Hawaii Honeymoon: Agent to Agent

Agent Janis Anne, owner of Janis Anne Travel in Oak Lawn, Ill., has been in business about 30 years and began specializing in honeymoons eight years ago. "Hawaii has always had a romantic atmosphere and reputation," says Janis Anne, who has visited the islands 27 times. "There's a purity to the islands and, being smack dab in the middle of the ocean, they have an aura, a mystery to them. But they are also part of the U.S. and for many people that means they are very comfortable."

Having visited Hawaii so many times, the agent says she has an intimate knowledge of the islands, a crucial factor in selling Hawaii. "My agents and I know the special areas, the charm of the different resorts, the restaurants, the sightseeing," she says. "And we continue to return to the destination to keep up with what's going on. Every couple of months, one of my agents is traveling to Hawaii to revisit a resort or to see a new one."

Focusing on the honeymoon couple is also key to serving the market, according to the agent. "Honeymooners are in love; these people are planning the first weeks of their lives together," she says. "You have to focus on them and on what they truly want and enjoy in a basic vacation, let alone in a honeymoon.

"Many honeymooners, for example, say they want to get away from it all, but they'd be unhappy with the kind of destination that offered nothing to do," she says. "For Hawaii honeymooners, I make sure they go for enough days so that they can do a lot, but also have sufficient time to relax, walk the beach and enjoy the scenery."

The retailer says it is important to create the right look and feel for an agency that caters to honeymoon travel. "We have videos of the destination, flowers, [and] pictures of previous clients," she says. It's a "comfortable, colorful" office with an atmosphere conducive to imaging the perfect honeymoon.

Her efforts outside her agency to develop and retain honeymoon business include a once or twice-monthly column in the local newspaper on honeymoons and destination weddings. "This is the kind of marketing tool that brings clients in," she says.

Suzanne Barry, owner of Associated Travel Services in Joliet, Ill., joined five other businesses in creating a "honeymoon mall" some 10 years ago. The agency and other businesses -- a florist, tuxedo shop, bridal store, hairdresser and insurance company -- constitute a kind of one-stop shopping for wedding and honeymoons, according to Barry.

Barry says the partners also created her county's first bridal show which was marketed through a partnership with the local radio station.

Personal service is key to serving the honeymoon market, says Barry. "I don't run the hotel or airline or car rental company, but I am available 24 hours a days for my clients. My home phone number is on every itinerary we print.

"We also do follow-up by sending a card to clients asking them how everything went after the honeymoon," she says. Those cards include a suggestion for the couple's next vacation.

"You can't beat the honeymoon business," adds Barry. "if you develop a good relationship with the couple, you have a client for life. And there's also a spin-off to the families of the bride and groom who are also potential clients if you've done a good job for the honeymooners."

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