Interviewing: Lisa Sheldon, President – DWHSA
An Interview By: Andy Ogg, CTIE, Co-Owner – Travel Professional NEWS
First off, thank you very much for the time today to discuss your latest project! I am super excited to learn more about this new tool and offering for Travel Professionals!
As always, I’m delighted to talk to you about DWHSA and our newest project for our members.
While you and I have some work related history in our pasts, would you mind sharing a bit about yourself to our readers of Travel Professional NEWS?
I love Golden Retrievers, Pink Flamingos, and Christmas…and I am in my 32nd year as a travel advisor, owning my own agency for the past 23 years. For the last 20 I have focused on destination weddings & honeymoons, and other romance travel, which then led me to connect with John Hawks, and together we launched DWHSA – Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association, February 1, 2013. We are in our 8th year with almost 900 members through out North America, and we have 3 members in Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. The association is only for travel advisors who specialize or want to learn about the romance travel niche. Our purpose is to provide education and networking opportunities for our members. We also will advocate for our members when industry issues or vendor policies might affect the way travel advisors do business or deal with clients.
What is your role with the DWHSA (Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialist Association?
I am the President of the association.
Can you share what spawned the creation of RomanceTravelSpecialists.com? When did you get the idea to build such a resourceful site?
About 2 years after launching DWHSA, the idea of having a consumer site where our members can be featured was discussed. One of the reasons romance travel is such a popular niche today in the industry is many couples don’t want to leave such an important trip to chance by booking it on the internet, or letting their guests make their own travel arrangements. The purpose of the site is to showcase some of our members so that couples can find a romance travel specialist in their area or by destination specialty. It will also help educate couples as to the importance of working with a travel advisor on such a special trip.
Have you seen an increase in Destination Wedding and Honeymoon travel in the past year?
Our members are continually seeing increases in their romance travel sales. The popularity of destination weddings remains steady – about 25% of all marriages in the US are destination weddings. 40% of the destination weddings are in international destinations. (TripSavvy 6/2019). Also, with new resorts continually opening up in popular locations in Mexico and the Caribbean, couples always have new options. US couples are also considering Italy and the South Pacific for destination weddings.
Will the new RomanceTravelSpecialists.com be marketed directly to consumers looking for a Travel Professional who can help in their goals of a destination event?
It’ll be marketing to consumers who’re considering any type of romantic getaway – from DWs and honeymoons to vow renewals, anniversary trips, babymoons, familymoons, etc. Many travelers enjoy doing their own trip research, but we’re hoping with this site to encourage them to use our site to find a travel advisor who can take their trip dreams and handle the booking details for them.
Can you share a bit about what is required if a Travel Professional reading this would like to join your new site?
RomanceTravelSpecialists.com is limited to current DWHSA members, so we’d encourage any agents who’d like to have a profile on the site to join us (JoinDWHSA.com)!
Is there any costs or fees to be listed on the RomanceTravelSpecialists.com site?
DWHSA members receive a free profile on the site that’s included in their dues. The profile shows their photo, contact information, bio, specialties, and other details. Beyond the free profile, DWHSA members can upgrade to a premium listing if they’d like to add videos, photo albums, and more content to their profiles
With 2020 underway, what do you see as the next steps for the new project?
In March, members will have a few weeks left to finish setting up their profiles. In April and May, DWHSA will finish designing the home page, adding blog posts, and preparing the site for a June 1 official launch.
If a Travel Professional is interested in learning more about all that you offer, where can they go to do that?
www.joindwhsa.com or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Before we conclude, I personally want to thank you for the time in this chat and for the fantastic partnership over the years! We are excited for your new offering and hope to touch base in the future to discuss the success it brings!