle of the ship, regardless of what deck you’re on and there’s now outside cabins that have a window where you’re going see the fish swimming by. So they’re all above water level.
Andrew: So you’ll always going to see the sky?
Andrew: And is it so the higher you are though, is it the more expensive it is?
Jodi: Yes it is, usually. If you’re doing a honeymoon, I probably suggest if you could afford it, to look at a balcony cabin. So you’ve got your balcony, you can sit out there and have your happy hour of an afternoon type thing and that’s a little bit more private as well, so you can be away from the rest of the world. Still sitting there watching the world sail by.
Andrew: And with the cruise, you can hop-on and hop-off, can’t you? So you don’t have to sort of start and finish with that cruise, or you do?
Jodi: Again, depending on the itinerary. The majority of them, yes. But we all flew over to Honolulu a couple of years back and cruised back, 16-day/nights on the Rhapsody of the Seas as a family holiday and that was fantastic.
Andrew: So if you’ve got a tight itinerary, or tight times you can find something that will suit the couple?
Andrew: Look, if someone’s listening to this or seeing, reading my blog with this interview, and they might be overseas or in another state and they’re looking for a travel agent, is there anything you should consider when you actually meet or looking for your own travel agent?
Jodi: I think the most important thing is to have a good rapport with them, where they’re working for the customer and trying to do the best thing we can by the customer, as well, with the suggestions. But I think the most important thing is to have a good rapport with them and feel comfortable.
Andrew: And what about their knowledge? Like is there, obviously if they’re just coming into the industry, they’re not going to know about the little places.
Jodi: With a good travel agent, and again, I don’t know every destination inside-out. But if don’t know, I’ll find out for you.
Andrew: Okay, right. So it’s really just a matter of getting on with your agent and then..
Jodi: I think so, I think that’s the most important thing, just to have a good rapport with them. And have trust in them that they’re going to do the right thing for you.
Andrew: Okay, sure. And what about price? Is one travel agent going to be the same price as the next all the time?
Jodi: We should be, we should be.
Andrew: If you book the same holiday.
Jodi: Exactly, as long as you are comparing apples with apples, there is no reason why anybody’s going to be any different.
Andrew: Okay, when you say, when you compare apples with apples, say – is there some trickery out there where people advertise prices that aren’t real?
Jodi: A lot of people will, I will never give you an air, well you know, I never give you an airfare quote unless I check availability for you. I can quote give you cheap airfares, but if I know they’re not available, it’s pointless quoting them. So I always like to check the availability, to make sure everything’s..
Andrew: Before you give that price?
Jodi: Yes. If you’ve got definite dates, I always like to check that it is available.
Andrew: Sure. Look I know that whenever I’ve booked anything with you Jodi, you’ve always given me 3 or 4 different airlines to choose from. They sort of start at one price and go up to another, trying to find something that suits my budget and then you’ll also have your little star next to the one that you recommend, you know, the best value, the best food, the best entertainment and it’ll be the best airline. Which is great, you don’t always get that at travel agents, they’ll say you’re going go Qantas, this is the price, which is great because that make a big difference.
Jodi: Thank you, that’s what I like to do.
Andrew: Awesome – look, thanks a lot, that’s unreal. It’s been a big help, thanks for helping out today.
Jodi: Thank you for time, thank you – I’ve enjoyed it.
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