Perks of the Month

Island resorts are encouraging agents to visit their properties by offering them special rates

By: Marty Wentzel

Everyone knows you need to experience a hotel firsthand to sell it well. With that in mind, resorts throughout Hawaii are designating certain times of the year as Travel Agent Month, with perks for agents who come to call.

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts is one of several companies encouraging agents to visit their properties during specific dates.

“While the Internet has made researching vacation options easy, the traveling public continues to look to the professional travel agent for personal recommendations on where to go on vacation and, more importantly, where to stay,” said Peter Jenkins, vice president of sales and market development for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts.

In January 2003, Outrigger will offer agents a $99 per night rate at Waikiki Shore and Royal Kahana Resort, while Ohana East and Ohana Reef Lanai list a $50 agent rate. In February, a $35 per night rate is available at Ohana Waikiki Village and Ohana Waikiki Surf East, with the same rate listed in March for Ohana Waikiki Tower and Ohana Waikiki Surf. One of April’s hotels of the month is Outrigger Waikoloa Beach on The Big Island ($75). For summer travel, Outrigger Royal Sea Cliff Resort costs agents $99 in June, while Ohana Surf is featured for $35 in August.

For a complete list of 2003 Travel Agent Month rates at Outrigger, call 800-688-7444. For Ohana, call 800-462-6262.

Throughout the year, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa offers a discounted nightly travel agent rate of $195, but in May and September 2003, agents can stay there for $125.

“Traditionally these are low occupancy months, so we can better ensure that there are plenty of rooms available to agents,” said Melissa Nelson, Hyatt Regency Maui sales manager. “Airfares are lower during those months, which are popular vacation times for travel agents.”

According to Nelson, last year’s travel agent month program resulted in 271 room nights for agents visiting in May and 310 in September. Participants get a welcome amenity and, if they’d like, a personal hotel tour. Call 800-554-9288. Chain-wide, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts honors visiting agents in May, dubbed Travel Agent Appreciation Month, and its hotels on Maui and The Big Island follow suit. Along with a reduced travel agent rate of 50% off rack (oceanview), each agent will receive a welcome amenity from the general manager, an invitation to the managers’ reception and a tour of the hotel.

“May is almost mid-year and generally a slower month for most agencies,” said Mark Simon, Four Seasons Resort Maui marketing director. “It’s a time we set aside to give special recognition to the importance of travel agencies to our company and acknowledge their support. It also gives us an opportunity to update agents on our new developments.” Call 800-332-3442.

Lanai Resorts traditionally designated July as travel agent month, but for this year it moved it to September in response to agent requests, said Lanai Resorts spokeswoman Debbie Adachi.

Launched in 1992, the program provides agents with significant discounts on room rates throughout the month at the 250-room Manele Bay Hotel and the 102-room Lodge at Koele.

Participants also will receive discounts on vehicle rentals and such activities as golf, sporting clays, snorkel and scuba expeditions, sea kayaking and biking. They will also get a special rate for a modified American meal plan.

“Not only does this let us thank the industry, it gives agents a chance to refamiliarize themselves with the island,” Adachi said. Call 800-321-4666.