Romantic Planet Vacations would love to have 100 outside agents in the next couple of years

Romantic Planet Vacations would love to have 100 outside agents in 1-2 years

Love is a many-splendoured thing. For Laurie Keith, love has also been a very successful foundation for a thriving business.

Keith opened Romantic Planet Vacations in 2004. Just days after printing her first Destination Wedding & Honeymoon brochure and distributing it to all travel agencies in Canada “our team of two (at the time) was quoting and booking up a storm.”

Eleven years later, Keith now oversees two offices – the original office in Calgary, and a brand new space in Burlington, ON – and business is still booming. “I knew it was going to be a success because I understood the statistics,” says Keith. “At that time only 7% of all weddings by Canadians were destination weddings and they were expecting it to climb to 15% by 2010. Today it’s estimated that about 22% of all weddings are now held overseas.”

The new Burlington office

The new Burlington office

Keith is now looking to expand Romantic Planet Vacations with more outside agents as well. She’s launched two programs for outside agents, geared to both the experienced destination wedding counsellor and agents new to the niche.

Outside agents are the future of the retail travel industry, says Keith. “The Canadian travel industry is heading in the direction of more home-based / outside agents. It’s been happening in the U.S. for years and it’s now trending in Canada. We feel we can reach more destination wedding and honeymoon clients through a larger family and team of experts located across the country than what we can presently offer through our Calgary and Burlington offices.”

Keith made her mark in the retail side of things with a travel agency she owned in Calgary in the 1990s, specializing in the niche market of work, study and volunteer abroad packages. She sold that agency in 2000 and worked at some local tour operators. “I felt the strong need to own a travel agency again. However I knew that the Internet and recent commission cuts were impacting the industry greatly at that time so I knew this agency, like my last, had to be very different,” she said.

Keith saw the need for the first nationwide wholesaler/travel agency to specialized in destination weddings. Romantic Planet Vacations was formed in November 2004.

Keith works with brides and grooms and boutique travel agencies selling the company’s destination wedding and honeymoon packages. Even in this tech-obsessed age, clients still like to know she has a brick-and-mortar presence, she says. “I think it gives them extra faith in us that they are putting their most important trip in trustworthy hands. This is why we decided to open up in Ontario this year as well.”

Romantic Planet Vacations would love to have 100 outside agents in the next couple of yearsAnd although most of Romantic Planet Vacations’ clients get in touch through e-mail and phone, “we can offer them the most beautiful retail space in both Calgary and Burlington, equipped with chandeliers, flat-screen TVs and bridal-like decor and furnishings, to give them that extra peace of mind.”

Keith talked to Sphere about her two new programs for outside agents.

‘The DW Pro’ is for existing destination wedding specialists who want to work for themselves at the highest commission rate possible. These agents do not require a lot of training, already have a name for themselves, and are simply looking for a host agency to provide them support, specifically destination wedding support, with excellent commission payouts, says Keith.

“Romantic Planet Vacations is the perfect host for these agents because we offer a fully-customized group automated booking system not found anywhere else. Over the years we found the need to alleviate the often high paper-work associated with booking groups by automating much of the process. We couldn’t find anything that did it all. So we created it ourselves.”

This cloud-based program automatically books wedding guests in the room category, occupancy, rate that agents have pre-entered, processes an automatic invoice, sends the tour operator the booking with a click of a button, creates group manifests and automatically reconciles the groups’ net and gross amounts through a balance sheet all with the front-end of a wedding website for the bride and groom.

“It’s truly the easiest and best program that exists for travel groups and its achieved the goal of bringing down the administrative workload by at least 50%,” says Keith.

The second program, called ‘The DW Apprentice’, is for the independent travel agent who now wants to specialize in destination weddings. It entails a larger training component with training modules on product, sales/marketing to this niche market and how to quote, book and process a successful group booking from start to finish.

Both programs offer destination wedding and honeymoon leads created from Romantic Planet Vacations’ extensive nationwide marketing campaign. The campaign includes social media and Internet marketing, the company’s destination wedding and honeymoon brochure, attendance at over 14 bridal shows across Canada, and the company’s very own Romance Travel Show, “which is Canada’s only nationwide consumer event for the destination wedding and honeymoon bride,” says Keith.

A new website,, will offer details about the program. The company’s main website is

Romantic Planet Vacations also has an online Destination Wedding Store that offers clients everything from wedding favours, decor, invitations, welcome bags and more. All items are commissionable. Romantic Planet Vacations also has a wedding planner in-house who provides clients with pre-event and/or onsite wedding planning, also commissionable.

One or two years down the line, Keith’s goal is to have a loyal team of 50 to 100 expert outside agents serving the destination wedding and honeymoon markets right across Canada. Keith’s outside agent programs offer leads, training and management support including a national and international conference to get everyone together each year. “We aim to be the number one leader in destination weddings and honeymoons in Canada through our team of inside and outside agents,” she says. With the way the destination wedding market is trending, it seems like it’s just a matter of time.

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