I'm brand new here but I really need to vent to someone who isn't personally attached to my wedding and I have questions of all the experience here.
I have been going through Group Booking Hell the past few months. I originally contacted a travel agency in February to get a group booking quote for my invitations. However, after a month of going back and forth with the agent with no real quote in sight I went in to talk to the agency owner about the issues we were having and to request someone else. The issues were numerous.. Ranging from her getting a quote for the wrong week to being openly hostile when i asked for another gateway to be added to the quote (it was included in the original request but she forgot) to not returning emails for days and then not answering my questions when she did. The agency owner was very apologetic and passed me off to another agent who she promised would get everything sorted.
Well, to this agent's credit she has provided a quote but not much else. She knew the quote was needed for our invitations but when Westjet (we're Canadian) provided it they only gave us just over 2 weeks to put down deposits, which I thought was crazy considering our wedding is in November. Its also pretty impossible when you consider the invitations weren't even printed or mailed yet. When I contacted her about this she didn't seem to see anything wrong with that timeline. I had to beg her to call WJ back and extend the deadline for us which took another week, so we have been given roughly 3 weeks to mail invites, have them arrive and then harass our guests to put down deposits by the deadline. The invites went out a week and a half ago and my guests are starting to receive them now so she called a few days ago to inform me she only has information for us and if we don't get a minimum of 25 bookings the price will likely be increased. I find this odd as she originally told me we needed a minimum of 10, but maybe someone with WJ groups experience can chime in on this?
In any case, I was panicked and started calling my guests right away to ask if they were going to use the group booking package and if so, to book ASAP, which is when I discovered that the current price on the WJ Vacations website is $150-350 (depending on departure gateway) cheaper than our group booking rate. And no, it doesnt appear to be a promo price. Suffice it to say that most aren't enthusiastic about paying the cost of an excursion more just to be with the group which will obviously affect our group numbers. My fiance and I had a heart to heart about it last night in that for the 4-6 people that I spoke to that required the flexibility of putting down a deposit instead of paying in full, is it really worth it to pursue? Especially since the TA has been awful to deal with anyway?
My biggest reservation is that we have already sent out the invites offering the group booking and I'm uncertain of how that might affect guests if more do plan to use it. Also the TA's details are on the invite and i worry that if a cancel this, she might sabotage anyone who calls her who hasn't "got the memo" about the cancellation. I emailed the TA last night asking a bunch of questions and letting her know where we stand but I still haven't heard anything back (and I know she checks her email almost hourly).
So I guess my biggest questions are:
Has anyone had to cancel their group booking and are there implications if no deposits are paid yet?
Are group bookings generally THAT much more expensive or is my TA looking to make a hefty commission off us?
Has anyone just had guests book their own arrangements for travel and where there any issues? Were the guests
I appreciate you reading my 'novel' and giving me a chance to unburden myself!