While perusing Twitter yesterday, I noticed that Oregon-based tour operator All About Hawaii (@AllAboutHawaii) had announced that representatives from several Hawaiian Islands’ tourism boards were in their office, and would be taking questions from followers. I couldn’t resist, and posted:
“How are the [numbers] for visitors to HI compared to last year? Increase, decrease, same? Why the change, if there is a change?”
Stacey Alford (@StaceyBAlford), the Oahu Visitors Bureau's director of travel industry sales, responded first: “Hawaii is thankful for a continued upturn in occupancy since 09; momentum continues, but visitor spending is slower to come back.” She immediately followed with “Let's talk Oahu; my specialty! We continue to lead the State in occupancy & be in our nations top 3. Go Oahu!..move over NYC!”
I then asked what travel agents should tell their clients to encourage them to visit Hawaii this year. Alford responded, “Create a list of experiential insider tips that bring Hawaii's unique summer experiences to life…Agents can use sample itineraries to demonstrate insider values & unique experiences that engage their clients with the destination.”
Tamara Aalto, product manager from All About Hawaii, then joined in the conversation. “I agree with [Alford]. Advise agents to customize HI trip to fit their clients & sell the experience…In addition, many Hawaii hotels are continuing specials thru peak travel dates this year, so summer travel can be quite affordable!”
“Be bold,” Alford wrote. “Compare value & experience of Hawaii with competing destinations that are in their clients’ comfort zones.”
But, I asked, what specific unique Hawaiian experiences should agents emphasize to their clients?
“Agents should seek out experiences that offer engagement and enrichment,” Alford replied. “Top picks: voluntourism, mom & pop dining, Hawaiian music.”
Aalto added: “The sea cliffs & canyon on Kauai, active volcano on Hawaii, Maui's famous Road to Hana...My top activity pics are night snorkeling with manta rays, Kilauea volcano, stargazing from Mauna Kea & Oahu shark encounter…Add hiking in Kauai's "Grand Canyon of Pacific" & snorkeling in a submerged volcanic crater to personal favs that make HI special.”
The conversation doesn't have to end here. Send Travel Agent your questions about Hawaii (or other topics) by tweeting us at our Twitter page: @travelagentmag, and if we can't answer them ourselves, we'll find someone who can.