|Agents and suppliers get to business at the third annual Hawaii Travel Exchange|
WAIKOLOA VILLAGE, Hawaii -- As part of our ongoing coverage of the third annual Hawaii Travel Exchange, hosted at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Travel Agent spoke to suppliers, agents and organizers about what they think of the show so far.
And here's what we found out:
Kimberly Daley, vice president and managing director of Journese, the luxury division of Pleasant Holidays
"From the supplier side, I think they have done such great job showcasing all tof he different properties from the mock wedding at the Sheraton Kona Bay Resort & Spa, where agents really got to see all of the elements behind a wedding there, to everything that is great about the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. From the agent side, it's really great to see so many qualified agents from across the country. You don't usually see that at a lot of shows."
Carolyn Kempf, president and CEO of Elite Travel in Southeast Missouri
"I get invited to a lot of events, but I always hope the travel gods are going to select me for this one. The quality of agents that were handpicked is great. It really helps networking with people who are on the same level, business wise, as you are. You can really learn from people like that."
Nancy Real, owner of Nancy Real & Associates in Apple Valley, California
"I just love that they really packed a lot of great information and events in such a short period of time. I don't think they wasted anyone's time for a second. There is something new to learn at all times."
Julie Zadeh, managing director, travel trade marketing for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
"We select agents for this event based on a combination of factors. We look at how long they have been in the business, what wholesalers they are selling, what destinations they are selling, what resorts they are selling. We like a mix of agents who sell a lot of Hawaii and also agents who haven't sold it yet, but are top producers for other destinations with hopes of getting them to sell our destination. It really could not have gone any better so far. All of the agents I have spoken to have given me nothing but positive feedback."
Jana Lavell, regional sales manager for MLT Vacations
"I think this show does a great job in finding the right agents. The organizers must have done some great surveys because they really did a great job qualifying these agents. These agents are all doing great business to Hawaii and that means more business for us."
Tony Salamone, owner of Tony Salamone Travel Co. in Chicago
"It's one thing to read about a destination, to hear about a destination, but its another thing to see it. Every year, I learn something new. The show is very efficient. It's great to see lot of familiar faces and to meet some new agents as well. You need to stay on top of all the current offerings to be able to effectively sell the destination. And that's one of the main things that this show offers to agents."
Leimomi Hall, director of sales, North America for Hawaiian Airlines
"The agents here are just so well qualified. They are all doing great business to Hawaii, all have very great questions and concerns. And it's just really great to get to know those type of agents."
Elena Streza, president of Teichen World Travel, Inc./MGA Cruise & Vacation Center in Elmhurst, Illinois
"It's so beneficial to be here and see the destination. I'm new to selling Hawaii so this is great for me to see all of the offerings. I sell a lot of Mexico and Caribbean, but the culture and heritage of Hawaii really sets it apart. It's just a different feel compared to the all-inclusive-type destinations."
Amy Vandenberg of AAA Travel Agency in Midland, Michigan
"The exposure to the many different vendors here is really impressive. We have been able to see and learn about so many options from suppliers. It really helps to come and learn about so many offering we can tell our customers about. Also, the site inspections have been incredibly well organized."
Gary Marrow, tour operator for KapohoKine Adventures in Hilo, Hawaii
"The best part about this show is just being able to meet all of this people in one shot. I could have never met with all of these agents from all over the country. So, the networking is definitely the best part of the show for me."
Donna Wheeler, director of sales and marketing for Destination Resorts in Maui, Hawaii
"It's really great for me to see a lot of agents who do business with us because, as a small company like ours, it's very tough to get to meet with agents from across the country. All of these agents are just so qualified. They all know exactly what they want, want their clients' needs are."
Juliet de Guzman Calpo, director of sales and marketing for Mana Kai Maui Resort
"I love the six-minute meetings with agents. It was by far my favorite part of the show. It really gives me the opportunity to network with a lot of qualified agents in such a short period of time. I've met agents who are very knowledgable about selling Hawaii and also agents who are still new to the destination. It was really a great mix of both."