Travel Consultant Tuesday: Janessa Weinberg
This week, we sat down to chat with Liberty Group Travel consultant, Janessa Weinberg. She dished the latest destination wedding trends and why booking with an expert matters.
What inspired you to become a travel consultant?
Growing up, I saw both sets of my grandparents traveling extensively. My perception was that they were always on vacation – both across the United States and in Europe – and I knew I wanted to have similar experiences. So, when I was a sophomore in high school, I got a job as a secretary at a local travel agency. I immediately fell in love with the fast pace and was practically begging for more responsibility. My excitement for the industry inspired me to pursue a Travel Tourism degree in college.
I started with Liberty Travel barely two weeks after graduating. Actually, today is my twelve year anniversary with the company! My role has evolved in recent years as I went on to become a Group Travel Consultant, but my passion for this career path has only grown. Nothing means more to me than seeing the smile on my customers’ faces and hearing everything went as we planned. My life has come full circle – I help travelers have the same types of life-enriching experiences I remember my grandparents having when I was a child.
We see that you’ve traveled to 25 countries! Where do you specialize in sending customers?
Fortunately, I’m able to book vacations to any corner of the world with my first-hand knowledge and Liberty Travel’s extensive global contacts. But, prior to focusing on group travel, my expertise was fully-independent Europe trips. I love building a customized itinerary from scratch for adventurous travelers!
Now that I predominately handle destination weddings and celebrations for groups, my specialty lies in the Caribbean and Mexico. Instead of having everyone fly to a central spot in the States, all-inclusive plans in the Caribbean and Mexico help to bring everyone together in a worry-free environment. There is so much value for large parties when traveling to these destinations because they can get family and friends together to enjoy the sun and an incredible resort.
What types of amenities do resorts offer groups when they book through Liberty Group Travel?
Due to our long-standing relationships with partners all over the world, we’re able to negotiate the best group rates for our travelers. The couple (in the case of a destination wedding) or the group leader (in the case of a celebratory trip) can then earn concessions. These can range from private check-in to upgraded rooms, VIP amenities, and even a complimentary stay.
Are there any trends you’re seeing in the industry, particularly when it comes to destination weddings?
Our partners are making it easier than ever for couples to get married in paradise. I work as the liaison between the on-site destination wedding planner [at the resort] and my bride; this way, everything is communicated and organized in advance. One thing I’m noticing across the Caribbean and Mexico is how many options there are for Hindu weddings. In the US, you would typically have to outsource inclusions from a variety of vendors, whereas all-inclusive resorts have everything – down to the henna artist – accounted for in their destination wedding packages. This streamlines everything for the couple, their family, and their friends to ensure cultural traditions are honored no matter where the wedding takes place.
Can you share your favorite travel tip?
I always advocate that my customers experience the local culture. For example, in Mexico, there are so many historical sites. And while it can be nice to relax at your resort, getting off property and seeing something like the Mayan ruins can be really fun. Or, if you’re in Jamaica, touring Bob Marley’s house or seeing Dunn’s River Falls may be the highlight of your trip!
The nice thing about organizing group travel is that we can offer several excursion options to our group leader. Then, they can talk to their travelers and get a sense of what everyone is interested in doing. We can either split the group into several subgroups who participate in different activities or get them all on an excursion together. This helps to ensure they receive a more complete view of their destination.
What do you think people would be surprised to learn about your role as a Liberty Group Travel consultant?
I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about planning group travel. We don’t just pick a resort, book it and move on. My relationships with clients are long-standing; particularly since groups often book 18-months or more in advance. So, we spend a great deal of time going through options, choosing flights, creating their personalized website and updating their guests on the booking as we near their departure date. We help streamline the entire process for them, at no additional cost.
Which destination(s) will you be crossing off your bucketlist in 2018?
Well, I go to Europe nearly every year, but I am really looking to branch off to somewhere a bit different this year. I’ve explored parts of North Africa and a great deal of the Caribbean, so I have my sights set on the Middle East and Asia. I’d love to explore Israel and Jordan. Or, maybe Bali! It’s so difficult to decide, but I’m excited for wherever this year takes me.
How can travelers get in touch with you?
For those interested in booking ten rooms or more, I’d love to help you with your group travel inquiry. I’m reachable for in-person consultations in our West Hartford, Connecticut location. Or, you can reach by phone at 203-680-9301 or via email at WeinbergJ@libertytravel.com. I hope to connect soon!