HONOLULU -- Travel agents believe they are the primary influence on
what products travelers choose when they go to Hawaii, according to
an e-mail survey of agents conducted by Travel Weekly. Editor in
chief Arnie Weissmann presented the survey results at the
publication's 2002 Hawaii Leadership forum here last month.
Eighty-four percent of respondents said they were the major
influence over clients in selecting what vacation package or type
of accommodation travelers ultimately choose, and 30% of those also
said that they were the major influence on a client's choice of
Hawaii as a destination in the first place.
Fourteen percent said they were somewhat influential in these
areas, and less than 2% said they had little influence in client
choice of either destination or product selection.
The conference, which was additionally sponsored by Starwood
Hotels and Resorts in Hawaii and held at the Royal Hawaiian hotel
in Waikiki, brought together 175 representatives from the Hawaii
Survey results also indicated that cruises, Mexico, inclusive
resorts, Caribbean destinations and Las Vegas are five types of
vacations that may have more appeal than Hawaii to some clients,
due to their price, location and travelers' preferences.
The survey indicated that competition also comes from mainland
theme parks, the Bahamas, international travel and sun-and-sand
destinations on the mainland, according to those who responded to
the question," ... which of the following are more popular than
Hawaii with your clients?"
Fifty percent said the reason other vacation products are more
popular is price. Twenty-four percent said Hawaii's distance from
the mainland is a deterrent, and 19% said their clients'
preferences simply are in the cruise or inclusive category.
The price of a Hawaii vacation appeared again in a question
asking for the top factors that would help increase bookings here.
Eighty-two percent said lower air fare would help, 54% said
less-expensive packages and 44% said more frequent or more direct
air routes to Hawaii.
The remaining four factors that would help agents increase
Hawaii sales had to do with travel agent education.
Being part of a destination program where clients are referred
to agents pulled 27% of respondents' votes, followed by the need to
learn more about the destination through a specialist training
Those surveyed also cited the desire for more unique packages to
the islands; more marketing support and better sales tools from
Hawaii; easier options to book the destination in the GDSs; and
easier options to book Hawaii on the Internet.
In response to the question, "Is your experience with the
recovery of Hawaii bookings since Sept. 11 the same for other
destinations you sell?", 56% said it is about the same as other
destinations, while 27% said Hawaii bookings are recovering more
slowly. However, 15% said Hawaii bookings are recovering more
quickly than other destinations.
And in a question asking how Hawaii bookings are doing now
compared with bookings before Sept. 11, 42% said their bookings are
about the same.
Twenty-five percent picked the response "sales are climbing but
have not yet reached the pre-Sept. 11 level"; 19% said they
continue to be "significantly lower" than before Sept. 11; and 11%
said their bookings now are better than they were before Sept.