Agents should consider becoming an Oahu Destination Specialist in order to tell their clients about local hot spots such as Ala Moana Beach Park’s Magic Island.
Not sure if you should become an Oahu Destination Specialist (ODS)? Based on feedback from a trio of travel agents with the ODS credential, it’s a no-brainer.
Teri Young, owner of DreamCatcher in Sacramento, Calif., has been a Certified Hawaii Specialist for many years. Becoming an ODS seemed like the next step, she said.
"I became an ODS because I knew there had been many changes in Waikiki and in its people and attitudes," said Young. "I wanted my information to be recent and ongoing."
Young has now achieved a status of Master Destination Specialist for Oahu, and she’s very proud of it.
"I continue to participate in seminars and Webinars, and I travel to the islands four to six times per year," she said. "My clients fully understand my dedication and extensive experience very quickly on, even on the first phone call. Most people know that my level of expertise will ensure that all the details of their vacation will be exactly what they have dreamed about."
Young believes her ODS status has allowed her to provide more information, more service and more attention to details, all of which pays off.
"I use my education, my personal experiences and my complete passion for Oahu — and all of Hawaii — to paint a picture for my clients," she said. "My continued involvement with the Oahu Visitors Bureau (OVB) continues to renew my spirit. My ohana (family) on that beautiful island helps me everyday with support at every level."
Staci Blunt, owner of Family-Friendly Vacations in Mesa, Ariz., became an ODS because she recognized that Oahu is a big player in the family market, especially from the West Coast.
"The main value of my becoming an ODS is the fact that I know the OVB works closely with us and will always be there to immediately address any questions or concerns," she said. "OVB keeps me familiarized with the product, updates me on new trends and specials, and makes itinerary suggestions when needed. Thanks to the ODS program, I have visited most of the Oahu family attractions and shows, stayed in or inspected most of the accommodations around the island from budget to luxury, and participated in many activities such as surfing, kayaking, bike/hike/sail excursions, horseback riding, swimming with turtles and dolphins, submarine trips, float plane rides and more. I really appreciate the fact that the OVB lets us participate in fun activities while getting certified, in addition to the usual hotel inspections. My enthusiasm and excitement when relating this information helps my clients feel it too, which, in turn, makes them feel more comfortable with my recommendations."
Blunt promotes the fact that she is an ODS in her e-newsletters and marketing materials.
"I often send out supplier specials that I receive on a regular basis to keep Oahu in the forefront of my clients’ minds," she said. "One of my client’s extended family had a reunion in Waikiki and they had a great time, so I started promoting more about the fact that Hawaii is a great place to do multigenerational family reunions. It’s safe, clean, affordable and familiar, yet exotic at the same time."
Another ODS, Robin Kanno of Landmark Travel in Orinda, Calif., appreciates the way the OVB helps her stay up-to-date on island developments.
"OVB keeps our knowledge fresh through Webinars so we can speak to clients with confidence," she said. "With all the information available to anyone on the Web, it is critical that Oahu Specialists have current in-depth perspectives."
Another great perk provided by OVB is its ability to connect agents with excellent on-island suppliers, Kanno added.
"No matter how high-tech we become, there is still no substitute for having good contacts," she said. "Through the ODS on-island programs, we have the opportunity to personally experience places and activities. How wonderful to offer a firsthand description of an activity or locale to a client and deliver it with passion and knowledge."