Big Island: Selling a Different Experience

The Big Island of Hawaii is a great destination to sell to clients who have been to the other Hawaiian islands and are now ready for a different experience, according to several agents with whom TW spoke.

"Going to the Big Island is a little bit more of an adventure for clients, because it's not as well known as Oahu and some of the other islands," says Marta Tapiero of Preview Travel in San Francisco.

Selling points, says Tapiero, are the fact that the Big Island is less crowded than some of the other islands, and it offers a wide range of activities and very varied scenery, due to its volcanic origins.

"When you're selling the Big Island, you should keep in mind the fact that hotels tend to be either deluxe or budget, with hardly any in the moderate-price category," says Tapiero.

An exception -- and one she and her mid-level clients have been very pleased with -- is the Aston Royal Sea Cliff (800-922-7866).

Tapiero is a big believer in going to as many seminars as possible.

"I'm one of those people who really loves seminars and gets a lot out of them, because I really listen," she says.

"We travel agents sell so many destinations that sometimes we tend to forget things about a particular destination, and going to a seminar is a good way to get a refresher."

Tapiero says she does considerable research before deciding which wholesaler to use for her Big Island-bound clients, but has been very satisfied with American Airlines' Vacations (800-321-2121) and Runaway Tours (800-622-0723).

Julia Aussenard of American Express Travel in Los Angeles also recommends the Big Island to her clients who are looking for something different.

"I don't recommend it to people going on their first trip to Hawaii," she says.

"It's very resort-based, so it's a great destination for people looking for rest and relaxation. It also attracts a lot of upscale clients who are willing to spend more on their vacations."

Other candidates for Big Island vacations are families, people with cultural interests and travelers who like outdoor adventure, says Aussenard.

"I tell people to get out and drive around because the island is really worth exploring. I recommend they go to the Hilton Waikoloa Village (800-445-8667) for the dolphin experience because it's great for both kids and adults; to visit the petroglyphs, which are really fascinating; to take the helicopter trips over the volcanoes and, in winter time, to go skiing on Mauna Kea, which is really an unusual experience no one expects to have in Hawaii."

Aussenard says she goes to Hawaii about three or four times a year. In addition to updating herself on the various hotels, she uses the time to reinforce her acquaintances with directors of sales of the various hotels -- relationships she considers crucial to her business. n

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