South Pacific: Keys to Successful Sales

Your clients may consider a South Pacific sojourn to be a significant investment not only of money but time. And although this is true, new airline routes and increases in airlift are bringing that part of the world closer, especially for people who live near such gateways as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Hotel developments and other improvements to tourism infrastructure are afoot, especially in Australia, New Zealand and French Polynesia, and U.S. wholesalers are riding the wave of increased interest in this part of the world. Classic Vacations launched a French Polynesia product last fall, and Happy Vacations recently ventured into New Zealand and will add Australia this month.  Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

The Basics

When clients approach you about travel to this region, ask how active or relaxed a vacation they want. If they're looking for a mix, try looking at a two-or three-destination trip (see related story). Ask them what activities they enjoy when traveling, and match their desires to the appropriate islands. For example, families would enjoy Fiji, and divers will find plenty to do in French Polynesia. Most of the islands are a slam-dunk for honeymooners, but they might enjoy the variety of a two-island itinerary. Plan early and take the time of year into account, or you'll be scrambling to book your clients during periods when the locals travel.

As daylight hours shrink in the Northern Hemisphere, they rise in the Southern Hemisphere. Book ski clients into resorts in New Zealand during summer months, and send them to the beach to escape the U.S. mainland's winter. Resources

Nonstop flights from New York to Papeete, Tahiti, take about 12 hours, while nonstops from Los Angeles to Papeete take seven. Flights from Papeete to Auckland are six hours, and a long hop from Papeete to Sydney takes nine hours. Flights to Auckland from San Francisco and Los Angeles eat up just less than 13 hours; onward flights to Australia range from 3.5 (to Sydney) to almost eight hours (to Perth). Allow about 18 hours for the quickest nonstops from Los Angeles to Australia. Tailwinds tend to shorten the return flights.

Make sure your clients' passports are in order, with at least several months' validity beyond their travel dates. Check with consuls on such questions as whether a visa is needed. The Bureau of Consular Affairs' site (travel.state.gov/travel/tips/brochures/brochures_1229.html) provides basic information and useful links, but check directly with appropriate governments, too. Resources

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