Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightA tourism industry veteran of two decades, Robyn Basso has spent the last eight years traveling regularly across the U.S. mainland for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), working face to face with agents to help them boost their Aloha State business.

Basso will be putting all that experience to good use in her new role, announced last week, as senior director of travel industry partnerships for the HVCB in Honolulu, where helping to shape the destination’s live-event and online agent training and education content will be one of her new responsibilities.

“That’s really what my entire background has been: helping agents sell Hawaii and listening to their feedback and their challenges and then trying to give them tools to succeed,” Basso said.

“I really like that I can now take everything I’ve learned from our agents and from our partners and use that valuable information to craft the overall strategy and training content,” she continued. “It gives me an exciting opportunity to develop all these great new tools.” ShaneNelson

According to Basso, a range of upgrades are planned for the HVCB’s Ke Kula O Hawaii program, which translates as simply the School of Hawaii. Although there are still a number of details to finalize and more specifics to come, Basso said agents can expect some substantial changes to the curriculum this fall.

“We’ve always had great content, but it’s just time to freshen it up, update it, to make it more engaging and interactive,” she said. “And we understand agents are time-starved, [so] what we’re going to do is redevelop all that content and break it up into smaller modules.”

The changes will occur in the HVCB’s live-event training for mainland-based seminars but also to their online education programs, and agents can expect a sneak peek of what’s to come with a series of webinars in September and October.

“Many agents also specialize in particular niches,” Basso added. “So we’re going to be developing new courses to align with our target Hawaii traveler for niches such as romance, destination weddings, culture and arts, outdoor adventure and golf, to just name a few. So we’re really trying to give agents valuable tools and sales tips to market to those particular travelers.”

The HVCB’s travel professional website is also scheduled for an extensive overhaul that will likely be complete in the fall, improving site navigation for users and offering a collection of in-depth online information and sales tools. The organization is also re-examining the agent benefits it provides for Hawaii specialists and will likely be “making some exciting announcements” about those changes in concert with the launch of the new training curriculum this fall.

In the meantime, agents accustomed to reaching out to Basso directly for Hawaii advice or with questions shouldn’t hesitate to continue that practice.

“Even though I’m now in the Honolulu office, in a little bit different role, I’m always there to interact and answer questions and help agents in any way that I can,” she said.
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