Waikiki's many festivals and events are perfect for clients interested in local culture. // © 2017 HTA/Tor Johnson
Feature image (above): Thanks to its natural beauty and ongoing upgrades, Waikiki remains a rich and relevant destination in Hawaii. // © 2017 HTA/Tor Johnson
Waikiki is going through a sea change. From renovated accommodations and new hotel brands to trendy eateries and meaningful activities, the beachfront visitor mecca is steadily reinventing itself as a viable destination.
As Waikiki evolves, proactive travel agents can sell it effectively if they do their homework and use the tools available to them, said Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, executive director of Oahu Visitors Bureau.
“Today’s Waikiki appeals particularly to avid travelers such as foodies, outdoor adventurers, history and culture buffs and the LGBT market,” Schilling-Wheeler said. “With the continuing revitalization of Waikiki, there’s an opportunity to target that portion of the millennial market looking for experiential activities.”
The influx of luxury brands in Waikiki and upgrades at existing resorts are making the destination especially attractive to upscale travelers seeking unique urban pastimes, Schilling-Wheeler added.
Here are five of Schilling-Wheeler’s tips for helping travel agents sell the new and improved Waikiki.
Become a Waikiki Hotel Expert
Agents should learn the differences between — and strengths of — Waikiki’s new and renovated hotels. That will help them match clients with properties. They also should build relationships with sales teams at various hotels. Agents can take advantage of hotel fams and educational programs with booking benefits, which they can tap into when closing the sale.
Pick the Right Clients
Agents should explore their own community for special events — such as food fairs and cultural festivals — that are similar to the activities and experiences offered in Waikiki. As they promote those local events to their database, they can determine which clients are ripe for Waikiki. In addition, agents must seek out new clients on an ongoing basis, so they have a steady source of business.
Pitch Waikiki Experiences
From culinary hot spots and mom-and-pop stores to historic sites and family-friendly fare, memorable experiences await clients in and around Waikiki. The neighborhoods immediately bordering Waikiki offer especially interesting finds, as well as opportunities to meet locals. Touting the many moods and treasures of the area can help agents increase Waikiki sales.
Promote Milestone Events
Leisure group business to Waikiki can be lucrative. After examining their database, agents can pinpoint those clients who might be considering a milestone celebration or special occasion getaway with a group of friends or family members. They should actively promote Waikiki as a perfect gathering place for clients who want to travel together.
Select a Waikiki Month
Agents can pick a time which they bill as Waikiki Month, during which they connect aggressively with clients about the destination. Using their insider knowledge, agents can reach clients through e-blasts and social media, telling them about unique Waikiki happenings and offerings throughout that month. The goal is to get clients excited about Waikiki so they’ll contact their agents.