Ask Me Ceases Operations, Leaving Wedding Agents and Clients In Limbo
PHOTO: Ask Me, a destination weddings specialist, has ceased operations.
Travel agents, wedding planners and brides-to-be are scrambling today as a travel marketing company specializing in destination weddings and honeymoons appears to have closed up shop.
Officials with the Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialists Association were alerted Tuesday that Ask Me Inc. has sent letters to clients telling them they have ceased operations.
Ask Me sent out an email Tuesday to clients booked with the Paradisus Palma Real in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
In the email, obtained by TravelPulse, an unnamed company official outlines the issues at hand.
“We are working to windup (sic) this business in the most effective manner, and we hope to accomplish this without disrupting your travel plans," the email said. "With that in mind, we wish to advise you that your deposit has NOT been paid to the resort. Although we will be providing the resort with an updated list of reservations for weddings and rooms reserved through ASK ME, we are unable to confirm whether these unpaid reservations will be honored by the resort.”
Ask Me has mostly worked with Melia and Paradisus brands in the past, largely serving as destination wedding planners for resorts who didn’t employ their own planners.
What the news means is that a potentially large number of clients who thought they had reservations set in stone with the resorts are now having to call the resorts directly to confirm if a reservation was even booked.
“It’s so key to contact the resorts directly now, ask for the general manager or anyone with a manager title that can make decisions and provide direct help, hopefully with one call,” said DWHSA administrator John Hawks.
Clients expecting that the money they paid Ask Me would secure reservations may now be without reservations and, even worse, will now have to recover their monies through their credit card or financial institutions. Ask Me told clients in the email that they will not be issuing any refunds directly. So in those cases, starting the chargeback process with credit or debit card companies is key.
Hawks said that several DWHSA agents reported receiving the email and are now formulating a plan B. Hawks told members via email that the DWHSA will be contacting Melia and Paradisus to help rectify reservation discrepancies on behalf of members’ clients.
The group sent out a checklist to DWHSA members Wednesday morning, outlining the steps they needed to take to salvage their reservations.
“I think a lot of the agents have taken it in stride. This is unfortunately not the first time this has happened in this industry,” Hawks said. “I think the difference here is we’re talking a reputable team behind Ask Me, so I don’t think the whole story has come out yet.”
Hawks talked with Ask Me managing partner Marilyn Cairo via email Tuesday night, who confirmed that Ask Me was currently ceasing operations.
He then spoke with Ask Me co-founder Hillary Lanzer via email Wednesday afternoon. Lanzer said the company was looking to continue its relationships with independent resorts.
Cairo (pictured left) and Lazner are both former sales executives with Sandals and Beaches Resorts and both have veteran-level experience in the travel industry.
Hawks said several member agents have contacted him and all said that the problems centered around Melia and Paradisus bookings.
“In fact, several have said that there are no problems with any of the Ask Me bookings through independent resorts like Calabash Cove and Coconut Bay in St. Lucia,” he said.
Hawks said that besides the advice laid out in the checklist mailing to agents, he urges all members doing business to be proactive with Melia and Paradisus management.
“Most of these bookings are weddings and honeymoons and we’re talking about events that are booked out far in advance,” he said. “Call the resorts, and this way whether it’s good or bad news, you can get out in advance of this with your clients. And again, whether it’s good or bad news, make sure you get whatever the resort tells you in writing.”
Hawks said he plans to keep in contact with Cairo and Lazner and as they release the names of any resorts that Ask Me will continue to work with, he will pass the word on to DWHSA members and non-members alike.
“We’ve told the Ask Me folks that the more they share with us, the more we can share en masse with those impacted,” he said.
TravelPulse attempted to reach Ask Me officials, but as of first publishing, Cairo or Lazner have not returned calls.
Full disclosure: Ask Me is a former marketing partner of travAlliancemedia, the parent company of TravelPulse. The company ended their relationship with travAlliancemedia in early 2016 in good financial standing.
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