Hawaii Tour Operators See Return to Narrow Booking Windows

It’s August, which means summer is coming into the homestretch and tour operators are announcing their fall and winter promotions. In Hawaii, the end of summer means the end of one of the most popular tourist times of the year, and two popular tour operators are offering some good packages to the state.

For example, Pleasant Holidays is offering a booking bonus for agents that is valid through the middle of September. Blue Sky Tours, meanwhile, is offering a free rental car for bookings made in August.

Jack Richards, CEO of Pleasant Holidays, told Travel Agent that airfares have dropped for the “shoulder season,” and that peak demand is winding down. This is nothing unusual, he adds, but also notes that the recession-era trend of close-in booking windows has returned. “That may be a reflection of the overall economic condition,” he adds. “The window got longer at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, but now it’s shifting back again.”

Susan Kownacki, director of marketing at Blue Sky Tours, says her company has seen the same trend, though she has also noticed an increase in bookings for 2013 already. “Close in and farther out, with a dip in the middle," she says of the trend, and while she says the company is happy with the numbers for now, “we’ll see how it continues. It’s an election year. We’ll see how that impacts booking patterns.”

One trend that both Kownacki and Richards have noticed is a lack of demand for Maui, which Richards says is the only island that has remained flat year over year. However, the launch of Hawaiian Airlines' hub at Maui Airport may spur more visits down the line as access becomes easier.

Overall, Hawaii has had a strong year, with notable hotel openings and a substantial increase in airlift, including two daily flights from the East Coast. It is also worth noting that the state saw a dramatic year-over-year increase in visitors in June, as well as a record amount of visitor spending.


Photo courtesy of HVCB and Linda Ching

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