Archive for August, 2008

The Thank You List

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

With a honeymoon registry at Smart Honeymoon, our couples have real time access to their Thank You list. This allows couples to manage their registry and keep track of gifts in one place. With other registries, the Thank You list arrives on the wedding day, or not at all. On the Thank You list, we list the gift description and quantity, the guest’s message, if any, and who the gift is from. The couple can log in to their registry and click the View Your Thank You List link to access it.

Get your hotel upgrades here!

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Here’s a great article out of the Yahoo travel department. It lists 10 top tips for getting a room upgrade at your hotel. #1 is for our honeymoon couples. If you’re interacting with the hotel management in advance, by all means take the opportunity to mention that it’s your honeymoon. It’s a lazy staff that won’t, at the least, mention it when you arrive or have flowers or a bottle of wine in your room. If you don’t get the opportunity to mention it in advance, then do so when checking in. Of course, if you’re registered at Smart Honeymoon, then you can use your Smart Honeymoon debit card when you check in to get instant honeymoon recognition.

Good luck and happy honeymooning!!!

Wedding Gift Etiquette

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Here’s a great link to an Emily Post Institute article on wedding gift etiquette. Here’s the follow up specifically regarding alternative registries, like a honeymoon registry. Great points, mainly they focus on the etiquette being a function of “delivery” by the bride and groom, and less about where they register. “Always from the heart” might be a good motto for everyone.

Happy Registering!

We’ve Reduced Our Transaction Charge!

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Smart Honeymoon has reduced their service charge from 7.9% to 7.5%. It’s not a lot but we feel it’s better than raising the fee as our competitors have done recently. Every little bit helps, right?

Kayak & Sidestep merger: Benefits them or you?

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

It was interesting to hear about this high-impact merger of Kayak and Sidestep. Both are lauded, successful travel search companies, each claiming their share of devoted users. There is an immediate benefit to each company from a cost savings standpoint. Each generates traveler traffic through online relationships where they will now see a larger volume discount, pay-per-click savings, and reduced competition previously driving up ad prices.

But what do the travelers get? Sidestep will incrementally benefit from Kayak’s technology. You’ll see a faster search with a greater content footprint, resulting in a potentially lower ticket price. With larger traffic volume, you’ll see more meaningful fare predicting data too. For example, you are going to Hawaii in May for your honeymoon but are willing to leave up to ten days after your wedding if you could save $400 on airfare. Sidestep gives you a chart section that shows you what days are the cheapest for your desired destination over the next month. It’s based on other users’ stored data, so with more data now we’ll see more meaningful results, giving you handy access to the cheapest travel days.

Kayak will benefit from Sidestep’s larger hotel business, but I’ll talk more about hotels in the next few weeks. In the meantime, while it’s not a sea change, sidle on over to Sidestep for a test spin if you haven’t already.

Cheap Airfare Ideas: My Approach. What’s Yours?

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Finding the cheapest airfare is as much an art as a science. There are nuances aplenty in this hourly-changing industry. The large travel search sites like Travelocity and Orbitz are no longer your one-stop-shop, though don’t think you should avoid them. Those larger sites should still be part of your overall strategy. You can find specials there that the faster moving and harder working little guys haven’t uncovered yet.

My general strategy for finding the best airfare is a multi-step process. It’s a filter down approach starting with the big airfare search engines, especially when I’m researching destinations. If you know when you’re going but not where (like our honeymoon couples, often), then this is a great place to start. You can fairly reliably find out which destinations are running discounts for your dates by doing an Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak or Sidestep type search, or any of the like. They are all very different; try them out and tell me your favorite! Try Farecast too - Farecast may take this segment by storm if they can work out the kinks. Add a day or two of flexibility to your search to see how much you can save (we began our honeymoon to South-East Asia on a Tuesday, rather than Sunday or Monday, and saved hundreds). Then check the airlines that you may not find in these searches, the Southwest’s and the Jet Blue’s of the world. Jet Blue is starting to appear in most of these searches finally, so check out the one you’re using. Southwest remains adamantly independent. You can often find specials directly through all the airlines’ websites too. Then look for deals through budget sites, like Travelzoo. I’ve used Travelzoo several times for their great hotel specials. Airfarewatchdog is unreal for truly last minute deals. They have some super insider tips too. I’m not opposed to using travel agents for airfare, but you need to find a hungry one that will check several times each day, which is the frequency with which airlines change their fares.

I know that many of you have little golden nuggets to share. What are your tested strategies that can really pay off? Visit us at Smart Honeymoon and drop me an email. If you had 20 minutes to book a flight, who would you use? What was your best “score”? I once paid $6 o/w to fly from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (June, 2006). The only way to get that was to walk into the Air Malaysia office in Sandakan.

Happy traveling!

The Honeymoon Registry

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Traditionally, wedding gifts were household items for the young couple, as they set up a home for the first time. They’d need a blender and flatware, because, up until now, they’ve used Mom’s. But couples are getting married a little older now for a myriad of reasons. They may live on their own already because of school or a career and have some or most of the household items that they need. This is where the honeymoon registry comes in. The honeymoon can often be the couple’s vacation of a lifetime. By having a honeymoon registry, guests can pick up the tab for, perhaps, the couple’s romantic sunset dinner, without actually infringing on their honeymoon privacy. The couple can register for any type of gift, from airline tickets to B&B stays, or even activities during the honeymoon, like scuba lessons or a horseback-riding trip. Perhaps this time, they’ll fly First Class and get the convertible car rental. Their honeymoon memories will last a lifetime. For the guest, there are few gifts so dear.

Happy registering!

Honeymoon Registry Squidoo, too!

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Check out the new Smart Honeymoon Squidoo! Great wedding personalization tips along with some recommended honeymoon and wedding idea reading.

Honeymoon Registry Tips and Ideas

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Honeymoon registries are in vogue now and for good reason. Brides and grooms are older than ever. They’ll often have most of the items from a traditional registry and are forced to only upgrade. Couples too have always craved a special connection with their guests and, with the proliferation of honeymoon registries, have found that easier than ever. If you want that extra touch of personalization, then maybe the honeymoon registry is right for you. As you get underway, here are a few ideas to keep in mind. Your registry should reflect your personalities. We can’t stress enough how much more your guests will appreciate a registry that sounds like you. We’ve thrown in some tips on respectfully spreading the word about your registry in #10. For our cruise and all-inclusive honeymooners, we dedicate #8 to you.

1. If you’re the outdoorsy types, then don’t forget to plan events like horseback riding, snorkeling, boating, parasailing and swimming with the dolphins. Put them on your registry because guests love these. Be specific about them too: “We’ll boat to Molokini Crater for an afternoon of snorkeling!” is better than just “Snorkeling”.

2. Like to eat? Don’t we all, but your honeymoon is a time to really do it up, so let that show. Mention restaurants by name or the type of cuisine in the title: “Dinner by candlelight at Gramercy Tavern” is better than just “Dinner.” You probably won’t want to plan all your meals in advance, so you’ll have to be a little more general with some. Try “We’ll Dine on the Beach” and mention the sand between your toes in the description. Or name whose choice it’ll be for a dinner on a whim.

3. Nightlife is another big honeymoon expense and your guests who enjoy a bit of nightlife themselves will just love these. Do a little research and find out where you’ll go out and what people drink there: Is there a house specialty? Some of these are easier than others. If you’re in Cancun, then “Margaritas at Laguna Grill” is a winner rather than “Drinks”. You can also specify times, like “A Bottle of Wine at Sunset” will do the trick for a great add-on gift.

4. Airfare may be your biggest expense. It is usually close family members that make a dent in this one, mainly because it’s hard to personalize. Rather than “Contribution to Airfare”, it’s a good idea to break up the trip into time or miles in the air. So “400 Miles in the Air” might cost $125. If you want to get even more personal and you know your guests will like it, try something like “One Inglenook and one in-flight magazine in the sky” as a description (you may not have room in the title.) You probably don’t want to have a quantity of 8 or 10 for that, lest your guests picture you arriving at your honeymoon destination loaded. You can also put a Getting to… as an item near the beginning of your registry and a Getting Home… at the end. That way you can break this big expense in half.

5. Your hotel is another big budget category. Usually you’ll want to break this down into one-night stays. “A night in our Ocean-Front Villa”, followed by a personal description like “We’re staying at Nirvana on the Beach in Negril with the ocean nearly at our door! The sun sets directly across the water!” If you’re staying in luxury accommodations, then it’s ok to break it up into two categories, like the “One night in New York” and an “Upgrade to the Suite” type items, each for half the cost of a night’s stay, especially if you’re having a relatively small wedding. Expecting to sell out of 14 $400 hotel room items with just 80 guests might mean you haven’t put enough meals and activities on your registry.

6. There are plenty of miscellaneous items to remember too. Rather than “Suntan Lotion and other beach stuff”, go with “Save our Skin!” and mention sunglasses in the description if you want a cheap pair for out on the sand. If you have to kennel a pooch, then go with a variation of “The B&B for Dino” and upload a photo of Dino for that item. Don’t forget gas for the rental, maps and tour guides. Try these under a Necessities type title, and mention, “We don’t want to get lost!” What about taking a limousine to the airport and back? It may be a luxury you wouldn’t do for yourselves, but you may have a cousin who thinks it’s time you were pampered. Don’t forget the spa trips. These are usually one of the first items off the registry, so plan on a massage or two. You’ll find other suggestions for this category when you’re creating your registry.

7. Pricing is important. Make sure there is a full range of prices for your items. Make sure you have enough small items on your registry that can accommodate all budgets, but also so that your guests can put together a group of items as well. You’ll have guests who will give you a night stay and a bottle of wine at sunset, to be helpful and personal at the same time. But don’t shy away from the big-ticket items too. Think of what you’re spending per head for the wedding. Some guests may try to match this as a guideline. You may have some close friends who really want to shower you as well, and will find a way.

8. For a cruise and all-inclusive resorts where nearly everything is paid for, don’t just put two items – airfare and hotel (or cruise.) Most importantly, remember that those meals and drinks aren’t free; you’re paying for them with the cost of the hotel. Price your hotel item like you would if you weren’t staying at an all-inclusive. This is especially easy if you’re lucky enough that the resort gives you the option of going all-inclusive or not. If they don’t, then look at the cost of neighboring resorts and their restaurants. It’s a little more work but you want to get it as close as you can. Then check the prices for a snorkeling trip from a non-all-inclusive and include that as an item. Then you can put in the extras like you would normally as in the “miscellaneous” listed above. If you’ve included enough dinners and drinks, then you’ll find that the total is larger than what you’re spending for your all-inclusive, that it’s inflating your registry. That’s because you’re getting a discount for your all-inclusive dollar. You can then reduce your hotel item by that amount so that it matches what you’re actually paying, or you can reduce each item’s cost to reflect your discount (if you’re saving 10%, then reduce each item that’s included by 10% in your registry.) Even at nearly all “pay as you go” resorts, you can charge everything to your room. At the end, it’s “all-included” in your bill. You’re just buying a little freedom to have lunch at the great spot at the other end of the beach and not feel guilty about the free lunch you just missed. No reason to feel like you can’t break out those included items for your all-inclusive registry. Same goes for a cruise. Your guests will usually want to connect with a particular memory, so break out particular days or ports-of-call. If you’re familiar with the cruise ship, you might try breaking out a particular restaurant or lounge where you’ll spend some time. “We’ll live it up in the Palladium Lounge!” is more personal than “Cruise Donation” any day.

9. Upload your own photos. We’ve included plenty for you to find what you need for most items, but a few of your own will really help. The web is an endless source of photos, but don’t forget ones you’ve taken yourself. You can upload your own photos after you’ve saved your registry.

10. Getting the word out gracefully is a challenge. If you have a wedding website, you can link straight to your registry from there. After you create a registry, we’ll send you the link to your registry to include in emails if you want to let close friends and family know. They can help spread the word. We’ll also send you the code for a “Smart Button” that you can put into your own website that will take your guests to your registry when they click on it! If you don’t have a website, another great way to tactfully get the word out is to mention it on Facebook or MySpace. Think about setting up a wedding Facebook and MySpace too! You can then upload honeymoon photos so your guests who shared in your wedding and honeymoon can follow along.

To sum up: Personalize, personalize, personalize!!! Let your humor through too. Being a little tongue-in-cheek is great, if it’s you. That goes for being a little risque too, so long as you have your guests in mind. If they expect it from you, great! They’ll want to see it.

Good luck and happy registering!