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U.S. Travel Agent Feedback on Hawaii Experiences

What draws travelers to Hawaii?

Paula Hobble, Focus on Travel  Dec 17, 2010

Most of our clients have a positive experience when they travel to Hawaii. It is easily reached from the US West Coast with affordable air fares right now. When the air prices go up the travel is harder to sell. No passports are required yet people feel like they have been to another world from the mainland of the US.

Most of our travelers stay in hotels and condos. They will upgrade to a better located resort when the specials are announced. The recent Westin specials, bonus offerings such as breakfast daily at a variety of resorts, or resort credits and funds for groceries offered by Aston and Outrigger are popular with clients. Sunshine on Sale and other promotions by Hyatt make customers feel they got the best deal.

Our office has used B & B’s, homes, and apartments. Many of our clients have time shares and visit the islands at least once a year. As a travel agency we must back up everything we sell. We look for properties that have representation and recourse for our customers. We prefer to sell through reliable wholesalers such as All About Hawaii, Pleasant Hawaiian, Classic, etc for that reason. If we book a B & B or home we look for approval by the island visitor’s bureau or another reliable source. We have found the Internet direct sales are questionable, especially if something goes wrong at the property such as overselling, maintenance problems, or misrepresentation of the property and units.

I think the HVB should be a little concerned about the taxi drivers in particular. This is often the first impression or last impression travelers have of the islands. In Waikiki more and more drivers speak limited English and can be abrupt. I have heard tour bus operators complain about where the tourist is standing to meet them, for instance. It always makes everyone on the bus feel uncomfortable. What I am saying is that sometimes the people who make the biggest impressions on tourists are the ones who do what would appear to be the smallest jobs – the cab driver, the maid, the server at the restaurants. In general the people of Hawaii are warm and welcoming. This is a tremendous selling feature for travel agents. If the clients arrive and the greeting service makes them wait 30 minutes while their greeter does paper work or the cab driver cannot communicate and is not glad to see them then they start to feel like a number. Hawaii is no longer a special destination that welcomes them.

Business clients usually visit O’ahu and at least our customers seem to like it here. Honolulu is fairly compact even though the freeways are congested. We have not had complaints.

Wedding are extremely popular and in line with other tropical destinations. Sometimes the wedding party requests all-inclusive resorts like the ones in Mexico, not just the high end ones on the Big Island. In general this is not a huge issue but it does come up often. We know that all-inclusive resorts just don’t seem to work for middle class travelers to Hawaii in the past and we try to point out all of the dining and entertainment options instead. Handicap travelers seem to be fine with travel to Hawaii, especially to O’ahu. Retreats and spiritual travel is still developing for our clientele.

Gay travelers like Hawaii and feel comfortable there in our experience.

Families with multi-generational members love Hawaii.Romantic travelers especially choose Hawaii.

There is a variety of restaurants, shops, malls and entertainment on all the islands, especially O’ahu. We like to sell the islands because they have personalities and people seem to fit in one best although they often visit two or more at a time.

Prostitution is still a problem on Kuhio Avenue in O’ahu. Clients bring it up as it is on the street corners near several Ohana and Aston resorts that cater to families. Since Waikiki has been renovated there is a safe feeling to it for the most part and I do not hear complaints about social services, law enforcement or medical personal.

It is easy to get health services on all the islands.

Along with the people the place is what draws travelers to Hawaii. It is naturally so beautiful and usually well maintained especially when compared to equally beautiful places in Latin America. Hiking, Biking, Water Sports, and road conditions are all good and plentiful.

Cruise Lines are adequate and ferries between the Maui County islands are good.

The only consistent complaint about public officials is the long lines and confusion to tourists about agricultural inspection along with the other check in requirements in Honolulu. It is almost worth visiting another island for the last days to avoid it since departing from an airport on any other island is less of a hassle.

There is lots of information on Hawaii offered online, through tour companies and at travel agencies. It is one of the best represented tourist areas in the world.

The Aloha Spirit makes Hawaii special and it is a fine balance for islanders to realize its importance for everyone versus the needs of the local person in the service industry. If the welcome gets worn or becomes less important to islanders tourists will notice. It makes a big difference.

The other thing not on the survey but it is often brought up by West Coast residents – I want to go someplace else. I have been to Hawaii a lot. So bringing in new attractions or activities is always important to keep travelers interested. The Zip Lines, tubing and kayaking, whale watching along with other ecological activities, cultural events, movie and television set visits, and highlighting local products not found elsewhere are examples of topics our customers ask about. Hit television shows like “Lost” and “Hawaii 5-0” draw attention to the islands.

Thanks for the opportunity to give you some feedback on selling Hawaii.

What draws travelers to Hawaii?

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