The reality is that the travel industry has been hit tremendously hard by this pandemic. As published by Statista, “As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the global travel and tourism market is predicted to see a loss of 100.8 million jobs worldwide in 2020.” It has not been an easy road for many, and we are still not out of the woods just yet, as cases continue to rise in certain countries and as such borders have remained closed in various nations worldwide.
Many couples have had to postpone their wedding and travel plans to 2021 and onward, and advisors in the travel space have been working around the clock to ensure their clients happiness and safety during this uncertain time.
Over the past few months, we reached out to a few of our colleagues in the travel industry to get their advice and recommendations for couples, and today we’d like to introduce you to one of them – Niki Rakowitz, President & Visionary of CARE Travel. Keep reading for more from this incredible travel advisor and get some expert advice on why you need to consider hiring a professional to take care of all of your travel plans, to ensure that you receive the best and safest experience for you and your loved ones.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your amazing company.
- CARE stands for Concierge And Romantic Escapes Travel, because this is my heart and passion.
- Concierge by taking clients travel experiences to the highest levels.
- And who doesn’t love all things romance and when you add travel and romance…. I get to create these ultimate travel memories for my clients!
2. What inspired you to become a travel agent?
I had traveled with my grandparents growing up, and always loved the escape. I feel they instilled the passion to see and explore new places, so when they passed away, those travel memories are what fill my heart with happiness. The moments, the feelings and those experiences became lifetime memories to be forever cherished. That is what I want to do for others, create those moments that become lifetime memories.
3. How long have you been working in the travel industry?
In 2002 I started in travel with a Host agency and had a mentor for 2 years. In 2004 I made the leap of faith to go completely on my own, making my personal vision for CARE Travel grow.
4. What are a few of your favourite Caribbean islands that your clients have travelled to for their destination wedding?
- Oh this is really hard for me to choose, as I feel every island has something unique and special about it. This is where I feel my relationship with the clients is key, listening to what is most important for their special day.
- St. Lucia has the best of everything I feel…like the priceless views, Caribbean culture and hospitality is so welcoming.
- Jamaica has a personal pocket in my heart, because this is where I had my destination wedding. And there is something to be said for the Reggae vibe in Jamaica.
5. What services does CARE Travel offer to their clients?
100% customized concierge planning for our clients. From the very beginning, deciding what destination is a best fit, and figuring out the best resort/hotel option. Next going through the actual ceremony details and requirements and coordinating events for wedding guests. Customizing with tours and activities in location, dining recommendations, and providing destination specific knowledge. We work hard to create complete packages from transfers, accommodations, and activities to fit each person’s needs and expectations!
6. What is your favourite part of your job as a travel agent?
Seeing and hearing my clients sharing their experiences with others, knowing I was a small part of those special moments.
7. We have heard that even though many people have had to change their travel plans due to Covid-19, that some have already re-booked to things they feel more comfortable with or that are more accessible to them right now. Is this true? Have you and your team experienced this with your clients?
Travel always comes with things outside our control, and COVID-19 is one of these. Here at CARE Travel we have been able to move numerous client’s travel dates to future dates. We feel blessed to have very few cancellations overall. I do believe that people are overall “tired of being in quarantine” and are struggling with the need to get outside and travel again. We are seeing a lot more interest in US travel destinations right now as things are opening back up. This to me only proves the value and need for vacation experiences for everyone.
8. Do you have any advice for couples who may be interested in hiring a travel agent for their destination wedding or honeymoon?
- There is something to be said for using an expert (in any industry). I always recommend using a travel agent because they specialize in your dream destination, they can provide you with priceless knowledge and connections!
- I do however recommend that you find a destination wedding travel specialist, because their focus and knowledge is vastly different from a full-service travel agent or even a wedding planner. A Destination wedding Specialist is both your travel agent and wedding planner in one professional expert. The trick is to find one who specialized in your destination of choice and that you feel comfortable working with.
9. Do you have any exciting projects that you are currently working on?
- Oh, so many exciting things in the works for CARE Travel! I think my personal favorite is our “give back” program we are building. We are also redesigning our packages to offer more customized attention, getting back to our hearts with customer service and personal attention.
- I fully believe we got lost in growth, that we got lost in the day to day of what we were doing for our clients, that we forgot to slow down and enjoy each and every relationship we built. CARE Travel in 2021 will be the best version of us, my team and our hearts, and we are all so excited to share our passions for creating those memories that will be cherished forever.
10. Any final thoughts?
There is no better feeling in the work that we do, than to receive a photo or testimonial of you enjoying the travel moments we helped create for you. Creating these once in a lifetime events to be as unique as our clients, is our dream.