Last month, Travel Agent magazine put on an event that will have more economic impact on Hawaii in the near future than President Barack Obama’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference. Though the president’s conference got more press coverage, the event was full of speeches and rhetoric. Oh yeah, and suits.
Travel Agent’s Hawaii Travel Exchange was all business. From over 1000 applications, we selected 150 of the best professionals that represented individual bookings of $60 million and agency bookings over $2 billion.
We conducted educational programs, one-to-one agent-supplier appointments, site inspections, island fams, and even had a few beachside parties. All in Hawaiian shirts—imagine that! The president’s 20,000 guests had to wear suits and leave after a few days with fond memories of a lot of talk and no action. Our little gathering left the attendees energized and they actually made bookings while in attendance. We’re confident that they went back to spread the word to millions of consumers through their agency network about the tropical paradise that awaits them on their next vacation.
Also, unlike APEC, we will be back next year—and every year after that. Our agents will continue to sell Hawaii throughout their careers. We always make it a point to include young professionals, up-and-comers who will continue to sell the destination long after I have retired to my Hawaiian beach house. I would like to thank the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau for trusting us to show off the aloha spirit, MLT Vacations for getting all the agents on the islands and the suppliers for sharing what they all uniquely do to provide such outstanding products.
Leaders in Luxury
Speaking of unique and outstanding, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge four individuals who exemplify the best and brightest in their fields. Soon we will profile our annual choices for “Leaders in Luxury,” who will be formally saluted at Luxury Travel Expo in Las Vegas. The quartet, all presidents of their respective companies, are Nicholas Clayton, Viceroy Hotel Group; Gary Davis, All About Travel/Platinum; Richard Sasso, MSC Cruises USA; and Greg Tepper, Exeter International. Congratulations to all of you!