Hawaii Family Vacations: Questions and Answers

Lisa Piumarta discusses the Hawaii market with contributing editor Margaret Zellers.

TW: The HVCB was reorganized in the mid-'90s, when most of the former U.S. offices were closed. How does the reorganization affect travel agents?

Piumarta: With modern communications, we handle everything out of one office, which happens to be in San Francisco. Although travel agents can't run to a local office to pick up brochures, they can access our toll-free number [(800) 353-5846], type in their telephone and/or fax number, and a form is faxed for requesting specific collateral materials. We can provide literature in quantities, and can also send videos, posters and collateral material supplied to us by each island in our state.

We produce the 100-page "Islands of Aloha" booklet, which is also available to agents, as well as "Hawaiian Time," a monthly newsletter for travel professionals.

TW: What is the HVCB doing to promote family travel to Hawaii?

Piumarta: Hawaii is the perfect destination for families and our HVCB members have done so much to encourage family travel by offering special rates, children's programs, and educational activities that celebrate the diversity of Hawaiian culture.

We are currently compiling a list of our hotel and condominium members who offer family or children's programs. This information will be distributed through the "Hawaiian Time" newsletter, the America's Europe office, and eventually on Hokeo, the HVCB Web site.

TW: What's the most direct route for travel agents to get answers to specific questions?

Piumarta: Up-to-date information is always available on our Web site [www.gohawaii.com]. We post details about weddings, as well as a calendar of events, phone numbers for wholesalers and many other facts. Our Travel Agent Help Line and the HVCB island chapters [on Kauai, Waikiki/Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island] also provide current information quickly.

TW: What educational programs does the HVCB provide for travel agents?

Piumarta: We offer two different types of travel agents training programs. The newest, launched last November, is the Hawaii Destination Specialist Course, a self-study program offered through the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, which earns a certificate. [ICTA (800) 542-4282; cost $79.]

We also have our own Focus on Hawaii program, which we have done for the past three years. That's a national seminar we take on the road, for sales and destinations training, with interactive exercises and sales tools. Agents can contact the HVCB about dates for nearby areas.

TW: Tourism for the state has reportedly been in the doldrums for a couple of years. What are your predictions and/or targets for 1998 and beyond?

Piumarta: We're working for a slight increase over '98, and are shifting focus to the mainland now that Southeast Asia's economic problems have affected that market, which had been strong for us. We're widening the impact of our own budget, by cooperating with suppliers within the state. In addition, we'll have more lift from the mainland. United has always been one of the strongest carriers and their support continues with new service to Kauai nonstop from Los Angeles. New lift is coming from Continental with Newark-Honolulu nonstop starting in June. We're fortunate to have service from all the major carriers, including Delta, American, Northwest, TWA and, of course, Hawaiian.

We'll be sending a large contingent to the ASTA World Congress this year, and plan to increase our presence at other major travel trade shows.

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Additional Information

"Destinations Hawaii," a fact-filled guide available free to travel agents: (801) 972-3242; fax (801) 977-6130.

Destination Lanai: (800) 947-4774.

Hawaii Convention & Visitors Bureau, San Francisco: (800) 353-5846 or (415) 248-3800; fax (415) 248-3808; www.gohawaii.com.

HVCB Big Island of Hawaii: (800) 648-2441.

Kauai Visitors Bureau: (800) 262-1400.

Maui Visitors Bureau: (800) 525-6284.

Molokai Visitors Association: (800) 800-6267.

Waikiki/Oahu Visitors Association: (888) 464-6665.

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