POIPU, Hawaii -- Poipu, the resort area on Kauai's south shore, has
placed increasing emphasis on promoting to travel agents.
In upgrading its Internet site earlier this year, the Poipu
Beach Resort Association added a travel agent page. At www.poipu-beach.org, agents can find a list of
discounted rates for themselves at hotels and resorts and for golf,
scuba and helicopter tours.
Last year, the PBRA started a Travel Weekly seminars-in-print
program for agents and agent seminars with the National Travel
Exchange shows. Both programs provide continuing education credits
through the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA).
Although it might be too early to see results of the agent
emphasis, Margy Parker, executive director of the 125-member
association, said she had "one encouraging statistic."
A survey of Poipu hotel and condominium guests in January last
year showed 28% had first heard about Poipu from their travel
agents. In a June/July survey, the figure had increased to 36%
(second only to 37% for friends and relatives). Parker is
encouraged that requests for information have increased.
The PBRA, she said, is averaging more than 1,000 requests for
information each month from consumers and agents, up from 500 to
750 a month last year. She attributes this to both increased
consumer and agent promotion.
Early this year, the group started banner ads for Poipu on
American Online's aol.com site as well as on the Hawaii State
Vacation Planner site of Kauai-based H&S Publishing at www.hshawaii.com.
Parker also is pleased by Poipu's arrival and hotel occupancy
growth. According to management consultants PKF-Hawaii, Poipu had
an average occupancy of 78% for this year's first quarter, up 6.5
percentage points from the 71.5% in last year's period. For 1998,
the area's occupancy -- at 67% -- was flat with 1997.
Kauai's total visitors increased 9.7% for the quarter, compared
to an overall state increase of just 1.1%, according to the state
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. "We're
doing well, and it appears we have absorbed the extra hotel rooms
that have come on the market," said Parker.
She was referring to the December 1997 reopening of the Sheraton
Kauai Resort, which underwent a $40 million renovation and
reconstruction. Sheraton Kauai's 413 rooms brought Poipu's total
rooms and condo units to more than 3,000.
The hotel had been closed since it was damaged by September
1992's Hurricane Iniki. It was because of Iniki that the PBRA began
to be more aggressive in marketing to agents. In early 1997, a PBRA
survey found that many agents were still reluctant to book Poipu.
They saw in CRSs that three hotels were closed because of hurricane
This gave Poipu a perception problem. (Although the Sheraton
reopened, the 426-room Waiohai and adjacent 139-room Poipu Beach
remain closed and are being sold to Marriott.) "We found 33% of
agents surveyed were reluctant to book Poipu because they thought
we had not fully recovered," Parker said.
In spring 1997, the state legislature, recognizing Poipu's
concern, appropriated $100,000 for the group in each of the next
two fiscal years specifically to educate agents. The PBRA became
the only destination group not marketing a whole island to get
Parker said that such suppliers as United and Poipu's Hyatt,
Sheraton, Marc Resorts, Outrigger and Castle properties together
matched the state funding for the two agent programs.
Last year, there were four eight-page educational inserts in
Travel Weekly that included questions for agents to answer and
contests for prizes. Topics of this year's three four-page inserts
have been family travel, romantic getaways and active pursuits.
Early this year, PBRA sent out 1999 materials to agents who
participated in last year's program. "We've had lots of letters
from agents thanking us for seminars in print, and we have even had
some walk into our office to thank us," she said.
Parker added that she has also received a positive reaction to
the revamped Web site.
The PBRA began National Travel Exchange show participation last
fall with four seminars each in cities in the Pacific
Northwest/western Canada, on the East Coast and in Texas. So far,
there have been three series this year -- Northern and Southern
California and the East Coast -- with a fall series scheduled for
Poipu Beach Resort Association, Phone: (888) 744-0888, Fax:
(808) 742-7887, Web: www.poipu-beach.org, E-mail: [email protected]