AGENCY: Centre Holidays, Brampton, Ont.
AFFILIATIONS: Certified Wedding Planner (WPIC)
HONORIFICS: Hard Rock Triple Platinum, Wow & iWow specialist
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 7
Tell us about the Ishq Rocks wedding program at the Hard Rock Hotels (HRH) AIC Collection in Mexico and the Dominican Republic…
“Ishq” means “love” in Arabic. Ishq Rocks (IR) is the only program that is specifically designed for South Asian weddings, keeping in mind all the traditions and different South Asian cultures. It makes wedding planning easy and affordable. Features include: Certified and dedicated South Asian wedding planners; complimentary unlimited private functions each day (to maximum hours based on group size), which allows couples to celebrate all their pre- and post- wedding functions; and catering by local Indian chefs – a huge factor why the IR program is successful.
What makes it unique/different from other options out there?
Certified AIC hotel wedding planners are well-educated and knowledgeable, which results in executing a seamless South Asian destination wedding. The IR program is sensitive to how important it is for South Asians to not have their traditions/functions lost in a destination wedding. Elegant Caribbean weddings are presented at many different hotels, however, South Asian traditions often go ignored.
What sort of support/collateral is available to agents?
WOW and iWOW education/certification; ongoing support from head office and on-property staff, and BDMs who keep us informed of all promotions and changes to the program; marketing materials to help promote and sell; site inspections.
Clients can visit the property for a site inspection and meet with the onsite wedding coordinators and vendors; have a professional certified South Asian planner assigned to them, who understands the culture, traditions and wedding ceremonies, and speaks English so that there is no confusion when having to translate to the onsite coordinators.
Is AIC Hotels modern vibe reflected in Ishq Rocks?
South Asians like to have celebrity-style weddings, with all the glitz and glamour; the IR program offers this. South Asian weddings are a grand elaborate affair, sort of like “Bollywood” style weddings, where the party never ends, like Hard Rock Hotels AIC. Today’s brides and grooms are moving away from the “typical” Indian weddings at temples and neighbourhood reception halls to tropical, luxurious and modern destinations, so IR is the perfect fit.
What about honeymoon options?
One great promotion is two nights in a Rock Star suite (the day of the wedding and the night after), which ends up being a mini honeymoon. Hard Rock also offers an anniversary certificate for two free nights when the couple books five nights, to come back and celebrate, which some couples choose to do for a future honeymoon (perhaps at) a different property.
Any selling tips?
Educate yourself on the Ishq Rocks product, believe in it, sell it. Once you have the first two, the third becomes easy… Show your couples how they qualify for an IR wedding. Market yourself as a specialist of the program (bridal shows, magazine ads, articles, etc.) I have done a good job tying my name to the program in North America.
What sort of client response do you get?
I have had an amazing response from all my clients so far. Post-travel, I get so many e-mails telling me that Ishq Rocks made the couples dream wedding come to life. And the guests are in awe of the resort and how well they attend to the wedding ceremonies and functions.
Do you have a favourite property?
Yes, of course and everyone knows it: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, my second home. It has the resort feel – luxurious, large enough, but easy to get around. The staff is amazing and very accommodating, the resort is fairly new, and you feel like a true rock star!
Deepa was chosen by AIC Hotel Group to be profiled in CT Magazine. Why?
"Deepa has built an incredibly successful travel business specializing in South Asian destination weddings. Becoming the first and only Canadian travel professional to achieve the coveted Amped Diamond Level status in 2017 (top achievable status for rooms booked) has required an immense amount of hard work and dedication. Deepa has tirelessly promoted a brand and program she strongly believes in and we are thankful for her partnership!"
- SARAH SMITH, Business Development Manager, AIC Hotel Group
See the full INSPIRE issue here: