Selling the Islands

Hilton's new online seminar offers incentives, sweepstakes to travel agent participants

By: Marty Wentzel

HONOLULU Agents in the Western United States have a new tool to help them learn about Hawaii, a Web-based initiative launched by Hilton.

Introduced just this month, the Hilton Hawaii Travel Agents Seminar Online Program was designed to teach mainland travel agents about Hawaii as a leisure and business destination, according to Maria Sung, Hilton Hawaii’s regional director of marketing promotions.

The program offers agents five courses, or modules, covering attractions on Oahu and the Big Island and debunking some tourists’ common misconceptions about the islands.

“With domestic travel to Hawaii on the rise, naturally we want to maintain our share of that valuable market,” said Sung.

“But this program also benefits the entire tourism industry on Oahu and the Big Island by educating travel agents about those islands and helping them sell their products effectively.”

Along with general information, the online program includes details about Hilton’s three properties here: Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa and Doubletree Alana Hotel-Waikiki, both on Oahu.

The program will run through January 2004, with modules being introduced throughout 2003.

At the end of each module, agents must pass a short quiz.

Agents who complete the program will receive:

" Automatic enrollment in the Hilton HHonors guest reward program. New HHonors members will receive 12,500 points upon completion. Agents who already are HHonors members will receive 10,000 points.

" Four credits toward the agent’s annual accreditation with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents.

" Electronic postcards, brochures, fliers and other items that agents can use to customize promotions.

" Entrance in a drawing to win a trip for two to Hawaii, including airfare, airport transfers, accommodations, dining, activities and spa treatments. The prize has a retail value of $9,500.

Three runner-up prizes one for each of the Hilton Hawaii hotels and valued at more than $2,000 will also be awarded in the March 2004 drawing. Sung said that the goal is for 5,000 agents to participate in the introductory program.

“We had to set a closing date to accommodate the sweepstakes portion of the program,” she said. “If the program is successful over the coming year, we will strongly consider running it again.”

Travel Weekly Custom Publishing, a division of Northstar Travel Media, designed and developed the online program, which includes a direct marketing campaign to agents nationwide and promotional advertising in travel-trade magazines.

Northstar also is TravelAge West’s parent company.