Where in the World...a travel agent's advice for honeymooners
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Was I alone in assuming that most travel agencies have gone out of business by now? With search engines that tell you the cheapest flights and hotels, I wondered if people even used travel agents or just trusty Google. Enter Christina Carzoo from Christina Carzoo Travel, who had me sticking my metaphorical foot in my mouth after the first 2 questions of our interview. She taught me that there is a distinct difference between booking a family vacation to, let’s say Disneyland, and booking a family vacation when you aren’t quite sure where you want to go. You can work with someone who has vast connections and personal experience, instead of relying on reading review after review to decide where to stay, what time of year to visit, or even where to go! But don’t take my word for it. Let her words speak for themselves:

All Events Planned: How would you describe your style, your personality and/or your brand? 

Christina Carzoo: We are a boutique luxury travel planning agency and turn what can be a stressful and time-consuming process into a fun one for our clients!  Your honeymoon is the most important trip you will ever take and that’s why you should really make it count. We approach travel planning similar to a wedding planner by creating custom luxury trips based on your interests and travel style.   Our agency is constantly traveling the world and vetting out properties to ensure we are sending our clients to the best properties and providing them with an experience that will stay with them long after they return from their trip.   Our recommendations for our clients are always backed up with our personal experience and strong relationships we have cultivated.


AEP: Who is your ideal client? (Even if this is describing past couples you've LOVED working with) 
CC: My ideal clients are curious about the world and want to experience a trip that is beyond basic.  Each trip I plan is unique because each client is unique. I love learning about their interests and travel style, crafting a trip that is planned with them in mind.  For honeymoons,  I really love couples who like to pair adventure along with relaxation.  I get it, planning a wedding is super-stressful on top of the everyday stressors of life so going to a tropical vacation and planting yourself by the beach or pool with a drink sounds (and is!) fantastic.  We certainly help clients do that all the time and provide an amazing experience for them! However, for most people, the honeymoon is the most important trip they will ever take and in most cases one of their only opportunities to go all-out before buying a house (if they haven’t already) and having kids so I love it when people pair a safari in Tanzania with the Seychelles or want to discover the beautiful islands of The Maldives along with the exciting city of Dubai.  Maybe they don’t like beaches at all and would prefer to hike Machu Picchu in Peru or explore the diverse landscapes of New Zealand.  I love clients who want to experience the beauty our world has to offer.  While all of those I just mentioned are more exotic options, of course I love planning relaxing trips to beautiful destinations too and that makes up a big part of our business. 

AEP: What are a few mistakes couples sometimes make when booking a honeymoon/ people make when booking travel?  
CC: 1.  Not fully considering what they both want from a trip

2.  Not having a realistic budget for their destination and or amount of days you want to be gone

3.  Not taking into account the seasonality of the destination you are wanting to visit.  For example, the Greek Isles are an amazing honeymoon destination but if you are getting married in November it isn’t a good choice for you as most of the islands restaurants and resorts shut down and the weather isn’t as great. 

4.  Not reaching out to a travel professional for advice and planning.  While the internet is full of information to help you plan your trip, you are really losing a level of service, peace of mind and expertise (along with some seriously amazing perks!) you get when utilizing a travel agent.  Travel agents have spent years traveling the globe to personally vet out properties and form relationships with hotels and suppliers which helps you have an amazing trip.  Our reputation and job literally depends on you having the best trip ever.  The random reviewer on TripAdvisor isn’t basing their entire professional reputation on their review and they may be very different from you in what you like and base a good trip on.  We save you so much time and are able to make suggestions and offers that are unavailable to those planning on their own.

AEP: What questions should people be asking when booking a vacation with an agency?
CC:
I think it is important to find an agency who has great hotel and supplier relationships and who invest in traveling the world themselves.  I would ask them about both of these points specifically in addition to how do they come up with the hotels they recommend?  If the agency you contacted doesn’t have a vast travel background how are they going to help you plan a trip full of valuable insight?  If they aren’t asking you a lot of questions, your trip will be less tailored to your interests and budget as you would like. 

AEP: What is YOUR dream vacation?? 
CC:
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to all seven continents, seeing many places on my original list of dream vacations.  The funny thing about travel is the more you see, the more you realize you haven’t seen! I would say of the places I have not yet been to I would love to do another safari (taking my daughter when she is old enough), this time in Tanzania. I’m also very hopeful to go to Thailand and Cambodia, or Chile to see Easter Island and the Chilean side of Patagonia.

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AEP: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them? 
CC:
This is such a good question and I love the idea of planning an epic, around the world trip for a honeymoon!  We could start by flying out of California to explore the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand, then relaxing in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, heading to Asia and hitting up Bali and Thailand, then making our way to Europe by going to the romantic countries of Greece and Italy and stopping in Paris for some amazing food and rich cultural city experience before heading back home.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other travel agents?
CC:
Expertise, connections and experience.  While there are many travel agents who can book a trip, many provide services more transactive in nature. We take a very consultative approach with our clients, tailoring everything to them and drawing upon our vast travel experience to give them a trip as unique as they are.  My host agency I work under, Epperly Travel,  is constantly traveling the world to experience hotels and destinations, allowing us to provide the best experiences for our valued clients.  We are one of the only agencies in Ohio that is a Virtuoso agency, an elite, invitation-only consortium of the top 1% of travel providers in the world.  Epperly Travel is an affiliate of Travel Edge, which means I have access to and relationships with global luxury hotels, boutique hotels and villas, reputable and award-winning tour guides, private transportation and more to ensure my clients have an incredible experience. I can also ensure you receive VIP service with amenities such as upgrades, food and beverage credits, and other services not available through the mass-market companies one finds on the internet, and at no added cost!  I help my clients by taking the time and stress out of planning travel, while providing them additional perks, expert destination insight and insider information.

AEP: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your industry?
CC:
The biggest misconceptions ar that we don’t exist anymore and are unnecessary. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth!  Since the introduction of discount sites years ago, such as Expedia and Travelocity, many thought of travel agents as a declining profession.   Gone are the days of old school travel agents sitting behind their desks booking travel in a purely transactional manner.   In reality, the modern travel agent has their boots on the ground and is exploring exotic locations and properties on the regular, building relationships with suppliers and hoteliers to better provide their clients with destination insight, diverse experiences and peace of mind when booking their global travel.  These frequent travels and relationships benefit the savvy clients who seek out their services tremendously.  They are able to save valuable time and energy sifting through all the noise on the internet doing their own research, and they can be assured their precious investment will be planned perfectly as each item on their itinerary has been vetted and chosen with their interests in mind.  A 3rd common misconception is that it will cost more to use a travel agent. The truth is that we have access to the same rates you find with the hotels direct and sometimes we even have promotional rates not found online!


Please visit Christina’s personal website www.ChristinaCarzooTravel.com for more information about her travel planning services.

Okay, now I’m guessing you’re about to get lost in cyberspace, looking at images of some of the amazing places she described. The world is so vast and we only get the chance to see so much of it. I hope this helped gain perspective about travel agents and how beneficial it can be to use one! Now I need to get in touch with an investment advisor so I can plan one of those incredible safaris… :-)

Shufflin' into Spring

Were you under the impression that shuffleboard is only for retirement communities? Well, prepare to be proven wrong!

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Forest City Shuffleboard is not only a fun place to spend your Friday or Saturday (or even a weekday!) night, but it’s also an awesome space for an event! We interviewed the owner, Jim Miketo, to hear more about the history of FCS and some of its best features!

All Events Planned: How you describe Forest City's atmosphere?

Forest City Shuffleboard: The atmosphere at Forest City Shuffleboard Arena and Bar (FCS) is very cozy and approachable. The theme of the space is vintage varsity and when you walk in, you should feel a sense of nostalgia. We made an effort to help keep a lot of the original features of the building that is over 110 years old. With a space as large as we have, it was also important to connect the different areas so as not to feel like you are in a large, overwhelming space.

AEP: What kind of events do you host at Forest City?

FCS: We host all types of events at FCS and that is a function of the game of shuffleboard. Shuffleboard is a game that every can pick up and enjoy as it is a very social, interactive event. Some of the events we have hosted include birthday parties, company outings, sales meetings, wedding related events, high school reunions, fundraisers and much more.

AEP: What has been one of the most memorable events that have taken place here?

FCS: We have greatly enjoyed hosting all of our events and parties. We genuinely work hard to make each event unique and fun, and satisfied customers is why we are in this business. For me, the most memorable event was my daughter's first birthday. We had only been open for a few months, but it was extremely special to me because we had our daughter as we started the journey to build out and ultimately open FCS. In her first year, we went through a lot of ups and downs with the buildout but to cap it off with a flamingo themed birthday party, was very special.

AEP: What is a feature that someone should splurge on when booking Forest City?

FCS: We have a parking lot and lots of street parking, but I would say valet parking. It isn't terribly expensive, but can give the event a more formal feel if that is what you are after.

AEP: Describe your ideal client or person to work with.

FCS: We truly enjoy working with all of our customers and our main goal is to make their event fun and memorable. 

AEP: What are some common mistakes you've seen people make when booking event space?

FCS: The biggest thing we see, is people ordering too much food. A lot of times, people will over estimate the guest count, or how much the guests will eat.

AEP: What do you recommend couples (or really anyone) be aware of when looking for a venue?

FCS: Make sure the event is right for you and what you want to look back on years down the road in a favorable light. Also, work within your budget. It is easy to throw money at the event, but don't break the bank doing it. 

AEP: What is the biggest misconception about your venue (or the event industry)?

FCS: Shuffleboard is cool and fun! It is not just for 90+ year olds living in Senior Living Communities in Florida. If you have not tried it, please do. It is a very fun and social game that anyone can play and win!

^^See, told you!! :-)

If you are looking for a fun place for date night or to celebrate a birthday, head on over to Forest City Shuffleboard! The staff are wonderful, the food is delicious, and you will have a blast! Be sure to check out their website for more information and to see a menu!

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Brandi HamerstoneComment
Top Five Reasons You Don't Need a Planner

Planning is about all of the LITTLE details that are hard to see or remember even in the months leading up to your big event. A lot of couples feel they don’t need a planner. They have thought of everything and are so organized, they are certain everything will flow exactly they way they spent the last 12-24 (or less) months planning. Here are some common reasons why you may not “need” a wedding planner:

TOP FIVE REASONS YOU DON’T NEED A PLANNER

1- Your friends and family are so excited about the idea of handling all the stress and work on your wedding day.  You literally have people lined up saying they just don’t think they would enjoy being a part of the actual day and want nothing more than to miss out on special moments as they handle issues, deal with other guest complaints and manage the vendors.  

2- You are ready and able to field all the phone calls, questions and issues as your wedding date approaches.  Not only do you KNOW you won’t be emotional or stressed out, you have dreamt of spending your wedding morning getting ready and fielding calls from vendors who are running late and guests who don’t remember what they ordered or where the venue is located (bonus points for the guests who want directions to the location, because you LOVE telling people how to get around town)

3- You are absolutely in sync with all of your vendors and you are sure that because of how much you like each of them, they will do a fabulous job working together (possibly for the first time) because of how much you like them.  You just KNOW there will not be any miscommunication issues or timeline discrepancies because that type of thing doesn’t happen.

4- You are willing to arrive to your venue early so that you can be sure everyone has arrived on time and everything is being setup properly.  You don’t care about missing out on photos or parts of the ceremony because doing a walk through will be no problem for you and you know how important it is to look over the style, design and layout before guests arrive.  

5- You will not be tired and tipsy by the end of the evening so you are thrilled to stay after and collect all of the items from the wedding and load them into the car to take home.  Not only will you be wide awake, energized and sober you KNOW your bridal party will be as well so they will all be on board to help.

Sometimes everything goes off without a hitch despite not having hired a planner. But a majority of the time, there are several small (and potentially a couple BIG) crises that either you or a close friend or family member will have to deal with.

Your wedding (or any large event that requires advance planning) should be about FUN and enjoying every moment. Don’t leave things to chance. Don’t make assumptions about the venue coordinator; they might not even be your contact come the day of your wedding. Don’t count on your DJ to organize your reception, that is not their job. Fitting a planner into your budget can allow you and all of your guests to be fully present at your wedding. The day goes by way too quickly to spend it organizing chaos or directing traffic! Let US do all the work so that you don’t have to!

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This Photographer is no Khan artist

We are pausing in the midst of our incredibly fun anniversary celebration to go back to our “regularly scheduled programming”. I love interviewing vendors in this industry. Honestly, whether they are in photography, calligraphy/design, entertainment, caterers or bakers, everyone brings so many fresh ideas. And I have never heard the same advice more than once, which surprises me!

At All Events Planned, we have worked with some amazing people. They treat clients as family, deliver unparalleled quality, and have a blast doing it. Kamron Khan is such an example of one of these vendors. Her company, Kamron Khan Photography, is one of the standouts because of her unique vision and attention to detail. I loved hearing her advice, and if I ever get the means to bring a photographer to travel Europe with me, you can bet I am inviting her!

All Events Planned: How would you describe your style, your personality and/or your brand?

Kamron Khan: My style is clean, colorful, and timeless. I work with my clients to create an experience where they can be comfortable and confident in front of my camera and it shows. I love creating beautiful stylized images that look like they belong on the cover of vogue as well as capturing real moments of genuine emotion.

AEP: How would you describe your ideal client?

KK: My ideal client values working with a true professional. Whether it's clothes, food, or wedding vendors, they understand that quality products and services are an investment. They appreciate a professional taking the lead and directing them towards making the best decisions. My clients are open minded and like to be creative. They find pride in being the innovator in their circle of friends and any recommendations they make are valued because they only work with the best. My clients are smart, professional, well spoken and confident individuals who have put in the time and work it takes to start this next chapter in their lives as successfully as possible.

AEP: What are a few mistakes people sometimes make when choosing a photographer?

KK: Do not hire a friend/family member that owns a camera and takes pictures as a hobby.  There are so many moving parts to a wedding day, so many issues that may arise. Not to mention, a hobbiest more than likely does not have the appropriate gear to capture a wedding day. As a professional, I have backup gear, and backups for my backup gear in case something malfunctions. I have multiple lenses to capture different perspectives. I know the flow of a wedding day and can anticipate moments (so I don't miss that first kiss). I can handle your 25 excited aunties and uncles during the family portrait time, and I enjoy meeting your guests during the reception while they smile for the camera. Let your friends and family enjoy the day with you instead of having the pressure of capturing the most important day in your life.  If budget is a concern, consider hiring a professional whose work you LOVE for a few hours to capture the most important parts of the day. Not all photographers have this option, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

AEP: What questions should someone be sure to ask when selecting a photographer?

KK: The most important thing to ask your photographer is to see a 1-2 full wedding galleries. I'm not even going to lie. We share our BEST photos online. We don't have the cpacity to share every single image, so you always see our favorites. You want to see our full galleries so you can see that we are consistent. A photographer you adore on Instagram may post beautiful portraits, but photos from every other part of the day are sub par. Do your homework and make sure you are happy with your decision. Ask your photographer their recommendations for how much time they need throughout the dayto get you the photos you want. Leaving 15 minutes for portraits between the ceremony and reception will only get you a couple of photos and won't leave much time for creativity. I always recommend a first look to couples that have a tight timeline. This gives us more time together! And lastly, during an initial consultation, I explain to my clients how the wedding day looks from a photo perspective. So ask your photographer about the flow of the day. Knowing that you are hiring someone that knows when and where they need to be at any point in the day is reassuring.

AEP: What service that you offer should couples be SURE to book with you?

KK: I absolutely recommend every couple does an engagement session. Even if your cousin already took your engagement photos, we still need to do one. This isn't just a time to get some beautiful photos. This is also a time for us to interact and get to know each other. When we work together before the big day, you will get a feel for how I work and most important, you will become more comfortable with me! On your wedding day, we will literally be spending all day together, so I'd love for us to already have an established relationship. This will make our time together even more fun!

AEP: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?

KK: What a fun question! If I had a client with unlimited funds, I would recommend we travel somewhere new and exciting for their engagement session. Let's go to the Big Apple for some fun city vibes, eat croissants at a cute cafe near the Eiffel Tower or walk the streets of Milan in your most fashion forward looks. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

AEP What do you think sets you apart from other photographers?

KK: I see the world differently. I find beauty in the most unexpected way and can visualize a shot before I even take out my camera. I connect with my subjects and even the most reluctant participants feel comfortable after just a few minutes of working with me. My entire goal is to capture you in a way that you love. I want you to say "WOW! I look amazing!" when you see your photos because you ARE!

AEP: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your industry?

KK: There is no barrier of entry to get in my field. Thus, it makes it very easy for anyone to pick up a camera and say they are a photographer. It can be extremely overwhelming when looking for a photographer because there are so many options. Please know that not everyone who picks up a camera is doing this for a quick buck. Do your research. You'll know within 10 minutes of meeting someone where their heart lies. I put so much time and money into mastering my craft and becoming the best so that I can do my very best for my clients.

Huge thank you to Kamron for sharing your heart with us! I don’t know about you, but much of her advice and observations resonated with me. Even from these few questions you can get a sense for how genuine she is. In my opinion, that is one of the most important qualities to look for when booking a photographer (or in a friend to have coffee with). Check out her website/gallery and see firsthand why we love working with her! Her photos are stunning!

Brandi Hamerstone