As we head into the new year, it’s time for Hawaii specialists to begin compiling a business strategy for selling the Aloha State in 2018.
Allow Travel Agent to assist as we tip you off to the hottest storylines advisors should be following in order to fully capitalize on Hawaii sales.
New Air Service Could Drive Flights Prices Down
Perhaps the biggest story of the year for Hawaii is all the new flights heading into the destination, which should hopefully make for some competitive pricing amongst carriers heading into 2018.
Consumers and travel advisors alike have been hoping for additional flights to Hawaii for years, with the idea that more service would drive down the high cost to fly to the Aloha State.
Well, December 14 officially marked the beginning of that long-awaited influx of flights to the Hawaii Islands.
On that day, Virgin America launched nonstop daily flights between San Francisco and Kona, Hawaii Island. Five days later, on Dec. 19, Honolulu welcomed the inaugural flight of air carrier Scoot from Singapore, which will include a stopover in Osaka, Japan, as part of the route. Hawaii is Scoot’s first U.S. destination, with flights being offered four days weekly.
On December 20, United Airlines expanded its capacity to Hawaii by 20 percent overall, adding more nonstop flights to the neighbor islands from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver. Finally, on December 21, Delta Air Lines began nonstop daily service from Seattle to Lihue, Kauai.
But perhaps the biggest flight news of the year came when Southwest Airlines announced in October it was moving into the Hawaii market with plans to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii.
The carrier also announced its intention to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS). Service details are expected to be announced at a later date, according to a statement issued by the airline.
The carrier announced it will embark on a process to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for Extended Operations (ETOPS), a regulatory requirement to operate between the mainland and the Hawaiian islands.
Hawaii Poised for Another Record-Breaking Year
Hawaii set a record in tourism arrivals for the fifth straight year in 2016 and, although the final numbers for 2017 haven't been tallied yet, all signs point for 2017 as being the sixth straight year Hawaii will set a tourism arrival record, according to statistics provided by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
So, what's stopping the Aloha State for a seventh straight record-breaking year in 2018?
Not much, especially if Hawaii remains free of Zika, say the Hawaii specialists Travel Agent recently chatted with.
"I have a lot of Millennial honeymoon clients and Zika is one of their largest concerns," says Danielle Stephens of Harmon Travel. "In the initial consultation, they will say, 'We want to go somewhere tropical and without Zika'. I pull up the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) map to show them what places are on that list and close by. There are only a couple tropical islands listed as Zika free, including Hawaii. It automatically makes Hawaii a top choice and generally 95 percent of my Zika-concerned clients choose Hawaii for their honeymoon."
Lena Brown of Largay Travel also says the destination's reputation for safety, cleanliness and top-of-the-line service will also continue to make Hawaii a force to be reckoned with going forward.
"I have had a more recent interest in Hawaii from my clients. With honeymooners especially not having a concern about Zika in Hawaii," she recently told Travel Agent. "They feel comfortable and safe not having to leave the U.S. and Hawaii has an indescribable peace when you are on the islands."
Fresh Hotels Give Millennial Clients More Options in Waikiki
Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach officially opened its doors in Honolulu earlier this month after an extensive $115 million transformation of the former Pacific Beach Hotel, leading a pack of buzz-worthy hotels expected to draw interest amongst Millennials heading to Waikiki.
Located in the heart of Waikiki, Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach has 839 rooms; five new culinary concepts - with the two Morimoto restaurants coming soon - and a destination pool deck along with authentic design touches inspired by Oahu’s landscape and cultural heritage.
The resort also has six one-bedroom guest suites with living rooms, a dining nook and wet bar, plus a bathroom with dual vanities, a wet room with a rain shower and a soaking tub. All guest rooms and suites also have Malie Organics' Koke'e scented bath products.
Other Waikiki hotels that expect to be hot among Millennials heading into the new year, according to some Hawaii specialists we spoke to recently, include the LAYLOW Waikiki, Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach and the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach.