Why Hawaii Could See an Influx of Millennial Travelers

Travel Agent's Joe Pike tells readers why to expect more Millennials traveling to Hawaii.

It’s not like Millennials aren’t flocking to Hawaii. As it is, the Aloha State is home to a lot of swanky, trendy, modern chic resorts that beckon young, adventurous clients with an equal taste for both exploring and for farm-to-table cuisine.

But it’s Travel Agent’s opinion that Millennials, most commonly defined as those travelers born in 1979 or after, will not only continue to be a strong demographic for Hawaii tourism in the years to come, but could eventually be its core market. 

"Hawaii is the US exotic, a destination that offers nature, authenticity, and retreat atmosphere; all without a passport or the need to adapt or learn a new culture," says Andrey Zakharenko of Always Travel in San Francisco, CA. "This is attracting more Millennial to the islands, especially Kauai and Hawaii Island."


The recent news that Virgin America will be flying to the island, coupled with the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s ongoing mission to get more visitors to island hop, tells us that Millennials are exactly what Hawaii wants and needs if it wants to compete with comparable destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean. 

Hawaii has a major problem. It cannot get enough people off of Oahu, which is where Hawaii's main hub is locatedand into its neighboring islands that all offer so many possibilities for adventure and exploratory travel. The only way to solve this, as the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii’s airlines already know, is to encourage more visitors to island hop. 

And the simple fact is, whereas there are plenty of older clients who are in great physical shape, island hopping is a younger traveler’s game. 

Younger clients tend to be a bit more adventurous, simply because they haven’t seen or done nearly the amount that an older jet setter has. Older clients know what they want. Millennials are still looking for it even after they arrive at their final destination. So, you take a 70-year-old man or woman who has been to Hawaii numerous times and flies 13 hours from New York, and a 25-year-old man or woman who has never been to Hawaii and takes the same flight. Who is more likely to island hop when they arrive?

"(Hawaii) has similar challenges as we have," Gerardo Llanes Álvarez, executive director of marketing for the Mexico Tourism Board, told Travel Agent during a recent Mexico roundtable we hosted in Acapulco, "in trying to get people out of the (main hub) and into the other islands. We have a very similar challenge."

So, how has Mexico been able to deal with this issue? Well, by having two advantages that Hawaii doesn't have: cheap flights and lots of carriers. 

Enter Virgin America.

Travel Agent reported last week that Virgin America will be flying to Hawaii for the first time this fall. The carrier will fly to both Honolulu and Maui, serving both destinations with one daily roundtrip flight from its main hub in San Francisco, according to a statement issued by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, beginning November 2, Virgin America will fly new Airbus 320 aircraft with 149 seats on daily nonstop service between San Francisco and Honolulu and anticipates launching direct service from San Francisco to Kahului, Maui on December 3.

"I haven't flown it, but I do think that Virgin as a brand targets and appeals to the younger, Millennial demographic, with their array of onboard entertainment options and their cheeky marketing strategies," Miriam Geiser, an advisor with MoonRings, a Chicago-based, boutique travel agency, told Travel Agent last week. "And with new hotels like Andaz Maui (at Wailea) targeting the same demographic, it seems to be a good fit."

With resorts that scream, “modern chic,” more island hopping opportunities and the upcoming debut of Virgin America, Hawaii could become the Millennial mecca of the world. 

"Millennials are a well-traveled bunch. Many of them have traveled to Asia, Indonesia and after they come back they look for a similar feel at home and this leads them to the Hawaiian islands," says Zakharenko. "Watching the new ads for the Hawaiian Islands you can see that the tourism board has realized this. I see this trend growing and with Virgin America entering the market the cost of reaching the islands should go down and attract even more Millennials to the islands."


Visit www.gohawaii.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest Hawaii news. Follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @ TravelPike