Oahu launches invitation-only specialist program

HONOLULU -- The Oahu Visitors Bureau started an invitation-only Oahu Travel Specialist Program that includes course work, a visit to Oahu and continuing financial aid to help agents sell the island.

The bureau is working with Hawaii wholesalers to identify agents who have shown they have potential to sell Oahu.

To get into the program, agents must be selected by a Hawaii wholesaler.

The first phase of the program, called How to Sell Oahu, is a home-study course with tests comprising essays and quizzes.

After completing the course, agents will be invited to Oahu for a six-day sales training trip, which does not include any hotel site inspections.

To attend the program, however, agents will have to pay upwards of $125 to help out with air fare.

Agents in the Oahu Visitors Bureau's specialist program will learn how to sell scenes like this one at Kualoa Regional Park on the island's windward side. "The agent market is really hungry for this kind of training on a destination level," said Stacey Martin, director of travel industry sales for the OVB.

"The on-island part of the program is really the key," said Martin. "There are selling seminars and a tour of the island that integrates the knowledge they gained in the seminars."

Continuing financial and material aid to market the island is offered after agents complete both training phases.

"If a travel agency wants to get into the honeymoon market, we will give them the financial aid to put on a bridal show," said Martin. "We're not just a visitors bureau that gives them a certificate and piece of paper. We are committed to helping agents sell Oahu."

Agents also will receive videos, maps, brochures, posters and decorations for booths at shows or conventions.

Two on-island seminars are scheduled for the fall, but dates have not been set.

This year, Martin said, the bureau plans to have more than 140 agents participate in the program.

It anticipates participation by 700 agents next year, she said.

Martin said agents who complete training offered by the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau will be invited to the Oahu sales program.

The visit to Oahu offers opportunities to learn about culture, history, attractions, restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

Agents who become Oahu specialists can earn credits toward becoming a certified travel counselor.

Oahu Visitors Bureau
Phone: (808) 524-0722

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