Travel agents will find a host of new toys at the overhauled Pleasant Holidays and Journese online booking portals, launched last summer with enhanced content and an array of upgraded Hawaii sales and marketing tools.
Chief among the additions is direct connectivity with a rapidly growing group of Hawaii hotels and resorts, providing agents with real-time room rates and inventory.
"We're adding more [Hawaii] hotels weekly," said Jeff Pettus, the senior director of sales for Pleasant Holidays.
"So we now have access to last-minute specials and last-room availability. If there's one room left at a hotel, with our direct connection to that hotel, we have access to that. And in this market, rates are changing daily, sometimes hourly with these specials and limited-time offers, [so now] we don't have to wait to get a contract. All that is done instantly."
Pettus noted that in the past, both Pleasant and its luxury brand, Journese, weren't always able to take advantage of 24-hour sales launched by hoteliers, and he added that the direct connectivity helps agents to stay current.
The Napali Coast, on the island of Kauai. Photo Credit: Tor Johnson/Hawaii Tourism Authority
"It keeps agents competitive with some of the online travel agencies like Expedia and others," he said. "It's key for them to have these real-time rates and availability."
The two redesigned websites also offer agents more detailed information about resorts and hotels, including more virtual tours for many Hawaii properties along with an increased collection of imagery.
"They can opt to email a specific hotel's virtual tour, and the subject line will actually go to the client as the name of the hotel," said April Reeves, Pleasant's website user support analyst.
"And when clients respond, it will go directly back to the agents, so it's a great tool for agents to use to share specific hotel information with their client, especially if they're not sitting down right there with them."
Pettus added that much of the Pleasant and Journese printed material is also now available digitally for agents to forward to clients who are considering Aloha State vacations. This includes Hawaii brochures, which can also be emailed to clients and breaks the destination down island by island while featuring maps along with property and activity information.
Agents can also search the new Pleasant and Journese online portals for accommodations with specific travelers in mind.
"If you have honeymoon clients, if you have a luxury client, if you have a client that likes to play golf, there are filters you can employ on the website to narrow down that search criteria to make sure the agent is offering the customer exactly the experience they are looking for in Hawaii," Pettus said.
Meanwhile, interactive maps on the new sites enable travel pros to locate their clients at properties closer to their interests across the Hawaiian Islands.
A green sea turtle off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Photo Credit: Kirk Lee Aeder/Hawaii Tourism Authority
"You can actually map out the different golf courses on the islands and see the hotels that are closest in proximity to the courses," Pettus said. "And that's not only for golfers but also for historical sites, activities. If you have somebody who wants to stay near the Polynesian Cultural Center [on Oahu] or another activity, you'll be able to see that right there on the website with these interactive maps."
Both Pleasant and Journese are seeing an increase in bookings on the new agent portals since their relaunch, according to Pettus, who said that's not typically true after an overhaul of this nature.
"Normally, in a case like this when you relaunch and redesign a website, you tend to see a decrease in website sales," he said. "People are confused; they don't know how to use it. And we've seen just the opposite: People have embraced the site, because it's easy to use, and it's easy to navigate."
Much of that popularity is likely thanks to Pleasant's decision to involve agents significantly in the redesign, actively asking travel pros beforehand about improvements they'd like to see on the new site and using them to beta test it before the official debut.
"One of the things I know [agents] are really happy and excited about is the new feature to actually create [price] quotes on the website for their clients," Reeves said.
"That's something they have been wanting, [and now] they're able to price out various packages and rates for their clients to give them a variety of itineraries to select from before they lock one in."
Agents can also now select outbound and return flights independently for clients, enabling more flexibility when crafting traveler's itineraries, and Pettus said there's a great deal of marketing collateral available on the sites that agents can use to spread the word about the latest Pleasant and Journese packages and deals.
"We're always running specials with individual hotels," he said.
"So we've got marketing pieces outlining details about the specials, and agents can customize those, email it out to clients, or just print it up for the office, whatever they'd like."
For more visit www.pleasantagent.com and www.journese.com.