Poipu visitor survey mirrors the state's trends

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POIPU, Kauai -- Spontaneity. Visitors here are full of it these days.

Visitors to Poipu are booking their vacations an average of just three weeks before they depart, down from 19 weeks two years ago, according to a recently released biennial survey of visitors by the Poipu Beach Resort Association.

The shorter booking window is most likely a remnant of the fluctuating air fares of earlier this year, according to Margy Parker, the association's executive director.

"After Sept. 11, people didn't make plans, and when they did -- when the air came down in price -- it was all spur of the moment," she said.

However, the situation is different now, with high air fares and low hotel rates.

The booking window for Poipu visitors, while significantly closer in than the average for the state overall, mirrors the trend for the rest of Hawaii.

"Before Sept. 11, people used to make bookings three to four months in advance, and now it is about 45 days on average," said Debbie Lundquist, chief operating officer at Classic Custom Vacations.

The survey also found that more visitors are booking the destination directly on the phone and via the Internet.

"We saw an increase in direct phone and Internet bookings particularly as well as use of the Internet for research," said Parker.

Sixty-two percent of the 282 respondents booked their vacations directly by using the phone or the Web, up from 55% two years ago, while the percentage of reservations booked through agents slipped slightly to 39% from 42% in 2000.

In addition, the poll showed that travel agents had limited influence over the respondents' decision to go to Poipu but did play a part in educating them about the destination.

The most important factors influencing these clients in their choice of Poipu were climate (27%), proximity to beaches (22%), type of accommodations (14%), natural beauty (11%), "other" considerations (11%), travel agent recommendation (9%), good package prices (5%) and range of activities (1%).

The travel agent recommendation percent remained the same as in the survey taken two years ago, but the percent of respondents who identified their travel agent as the first to tell them about Poipu dropped slightly, from 25% two years ago to 21% this year.

Thirty-eight percent of the respondents named friends and relatives as being the first to tell them about Poipu.

Other sources included guide books, the Internet, travel brochures, a magazine or newspaper.

Online planning for Poipu activities

By Doug Oakley

POIPU BEACH, Kauai -- Travel agents and their clients now can plan an hour-by-hour activities itinerary on Kauai free via the Internet.

The Poipu Beach Resort Association launched a new Web site, at http://poipuadventure.com, that plans visitors' days around activities such as surfing, hiking, golf and even napping.

Visitors choose from a menu of activities for each day and the site puts together a printable itinerary that tells how long each activity will take, including driving times between activities. It also has links to Web sites associated with the specific activity.

"We designed it so people could see how much there is to do on Kauai," said Margy Parker, executive director of the Poipu Beach Resort Association.

"For Kauai that's always the big surprise, people aren't aware of the tremendous wealth of activities.

"And a lot of first-time visitors think there is enough to do for just three to four days, and when they come they are disappointed that they didn't stay long enough."

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